Be the Introvert You Are

That was advice from my therapist, who explained to be that in very simplified terms, people either drain you (introvert) or energize you (extrovert).

People drain me.

One of my new goals as I try to practice a lifestyle that leads (hopefully!) to fewer panic episodes and less anxiety is to be much more mindful about the things that push me over the edge of the panic cliff, and about letting stress build up until my brain freaks out and quits.

I’m in week two of wanting to mostly stay in bed, so this seems like pretty good goals.

I don’t really rest much. I haven’t in years. I don’t take vacations that act like vacations, I don’t schedule down time, I don’t pause – I just speed through life then crash and burn and get up and do it again.

So!

I spoke on a panel yesterday evening about two hours from where I live, so spent a lot of the later part of the day in the car or talking to a room full of people. I really enjoyed it, the topic is of real interest to me and my fellow panelists were very informed on the topic. I stopped for dinner with a friend on the way home, got home at midnight and went to bed.

I woke up at 10:30 this morning. I slept hard.

This evening I’m back at another program, although I’m not speaking at this one, and it’s not quite as far away but it’s very similar. So, trying to learn from yesterday and be mindful of how I feel, I’m taking an hour or two this afternoon to be quiet and still before I hop in the car and go be work me around a lot of people. Then tomorrow I will plan some down time during the day so that I don’t get too rushed and overwhelmed as I recover from this last big PTSD episode.

Wear the Bikini

“Body be bangin'” is not a phrase I’d use to describe myself. The trauma weight gain, the lack of exercise, the uneven tan lines that are definitely not from trying to tan, the cellulite, the glow in the dark pale of some of me…I’m not bikini ready.

My therapist’s blunt but change-provoking comment a few weeks ago that I don’t love myself has now manifested in me changing my attitude about that bikini. I date a guy who loves the water, and summer is here, therefore we need to be in the water. He enjoys the water so much that he can’t keep it to himself, I need to enjoy it too, not sit on a rock on the side of the river or the side of the pool or on the boat dock – or anywhere that lets me stay in the relative safety and comfort of a cover up.

I haven’t bought a new swimsuit in…maybe 7 years? So mine is losing its elasticity, I realized, even though the material has held its color, and it was and still looks like an expensive, cute bikini. The stretching has kept up with my stretching, so it still fits somehow and it will work fine until I can find another one.

Side note: to fit my boobs in swimwear, it’s a trip to a high end retailer or two or ten, and I don’t trust shopping online. And while a lot of stores are carrying styles and sizes that are much improved for curvier women, it is hard enough to find a bra, much less a swimsuit, that will work for my body, so finding a new one is (was?) way low on my list of priorities until the one I have comes to pieces.

So here I am not confident in my body, knowing I’ll spend the summer around people who are much more cute and slender and fit than I, being expected to join in the water-based fun and do so in swimwear. And I’m facing this right as I’m informed that I don’t love myself.

I did one of the bravest things I’ve done in a long time. I said to hell with it, I’m not going to feel bad about myself, I’m going to enjoy the opportunity to get outside and have fun with people I like hanging out with and I’m going to let my boyfriend push me out of my comfort zone, which he also seems to really like doing. So I dropped the cover up on the table by the pool last week and on the table on the boat dock yesterday, and stood there like I had every reason in the world to feel good about myself. And I did feel good about myself, for the first time since probably the first year I owned that bikini. And I feel better about myself today, having done that.

Bucket O’ Fucked Up

I got a little blindsided by this last round of PTSD symptoms. It hasn’t been this severe or lasted this long in maybe a couple of years. I feel dizzy and stupid at times, and very alone.

Don’t make important decisions now, right? Right. Because if I did I’d cut off everyone who isn’t supporting me right now… which is everyone. But in my few rational moments, I remember that they don’t know, and I’m not really in a place to be coherent enough to tell them. And I get this is hard to understand if it hasn’t happened to you, and I’m learning that people can’t tell there’s something terribly wrong with my head unless I tell them, and I’m apparently not good at saying what I need.

But honestly it’s a really isolating condition. And defining my needs is hard when my brain is chaos and struggle and survival.

So without placing blame on myself or others and trying to take a rational view of how to better address this in the future… I’m so fucked up right now. And I know why.

This weekend I was asked by a friend of mine if I wanted to have an affair. He’s married and has been diagnosed with an incurable illness with an uncertain progression. His wife now views him as his illness, and he’s maybe not making super great choices. I get it, to a point, but not only does he know I have a boyfriend, he knows my boyfriend. He asked anyway.

I was shocked, and it brought back most of my 20s – being asked to be a side piece by so many guys I worked with who weren’t happy at home. Which was never for me. It was always for them, and it sent a weird message about my value.

This hasn’t happened for years – until now. And now I’m having to fight to put all of those negative messages about my value where they belong, which is not with how I value myself.

The answer is no.

Epic Meltdown

My brain is supposed to be healing, right? That’s the point of therapy and going off the meds, right?

I had an epic PTSD episode last night. It was a panic attack, but different than usual. I don’t recall ever having a headache after. I don’t recall being dizzy and feeling like anything but laying in bed was too hard before. I was starving once I started to calm down, but food was downstairs and that seemed hard too. I did eventually stumble down and shove some grated cheese and chips in my mouth. I didn’t even care, I just had to eat.

I’m recovering today, but still put in almost a full day of work, cleaned the house and got groceries. Yes, that was my recovery day while I was still a little slow and upset.

Because dammit, this is not going to beat me.