100 Days of Healing – Day 5

I avoided hard today. I had more dreams last night and woke up overwhelmed, so it was hard to get my brain together enough to get up and on with my day. I handled the phone call and meeting I had to attend and commiserated with my brother over his girlfriend dumping him with no explanation (real explanation is her parents are crazy and constantly interfered). I finished the set of earrings I’ve been working on that don’t look anything like I wanted them to (I need different beading thread that isn’t as stiff). I didn’t do much else. I feel like I can’t do much else, and the earring was just to keep my hands busy while I watched some tv after the meeting to help calm myself down and detach.

I thought a lot about self care and routine for me. I can barely make myself shower, brush teeth and wash dishes right now, and I’m trying to work out in my head that if those are the only things I tell myself I have to do the rest of the week and not the other stuff (work, etc.), maybe they won’t seem so daunting?

The hard thing for me about taking this time out to let my brain process is that I don’t know how long it will take. It felt like things were starting to look up yesterday, which is maybe why today is that much more difficult. I declined again today instead of improving, and I really want to improve so that I can get to doing and being what I want to do and be. As so many of you know, if your head isn’t in the right place for that, it’s nearly impossible, and I forced myself through for long enough that I can’t even really do that anymore.

I Just Failed My Homework?

I had intentions yesterday. I intended to practice pausing, taking a bit of calm time to process and not let my schedule contribute to a meltdown. That did not happen.

I woke up late, scrambled to get some work sent out, was mindful that this was not the way I had wanted things to go and hopped in the car for another 4-5 hours on the road for an evening meeting. I can get stressed about getting places on time, I was stressed about getting a document out that I realized as I worked on it was not what it needed to be because of some technical issues that were happening once I made a big format change at the request of the client, and I was stressed because my uncle’s wife was pushing me to let her sign my grandma up for Medicaid when that woman is not part of my grandma’s care team or recovery program. I was agreeable rather than making an argument out of it, because I just didn’t want to get into it with her. But it stressed me out.

I picked up my boyfriend on the way so that he could attend with me, and we got back to his house fairly late. We talked for a bit. We’re both sorting through a lot of past behaviors and baggage that need to go, and it’s tough. It’s good for both of us individually, but it’s tough for us as a couple. We have different personalities and communication styles, and we’re trying to manage growing new careers, difficult personal growth, family issues, distance and things that are pretty normal but feel like they’re in a pressure cooker for us. And we don’t fight or yell, we talk, and that’s hard sometimes too.

Hard enough that I tipped over the anxiety edge of a panic attack very suddenly. One minute we were talking, the next minute I started feeling really upset by everything, then next I disassociated and went off to wherever chaotic place my brain goes. It didn’t last very long, kind of came and went, but I was reeling a bit after, trying to sort out my jumbled brain and why that had just happened.

Too much stress earlier in the day that I didn’t deal with, too much stress to get somewhere on time, intense conversation and…BAM.

But hey, I learned something, I worked through it, I let someone be there for it (although telling someone you just had a panic attack and all they see is a quiet calm is ironic), and I know what I need to keep practicing.

What Does It Look Like to Love Myself Today?

A couple of weeks ago my therapist got down to a root issue I’ve had for a long time. I don’t really love myself. There’s a lot of why, but the why is in the past, and right now, today, I’m remembering that conversation and pondering what to do about it.

I agree. I don’t love myself, and a good bit of the time I don’t even like myself. My life has gotten sideways, and I haven’t spent any time working on being and doing what I like. I’ve been pulled away from what I love, and there’s a lot of disconnect that needs re-connection. Or new connections. I’m not sure yet.

But since I haven’t had much time to rest in the last two and a half months and I have a day that I can before I head back to grandma’s for my last stretch of staying with her, I’m looking at all of the things that I can do with my day. And of all of the things, I just want to stay in and watch tv. Not because I can’t do anything else (anxiety made getting out of bed this morning too hard, so I didn’t, so I’ve done that already today), but because I honest to goodness just want to chill. No hiking, no working, no effort, no driving, no yoga, just mindless tv. Because today I love myself enough to not push myself or make myself feel guilty about doing what I find comforting and calming and restful.

Compassion Burnout

It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I cannot be here one more second without my skin crawling, an overwhelming desire to cry and severe anxiety that is killing my productivity.

My therapist introduced me to a new thing yesterday, which is Compassion Burnout. I apparently passed fatigue a month and a half ago, but since I kept having to skip therapy, it didn’t really come up and I went straight to burnout.

Some self-care would have helped not to pass fatigue, but…that didn’t happen.

