Something that became extremely apparent to me last year when I explored therapy was the sheer physicality of the process of self control. When I find myself sliding I need to do physical things to arrest it, including:
- Making sure I get out, if I’ve been inside too long;
- Doing deep breathing exercises;
- Withdrawing and taking the time to be reflective.
Yet, it doesn’t just stop there; it’s also equally true that being tired, or in pain (or both) will have consequences when it comes to my mood. This has been abundantly clear to me over the past 48+ hours. I usually have sinus issues when flying, typically resolved by taking anti-inflammatories about an hour before the descent (it’s the pressure change on descent that does it to me), but this time, travelling on top of having a cold at the time, it’s like it ended up triggering a sinus infection. For two days now my vision has been slightly blurred out of my left eye except when anti-inflammatories at their peak, I’m perpetually feeling tired, there’s a continuous ache in the left side of my forehead, and both flights I took resulted in that near scream inducing feeling of an invisible sadist driving white hot needles into my skull.
Net result is that I’ve not slept well and I’m walking around with a constant bugger of a headache.
But that’s the easy half of it. Emotionally, it’s draining. That sort of tiredness leaves me feeling on the wrong side of melancholy, and that sort of pain leaves me constantly on the edge of snapping and snarling.
I made a conscious decision during therapy that one approach I’d try to take was that if I were feeling tired, I’d constantly remind myself of that and remind myself to shelve any complex emotional decisions that loomed. When I’m in that state, I’m practically non compos mentis for such decisions; if I let myself deal with them, the glass just isn’t half empty, but it’s sprung a leak, and my iPhone is sitting underneath it. It’s something I seem to be getting better and better at achieving, and in itself it’s a pretty rewarding process.
Keeping my temper on the leash when I’m in pain though involves a bit more effort. My anger management issues were actually anger over management – keeping things bottled up too long, refusing to accept they had any validity, then exploding. As much as anything, it was refusing to accept that it was sufficient to acknowledge an emotional cause of a mood even if it couldn’t logically be rationalised. This though boils down to classic anger management; getting angry just because you’re in pain may be an animal instinct, but it’s neither logically nor emotionally valid.
I will rise to the challenge.