by Angela Clark
My husband and I were sitting around one afternoon when the Skype on his computer rang in. He said it was his sister calling in, so he clicked the answer button and said, “Hello.” He was greeted with, ‘sniff, sniff, sniff’ and an onslaught of tears.
Concerned, he asked what was wrong and she replied that she had fallen down between the platforms edge and tube (that’s London speak for train). Startled, I gasped and ran to the computer to see how she was, if she was all right. The poor thing – she was so upset and it’s really difficult to try to hug someone through a computer screen.
So we sat and talked with her until she could calm herself down. She recounted how she must have misjudged her step getting off the train and her leg ended up going straight down between the train and platform.
As we talked about all the other things that could have happened (but didn’t) other emotions started to rise to the surface. Like, what if she’d fallen all the way down into the tracks. How would she have gotten out? These scenarios only added stress and she began to panic again, simply at the ideas.
It’s fascinating how our minds and bodies work. In the moment of the incident, although under duress, she was not crying or hysterical. After someone came along and helped her up, she went to sit on a bench and that’s when she began to panic. Then she made it home and panicked again. Reliving what happened and what could have happened in her mind kept putting her body in that “fight, flight or collapse” state that our nervous system goes into under stress.
Of course we changed the subject as often as we could. We told her to fix some tea, which we wished we could have done in person. But how do you tell someone they are taking a stressful situation and only making it worse by reliving it? That their thoughts and words are reenforcing their stress and panic? It’s so clear to see when someone else is doing this but if someone where to say to me, “You’re only making it worse through the vision of your mind,” I’d hang up on them.
She is fine. She will be fine and probably will be a little more focused when stepping off the tube (train) onto the platform. But for me, this is a great reminder to see how talented, strong and creative our minds can be and how by letting go of the reigns, we can spin ourselves into dangerous territory.
It is a practice to sit down with the intricate workings of the mind and to truly see all that arises from what’ we perceive to be real, the made-up fantasies, and what is. To not ignore (nor latch onto) any one idea, but rather to see them for what they are – just visions of the mind.