Tempest in a Teacup

Don't Know BeansHere I am, finishing up my second week of work.

The stress is enormous, not just for me, but for everyone trying to learn this new program and making up the next steps as they are needed.  The real challenge for me is to moderate the anxiety and pressure.  Under stress, I’m easily overwhelmed.  I’m like a teacup that flattens, slopping out my ability to concentrate and my emotional flexibility.  I lose capacity.

I also become reactive, and my first instinct is to bolt.  I run from the stressor, fling it off and dive into a hide-hole.  So, the words “I can’t do this” fly in and out of my head regularly.

But part of my personal journey is to work on increasing my tolerance to distress.  If I’m ever to make any lasting changes in my behavior and my life, I need to work this work situation like a puzzle.  What do I need to do to stretch my envelope of tolerance?  As always, I created a plan.

The first piece is to breathe.  It’s my starting point.  When the acronyms start flying and I can feel my body vibrating like a tuning fork, I stop and breathe deep into my belly.  It tells me to come back to myself.  It starts the process of flinging off the assumptions and negativity.  Breathing deep, I can remember why I’m doing this.  I can remember I don’t need to understand.  I can remember that I’m not alone.

I also realized that creating more structure would help soothe the anxiety, so I put an After Work plan in place.  I go straight home, change, and go to the Y to ride the recumbent bike for an hour.  That helps burn off some of the adrenaline and agitation.  Then, I journal with a cup of something soothing.  Then, I meditate.  After that, I’m rational enough to eat a sensible supper.  This helps.  Instead of bingeing all night with a movie, I’m taking positive action to stretch my tolerance.

And it seems to be working.  I may be an emotional puddle by the time I leave the office, but by the next morning my teacup is upright and able to hold water.

This is new behavior for me.  It’s also more stress than I’ve endured in years.  I’m proud of all that.  I’m also aware that I could blow at any time.  That’s the unknowable, uncontrollable piece to bipolar disorder.  All I can do is stay as mindful as I can from moment to moment and see what happens.

I’m on an Adventure.

tiny cups

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marie Astra
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 18:41:39

    Good to hear from you! Just sold my house so I’m in a happy mood! I so admire your hard work to do what you know you need to. xx


  2. Dee Silbaugh
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 18:42:02

    It sounds like you’re doing everything right. I have been thinking about you. Let me know if you need any stress breaker. Maybe we can do something for that.


  3. David Kanigan
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 04:20:30

    Glad it’s working Sandy…


  4. Maggie Wilson
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 09:36:51

    Awesome, Sandy! I am seriously impressed. To wrangle your impulses and to actually follow through on all of the strategies. That takes a super human act of willpower and self-love.

    Now, I must ask, regarding the art work. What is the connection between the caption and the image, if there is one?


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 19, 2014 @ 18:23:56

      Oooo! Thanks for asking, Maggie! It’s really hard to see, but there’s a sign in the upper left of the photo that says, “You don’t know beans until you’ve tried [can’t quite make out the brand, even in the original photo] beans.”

      I found this photo as we cleaned out Mom’s house after her death. I’d never seen a picture of my great grandfather this young, and he seemed absolutely formidable to me. If he was anything like my dad, “beans” would be a watered-down euphemism for something much stronger.


  5. LindaNoel
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 18:54:03

    Which one is your grandfather? AND Your Plans of Action to Behave Differently help me to do so, too.


  6. Maggie Wilson
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 18:54:06

    This is a wild ass guess… he’s on the right? I googled on the ad copy and came up with Armour’s Veribest. So now you know. http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn83025138/1920-02-20/ed-1/seq-12/


  7. Tiny
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 13:12:00

    Wonderful post. Great coping strategies that seem to be working well from day to day.


  8. pegoleg
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 13:26:00

    Great, Sandy! It sounds like you’ve got a good plan and you’re working it. I need to get back into good routines – good reminder.


  9. Kitt O'Malley
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 15:57:52

    Best of luck in your new job!


  10. Littlesundog
    Aug 02, 2014 @ 11:50:13

    This is why I love reading your posts… your updates on life! It’s an adventure. And aren’t we all on our own adventure? It is good to pass along updates and bits of information to help another on their own journey. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!


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