Living with PTSD: Post-Trigger Exhaustion

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.

Making Room for New Things

My desk faces a wall. It’s slim, not very deep, but has worked well for me for over a decade. On the wall in front of me I’ve pinned up cards, artwork memories and various and sundry bits of detritus that people have sent me over the last few years. I don’t gaze upon it with adoration, it’s more background noise. But it’s fun, and I like it.

Since I’ve been feeling better this week, I’ve had a lot more creative energy (a lot more energy overall), and the ideas are starting to flow. I have a number of personal and professional projects I want to work on, many that I was working on when my family members started going down two years ago. I want a place to capture that, to make notes and jot down ideas and keep track of what I’m working on. Digital space is fine, but I like paper for this type of thing.

When I was sorting through boxes a couple of months ago in an attempt to organize and consolidate my belongings, and found a stash of Post-It note pads in varying sizes. In a previous life I was obsessed with Post-Its and bought tons of them in different sizes and colors to organize myself. I’m not obsessed now, but I do find them occasionally handy, and put the stash in my desk drawer for later.

I now have a use for those oversized notes.

I’m taking down most of my wall detritus to make space for an easy-to-reach note wall so that I can keep up with my projects, ideas and progress. I’m going to stick large pieces of brightly-colored paper in front of me. Not that the cards and artwork are less meaningful, it’s just time to do something different, and give myself some space for where I am and what I can do now.

I Packed ALL My Shoes

I’m on a work trip for two and a half days, and I have five pairs of shoes with me. My shoe bag is larger than my bag for everything else. This is not my norm.

And it’s a step forward for me, because I was raised to not be a problem, not have needs, not be an inconvenience, not take up space and not do anything that looks like self-care.

After a week in bed and in my pajamas because I wasn’t feeling well, it’s a big jump to travel for a couple of days for work and give multiple presentations of projects I’ve been working on. It’s not comfortable, and I’m already in “energy-saving mode”, my state of quiet withdrawal before I have to put on my public face and CHARM.

So I brought a bunch of shoes, including my running shoes in case I can make time for that and my furry house shoes, which are incredibly comfortable and comforting. The little steps to take care of myself and acknowledge that I need accommodation, no matter how small, are indicators of recovery.