Sometimes after people have heart surgery, their personalities change for a while. They might get depressed. Often they feel angry, irritable, or grouchy. Their tolerance for stress is lowered. They call it “Pumphead”.
Thank God, Jack’s personality didn’t change, although his tolerance for stress was reduced. I got him a new smart phone and he had understandable trouble adjusting to it after using a landline all his life. One morning, he was very frustrated trying to work it and began swearing. He had no idea he’d hit my speed dial and left a litany of swear words to greet me when I woke and checked my voicemail. Dear Jack. He was mortified.
If he has Pumphead, I have Stresshead.
It’s like my brain is overloaded and I’m in a kind of daze lately. In conversation, I become suddenly inarticulate. I reach for simple words and can’t find them. The ping of an iPhone-text startles me, makes me jump. Then I know I’m in survival-brain hyperarousal mode and my neo-cortex has gone a little dark.
I need to step back when that happens. Do some pranic breathing. Eat something. Do Trauma Releasing Exercises. Talk with Jack and tell him how I feel, how my body feels. Listen to certain songs. Dance. Do mindful meditation. Anything to let my body/brain know I’m safe and pull me back into the here-and-now.
The reason I’m a little freaked-out is because we just decided to move from Chicago to Arizona by September and I’ve been overwhelmed contemplating all I need to do.
We decided to get in the best shape of our lives—mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically—before the move, so we’re the least stressed doing this.
I’m pretty good during the day and early evening when I’m busy with workouts, errands, cooking, etc.
But late night has traditionally been the time I’m most likely to be hypervigilant or feel afraid and vulnerable. Sometimes it’s hard to shut my brain down then.
Last night was one of those times.
After Jack went to sleep, I felt agitated. My hypervigilance was on high.
All of a sudden, I heard someone singing “Vogue” in the living room. I immediately went out there to see what was going on.
It was Ivy.
And not only was she singing, but she was doing poses!
I said, “Ivy, I had no idea you could Vogue.”
She said, “I’ve got all kinds of abilities, sister. But let’s talk about you a minute. You’re nervous as a bug tonight.”
I said, “Yeah, I can’t settle down. I keep thinking about the move, like how can I safely transport you guys, where we’ll live and so on.”
She said, “You know it’s all going to work out one step at a time.”
I said, “Sure, but you know me. I get hyper when big changes are coming down.”
She said, “You’re hypervigilant-ing all the way across the country, girlfriend. You need to pull it in and deeply focus on just one thing, so you can rest later tonight.”
“I know, but what?”
She started posing and singing “Vogue” again.
I said, “Ivy, can I do your portrait?”
So Ivy posed for the picture below. While I drew and colored, she talked about all the wonders out west: the mountains, the billions of stars at night, the wide open spaces, the fresh air, the energy vortexes in places like Sedona, the shamans and energy healers, the wildlife. On and on she went, putting me into the most beautiful, dreamy trance.
Thank you, dear Ivy!