Diffusing Stress with a Laugh

Every week in the middle of DBT group we take a break and then come back and do a Mindfulness exercise.  Today Sierra handed out sheets of paper and told us we were going to do the one where we make smaller words out of a big phrase.  I clapped excitedly.  She warned the group that this was my favorite and not to be upset when I get way more words than they do.  She gave us the phrase and said it should be easy to find words.  I said, “But there are no As or Os!”

The phrase was INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS.  Notice both an A and an O in there?  Notice how there isn’t a U?  After we all got done laughing at me, I wrote down the phrase at the top of my paper.  I started making words.  I was nearly down the first column when Rochelle said, “Have we started yet?”  Oops.  I got a little eager.  I said I’d sit out the first minute but Sierra told me to keep going.

As usual, everyone freaked out when they saw my page.  I counted it up and had 76 words, which is my new record.  Other people counted theirs and said they got distracted by the sound of my frantic pencil scratches.  I did have to volunteer to scratch out all the dirty words I used, in case they didn’t count.  (Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t immediately see “PENIS” in there.)

The best news about this is that I laughed when I said something completely idiotic.  Absolutely no flush of shame and no urge to go hurt myself for looking foolish.  The same has been happening for about a week in other situations.  I went from one scheduled shift to three in one week, then a coworker called in sick the last day and I worked 8 hours alone.  I took it in stride.

I got letters from my car insurance about paying (or not paying) for medical bills that had nothing to do with my car accident anyway – an ultrasound I had for complications of surgery.  Blood tests to follow up on the ultrasound.  An ER visit to get admitted to inpatient.  I laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation and calmly went to the hospital billing department to sort it out, only to find that the car insurance had actually requested all my bills that had already been paid by my health insurance.

Then yesterday I stayed calm when my dentist was being snarky to me, and again when I was driving down a country road and the cop behind me suddenly turned on his lights.  I’d never been pulled over before but apparently did what I was supposed to do.  He told me my brake lights weren’t working and when he found out where I was headed (not far) he told me to drive carefully and get it fixed right away, then walked back to his car.  I didn’t panic at all, and drove just far enough to be parked in a lot where mom could come meet me with replacement bulbs.

As it turned out, only the left one worked, so we drove back to the auto parts store and followed the manager’s advice.  It still didn’t work so he tested the bulb, found that it was defective, and gave us a new one.  I feel super loyal to this store, as he also helped out when I needed to replace a headlight bulb and couldn’t wriggle my hands into the tight space.

I made a comment to Sadie about how well I’ve been handling things lately.  She asked what changed, and was probably perturbed when I said, “Medication.”  Well, I’ve been using the coping skills she has taught me for a long time, but they are only so helpful when the medication isn’t quite right.


One thought on “Diffusing Stress with a Laugh

  1. Congrats, those are HUGE strides! It’s tough to stay calm and focused with all of life’s annoyances, especially when it’s one right after another. Whether it’s because of medication, coping skills, etc., something’s working and that’s great!


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