A post by Rufus May has sparked off thoughts in me, together with today's appointment with my psychiatrist. Rufus May writes about a project he is involved in, helping people to come off medications.
Today with Dr K I discussed my recent reduction in Trazodone, one of my two antidepressants. I had previously agreed with Dr K that this would be a good idea when things got more stable, particularly as we have also agreed to increase my medications in the autumn, when I often dip. I have begun this process, and he was happy about this (though he wants me to take the reduction at a much slower pace than I had envisaged, waiting another 5 weeks to reduce again...)
What was interesting in Rufus May's article was that he wrote about supporting this reduction by providing opportunities to express emotions. His belief (and I don't necessarily agree with this) is that "illness is a way of releasing toxins from the body". I am not fully in agreement because I do believe that illness is often chemical and physical. However, I do agree that mental illness may be linked to suppression of feelings, emotions and past experiences.
However, what I am in agreement with is his statement that, "We need to offer people a broad range of ways of dealing with their thoughts and moods, that includes more active coping strategies and initiatives. " He cites as examples Tai Chi and Boxercise. This got me thinking about things I can do to keep in touch with my moods and emotions - things I am already doing and maybe things I can add. I am already going to the gym twice weekly for classes. One is a Yoga class which I find very grounding. The other good thing about this particular class is that it is on a Sunday afternoon. Sundays are when I do my lesson planning, and the Yoga class provides a point at which work has to stop. On Tuesdays I go to a Body Balance class which is a mix of Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates. That is also very grounding. I'm toying with the idea of adding in a class which is more aerobics based. I can see that might be good for expressing more angry emotions - but I am struggling a bit with it; it is way outside my comfort zone. At the moment I am working to learn the moves before trying out a class.
I got to thinking about other things I do to express and ground myself. Creativity has a big part to play for me. Not so much that I express emotions in things I make, more that to do so is grounding and provides positive reinforcement for me. It gives me a sense of worth - and since one of my issues is feeling useless, anything that counteracts that has to be good. Writing helps too. Creating teaching resources (and work itself) can also be very grounding - as long as I remain honest and don't just take on capable teacher mode. The singing workshop day was brilliant for grounding - lots of physical stuff, but also using the words of songs. Maybe I should think about joining some kind of choir or music group. (One worry about that would be that my voice can be unreliable - at the moment it is disappearing with the cold I am suffering, and teaching already places major strains on it).
Still, it's all interesting. Maybe I can find ways to enable myself to balance the chemical reductions with increased self care in other ways. If nothing else, it reminds me of the importance of self care.