Ouch, Shame Trigger

Sometimes in the course of my work I write documents that are part of public hearings or public policy. They’re usually not controversial. Usually.

A document I wrote a few months ago has turned out to be quite controversial for a small group of self-interested people, who have threatened legal action, whined to their industry group, etc.

This document and the policy change that is to come with it would have had no negative impact on this group, and will likely benefit them. But it represents change and adaptation to a new set of circumstances. So of course all hell broke loose.

I was forwarded an email from their industry association’s legal counsel, which proposed that the document I wrote didn’t accomplish its desired intent, recommended changes and implied that the changes weren’t legal. I got the email last night, and upon reading it had all the shame gremlins in my ear telling me that I had screwed up, that I hadn’t done my job correctly and that I had done so poorly that my work was already being picked apart.

It was a great reminder of why I don’t read work email after a certain time in the evening.

When I reviewed the comments this morning, the legal council was not only wrong but had provided irrelevant sections of law as references, and is either seeking to cast doubt and intimidate or its out of his depth on the issue. Either way, he’s bad at his job. In 15 minutes I had crafted a successful and compelling dismissal of his position, and verified that what I wrote was, in fact, perfectly correct.

I hate that I had that moment of shame trigger related to my work, but it comes from a lot of years of being correct and professionally sound while being told that I was not (too young, female, too pretty – whatever, name your dumb reason for why I couldn’t possibly have known what I was talking about, when in fact I did). I think there’s an element of it that keeps me on my toes and makes me work that much harder to do my work really well, but it’s at a price that I’m still having to pay, apparently.

But yeah, I’ll see you in the hearing, council. Good luck, because those without skill need it.

Sorry, I’m Taking Up All My Energy

One of the things I like least about my experience with PTSD but which has perhaps been one of the most important lessons for me is that I don’t have enough energy to go around.

Anxiety, depression and my misprogrammed neurons suck up most of the energy I have, leaving not much else available. What is left goes to maintaining myself (food, bathing, drinking water, staying somewhat organized) and working, which means that I have very little left for anyone else.

I now avoid a lot of people, crowds, noise and social “obligations” because I do not have the capacity for it. If it is an energy suck (and a lot of people from my life before PTSD are), I do not engage, or engage at a minimum. The capacity to do so is just not there. I got called a misnathrope the other day, which I think was unfair. If my mental illness were visible, y’all would be shocked that I do as much as I do. I think that is true for a lot of us with “invisible” illnesses.

But please know that I see you, and I respect and admire what you are able to do and who you are able to be. So often Life finds a way, even in the darkness.

And this is very different from my life previously, in which I had so much energy for other people and building community and volunteering hundreds of hours a year and working long hours and working out 7-11 hours a week and dating guys that put very little effort into our relationship…which is a different story.

I’d like to be able to direct more energy externally, I’d like to not have to qualify relationships by how draining they are for me and I’d like to be out and about more. But I don’t have the capacity, so I do the best I can with the people I can and go from there.

A Moment of Thanks to Strong Lotus Yogi

I think one of the benefits of pausing to be grateful and reflect on positives is that it helps with perspective. I’ve struggled so much through the last few months, and living with PTSD can be a pretty hopeless situation. I’ve felt that I just can’t so many times, and taking steps in recovery have at times seemed to difficult or overwhelming or inaccessible.

And that’s why I’m grateful for Amanda at Strong Lotus Yogi!

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Photo from Strong Lotus Yogi – Benefits of Side Plank https://stronglotusyogi.com/2018/05/29/benefits-of-side-plank-vasisthasana/

One of my biggest challenges has been exercise or really body movement of any kind. I have mostly just wanted to stay in bed and block the world out, and I am still working through the situation of my brain thinking an elevated heart rate means I’m going to die. Amanda’s blog and her yoga practice have been such a calming and accessible way for me to stay mentally engaged with what I’ve wanted to do even when it was too hard to make my body do it, and she has kept me motivated to stay with it until I could get back to yoga practice myself.

She has many videos in which she breaks down yoga poses so that it’s clear and understandable how to hold the pose in a way that’s most accessible to you, and I think she is a wonderful example of what conscientious yoga teachers do to make the world a better place. She is a truly beautiful person and her good energy is contagious, even in the blogosphere!

Thank you, Amanda! I appreciate you so much!

Pause and Reflect

I was spinning my wheels at work yesterday, mentally working on several projects and ideas but not making any tangible progress. A lot of my work is with data, and I collect data on myself too – I carefully track hours I work and wear a Fitbit and monitor my HRV. Sometimes to my detriment.

I can get caught up in accounting for time and effort and work and forget that the reason I work for myself is so that I can better see to my own needs, which have nothing to do with data management and measurement. I work for myself so that I can have space to work out what a healthy lifestyle looks like for me – because the companies I’ve worked for previously could not have cared less, and I’ve paid for it.

I bailed out of work and went for a hike.

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As much as that might be peaceful and relaxing for others, it isn’t as much for me. Exercise doesn’t have a calming effect on my nervous system, as much as I do like to be outside. I developed mild vertigo several months ago, and looking down while stepping around rocks and roots on downward slopes can be challenging. Sometimes I have an elevated fear response, sometimes the ground appears to shift beneath me, and I have to move slowly and cautiously. Late afternoon shadows can be somewhat disorienting now. But I went, and I enjoyed it, and I have some of the creative energy and forward motion I was hoping for.

1% Attempt #2

I did it!

My goal has been to slowly begin to improve in areas that I have not been able to achieve goals. One is exercise, another is having a well-exercised design muscle. This past week I wanted to do 10 kettlebell lifts and one little bit of design every day. I only missed Saturday, a day that I had a lot of family stuff going on. I even got it done yesterday, when I barely got out of bed and didn’t feel well most of the afternoon. Success!

This week’s goal is 10 kettlebell swings and one little bit of design every day.

Stubbornness or Self-Care?

I decided that I am not going to be the one to apologize for someone else hurting me this time, and I am not going to be the one to make it right or make amends.

I’ve done that so many times before, and after several days of struggle to understand what’s wrong, I know now, and I’m not ok with it. Frankly, I didn’t deserve that, and if I’m the one who makes this right I’m essentially saying that someone else’s choices and actions are somehow my fault because I experience PTSD.

No.

And if that means I lose this relationship, then that’s a consequence I can live with, because I can’t live with continuing to take responsibility for someone else hurting me.

An Unwelcome Climb, Not a Bounce Back

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.