Writing While Stressed

by Sherri L. Renner, J.D.

July 29, 2020

Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

A member of our Pro Se Support group on Facebook recently took some steps toward achieving greater protection of her children. Those steps included drafting some papers that she will file with the court. 

Writing these drafts was no small feat for this mother. She is a survivor of intimate partner violence, and the task of taking on her former abuser sparked emotions that were nearly disabling. She asked the group:

My head is spinning, my heart is pounding, my hands are shaking, and I feel like I’m going to throw up. How have you been able to work on court paperwork while being so triggered?

The other group members wasted no time stepping up to help. Here are their unedited responses:

• Nope. Can’t. Start taking magnesium and potassium, (stress greatly depletes the magnesium in your body). Magnesium has a calming affect. Kratom* helps some people. Others get meds from their doctor. Some people find that meditation helps.

*Please note that kratom use may be problematic, and I don’t endorse its use. Here are some links to get your research started: National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic.

• Cry it out.

• I have to let the adrenaline flood finish so I can concentrate. It’s hard. And time consuming.

• I’ve been there. But as time went by, and I started writing better papers, it got easier. But still, I have those moments. All the attorneys do, too, but a lot of them won’t admit it. I’ve heard from some attorneys I have known, they all have something they do to get over that place – like some of them turn up a song they like blasting it really, really loud – until it passes.

The music technique I have used and can attest to its effectiveness! And so has Henry David Thoreau:

“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest.”

Yes! Here are more responses:

• Jesus and Xanax!

• Quick fix: set a timer (so you don’t go down the rabbit hole) & put an icepack on the bag of your head (prevents the anxiety, stops panic attacks). Sometimes I also read difficult material with my shoes on and standing up so I can immediately leave the house to get away from it (and go for a brisk walk!).

• To get out of my head I do it out loud. If I’m responding to a motion or an order, I read the motion or order out loud as many times as it takes to take the edge off. When I’m writing, I sometimes will pace while jotting thoughts on scrap paper, other times I use the dictate function in Word.

• Avaiya University has some great programs to help get you to a peaceful place. It is incredibly challenging not to be triggered. I still find my self there but less and less as I focus on doing the NARP and Soul Lab programs. They have really shifted me. I don’t know how it works, but it does.

Sometimes it won’t let you sleep, so I keep a notebook by the bedside and when the thoughts are going crazy, I sit up and write them down. Writing it out let’s you let go of it and you won’t forget what you were thinking of. Works during the day too. I have spiral notebooks all around.

I would have to breaks for a 4 mile walk/jog with the right music. I quit drinking and that is how I take my mind to another place now.

• I literally sat in a cafe, buying the cheapest drink they had so I could borrow free internet. I furiously typed as I was crying to get ready for DV court.

We hope you’ve found some helpful suggestions here that you can use to handle your own stresses as you represent yourself in court. Joining our community could help, as well. You’ll find information about the Association for Pro Se Advancement here

Copyright © 2020 by Sherri L. Renner, J.D.  and LawYou, Inc. | All rights reserved

About the Author

Sherri Renner, J.D., is the founder of LawYou America. She fully dedicates her education and years of litigation experience to helping the self-represented.

For information about litigation coaching services or the Association for Pro Se Advancement, please contact Sherri at info@lawyouamerica.com.

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