Yesterday I had one of my upper wisdom tooth removed.
It’s not the first time nor am I afraid of the dentist, but I have to admit that without sedation (I only had local anaesthetic this time), I was shaking throughout the procedure and for a good 15mins afterwards.
The pressure I felt from the pushing and pulling was uncomfortable, but not painful, however, my imagination went off and the fear of feeling pain at any moment, increased my anxiety. My imagination was working against me rather than for me and by the time I realised what was happening, my thoughts had run away and it was hard to get them back.
That’s how I was feeling about February generally.
I started the month with a long list of things to do and I could feel overwhelm approaching. Overwhelm is usually a trigger that sends me to bed – to my hiding place where I don’t have to face life. It’s a survival technique I learned during some of the most stressful seasons of my life and although situations are not as extreme as they used to be, I still often revert to it at the first sight of difficulty, overwhelm or emotional pain.
Since coming through my therapy treatment and embracing my ability to face life again, I try my best to face, rather than avoid it now, but it requires conscious effort.
I decided to face February, not fearlessly, but courageously.
I’d face one thing on my list at a time, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I’d be kind, compassionate and gentle with myself, not trying to be strong but accepting that it’s absolutely fine to be weak, vulnerable, doubtful and scared.
I believe Life honours faith; faith that says, I don’t know how I’m going to get through all of this, but I’m going to take one step at a time and move anyway.
It’s the day after my wisdom tooth removal and I haven’t had any pain or swelling – I pray it stays that way. The nerves I had about being asked intense check questions on my team flight last week, were unfounded and I had a wonderful trip with a great crew. I prepared and presented at an NHS meeting as a Lived Experience Practitioner, with excellent feedback and engagement – when I started to prepare, I had no idea what I was going to say.
I also made the decision to delay preparation of my company accounts until March, because sometimes prioritising and managing my mental health means recognising when the overwhelm is valid because I’ve given myself too much to do in the time frame I have available.
There are still a significant number of things on my February to do list, including my annual recurrent training for work, but I’ll continue as I started – one thing at a time.
Life can often look and feel scary. Traumatic experiences only heighten the sensitivity to the world around, which can be overwhelming on the mind. It’s understandable then that food, bed, anything that distracts or seems to numb the fear and give a sense of control in uncontrollable situations, become attractive. Rather than fight it, I’m learning to acknowledge the purpose it serves and reassure myself that I have what it takes to handle it.
Although addressing issues I’ve had with food has been important, learning the tools and practicing strategies to face and manage my life has given me the confidence to take my life back. I will get through February, that’s just the kind of person I am!