A Brief Reprieve
For more than a week after Father’s Day, 2008, I had the longest string of good days I had experienced in years. We got two puppies, that week, I spent a lot of time with my children, and I felt generally happy and full of energy. My journal entries were all positive and incredulous, with an underlying fear that the fall would come.
Back to Work
The big drop in mood did indeed come, and a rush of reactive, memory-induced anxiety came along with it. I say memory-induced not because I remembered something specific, but because I was aware that the feelings I was experiencing were not about anything that was currently happening in my life. I knew that they were driven by things from my past.
This understanding was, in itself, a big step in the right direction. In the past I had always viewed my moodswings as something beyond my control - something that happened to me sometimes, often out-of-the-blue, for no apparent reason. Understanding that these mood swings were caused by something felt like hope because it meant I might be able to find the cause and be in control of my life in a whole new way.
One tool I've used a number of times to help me figure out what part of my past is triggering my present anxiety is “Alternate Hand Writing”. Briefly, the idea is to talk to the part-of-self that is being triggered, whether it is a dissociated part or just a set of memories from the past.
With the dominant hand (for me this is my right hand), I ask questions. The questions are directed at the triggered part-of-self as if this was a separate person. With the non-dominant hand (my left hand) I answer the questions.
Every time I've tried this, I would have a nagging doubt in the back of my mind as to whether any answer to my questions would come. I needn't have worried. Almost always, the answer popped into my head soon after I switched the pen to my left hand. It felt almost mystical or magical, the answers almost seeming to write themselves.
This is a tool anyone can use, any time. It can help you identify what you're feeling and why. I've included examples in my memoir, "Through the Tiger's Door".