Do What You Have To, Get Out That Door

At the bottom of the washing machine is a very unappetising pulp stuck onto the ankle of my jeans. It is one of those days where bailing on checking the pockets of my washing pile has come back to bite me. These sluggish remains of yellow paper have been hiding in the back pockets of my jeans. They are instructions for my brain. 

It may sound bizarre but for the last few months when going out I have made myself a crib sheet to follow on how to function, like the kind you would need if you were using a very temperamental second hand computer. On some sheets are just the basics- “You need to get the number 6 bus before 5pm” or “return library books so they don’t fine you”. On others the detail is much more and without that scrap of paper I wouldn’t be able to get out of the door.

Take this weekend for example- Gay Pride. A familiar bus ride and then a one hour train journey to a familiar city. A whole day out, which I had been mentally planning for a fortnight. My yellow piece of paper is A4 and double sided. It gives a complete itinerary for the day with planned times to make sure I eat something to avoid blood sugar crashes. It even suggests what to eat and where from, avoiding foods which will trigger OCD thoughts and cause unnecessary stress on an already daunting day. There are multiple choice, step by step instructions of all the things I usually do without batting an eyelid; worst case scenarios, distraction ideas and helpful thoughts to tell myself. It all sounds odd. I know. 

But actually this is a coping strategy that I have learnt and it works. It means I can get out and about and do things I want to do. Granted with limited spontaneity. It isn’t something that I have been told to do by any therapist, it’s just what I taught myself. There have been, and are, times where I need much more than my plans. Backpacks with enough water to end a hosepipe ban and enough hand sanitiser to supply a particularly hygiene conscious surgeon operating in a swamp. Sometimes just to go down to the shops I take half my sensory box and something to cuddle. I won’t use even a quarter of these things but it’s knowing I have them which allows me to go out. 

My point here is do what you have to do. Survival, backpacking mode. At the end of the day nobody knows or cares what you have in your bag. No one knows how much you have planned the day or how many things you had to do things to make it happen. Do what you have to do to get out the door and have a good time. I had a pretty awesome time at pride, my plans worked fine and I didn’t use any of the listed distractions for train journeys or the second battery pack for my phone. 

I repeat I am not a therapist, or qualified with anything other than experience. I just want to share what I have found to help my neuroboiler to keep ticking on. Maybe it will help someone. 

  

10 thoughts on “Do What You Have To, Get Out That Door

      • My safe stuff is Lorazepam of course…. a book I love, mints, gum, ibuprofen, kitty keychain to play with, crayons and notepad….. keeps me busy if I get anxious. Often, I take my pet guinea pig,” Beans”, to where I teach lessons and he helps me stay calm.

  1. I have safe stuff that I bring with me too! (More often than not it’s a collection of crystals that I have accumulated during some of my travels in the past…) Lately I just seem to run head first into the world… without planning, which I think leaves me a lot more anxious that I should be! Maybe planning will help me!

    • A dear friend of mine once told me- “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance!”. I probably go way over the top with it but I think having a plan can help with anxiety. It stops you having the “what now?” Train of thought. X

      • Haha that’s ace! I like that 😀 I seem to be skipping the ‘what now’ thoughts at the moment and just have the ‘EVERYTHING IS TOO MUCH’ thoughts haha x

      • Oh no… Not those ones. Maybe a plan with lots of rest breaks in friendly cafe corners? Or earplugs… I use them all the time to block out unnecessary auditory stimuli and I find it less stressful than listening to music on the go. Though I do like a good earphone groove when I sit somewhere in public 😉 x

  2. i do the same kind of planning myself, but not quite so specific as your examples. when i had to take the bus, i would always write down the time and number and intersection for the first bus, then any connecting, then address of where i was going, etc. now that i have a car, i only need to take with me the directions and address (which i use my gps for). i go thru my day i am planning and give myself x amount of time to prepare and get ready for the first task, then the next, etc to make sure i do not get anxious going between places or tasks and end up unprepared mentally. so i put a lot of space around my tasks/places to go, so i have plenty of recovery time and time to prepare for the next. i absolutely hate not being prepared, as it terrifies me that i will make a mistake, go to the wrong place, or be late.

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