Strategies In Coping

Let’s talk coping strategies. Yes, I like to recede into the kitchen when I’m stressed out, not to eat my emotions away, but rather, yet perhaps equally unhealthfully, to cook them away. True, I prefer to escape to the Y or take a long, somewhat self-abusive run rather than confront my demons. As of late, without even trying, I’ve found myself putting forth better efforts to cope in healthy and, for me, innovative ways.
Yesterday when faced with the inexorable truth that I needed to replace my computer, I reacted with shock, dismay and a few tears. I quickly moved beyond these purely emotional responses and began to answer my most pressing question: how will I pay for it? After a little research (and thanks to my diligent loan payments) I realized that I could finance it over time. With this proactive, rational thought process my mind’s eye sees the problem shrinking and my comparative ability to handle what life throws my way growing.
Exhibit B: I’m excited to be going to Indiana University this Fall, the possibilities IU offers seem endless right now. I submitted my enrollment forms yesterday, signed up for orientation and applied for housing today, but what exactly do I want to study and how exactly do I want to use these degrees? Oh no, here it comes – the wave of frustration, of self-doubt, of confusion and unknows. Yes that wave swelled, just as I had expected. But the manner in which I reacted to this swell was my decision – I may have a set of genes that predispose me to curl up and conceit defeat to anxiety when my environment presents challenges, but that doesn’t mean I have to take that approach, I still have the power to make choices. So, instead of allowing the water to crush me, I let the questions brew in my mind while I surfed along on my figurative swell. I did some more research (for me information calms the nerves; it is a great way to combat anxiety that transpires from a plethora of unknowns). I laid my interests out in front of me: psychology, nursing (eventually a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing) and a minor in Arabic. Ok, there are plenty of ways to put together academic plans that will get me where I want to go – e.g. two undergraduate degrees at once, a master’s in nursing for non-nursing majors, an accelerated nursing degree after earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, etc. Between Indiana University in Bloomington and Indianapolis I have lots of options and a wealth of resources. Again, by choosing to take a step back, assess the situation, pull together some information and then take a second look I avoided a major emotional breakdown (which very quickly morphs into a triggering situation).
Where is ED in my decision making process? Right now he’s locked securely in his cage, he’s pouting, he’s in a major snit. While I can look back after a few steady days and see ED as non-threatening, he’s still a force that I need to take seriously. ED makes every decision that much more overwhelming, he never lets me feel completely secure with the choices I’ve made and then when I’m strong enough to ignore him he brings up weight or food (my Achilles heel, per se). In this sense the battle never truly ends; when I conquer one anxiety ED is waiting around the next corner to attack me. This too is a matter of perception. I can choose to see ED a force to be reckoned with, but this choice simply gives him power. Today I’m choosing to acknowldge Ed as a bother, but nothing more.

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