I’ve noticed the last two nights my heart rate has been about 25 beats per minute higher than it should be. No wonder I’ve had a hard time going to sleep. I’m laying in bed, trying to get everything to slow down for sleep time, and my body is ready to flee in terror. I’ve tried breathing, but for me it’s a small and very temporary fix any time I try it. Thinking about something else is hard to do because I’m mentally responding to my body’s flight preparations. Maybe I don’t like the dreaming and processing on a subconscious level?
Last night’s dream seemed to be about setting boundaries, something I will need to do a lot of work to get better at doing. There were a bunch of animals in a setting with people and I finally had enough and started hauling them over to their pens to get them and their disruptive behavior out of the way of the people. Once they were through the gate, I didn’t care what happened so long as they stayed on their side. Other people noticed and expressed concern, but I had done my part and gotten them out of my way.
Curious to see if setting boundaries is any easier for me now or if it still presents the same challenge and I still just avoid it.
I slept hard and dreamt again. While I don’t remember much of the dream, I knew very shortly after I woke up what it was about. I was processing having a hidden illness.
I don’t know if it’s because I could realize it or because it was processed, but I don’t feel hung up on having an invisible illness anymore. It doesn’t feel like a burden or weight to have experiences that no one else can see. I don’t feel a need to run around shouting about being broken by trauma, but I also don’t feel my usual aversion to humans in the context of debating whether to hide or reveal my struggles. I simply feel neutral on the topic, and that whatever I choose to hide or reveal is exactly that – my choice.
I’ve made a few steps forward in being regulated – I brushed my teeth and went to bed on time last night. The next step for me is beginning to journal.
I had a post-trauma ritual of recording re-traumatizing experiences as a sort of recorded narrative that served to reinforce the trauma rather than release it. For that reason I have a negative association with journaling. When my therapist suggested I try it, I was not interested until she pointed out that may be something I take back – reclaim as a beneficial thing instead of a negative. I think it’ll help me to sort out the dreams, the slowness and the feeling that only my lowest level cognitive abilities are functioning.
And I am not going to go buy a new journal and go through some ritual of needing a new book and a new pen and nice writing and whatever. I am using the small, blank book the stalker gave me the day I met him in Paris. That day and what happened after made my experience of enjoying myself and attracting energy a liability, and I have not been that person – A PERSON I ENJOYED IMMENSELY – since. Maybe this will help reclaim that too.
I’ve realized over the weekend that I can come across as cold. My guardedness toward potential triggers, being overwhelmed and not being able to control or escape things I don’t like leaves a bit of a snarky shell, and it’s not a good look.
As I’ve given myself the time to rest, sleep and dream so that my brain can get busy processing (and has it been busy processing!), revelations about what things I don’t like about myself are coming to the forefront. So.
I’m not sure how I feel about letting my guard down, but I do know I want to be less cold. I can pretend in social situations in which it feels expedient to be talkative and responsive, but none of that gets below the surface. So.
Time to practice being less cold.
Using anxiety management tools is hard. I went a bit too long without eating yesterday, which can be an issue for me as my blood sugar will drop and that by itself will send anxiety skyrocketing and potentially trigger me. I had to get food, I was about a ten minute drive from food, as as I noticed my irritability increasing and my decision-making abilities decreasing, I was also trying not to lash out, cry, leave and just go home, eat something that might make me feel ill (and therefore worse) or do or say something regrettable. I was also trying to communicate the urgency of the situation to someone who neither understood nor made any effort to help me solve the problem – I was left on my own to leave on my own, get food on my own (make decisions that were, in that state, nearly impossible for me to make) and make a decision about whether to return or go home.
That was a lot of drama for a sandwich.
But I got in my car, headed to town, picked a place with relatively healthy (but quick) food options, ordered and interacted with people as if nothing was wrong, chugged a lemonade for the sugar then ate a high-protein sandwich right after.
I still had to wait about half an hour till I calmed down, and I stayed a bit fuzzy, but I noticed, I responded and I took care of myself instead of going to pieces and being helpless. And my brain got a message that yes, I can handle it.
PTSD is a universe of fear. Sometimes the fear is crippling. Half the time I don’t even know what it’s about.
To combat that, I’m trying to do something every day that is brave and authentic.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last week.
I use numbing to cope, and have for a long time. Now it makes sense why I don’t miss people, why I don’t feel deep affection for anyone and why a lot of personal affronts don’t upset me.
I live in a near-constant state of OVERWHELMED, and I often wake up already there, which is why mornings can be so challenging for me. Which is why a lot of things are so challenging for me. Why I can get really upset by being asked to do something that is otherwise simple and easily accomplished.
I’ve been dreaming every night lately, and I dream in full technicolor. I’m aware of it and know that my brain is doing a lot of processing while I sleep, but last night I couldn’t get away from a snake, and woke up feeling physically trapped, in pain and disoriented. It was horrible, and I went back to sleep so that I didn’t have to deal with whatever was going on. It’s the first time that has happened, and when I did start to wake up for the day, I was hesitant to do so because I woke up with so much anxiety, and I felt completely overwhelmed before my feet even hit the floor.
I’ve been handling a lot of things I’d been putting off this week, so I may have just adulted too hard. Or the processed trauma is building up in my body and needs to be released. Either way, or any way, one step at a time today until I feel more sturdy on my feet.
I long ago discarded the narrative of a man providing for me, rescuing me or saving me from…whatever. I was raised to do those things for myself, and I do them. Including the saving from PTSD. No one has stepped in or stepped up for my recovery, I have done that myself without much support, except for the therapist I pay, and I sought her out myself too.
I didn’t mean to date anyone at this point in my life, because it’s hard enough to manage myself without also managing a relationship with someone else. I certainly didn’t mean to be in a serious relationship, but here we are. And I find myself having to dig into and rip out a lot of expectations that I didn’t know were there, expectations that, left unaddressed, would get in the way of my efforts to heal. Or maybe would if I hadn’t met just the right person.
Because of our current job/career positions, I’m the one with more financial bandwidth, so I pay for dates. I also give him gifts and buy him things. Because of our differences in personality, I do a lot of the planning and coordinating. Because I have anxiety, I ask a lot of the questions and do a lot of the checking in.
I can’t hide behind him. I can’t run for cover with someone who can provide for me and make a lot of my problems disappear so that I can ignore them. He’s working on a lot of changes right now too, and change is hard. I can’t hide behind his stability because it isn’t there. I can’t let up or slack off because he can’t catch me if I do.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Because it keeps me pushing forward, for me.