As someone with a mental illness which can put me in pretty severe crisis situations fairly often, I made a crisis box about a year ago. It is the best thing I have ever spent time on! It doesn’t take that long to make, and once you explain it to the people around you, they can use it (if you’re incapable) too!
This post features my crisis box, but here’s what to include, how to make one, and idea’s for your own!
So firstly, here is my box in all its glittery glory! It’s just an old gift box that I got given a birthday present in last year, you may need a bigger or even a smaller box for yours, but for me this is just right! Also, that’s my dog Bob, modelling it for me. (He’s extremely keen.)
The flowers don’t come with it, by the way, they were simply for decoration. However, in my last ‘comfort’ box that I made a very long time ago, I did have dried flowers!
As for inside the box; remember that everyone’s is different. For me, I’ve used items that help me bring myself, or other people bring me out of, dissociation episodes. When these happen to me, I’m screaming, kicking, slapping, etc. So it can be very traumatic and hard to control, but you will be amazed to know that since I started using this box – My dissociation episodes last less than 15 MINUTES!
Here’s a list of everything you see in the pictures:
1. A childhood toy, of a red hippo. Not only is this a good memory, but it’s also a thing to squeeeeze when I get really tense during an episode. Don’t worry, no hippos are hurt during the making of these blog posts!
2. A flannel (or wash cloth, if you’re American), is mainly used by other people when I’m having an episode. They wet it with cold water, and rub it over my neck, my chest, my face and my arms. The cooling sensation helps to bring me back to earth, and it also is just a relaxing sensation.
3. Headphones – These fit my phone and I have a special playlist to blast into my ears. This helps with something called ‘sensory overload’, which is what this box is based off of. It’s where you overload your senses, so that your brain can’t focus on anything else. It’s very helpful!
4. Tissues – for obvious reasons!
5. A small lavender scented cushion – to squeeze, to smell, to hold, you get the idea. You can use any scent you like, but I’m more responsive to lavender! You can also DIY this, and make your own.
6. Gloves. These are a LIFE SAVER. I scratch myself a lot when I’m having an anxiety attack or dissociation episode, but if I have these on, I can’t! I would recommend mittens if other people are going to be putting these on you, as we found it was difficult for my parents to my fingers into gloves when I was trying to slap them. (I’m a nice person, honest.)
7. A family picture of some kind. This is because dissociation causes me to forget, so I chose a picture that I would instantly recognise. It’s of me and my brother, and I have looked at it every day for 5 years now.
8. A letter. Mine is directed towards my parents and my boyfriend, who use this technique the most. It involves directions on how to use each item, how to use items that aren’t in the box, instructions on how to use my phone (for the music), and what to do if I forget a lot of memories. It’s not because they didn’t know what to do beforehand, but because in a crisis, most people forget what they know out of panic.
So that’s everything in my box – things that aren’t in my box that we still use in the technique are things like; putting me in a very dark or very light room, to overload my senses even with my eyes closed, opening a window or blowing a fan in my face as it calms me down, and also hearing my boyfriends voice.
Moving on from my box, what can you use in yours?! It all depends on what helps YOU. Everyone’s experiences with mental illness is different, even if you have the same mental illness as somebody else. You may find a family picture comforting, but someone else may not due to bad memories. Here’s a few more idea’s, in general:
- A comfort food. This could be chocolate, candy, anything! Just keep checking it to make sure it’s not out of date.
- Instead of my scented pillow idea, you could use a candle or dried flowers like I mentioned earlier. Also, aromatherapy oils are amazing to put on your wrists and chest.
- Emergency £5 or £10, so you can buy yourself a nice lunch or go for a drink with a friend after you’ve had a bad day.
- A colouring book, a puzzle, something to take your mind off of the crisis!
- A dvd of your choosing. If you use netflix or amazon prime, write yourself a note to watch your favourite movie on there.
- If you self harm, use a red pen or paint in your crisis box. This can help with visual connections to self harm which may satisfy you long enough to talk yourself out of it.
- A list of crisis numbers and websites.
- Small notes from family or friends saying one reason why they love you!
- Positive affirmations.
In conclusion, it’s about listening to yourself. What do you think you need in a crisis? Are you easily distracted from things, or do you need a little more like myself? Do you like creative things or would you rather watch a YouTube video? Everything is subjective to yourself. You don’t need to spend money on your crisis box, and you definitely don’t need to stress about having one if you think that you can cope during a crisis. Like I said, I only made mine because I needed everything in one place for other people to use during a crisis.
Good luck with your boxes, tweet them to me @Unlunacyblog when you’re done!
– Chaz x
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