The application to me is that I can’t really care for my grandma (or any other family member for that matter) in a way that I enjoy in any form because I have cared so intensely for so long (and through so much crisis) that I actually just can’t.

The solution is to completely remove myself for a while.

That urge I have to run away back to the desert for a month? I’m supposed to listen to that. I’m supposed to run away. Because if I don’t, I can’t get back to compassion.

I’m only here two days this week (30 more hours), so it’s less, and slightly less anxiety and skin crawling, but not much. Today I was reduced to zero ability to multitask (I can’t tell you the discussion I had on the phone because I was looking at my laptop screen and couldn’t hear and see at the same time), and I am crawling through the things I want to get done today, because while I am somewhat incapacitated by anxiety, I am so determined to get these things done. So determined. But burned out. And faking my way through compassion while trying to stay calm.

Talking Through a Trigger

It has taken a long time for me to be able to step back from a trigger and process through why it happened, what it brought up, where it came from and how to separate the emotions of the trigger from what I know to be real.

But I did it tonight.

More than that, I called the person who was part of the trigger and explained what had happened, what I was experiencing and what they could do to help me.

I’m so thankful that was a positive experience, and I went from spinning in negativity to resolving the issue calmly and in a way that built trust.

It was a huge leap to be willing to not only address the trigger head on, but to let another person help me calm down. It was a leap of trust in myself.

I trusted myself.

Some If, Then… of Trying to Manage Severe Anxiety

I’ve lately been thinking a hospital visit or heavy medication would be a good idea. As I go through constant rounds of severe anxiety, my energy is wearing down, and the last two nights of driving over an hour in heavy mist and fog have just about done me in. I’m super stressed about work, even though it’s something I can and normally would handle just fine, and the thought of going back to my grandma’s house tonight for four days to care for her is just about more than I can stand right now.

So I had this thought last week and it continues to this weekend that the hospital is kind of an appealing option, and feels close to necessary. Right down to the hospital gown, the bed, the bracelet, the people checking on me, the relative isolation…whatever.

Because if I am experiencing anxiety this bad, I might need a medical intervention. If I am experiencing anxiety this bad, and my family will not hear me, I might need something that they would view more credibly, like a doctor and a hospital. If I cannot manage to come off of this going-on-two-weeks spike in PTSD symptoms, I may need something to help me do that. What I am doing is not working, so I need something else. What I am doing is not helping, so I may need to try a different tactic. If I keep going with my current responsibilities, I might go into crisis that I cannot manage.

As I mentally sorted through my options after I got home last night (after driving through some of the thickest fog I have ever seen), as I said to myself, “Ok, if I do this, what am I trying to accomplish from that? And if I take that option, what will it solve?” I realized that it wasn’t really about going to the hospital, it’s that if I check myself in, my family will maybe have to acknowledge the severity of my condition in a way that they presently will not. Then I might not have to struggle under so many burdens. Then I might get a break. Then maybe I will be accommodated. Maybe.

Other option is to hang in there for two and a half more weeks, try to do my job the best I can, try to stay calm and sane at Grandma’s, do the things on my calendar, sleep more on the weekends, then go on strike when my mom’s job finishes and she is more available to help with Grandma. I’ve been at this for two months, I can make is another two weeks, right?

If I do, then…

If I don’t, then…

If this keeps up, then…

Anxiety is the worst, y’all.

What It’s Taking to Stay Calm

Grandma gets up between 1 and 2am to move from her bed to her recliner because she sleeps better in her recliner. Which means I get up to move her. She says her legs hurt when she lays in bed, but she won’t sleep all night in the recliner because she wants to not be sitting for a couple of hours.

She makes everything hard.

Despite demanding that the air conditioner be turned off at night because it wakes her up when it kicks on (she claims she doesn’t sleep anyway so hell if I understand why we need to be unnecessarily warm), she pulled her throw over her legs after I moved her, and tipped her recliner forward. You know, like you do as a kid on purpose.

But this wasn’t (was it?) On purpose, so there’s a thunk and a panicked help and me bolting off the couch to set her upright before she lands on the floor.

I have PTSD. Bolting out of any excuse for a bed in the middle of the night is not great for me, because the sudden rush of adrenaline can be a trigger. And usually is.

Since my family won’t support me and I’m left managing my condition by myself, I’m trying to stay calm, take on as few responsibilities as possible and keep my panic response in check until I can go home tomorrow afternoon. Which means I’m exhausted by 5, hungry all the time and still not really getting back the brain function that’s shut down by anxiety. I have very little energy, and will likely spend the weekend in bed.