Be Kind, Especially Now. But How?

As a person who is neuroatypical, people are often surprised by what ends up having hurt me, and also by how I bounce back quickly after setbacks that others might never recover from. The problem with this is that it has had the following unexpected side effect: I can really hurt people’s feelings, and since what I have said wouldn’t have hurt me, I really struggle to realize that it hurt as bad as it did.

A friend of mine has a son who has mental illness and she told me about polyvagal theory. It is a complex theory and I really don’t have the credentials to write about it. But it got me to return to the book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine, PhD.. This book I had abandoned as a bunch of baloney. It didn’t resonate. But since my friend said it resonated for her, I thought I would see what made her tick and would read it.

Honestly, reading this book has rehumanized me. It has given me a model for understanding how I should act in delicate situations, and has given me compassion for people who may have been hurt by my words in the past. (I’m never physically abusive or violent, ever; and never have been.) I find myself asking people for their feedback, and also find myself asking, “What do you think?” and, for once, I am ready to take in people’s answers and pivot accordingly. I am more flexible.

Learning about how “normal” people function helped me to see how they need to be treated, and I think that I am a better person for it. I recommend reading books written about therapy for “normal” people. The techniques may not apply to how you would be helped, but they will build your compassion muscle so you can live life more fully and without causing needless harm. It is important, especially now.

Exhaustion and COVID-19: Carrying on Anyway

Having a mental illness is already isolating, and so in many ways I am more prepared for the COVID-19 social distancing practices that are being implemented around the world. Somehow the community that has always surrounded me, feels more real and accessible. For once, there is a sense of us all being in this together, while usually with mental illness I feel like I’m alone and will therefore support people who actually are able to be integrated into the day to day living of life in the 21st century. From the sidelines. My role is still important, but, as I mentioned in a recent post, it is okay not to be consistent in it.

One thing that does not lend itself well to my mental health condition is the sense that I have no choice but to stay home now that COVID-19 is on the loose. Usually I go to the library or tutor a student.

Usually I’m happy to stay home and it feels special.

But now I feel trapped.

Furthermore, I like to substitute teach, – and now I cannot do this. All of the schools are cancelled.

This means that my sense of purpose is not as strong as it usually is. Luckily, I can rely on my CRM processor to remind me of the earlier clarity I had of what I was doing, why, where and when – which I spoke about in a different post. Thanks to this I’m actually continuing to work on my professional commitments even though I am doing this from home and have a lot more unstructured time.

It’s all about building up continuity through touchstone supports to keep me poised and ready to serve in the midst of this crisis. I have made all of my tutoring and editing services free, and am now offering them online, too – only to those who need and cannot afford. More about that here. And there is no greater purpose than to serve those in need. There are many people in need at this time. I try to remind myself that I don’t have it as bad as many others at this time.