My hopes that I would bounce back after last weekend are not fulfilled, and it looks like it’s going to be another long climb out of the PTSD hole. My HRV is in a good range so my body and my mind don’t seem to be synced up. It’s hell, and I’m back to wanting to quit and start over somewhere else.
The only thing I know to do is keep pushing through.
Whatever gear I’m in, it’s totally mismatched with my engine. There’s an auto-centric analogy for you.
After drowning in angsty anxiety for most of the day yesterday I finally got off my butt and did some work, part of it a request from a non-profit I do pro-bono work for. I knew how to fulfill their request, I just didn’t know if I could, or how long it would take, so I went through the steps of learning how to get the information they needed, attempted it, found an issue with my software license that prevented me from moving forward, put in a request to tech support and updated the requester. I worked long enough to make up for the not working I did all afternoon, then went to bed. Done.
I was hoping to be in a better place mentally, but I’m not, so I have a choice: just keep pounding away at my to-do list and hope that something breaks loose, or do a lot of meditating and yoga and thoughtful walks. I would so much rather pound away at my to-do list, because it somehow seems easier. So I am pretty sure that means the answer is meditation and yoga.
I bounced back from this weekend faster than I ever have from a severe PTSD episode, but I still don’t have the momentum and sunny disposition I’ve previously had when whatever it is that flips the switch in my brain does its thing. I’m in vaguely familiar but still uncharted territory, and it’s about as uncomfortable as you might think.
But I have so much to do.
I feel like I’m grinding gears, trying to find the right gear to move forward in and not quite getting there while the engine is working. It’s creating a lot of tension and not helping me focus while I try to balance the forces of energy and find the right fit.
Mostly I want to fight.
Last week I had a new goal to improve by 1% every day. Not in an actually measurable way, but to make small, incremental steps toward bigger goals. I had two things that I wanted to do every day last week, and this week would have two more things that were a step up of last weeks things.
I made it 3 days.
Then I got sucked into a whirlwind of anxiety and PTSD symptoms, and totally forgot I was even doing this.
I’m not even the least bit disappointed or discouraged about it, I’m simply going to try again. So this week is 10 kettlebell lifts every day and one little bit of design work every day.
Last night was rough, and being terrorized by my own brain for hours dropped my HRV from the 50s to the 30s. As with many times previously when I’ve had a bad night, this morning I was fine, if tired. I kept going with my planned to-do list, got it all done, and now, 4 hours later, I’m exhausted and ready to have another meltdown. It’s always worse when i’m tired, even if I see it coming.
I don’t want to be tired. I’d rather have the energy to go hike or something else enjoyable. But all of my energy got sucked up by terror, and I’m surprised away what I managed to get done today.
I am dealing with multiple weekend-long situation triggers, and it has been tough. I can do nothing about it, and have a lot of chores, errands and THINGS to get done, so I am busy and a little frustrated on top of experiencing severe anxiety.
I used to wish time away, and consciously stopped doing that, but it is really tempting to wish this weekend done already.
I started tracking my HRV a few weeks ago, and it’s turned out to be a helpful tool. There isn’t really a target range that I could justifiably set for myself (especially since I’m not a medical professional), but I learned that the app I’m using has an average user number of 59 or so, and I was pretty sure that the research I’d listened to indicated mine would be lower.
For the first few weeks I was in the high 30s and low 40s most of the time. The app I use has a Morning Readiness reading that I do when I wake up, and it measures my HRV right after I finish sleep and there hasn’t been external stressors yet. I adopted and attitude of observing and learning, and watched my initial numbers steadily drop, and the readout pretty consistently tell me that I might need less stress, might need to do breathing exercises or otherwise manage my body’s sympathetic response. I noticed how I was feeling, noticed what the number was each day, and paid attention to whether I thought the two matched. Turns out, they often do.
This week my numbers have been in the 50s, which freaked out my app at first because that is suddenly much higher than normal. The readout cautioned me that I might be recovering and to maybe take it easy. I was! I’ve gotten consistently higher numbers this week, and have the energy and feel-good to match.
I don’t think tracking HRV is necessary, but I do think that having a way to check in with myself at a level that is available to me through technology is helpful, especially as I practice observing how I feel and responding by giving my body what it needs.