Being a stroke survivor myself, I can say that anxiety is crippling at times. You can’t do all the things you could before your stroke-so, you feel worthless.
Chores piling up in front of you and you can no longer see over that pile of laundry- or dirty dishes. You may have kids at home needing your attention, and you’ve just gone through physical therapy exercises and your brain is spent. You have completely emptied your resources on that last toe lift. Now you are exhausted from life- the kind of exhaustion that sleep will never remedy. You are stuck inside a body that once belonged to you, and now it just feels like a weighted burden.
Every December hits me like an overwhelming tidal wave. I am going about my business and all at once, I feel as though I’m drowning. I look up and realize it’s been a few days since my last shower, a few weeks since I’ve drawn the blinds. Just getting me outside is like dragging a teenager out of bed when I’m feeling down.
That, my friends is depression.
To feel vulnerable in this way sucks. However, their are lessons that we need to learn during our vulnerable and raw moments. When we are feeling down, depressed, or anxious, we need to be careful of what we say to ourselves.
We are survivors!
It recently dawned on me that our actions are related to our thoughts. When we speak negatively to ourselves, we act negatively to others. Once we start on that spiraling rabbit hole, it leads us to the correlation between depression and fatigue.
A 2018 study from Rochester University shows us by using our five senses, we can ground ourselves in the environment we are in and effectively de-escalates our anxiety (Smith, 2018). In turn, this eases our depression and revitalizes our soul.
If you are noticing that your thoughts are sabotaging your actions- go outside, wake up your senses, and do this activity. If you are still in the hospital recovering from a stroke, ask your nurse to take you outside. Trust me, you will be glad you did. While outside (or anywhere you currently are), do these 5 things:
- Locate something around you that you can touch and describe the feeling to yourself. Is this item cold, warm, fuzzy, smooth, coarse, etc.?
- Then locate something that you can see, describe to yourself what you can see. Can you see a tree, a bird, a car, etc.?
- Try to locate a smell, describe the aromas. Do you smell coffee, cut grass, trees, or maybe its a flower!?
- Try to stimulate your sense of taste, describe the different flavors. Is it savory, sweet, sour, minty, etc.?
- What sounds do you hear, explain them to yourself. Can you hear a train, music, flowing water, the tapping of the rain, birds chirping, etc.?
Mother earth has this fantastic cathartic energy. She also presents some great breathtaking phenomena.
The King’s Tide takes place twice a year on the West Coast of the United States. This phenomenon takes the ocean’s lowest tide out by an extra mile. In the photo that I took below, you can see the ocean’s floor.
Sometimes, even Mother Earth is vulnerable. During unprotected times like The Kings Tide, it’s a feeding frenzy for the birds and other land animals. Many sea creatures are out when they are usually underwater. Some ocean dwellers get caught in the residual puddles left by the tide. During this particular trip, a group of people were observing a crab who was caught in a puddle. By the way, (for my carnivorous friends) I’ve heard that clamming is amazing during The Kings Tide- be careful of the dangers of the incoming tide, though.
We are like Mother Earth in a way- because we also hold breathtaking phenomena. Our brains can rebuild, reconstruct, and rewire itself in amazing ways.
Yes, stroke survivors get tired quickly- but it’s because our brains are working extra hard to perform the simplest of tasks. Have patience with yourself and be kind to your mind.
Get outside- rejuvenate your soul- soak in the suns natural Vitamin D- inhale the sweet aroma of the fresh oxygen around us- touch a tree and feel it’s wisdom- Enjoy the slight tingle of the sun caressing your face.
Those dishes and laundry will be there tomorrow. Ask a relative, friend, or kind neighbor to help out with the kids. Sometimes, we need to put our oxygen mask on first before we can help others.
I was taught by my speech therapist in San Francisco, California that people are generally understanding creatures. You just have to tell them that you’ve had a stroke. It’s miraculous how quickly patience replaces tension once they realize they are speaking to a survivor.
You are unique. No one can replace the miracle that God created when he made you.
Speak kindly to yourself, friend.
You are a warrior.
Smith, S. (2018, April 10). 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique for anxiety. University of Rochester medical center. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/behavioral-health-partners/bhp-blog/april-2018/5-4-3-2-1-coping-technique-for-anxiety.aspx