My Medicine Box - Finding Resilience in Challenge
Anyone who read my very first blog post on this site back in 2014, will know that I had some trouble adapting to apartment life. Readers may have wondered whether I would be able to sustain it. Well, I did—for a while. In fact, I lasted seven years—a lot longer than I thought I would.
Seven is a mystical number that expresses the energy of learning through experience. This kind of learning isn't always comfortable, and often involves sacrifice. It took time for me to grow comfortable with the idea of relinquishing the family home, and all the stuff I'd accumulated. I grieved for my big house, even though I knew intuitively that I was moving forward. As I reduced my physical load to a density that my new apartment could hold, my spirit expanded. I felt free enough from domestic distractions to be able to focus on my creative work, and my healing from PTSD; which I felt were inextricably linked.
But when I realised how noisy my new home was, I wondered if I could focus. Reluctantly, I also knew that I had to. I couldn't afford to just sell up and move on. I needed to wait for the right time. I figured I'd be here for five years. During that time I witnessed so much drama around me, that I began to feel like my life was pretty peaceful. After five years I made some moves toward gathering the resources to find a new home, but the timing didn't feel right.
In spite of the great difficulty I've had with the noise of high-density living, I've also learnt how to create a safe cave that blocks it out. I've learnt how to switch on a fan, play music, muffle my ears and keep doors and windows closed. I've learnt how to survive in an environment that constantly triggers my PTSD—and I still managed to create.
Eventually, I came to realise that although the building could have been better soundproofed—my neighbours weren't distressed by the sounds at all. In fact, they barely noticed them. I gradually had to come to terms with fact that my mental health affects my daily living skills. This might seem obvious to people who know me, but I was running on the belief that I would completely 'cure' myself of PTSD. I was a well-trained positive thinker. What I had actually created was a pendulum of positive thinking vs traumatic thinking. It was exhausting, as well as making me appear to have a mood disorder! I had to moderate my expectations of myself.
Now, I call this apartment my 'medicine box' because within these walls, I have come to own my part in the noise problem. One of the most prominent aspects of PTSD is an increased startle response. I was wired for danger—always. So when someone slammed a door, or rang a door buzzer, or dropped a cup—I'd jump, or even scream! No amount of meditation, medication or desensitisation has changed that—and I know about meditation well enough to teach it.
On good days I'm less reactive; but if I'm going to plan a good life for myself, I need to take into account that not every day is a good one. No matter how positively I think, or how much Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I undertake, I'm still going to experience days when I'm stressed by something. Once something stresses me out, everything becomes intolerably loud.
My ability to adapt, and create coping mechanisms gave me a new sense of resilience. Sometimes I felt like a lunatic. But I persistently got over myself, and showed up to my life. This time I knew what my lesson was: to sit at my desk and produce—even if the world around me wasn't perfect.
Now it's time to move on. I've found a buyer, who is moving in as soon as I find my next home. As 2022 begins I'm full of hope that my next home will the the home of ease and peace that I've been envisioning. I'm also hopeful that whatever imperfect quirks my new home presents me with, I'll have superior coping skills.
Here in my medicine box, I've learnt more about who I am. I've also learnt my limits, and that honouring them helps me reach toward my heights. Focussing my energy in a small physical space has allowed me to increase my mental space. So much that I've been able to integrate parts of myself that I hadn't quite known what to do with. I wasn't sure about the influence of my more 'mystical' self on my 'author brand,' but now I realise my author brand wouldn't be authentic without it. After all, it's my mystical self that has empowered my work; as well as the structure of my personal healing journey. To chop out the mystic would be like cutting out this author's heart.Majickal Mystery School and Majickal Bellydance tighter than ever. I'm determined that my Majickal projects will rise again, post-lockdown! There's nothing like face-to-face teaching to help me feel connected to the community, and feel like I'm contributing in some way—in spite of my mental health (or because of it).
So away from the 'medicine box' I go, into my new home of ease, peace and creativity. I look forward to taking what I grew, and giving it all wings.
May your best vision of 2022 come to be. X
Leanne Margaret © 2021