This is a fucking emergency you dick-head, take me to the protocol!.
Hi Now-Carlos, it’s me, Fixed-Point-Carlos-2020-04-27.
I’m your Emergency protocol in case shit starts hitting the fan and the fan starts spraying the shit in your face.
Together, we’ve been writing and improving this protocol since 27th April 2020 because, well… we needed it. With time, we’ll continue to improve it because your feedback is appreciated.
This protocol is a READ-DO list, which means you READ the item then DO the item, before moving on to the next one on the list.
If you are unable to DO an item, move on to the next one.
Some questions are in a Yes/No form.
We’ll take a moment after the initial emergency has subsided to review why you were unable to DO an item.
Do you feel that can keep yourself safe right now? If no, call 116 123 (Samaritans)—or your Designated Suicide Intervention Specialist.
Put an ice cube1 in your mouth—roll it around, feel how its cold smooth surface glides inside your cheeks, wet, cold, mmm, weird but also somehow quite soothing, mmm, yes.
Inhale2, pushing your stomach out whilst counting seconds: 1,2,3,4,5.
Exhale, pushing your stomach in whilst counting seconds: 1,2,3,4,5—now we’re going to do this 4 more times.
Exhale, stomach: 1,2,3,4,5.
Exhale: 1,2,3,4,5—if you can, keep breathing like this whilst we continue.
Look around you, can you find 1 red thing?
Look around you, can you find 2 green things?
Look around you, can you find 3 blue things?
You only have to get through the next 10 minutes.
Before we continue, well done for getting this far Now-Carlos. Just a few months ago that might not have been the case. You’ve worked hard to get to today and I’m really proud of the progress you’ve made. I know it might not feel like it but some of the feelings you’re having right now will pass. The ones that remain we’ll get to a bit later but for now, let’s focus on the little things we can do to make things easier in this moment, okay?
What’s the difference between a dirty bus stop and a lobster with breast implants? One’s a crusty bus station and the other a busty crustacean.
Terrible joke, I know but it made you laugh so that’s what you’re getting forever now.
Have you eaten in the last 3 hours? If no, eat a handful of Babybels, olives or tortilla chips—really anything will do.
Are you angry? Clenching your fists or jaw? Hunching your shoulders? Take a moment to feel where the tension is and focus on relaxing that part with five exhales.
Are you drinking alcohol? Stop drinking, don’t even finish what you’re holding, pour it out. No, I mean it. You’re only making the road ahead harder, we have 3 titanium plates holding our skull together, we don’t need to learn this the hard way again.
Are you horny? Masturbate—or have sex if that’s an option—I prefer a wank because nobody knows how to tickle my balls as I do.
Are you feeling Lonely? If there’s someone near you that you can ask for a hug, do it and make it at least 30 seconds. Longer if you can. No one near you, grab a pillow and feel free to scream into it whilst you’re at it.
Are you Sick? Rest and press some fresh lemons into sparkling water to hydrate—because that’s something you enjoy.
Are you Tired? If you can sleep, do it. If not, lying still with your eyes closed still counts—I know it’s fucking terrifying but your brain can’t tell the difference, embrace a little quiet wakefulness.
Still feeling like you can’t cope with the shit spraying that is life right now? Go back to the start, otherwise, let’s move into long-term living.
Come back here anytime when things get too much, the voices get too loud or you feel like you’re drowning inside your mind. You’re doing better than you think you are, you’ve got this—also, the world is on fucking fire so it’s not your fault for feeling the flames.
Now-Carlos, now that the present emergency has subsided let’s talk long-term living.
For long term well-being and coping with the shit spray, I’ve been writing something I’m calling “Vitruvian People”. Or “A Systemic Model and Practical Guide to Well-Being in the 21st Century”.
Or, “Some White Guy Opinions About Well-Being”.
It’s a work-in-progress.
It’s already 4,6000 words long and all over the place, you’ll love it.
So you’ve fucked up
Sometimes you’re going to fuck it up. That’s okay.
I like to think of recoverable fuck-ups–which most of them are—as, gentle—or not so gentle—reminders of why I’m doing these things in the first place. The fuck-ups serve as reminders that this works.
So you were unable to DO an item
Why? If it was point 10, was the fridge and cupboard empty? Why? Is it because you can’t afford food? If so, that fucking sucks. Or is it because you’re buying alcohol instead of food? Because you can change that.
Remember, we’re every version of you, we know that Fixed-Point-Carlos-2005-06-24 did exactly this when he realised his father had set up a secret bank account only to be released on his 21st birthday.
Between you and me, it should have been locked until you were 35.
The point is to reflect on why a particular point was impossible or too difficult to DO so that in future emergencies you might be able to do it.
Until next time, just remember, it’s rarely as bad as it feels.
I’ve been your Emergency protocol.
Acts as a distraction. The cold shock your system and brings you back to the physical world and reality, drawing your focus to the cold in the mouth and keeping your brain away from thinking, “I’m panicking, I must be dying”. It hydrates you. Biting a lemon/chilli or wasabi also works. Part of Dialectic behavioural therapy (DBT). ↩
Cheng, K.S., Croarkin, P.E. & Lee, P.F. Heart Rate Variability of Various Video-Aided Mindful Deep Breathing Durations and Its Impact on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Symptom Severity. Mindfulness 10, 2082–2094 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01178-8 ↩