May 9th, 2007

Turtle Hope Afloat

Weekly Thought Stirring Question: Structure (public)

After surviving abuse, many survivors often feel a loss of structure and stability. Whether it's because we're still living with an abuser, or whether it's invasive thoughts or memories, it can be tough to have a consistent schedule from day to day. We can't always predict which nights we'll be up all night with nightmares or panic attacks, which makes going to work, school, or university even harder.

Even on a social level, it can be tough to find consistency. We're often plagued by social anxieties, or fears of new people or places, and often those fears can strike without much notice. This can make it quite difficult to get the together time we crave with our friends and loved ones.

There have been many studies throughout the years, of survivors and non-survivors alike, that show that most people benefit from some sense of structure. Whether that structure comes from a consistent schedule, or even just a consistency in how we feel and how our friends and family behave from day to day - structure is soothing on one of the deepest levels we know.

Most inpatient or partial inpatient psych programs rely on a schedule - including everything from times to eat and sleep to times to talk about what we're going through in group or individual therapy. Often, when we are in a time of increased symptoms or anxiety, our therapists will recommend we stick to a relatively consistent schedule.

Since structure soothes us on an instinctual level, it can provide a large amount of stress relief for us in our hardest times. Though it can be hard to implement and stick with, it can be one way in which we can take care of ourselves and help ourselves through a rough period.

So this week's questions are:
- What sort of structure and stability do you have in your life now?
- What type of structure makes you feel the safest? Is it a schedule, or is it more consistency from day to day?
- In what ways could you bring more structure to your life?