I was becoming invisible, my body paling to the white sheets. As I lay on the hospital trolley, unable to move or speak, all I had was my mind. The strength of my thoughts and the images they created could take me anywhere. As I felt my heart sinking and tears pooling at my eyes I knew I needed to change direction. I focused on my breath. It gave me perspective. What was I feeling and where was it coming from? I felt utterly worthless. The actions, or lack of actions, by others during a time of acute illness in A&E had triggered an inner story; a deep seated belief that I knew to be untrue, yet at that moment I was compelled to believe.
As I made the connections, something switched on inside me. My body became more solid as I took my place on earth once again. “I am safe,” I told myself, comforted by the realisation that perhaps I had all I needed. “I am worth it.” It was maybe no coincidence that once I started to believe this, others began to treat me in the same way. As I finally received medical treatment, nurses showed me great tenderness and care. I started to feel like a person again. It was confirmation that I’d chosen the right path.
The new year has been challenging. Illness, FND complications and an emergency hospital admission have meant carefully laid plans have been changed and changed again. I’ve met frustrations head on. I’ve cried over disappointments. The bright winter sunshine and lengthening days are starting to tease me, but the warmth of spring is still some way off. I keep returning to the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, “smile, breathe, and go slowly.” Gently does it as I remind myself I have all the resources I need to get through this time, and that kindness and care has to start from within.
Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of a self-soothing kit. I was encouraged to fill a box or bag with items that would comfort me during times of physical or emotional distress; items that would help me through difficult times whilst showing myself kindness. The kit centered around the senses and was full of items and prompts to make it easy to care for myself in a way I naturally would a loved one. Items in my kit have changed over time, but I constantly return to it. It’s a simple reminder that I am worthy of love and kindness. During the dark days of winter and the challenges of illness, those little acts of kindness can make all the difference.
You can find ideas for a self-soothing kit in ‘My Toolbox‘.
Artwork by Katie Daisy