When I was still working at a local high school, the administrative assistant had an “easy” button that she had received from the office supply store, Staples. It was a fun, gimmicky item that was the trademark marketing tool for the company. When one pressed the button, it would state, “That was easy!”
At first, Sarah (not her real name) put it on her desk. I found that pressing the button helped in three different ways: first, it validated a job well done on a perceived “good day”. Secondly, pressing the button at the end of a “bad day” helped to lighten an otherwise tense eight hours, and finally, there were the random times where I pressed it for no reason, thinking I was funny.
Unfortunately, Sarah didn’t see the humour or understand my use of the button and tucked it away. I found it in a drawer, so she found a better hiding place and the button was never seen again.
I get why she hid it on me; I was quite obnoxious with it, like a little child with some noisy toy I was somewhat obsessed. Strangely enough, it had had quite a therapeutic effect, as if hitting the button and hearing the phrase, “That was easy,” was an instant fix to whatever I was feeling and experiencing. I grieved the loss.
Over the past two months, I had really wished for that button. I needed a reset button in a bad way and everything that I would usually do to bring me out of a slump was not working. December 2014 and January of 2015 had been such good months that I was setting new goals in a variety of areas and feeling more hopeful than usual. Then, I crashed. I suppose I may have been doing too much…I’m not sure, but whether I experienced a small bleed, or a neurological storm of sorts, I could barely function. Facial muscle spasms, myoclonus, muscle weakness and rigidity, weight loss, lack of appetite, and brutal fatigue were leaving me barely able to get through a lot of days.
Intellectually, I understand that the effects of brain trauma are complex and different for everyone. Although I have had a couple of weeks at a time where I would feel really unwell, I had never experienced a two month stretch of debilitation and had really overestimated my ability to handle assaults on the psyche.
Eventually, I decided to start from scratch. I went to the doctors and had blood work done to make sure nothing “new” was occurring. Then I went for a very long and detailed visit with a certified naturopathic doctor. These visits were beneficial.
Then I looked to my meditation practice and realized that I had really forgotten about addressing self-compassion. I find it fairly easy to apply compassion for others, but I don’t really think about it for myself. Most of the time, I spend more time feeling guilty for not being able to be closer to family, whom is spread out across Canada and the US. As well, I feel badly that I can’t do more for my immediate family both financially and otherwise. So, when I came across a video and guided meditation for self-compassion, there was also some guilt around perusing this internet search for myself.
At the risk of sounding “hokey”, I was really surprised at the impact the meditation had and I can only say that one would have to experience it for oneself as I cannot put into words the profound effect it had on me. The video is ten minutes in length, which is a bit longer than the time it took to hit the Staples button, but the time to partake in the guided meditation for self-compassion is definitely worthwhile.
I feel like I have turned a corner and my energy is coming back slowly. It has been quite a rude awakening to think that set-backs can last months. What can one do, but embrace all the support systems available out there and continue to learn? As Ellen DeGeneres states, “Be kind to one another,” but be kind to yourself as well.