Hospital room melancholia + anxiety + coping

There’s something about being in a hospital room with the lights dimmed, trying to answer 40 questions about life while Pinegrove’s Dotted Line is playing.

On an entirely different note, I feel like I’m constantly being challenged by the universe to stray away from my comfort zone. It’s stretching me and pushing me and urging me to grow faster than I can handle, in all the small ways and all the big ways.

I was fully expecting to complete the maximum nine days hospital stay laid out in our package, only to find out we’re being discharged today.

I like having a plan mapped out for everything in my head, with each step carefully visualized: where to fall in line, what office to pay the outstanding balance at, what time to complete this and that, and now I’ll need to readjust everything and work around what I have. It’s as if I’m being trained to map out strategies and plans on the fly all while battling this uncomfortable pit of anxiety in my stomach. Sometimes it’s not just in my stomach, it rises up to my throat and gets lodged in my ears all the way up to my head where it lingers like a swarm of bees made of air.

Okay, I’m adding anxiety to the blog post title.

If there’s anything I’ve been learning throughout all this, it’s to trust that things are going to turn out alright somehow. Dotted Line always reminds me of that. It’s why I have it on my shoulder.

A few years ago, my therapist taught me a tool I could use to deal with my anxiety. She told me to close my eyes and visualize my timeline as a path or road, and then place my current self on that road. Now, I needed to visualize a point up along the road as the future thing I was worrying about. Then, I should imagine myself separating from the me on the road and floating above like a ghost-thing, watching things from a distance. She told me to fly up ahead to view the moment of the worrisome event from up in the air. And then go a bit further up the road, say a day after the event, and look behind me.

“So from where you’re looking at things now, you can see the event you were worried about and what happened after. Was it as bad as you thought it would be?”

It never was. Not when I did the exercise and not when it actually happened.

I found another app that’s helped me navigate through the things I worry about. It’s called Worrydolls. I tell my worry to a doll and it keeps it. I can add thoughts to the worry or let the doll know when it’s finished. Once the worry is finished, the doll asks if the outcome was as bad as I worried, and I can share more about the experience. All my worries are kept as finished worries, and I can look through them and gain strength from the things I worried about that I’ve overcome.

It looks like this originated from the muñeca quitapena, worry dolls in Guatemalan tradition that children can tell their nightmares and fears and sorrows and problems to, then keep under their pillows while they sleep. The doll absorbs their worries and in the morning the worries are gone.

I’m glad my mind somehow went in this direction, because I remembered the road exercise and the worry dolls and I just did both. They helped and my mind is a percentage less jumbled now. Things will be okay. I don’t know how but I’m thinking it’ll all work out.

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