*For HIPPA reasons, I have changed the names in this blog post to names that I felt each person more closely resembled (’cause I’m a weirdo and I’m obsessed with names).
Little did I know that I’d be in the mood to write my follow-up post so soon. I shouldn’t be all that surprised since there are several reasons for me to be in a slump today. First, Jack has no school. Second, Jack has a doctor’s appointment at 4:30 this afternoon. Both things are enough to land me in the fetal position, rocking back and forth. Why?
Jack has no school. Jack also has off-the-charts ADHD. We are about to try medication #6 for his hyperactivity, but as of this moment he’s unmedicated. And he’s aaaaaaall mine for the entire day.
Jack has a doctor’s appointment. Normally, his appointments are in Boston, but today’s appointment is in Lexington. Not nearly as bad. But it’s in Lexington at 4:30. I used to work in Lexington. Route 2 is where all the car accidents happen. We’re going to be driving home in rush-hour traffic. How long are we going to be waiting in the waiting room? How much energy is it going to take to keep him from destroying everything in sight? How sweat-soaked will my shirt be by the time we leave?
And this, my friends, is one of the reasons why I needed a program like Bournewood so badly. The answer to all of my questions is Mindfulness. Stay with me here because I’m not into earthy-crunchy things either. Unless they work. I wouldn’t say Mindfulness is totally completely 100% working for me, but it helps to put things in perspective and lessen my anxiety. So here’s how it works:
Mindfulness is a combination of deep breathing to help you calm down and trying to stay in the moment. At Bournewood, Sylvia would have everyone at the table close their eyes with their feet on the floor and backs straight in the chair. We could use whatever breathing technique worked best for us–breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 4 seconds, and breathing out for 4 more seconds. Or breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and breathing out for 8 seconds. Personally, the latter type of breathing makes me very anxious so I stick with the 4-4-4 breathing. Then, with our eyes closed, Sylvia would do a “body scan”, naming each limb while we concentrate on releasing stress from that particular part of the body. At the end, she would ask each of us how we did.
Okay, I spent 5 weeks in that class and I didn’t really feel like I got the hang of it until Week 5. I felt so self-conscious. All I could think was ‘I must look SO stupid right now.’ But then I thought about it a little more: If Sylvia had asked all of us to close our eyes and pick our nose . . . if I had opened my eyes I would’ve seen a bunch of people also picking their noses. A bunch of people also looking just as stupid as me. But the neat thing about Mindfulness is that you’re not trying to clear your mind of all thought or reach some Zen-like state; you’re just trying to stay in the present. So if you’re feeling anxious, then accept feeling anxious. Imagine that feeling as a statement on a TV screen. “I feel anxious.” Try to disconnect yourself from that feeling and watch it float by. If your feeling is “I hate this” or “I’m bored” or “Why won’t that clock stop ticking so loudly?!”, then accept those feelings as facts and move on. This will help you to recognize how you feel at that very moment, instead of worrying about the past or the future. All the while you’re breathing deeply and focusing on that breath. It really does work and you don’t have to be in a dimly-lit room with candles and incense. You can do it while your son is painting the walls with poop. Or while he’s vomitting all over the living room couch. In fact, sometimes it’s helpful for me to just stomp my feet a few times to shift my mind and focus on my feet for a few seconds. That works to cut the anxiety just enough so I can remain calm while cleaning the poop or the vomit.
Everybody knows that taking a few deep breaths helps calm you down. With Mindfulness, it’s helpful to breathe in and out through your nose. To imagine breathing in cooler air and pushing out warmer air. Being the dork that I am, I always imagine the concluding scene of Sleeping Beauty while doing my breathing. While I breathe in, Sleeping Beauty’s dress is blue . . .
. . . and when I breathe out, Sleeping Beauty’s dress turns pink.
Once again, I’ve already made it clear that I am a dork. But this makes me happy so hey, whatever works! You know what else makes me happy? Frappuccinos. So I will be doing my breathing exercises on my way to Starbucks in a few minutes!
I thought this was going to be my concluding post, but I’m realizing just how much I learned at Bournewood and with Jack home it’s better for me to keep my posts shorter. The longer I type, the more destructive he gets. Frappuccino photo to follow! 😉