If change is the one thing which will always happen in life, the only constant, then how come, with all this practice, it is so difficult to be good at it?
Monumental life changes are often especially challenging for folks fighting destructive addictions or living with some mental health conditions such as, for example, generalized anxiety or schizophrenia.
A major upheaval in the routine creates conditions for a “trigger” to cause an addict to revert to previous self-destructive or even suicidal behaviour.
In my case, a trigger was an event, which returned my thoughts and emotions to a time when I considered drinking myself into an oblivious, brain-damaging state was a good idea.
It is always reassuring to learn a sudden fall backward or relapse is part of a healing process and should have zero shame involved.
A common triggering event could be a big move of your house. Almost everyone has experienced the nail-biting ordeal, however, we all have different forms of coping architecture in our brains and bodies to survive and, hopefully, succeed.
Recently my co-conspirator and bestie in life put forth the idea of moving house. Initially, I was reluctant, but the new and improved version of myself is supposed to be open to experience. So I listened nervously.
It turned out when my assertive partner decided we are moving house, she really meant moving house: as in, moving a house.
We purchased an orphaned modular home with origins that date back to 1974. I was made in 1970, so I could identify with the structure's many creaks and moans, as well as its painfully outdated fashion.
When the mostly mislabelled boxes began to tower precariously in the living room, I could feel a foundation of anxiety-inspired thoughts actively weakening my coping skills.
My involuntarily overactive responses to stress wanted something to dull the sharp pointy edges of anxiety. A desire for alcohol started loitering annoyingly close in my consciousness. It was a familiar but unwanted ghost returning to haunt me.
The medication which my psychiatrist, Dr. Bell, professionally altered for best effect and, also, the hours of cognitive behavioural therapy sessions my counsellor, Ron Cameron, patiently taught me showed benefits needed for the situation, not to mention myself finding the discipline to make a habit of daily focused meditation. The habit became so positive and strong it became equally enjoyable to my morning coffee. That is big.
The stark neurological, biochemical reality that the part of my brain that influences the ancient fight or flight response, the amygdala, was jammed into overdrive and often misinterprets normal events as threatening, had little influence. I still was completely unnerved by the fact that the home which I would soon live in would travel faster than I drive my truck on the highway.
However, the architecture of my coping mechanisms held strong and helped me not relapse and or have an anxiety meltdown. If I did, or if anyone does, there is no shame because it is part of the healing process.
Robert Skender is a qathet region freelance writer, health commentator and regular contributor to the Peak.