How to diffuse dissociating in bad days/ground yourself

I... have developed some idea of what triggers go which way with me. Some are like a summer thunderstorm, they hit, and exact the most reaction possible, short but violent and exhausting. And then you get your bearings. And then there are the others, that gather like anxiety in balls of nerves through your body. And those last longer. They aren't as bad short term, they take less time... but then they... linger.
The anxiety pushes into a panic and then subsides. You briefly adjust your schedule for the moment and push forward. You break tasks in baby steps or reschedule, depending. Everything is still getting done, it just exacts a lot more energy out of you. And then it lingers for days. You do some of what you wanted, not all. You write everything down because it feels like the only way not to forget. You need to repeat things to remember them and your mind is like a swamp full of fog. Short-term tasks or meetings get done, intentions and goals or desires push to the back because you just don't feel present. Everything is too fast or too slow, invading and loud. Everything is too far, except the triggered memories, which seem blaringly close. And you just muddle through a few days, half-there, half-detached, and everything just takes too much energy although you still can't get rest when it comes down to it.

I'm going through the second version now. Everything is sticky and slow, making it very hard to think right now. That's okay, I can handle today because all my plans are still alone at home.
The weekend I have 2 ballet classes each day as usual, time between them (not enough to go home), and it's a bit packed weekend. Usually it had some structure, but now each of the days also has several things I need to bring, or do, or plan. One example is having to break in new pointe shoes, which I last did months ago. Normal weekend, except I don't feel very normal today. I have that lingering feeling and all I want to do is curl up in my bed and never leave. But if I push everything til tomorrow it will add more tasks to my weekend and I'm trying to relax, not stress more. Then of course, there is that feeling of disconnect. Like normal me picks up combinations in a second, me like this keeps hearing and looking at the combination and it's like I've never been to class and someone is speaking in a foreign language.

How do I ground myself?
How do I keep present?
How do I cope?
I had a panic attack between classes last time, so I conveyed I maybe 10min late (they know I get them sometimes), calmed with the help of another teacher and did great in class. That was random panic attack though.

This is memories and dissociation and hypervigilance and shame and guilt and exhaustion.
And I still don't want to give up on my weekend. Exercises or things to have with me to cope? Ideas?
 
Understanding why is the single biggest part. For me? When I read the "Stress Cup" the first time it was like - wow - that's whats going on. Learning stress is stress is stress is stress no matter the source and it all has the same effect....big change. Learned how to mitigate my stress. Started working on it. T says a couple sessions later that I seem better and asks why, and I start verbalizing my mitigation stuff I was doing in my head.

That was a big change - from conscious thought to automatic reaction......

 
Those I experience are like your second, happen every day, in the morning and last through the day. Then by early afternoon, I restabilize and my head 'clears up'. So, what I do to come back from the abyss every 3 seconds to 5 minutes throughout that time that allows me to actually get any work during the day and get through the mental fog:

Safe colors and objects in the room. It can be any color or thing that when you see it, it brings you to the present, with assurance that you are safe and returns you to as clear-thinking as possible.

Take a drink of water. When I realize I'm heading from 'clear' thinking back into fog and possibly another fb, I take a large drink of water. Hydration is critical for clearing the fog for me.

I used to do alternating patterns, (alternate tapping my feet) but have fallen out of the habit. Stimulation of the left/right hemispheres of the brain stimulates the vagus nerve which helps bring your body to the 'rest and digest' state and away from fight/flight state.

Stand up. I sit for my job and many times go for hours w/out moving. So, I walk downstairs and back up just to stimulate all my body parts..and often refill my water

Deep breathing in through my nose and out slowly through my nose. I don't count, just intentional, really deep and slow breathing.

Count backwards slowly from 5 to 1 (this is for DID when my parts are switching like crazy fast...it helps somebody land in front solidly which helps the fog)

Look around my amazing surroundings and Chant in my head "this is where I heal, I am healing, I am healed". Our property has big trees, a hill, goes out to a walking trail...a real oasis for me.

Beginning. Middle. End. "BME" I try to remember this and repeat when I can.

Cold grounding if I absolutely have to. Frozen orange on the neck or alternating from hand to hand. Cold water splash to the face. Hands on cold counter top. I have parts that are averse to this though so its hit or miss.

Fidget toys, every variety. Rocks to rub, smooth, rugged, whatever works.

Saying out loud, the date, year, where I am, my address, names of kids, their birthdays, their age. Facts, facts, facts.

5, 4, 3, 2 , 1 - said outloud.
5 things I see, 4 things I hear, 3 things I feel with my hands/fingers, 2 things I smell, 1 thing I like about myself (it has to be authentic, not want I want to like, but what I already do like).

These may be old, but just some ideas and my tried and true 'go to's' every single day.
 
How do I ground myself?
How do I keep present?
How do I cope?

This is memories and dissociation and hypervigilance and shame and guilt and exhaustion.
And I still don't want to give up on my weekend. Exercises or things to have with me to cope? Ideas?
I too often find things are too busy or too slow. I worked with a sensory occupational therapist on sensory profile then trying different items, creams, fragrances etc whilst with her to work out whether they soothe/trigger/neutral. Sometimes I need a combination and if really heightened they don’t completely ground me but they still help, other times even just one is enough to help me ground. I also set up two kits of sensory items, one larger kit at home and a small bag in the car for swift access when out.

Some things that help me now, typically in combination with breath work (I found what technique works best for me as there’s thousands of options; and pacing/selfcare is still a work in progress but improving) include:
Essential oils (I have a couple of rollon ones, a couple of diffusers in most used rooms at home, a car diffuser, portable pocket/handbag diffuser, and standard drops). Sometimes I’ll put a few drops on my sleeve or fabric bracelet so I can smell it to help soothe. I tried a few scents I knew to be calming for me and a few common oils to figure which ones worked best for me (eg lavender triggers migraines for me, gardenia reminds me of safety, eucalyptus and peppermint remind me of safe places and experiences)

I can’t use a weighted blanket because of a physical medical condition, however I can use a weighted lap blanket so I have a lap blanket with various textures and tassels and a weighted dog (like a soft toy but 2-3kg) and the combination of weight and texture helps me with the arousal.

A couple of very small handheld fidget objects like a 10-15cm sleeve type thing with a marble in it.

Time with animals (mine or those I meet on the streets), and most of my clinicians have an unofficial policy of allowing dogs (and sometimes cats) to come with me to F2F sessions (in Oz assistance dogs other than vision impairment and first responders/veterans is very new so not yet readily accessible), so I have a shared dog that technically isn’t mine who I bring when I can and she senses and stays close when I’m more heightened and when I’m ok she just lays down in the consult room.

Sounds. I have different playlists like for soothing, for letting off steam when I’m really agitated and snapping easily. Also I’ve tried a couple of apps and found one with nature sounds that are soothing for me (others with nature sounds don’t soothe so again trial and error), and a number of these apps are free. Last hospital admission the small psych ward I was on had something that looked like a radio but had a number of different sounds (waves, birds, trees, and others) one could use alone or in combination and that too was helpful.

Lighting. Aside from basics like changing the bulbs used after sunset to warm rather than cool, I was able to trial something like a nightlight which one could change the colours/settings of and I was able to project a gentle green-ish light and ‘starry sky’ over the room which I’ve used during the day as well when heightened.

There are plenty of sensory supply options and shops (especially online), though most advertise for kids hence many adults aren’t aware as all ages can need them.

These aren’t all the things that I use but I hope they give you some ideas to start with. As to coping, for me I remind myself that I survived the trauma so I can survive the memories, even out feels like I’m right back there. 🌺
 
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