We began watching the very popular TV show when it was aired in Oct 2010. We loved the intrigue of it with all of the twists and turns. Then something happened, by Oct 20, 2014, Season 5 episode 2 I stopped watching half way through the episode. It began to be too real for me: I couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t so much the zombies that got to me, rather the real life stuff, men eating men. It was no longer enjoyment. It made me anxious and sick. Even as I write this I’m experiencing the stir of anxious feelings in my gut and wonder if it might be a bad idea to write this piece.
A mental health diagnosis is a brain injury. So seeing things that are challenging whether they are real or not, impacts the health of my brain. I react in the same way to the video’s that portray violence or abuse towards animals. For me, violence and abuse are the same whether animals or human, even if the outcome is a good one, it still impacts me. And seeing more of it as entertainment occurs like continuously putting weight into a sprained ankle. Healing just won’t happen.
Interestingly, at the same time in my life, I had completed the MBSR course at my local hospital and can now reflect that my level of awareness and consciousness was elevated. I was becoming conscious of pain and hurt in the world, and I began letting that in. My heart felt like it no longer had the thick protective shields around it.
I remember being in a busy gift store with my husband near Christmas time a couple of years ago. A family entered with two children, one an infant in a stroller and the other a toddler. The store had an uneven floor with a step or two between levels. The toddler didn’t see the step and fell down hitting his head on the floor with a loud bang, while I’m sure the child was not seriously hurt, the sound of his head hitting the floor put me over the edge. I remember turning to Neil and indicating I needed to leave immediately. As I got outside tears were streaming down my cheeks, and all I could think was I need to get as far away as possible.
I can count on my two hands the number of incidents where a human or animal was hurt live in front of me and each time my reaction.
What’s curious for me is my reaction – I have a constrained feeling in my stomach and feel like the wind is knocked out of me. I immediately begin to cry and have a hard time controlling myself. Almost like what is happening for the individual or animal is happing to me.
I now know I can be triggered and the kinds of things that really affect me. I’ve made a choice to no longer watch anything that is painful, abusive or offers strange, grotesque, or weird images. I can’t, I just can’t anymore. For my mental health, I need to stay away from that stuff.
And I have realized it is part of my self-care to keep my mind free of made up violence, drama, and pain as much as possible. I’m not denying what is going on out there in the world, however, I don’t need Hollywood to add to the already stacked violent and cruel image library in my mind.
This one is definitely a practice for me, I need to continuously remind myself to be mindful of what I’m looking at and ensure its something nurturing; soul giving vs soul sucking.
Here are 5 practices I use to help with this:
1) Meditation and mindfulness. Using calm.com, headspace.com, or personal journaling
2) Music. Create a go-to playlist with music that nurtures your mind, that way you have it available when you need it.
3) Rewatch or reread a favourite story, TV, movies, and novels. This is often an excellent way to unwind and to give your mind something to enjoy.
4) Get connected to people you love. We are social beings that need connection. Use your network to reconnect with people.
5) Limit the amount of Facebook, and social media you do. Be careful about how much time you spend on social media and what you decide to click on. I often hear my clients talk about how depressed they feel after spending any amount of time on Facebook. It is in our human nature to compare what is happening in other people’s lives to our own. And in doing this kind of comparison we are putting a lid on the joy in our life.
Bonus practice do anything that is creative – writing, drawing, designing, gardening, dance, music
What strategies do you use? How do you keep your mind healing? Tell me I’d love to know.