Sitting on the grey couch in my therapist’s office, I remember telling her that I didn’t feel safe. At the end of the session, I had asked, “What am I supposed to do? This is the only thing I can think of.” That’s when she brought up the Box Method.
“Picture a box. It can be any type of box. Any color. Whatever you prefer. You can put a bow on it if you’d like, but you don’t have to. Now, imagine your thoughts, memories, dreams, etc. in a physical form. As a picture, or a piece of paper. Now imagine putting whatever is bothering you into your box, then leaving the box somewhere safe where no one else can access it, like in my office, and waiting until the next session to open it again. This will give your brain the space it needs to get through daily things.”
I tried using this method for months, and waited even longer for it to work…through all of the anger, frustration, and nights spent crying until I would fall asleep because I couldn’t seem to get this method right. I truly wanted to believe what my therapist told me, that it would “give my brain space” from all of the negative thoughts.
I’ll admit, at first, I thought it was stupid. I didn’t try it often enough and I would become angry with it. Eventually, I realized that I was the one who had to do the work and that no one else could do it for me. I decided to try creating a physical box just to see if having an actual box would help. I cut a hole in the top of a cardboard box and I wrote. I wrote about anything, whether it was just a small post-it note or three pieces of paper; it didn’t matter. As long as I wrote down whatever was bothering me and got it out, it helped. I slid my papers into the box and left those thoughts, memories, or feelings there. Eventually this box went onto my phone, and then it slowly, over time, went into my head.
Creating this “box” gave me a sense of safety that I otherwise didn’t have. It gave me a chance to stop worrying about things until I “opened the box” the next session. It took time, but I learned. I also started incorporating self-care in to my daily routine. I would take long baths to help relax my mind. Taking deep breaths would also help slow my thoughts and anxiety down just enough to allow my body to relax. But the biggest thing that helped me push through all of this was journaling. I wrote constantly. Daily. Sometimes more than twice a day. I used my phone for most of it. Another activity in my self-care routine was listening to music. I would search for a different song or genre to listen to and at the end of the day I would list which ones I liked and why. Aside from all of the bad thoughts and memories going into this box, I would also put some good ones into it as well. This made “waiting until the next session” not so overwhelming for myself.
I encourage you to try the box method and see if it works for you. But if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to reach out. Call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit their website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Their services are free and confidential, and they are available 27/4/365. It’s never too late to ask for help.