Recovery II: new soil
Part of my recovery process the day after the election was pottering in the sun. I had several long-neglected pots of Christmas cactus,
that had got badly choked with grass and oxalis. Some weeks ago (okay, months) I’d bought a long wooden planter intending to put them all in that. Also, of course, by now the soil was so leached of nutriments it wouldn’t grow anything but tough weeds and the occasional weak flower.
With weeds that thoroughly established, it’s nearly impossible to pull them from your pots. Something more drastic is needed: to dump out the whole thing, and strip away everything but the roots of the plant itself—grass, oxalis nodules, earth, everything.
It’s a shock to the poor cactus, but they’re tough, and if you plunk them straight into their new soil, giving them some water and a few days of shade, they’ll thrive. Eventually.
[Maybe you see where I’m going with this?]
Shock as a medical condition is a life threatening condition that needs to be treated immediately. Shock as a psychological state may not be as immediately life-threatening, but if left unacknowledged, it can become permanent and debilitating. (And yes, I find myself using Veteran’s Day to talk about this comparatively trivial, utterly self-absorbed, and civilian version of PTSD. My apologies.)
I’m going to use the Wikipedia article here, for boiled-down convenience:
Common symptoms that sufferers of acute stress reaction experience are: numbing; emotional detachment; muteness; derealization; depersonalization; psychogenic amnesia; continued re-experiencing of the event via thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks, and avoidance of any stimulation that reminds them of the event.
Numb? De-realization? Hmm.
For either, the initial treatment is the same:
In a wilderness context where counseling, psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy is unlikely to be available, the treatment for acute stress reaction is very similar for the treatment of [cardiovascular] shock, that is, allowing the patient to lie down, providing reassurance, and removing the stimulus for the occurrence of the reaction.
“Wilderness context,” indeed. The article goes on:
In traditional shock cases, this is generally the relieving of pain from injuries or the stopping of blood loss. In an acute stress reaction, this may be pulling a rescuer away from the emergency to calm down, or blocking the sight of an injured friend from a patient.
So yes: do walk away from the television. Find something else to keep you busy during the first ten minutes of the national news. Watch cat videos. Play with the grandkids. Breathe.
But when the pulse has returned to something resembling normal—yet before wincing away from the very thought of The Event becomes a permanently ingrained habit—think about how to strip away all those weeds and that unhealthy soil and find a place where you can grow, and thrive.
No, I’m not talking about Canada or New Zealand. They don’t want us all, and there’s no Peets coffee, and in any case, God dammit, this is my home. This is our home.
I have more to say about this, but before I do, let’s hear from you guys.
Any ideas how you’ll go forward into this strange new world?