I switched on the bedside lamp the warm light filling the room with soft focus shadows. Pulling the curtains to shut out the darkness of the night the noise of the infrequent showers could still be heard between the silence of the countryside and the early-bedtime neighbours. I grabbed a book from the bedside table. Therapy held within paper and ink. A way of holding my hand through the small relapses of stress. Not just the gender stuff but the daily trudge of life and the stresses of work. I like self help books and this was another in the series I’d bought that tops off the work I’d done with the psychologist.
The book had come with a disc allowing me to be guided through the exercises to find a level of relaxation. To reset myself. To halt the tightness in my gut and the tension in my head. I was beginning to get tired but I wanted to at least start the first exercise. Some way of finding my contentment again. So that I’m in a place where I feel comfortable without feeling that my future is set in a rut. To have the feeling of uncertainty without the risk of insecurity. To be in my twenties again.
I put my headphones on, allowed the laptop to take the disc from me and rested my head on the pillow of the bed. I read the chapter from the book describing how the exercise will work and help. I slipped the bookmark back over the page and placed the book on the duvet, which dropped into it’s own comfortable recess, and pressed play. His gentle tones came through the headphones.
He spoke of a beach. The sounds of waves and distant out of focus voices. Counting with him on every step that we made. Instantly I could feel between my toes the warm dry golden sand filtering back to the beach. My imagination had built up my own self image of my body. My own body image was naturally selected. I had hips. I had a long white beachy chiffon kaftan, light blue denim shorts underneath and painted nails. My hair down and catching what little breeze there was in this imaginary world. Within a few seconds I thanked my subconscious for the natural selection of my imaginary body. It felt like the first time that I could see who I actually was or would have been. Walking along side the therapist he counted in time with me as we walked slowing a little as we went. It felt like he was right there with me, helping me and caring for me in my time of need. It was so real I could feel the dying warmth of the late orange afternoon sun. It warmed my legs, my arms and my heart.
I started with self help books a few years ago. Nothing can replace a psychologist for the deepest of problems, who can taylor and adjust their therapy to my own needs, but when the psychologist, José had said he believed in self help I realised I’d been doing the right thing. For day to day life issues I find them helpful in giving hope. With this book I have been taken away to another place. A place where I felt I was being talked through the work with the therapist himself. In the next exercise we were walking through the grass. I could feel the cold of the blades of grass brushing between my feet clear of any dew. A summer morning with fresh air and little problems to cross my mind.
Sometimes I need to take control of my mental wellbeing. Sure I can hit low points when I need someone to hold my hand and pull me back up from the floor. There are times, when I am strong enough, that I should ensure I help myself. The one person who know exactly what the problems are and how they can be helped, even if she doesn’t realise it straight away, is me. When I have belief in myself and the ability to change things then this makes me a stronger person and able to shake off all the negativity that I face every single day from people who don’t even realise they’re doing it.
I couldn’t even feel the pillow, the bed linen and twenty past eleven at night was just a distant memory. The power of the imagination is a very clever tool used by the author of the book. I took the headphones off, powered down the laptop, placed the book on the bedside table and switched the light off. I laid there for a few minutes in the darkness; the rain had stopped. In my new relaxed state I found a contrasting difference between now and fifteen minutes before. I realised how over the last few weeks I had become so tense. I was barely breathing. Short breaths that stop helpful thinking, turning blood alkaline blurring vision and encouraging panic attacks. It creeps up on me so easily and subtly. It’s like a house that has steadily become messy without the occupiers noticing only to spring clean and suddenly feel immense relaxation.
With no word from the psychiatry department for my future and some ups and downs of uncertainty and pressure my emotions have been all over the place which on the face of it just appear to be for no reason but of course like the breathing these things are subtle. That’s how they get hold of me. With my imaginary walk on the beach for the winter though I have at least made myself a promise. This spring, when the weather turns fair and the dew has dried from the grass, I’ll at least have one day to walk through the sand and another in the park. A day to myself where I can look back at this week and remember that dreams can come true and may be I’ll get some summer shorts and that kaftan for that dream day.
Until next time