Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Resiliancy-make mine a double

Late posting—I wrote this last week, maybe on the 15th or so. I’ve quit my job, gone to Stitches, and started new job. More on that next time--

Since September 2012 I lost both parents and Dave’s son died. My dogs died, my cat died. I started two jobs (one of which was the worst job I ever had. If you think there isn’t a worse boss or environment than your current one? Think again-it’s out there). I quit two jobs and will be starting a third in a week. Moved 1700 miles, sold  a house, bought a house. Moved back 1700 hundred miles, sold next house and bought another. My father remarried after my mother died-was talking about getting married within 3 months, married within 6 months of my mother’s death. Had my car broken into. Spent hours in hospital rooms and nursing homes. Spent six months apart from Dave (was that so bad) living with a friend between moves. Traveled, a LOT. Started Grad School because I didn’t have enough to think about, or maybe because I had too much to think about.

After Gpa died and I was pretty sure my current job wasn’t going to go anywhere (hey—I appreciate the fact I could work remotely, I don’t appreciate promises not kept) I decided to stop the madness of being two places at once and just start living a a person in one place and settle down. It has taken many years but I think I’ve finally achieved it.

Oddly, it’s usually a nerve wracking, nail biting affair to start a new job. Not this time. I’m too tired to be nervous, I’m a little beat up to even wonder what’s going to happen. I’m told where to go and I’ll go there and I’ll do the job. Eventually I’m pretty sure I’ll actually feel something about it too. That has to be sooner rather than later I think-supervisors appreciate people who are somewhat invested in their positions. I know I have to rethink my schedule which is usually hard for me, but I’ll do it. Cause I don’t think I have it in me to have it be OCD inducing, anxiety provoking change. It just won’t be. It is what it is and that’s what two and a half years of one thing after another will get you.

What makes people keep going—ok, what’s behind my putting one foot in front of the other??  The answer is resiliency. This is different from recovery and this is what some people say about it--

The term recovery connotes a trajectory in which normal functioning temporarily gives way to threshold or subthreshold psychopathology (e.g., symptoms of depression or posttraumatic stress disorder[PTSD]), usually for a period of at least several months, and then gradually returns to pre-event levels. Full recovery may be relatively rapid or may take as long as one or two years. By contrast, resilience reflects the ability to maintain a stable equilibrium (Bonnano, 2004).

Yep—it’s at least what Bonnano wrote about it in an article called  Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive After Extremely Aversive Events?.

Some people are better at it than others, and the capacity for resilience predicts good or bad outcomes. And although people who are resilient may go through a bit of psychological pathology (depression, insomnia, memory disruption) they generally stay on course to return to normal function—or shall I say baseline because really? What’s normal?

Resilient personalities are characterized by hardiness and self enhancement (narcissists take note).But my favorite and most applicable characteristic is positive emotion and laughter. Because even in the darkest times we made jokes. They were not appropriate jokes, and maybe we stretched the definition of “Positive Emotion”, but damn it, we could laugh at the situation.

There’s all sorts of benefits to positive emotions--

In addition to promoting physical health, cultivating positive emotions is associated with psychological health (cf. Fredrickson, 2000). For instance, coping strategies related to the occurrence and maintenance of positive emotions (e.g., positive reappraisal, problem-focused coping, infusing ordinary events with positive meaning) help buffer against stress (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000) and depressed mood (Davis, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Larson, 1998). These strategies help individuals emerge from crises with new coping skills, closer relationships, and a richer appreciation for life, all of which predict increases in psychological well-being (Tugade, Fredrickson, & Barrett, 2004)

OK-I’m not on board with all of this load of coma inducing psychology. I know I learned new coping skills and I totally have a richer appreciation for life, but mostly my relationships became a little more distant. Yeppers. I’m in my own corner of Minnesota and I’m liking it.

So, even though they say this “Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life's difficulties.”, resilience does do this-- “Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress and calamity. Psychologists believe that resilient individuals are better able to handle such adversity and rebuild their lives after a catastrophe” and I have it in spades. I may be a little beat down, I may choose a few unhealthy coping stratgies (um could you get me another beer please) but I think maybe, finally, I’ll survive it.

Because I’m resilient. And that’s all that matters.