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.
In the last two days I have started to feel good. My PTSD symptoms seem to be significantly reduced, I have more energy and am more interested in personal projects, and I am willingly exercising, taking breaks from work and stopping work when it’s time to stop for the day. I’m looking into creative projects for myself and for work, and I seem to be paying much more attention to what’s going on around me.
The last two times this happened I was blindsided about a week later by trauma. It has taken me months to recover from both.
My parents are headed on a vacation that my mom is really excited about, and rightly so. They’ve been through the same trauma, and it’s been a long, hard effort to get everyone well and stable. I’m excited for them, and I think it’s long overdue.
My parents were supposed to leave town the day after my brother’s accident. They spent the weekend and the week after in the ICU with him.
My body remembers. Parents plan to leave town: trauma. I start feeling really good: trauma. I’m usually blindsided by trauma anniversaries and triggers, and I spent the month of October struggling to cope with the terror lodged in my brain. This time I know what’s coming, I know how I feel, I quickly recognized the circumstances, and I am making a plan to address them the best I can. I’m having someone stay with me this weekend so that I’m not alone (and therefore all up in my own head), I have plans to do things I enjoy with people I enjoy, and I don’t have any set responsibilities, only a plan of action in case an emergency happens. I communicated how I feel and what this is like for me, my concerns have been acknowledged and accommodated without negativity from anyone involved in helping me, and I am so, so grateful that even though positive growth and change can be a trigger, then can also be an opportunity for better.
By the time Friday night rolls around, my brain is doing something like this:
(checking weather forecast) ok so I didn’t get around to my side projects for work this week and I could work on the mapping project tomorrow, or I could work on that paper I want to write…exercise would be good, but it’ll be pretty warm so maybe I’ll go for a walk if I get up early enough because I don’t want to sweat a lot…but I could work all afternoon and that would be fine, and it’ll help me get caught up so I’ll be ready to deal with whatever happens next week, and I’ve been wanting to get some forward progress on that mapping and haven’t done it…I really need to get my shit together…maybe Monday I’ll try to be better about eating and exercise, I just need to get caught up on these projects……………………
By the time Friday night rolls around, my body is doing something like this:
Wow, I still have a lot of tension in my shoulders, and the spot on my shoulder that sometimes has stabbing pain is flaring up…I really want to rest and take a break…are you noticing what is happening? I need you to take a time out and start writing about your trauma experiences, because you’re still stuck on a few things and you just learned that writing can be an effective way to integrate trauma…you’re also carrying a lot of tension in your hips and your breathing is still shallow a lot of the time, so take some time to practice yoga…you just learned that approaching yoga differently than you’ve done it so far could be really beneficial to your nervous system, so take some time to try that out and see what happens…………..
My weekends need some practice.
The trauma freefall does seem to have finally come to an end. I don’t have the feeling that I’m still crashing through layers, and taking it easy for a few days seems to have helped get me upright. Yesterday wasn’t easy, it was a packed workday with a lot of forward motion (which was gratifying), and on stressful days I have a lot of anxiety when I go to bed, I’ve noticed. However, things are starting to feel a bit less impossible, and I am now aware of the need to take small steps toward a goal in order for my brain to begin to understand that I am capable of doing it.
My brain tells me I am not capable of SO MANY THINGS.
No matter how many Body Boss sponsored posts I see on social media, my brain tells me that I cannot be that fit. I don’t mean the abs and size 00 shorts, I mean just being able to complete the exercises. So rather than taking steps to be able to do all of that (which I know I can because I was in great shape 5 years ago and have no medical reason to prevent me from working back up to that level), my brain just says I can’t and that’s it.
I thought that meant that I either needed to hire a trainer and push myself through a sudden and intense workout regimen. Nope. Start meditating daily. Do yoga a few times a week. Go for walks.
Because even though those are not things that will get me to my fitness goals, those are the things that will get me to my fitness goals. Those very things. Because those are things I can do, and am not doing now, and making the little changes to start to do them and staying with the discomfort of doing them will teach my brain that yes, I am capable.
I finished keto three days ago, I’ve been eating carbs, and – shocker – I haven’t gained weight.
I am much more conscious about what I eat, how much I eat and why I eat. I’m still watching the calories and not eating large meals. I’m still not eating or drinking much sugar. I still have 30 lbs to go.
I’m still a bit paranoid about binge eating and blowing my progress.
I’m generally paranoid/have severe anxiety about at least one aspect of my life, so I can probably assign paranoia about sabotaging my progress to some persistently fearful corner of my brain that has thus far been resistant to healing. It’s hard, because the more anxiety I have about eating, the more I want to eat, the more of a challenge it is not to eat, the more…
PTSD is hard. But I am going to get through it, one little bit of healing at a time.
As I’ve worked – so hard – to repair what I can of my brain, I’ve hidden at home a lot. Leaving the house for work and necessary errands is usually enough for me to handle, and it feels like a long time since I’ve been social. I don’t go out. I don’t have that many friends nearby (most of my close friends are in other states or countries and I keep them forever but also don’t see them often) and I haven’t really exercised in something like a month (the weight loss thing has made me stay in more than usual, and I reckon will keep me in until I can fully resolve that one). I haven’t always been like this, and it’s not a form of existence I particularly like, so I find myself increasingly pondering thoughts like, “I wish I were strong enough to do ___________________________ (fill in the blank).
So…that weight loss? It’s a trigger for me.
I’m one that unconsciously gained weight to insulate me from trauma. I also insulate myself at home a lot now, but at the time I had to be out and about all the time, so I gained weight as a protective measure.
Brains are funny things. Trauma does weird stuff to your brain. Like this.
Now that I’m losing weight (I’ve cleared 10 lbs!), I’m losing my protective layer, and that – that is what’s behind my recent relapse with severe anxiety.
The body does indeed keep score.
But now that I know I can address it and keep moving forward!