Whirling Through the Week – Until I Hit a Wall

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable.

I had a lot going on this week.

I had some kind of idea that work would slowly pick up over the month and I could adjust. Nope, things blew up this week and I’ve been scrambling to do it all. Plus I had to be “public me” a lot, and spent a lot of time managing conflicts, in conferences and meetings and taking on more work. Not surprisingly, I hit a wall this afternoon and started to slide into a panic attack.

I have been doing a lot to recognize and address past trauma, which I am increasingly aware was in great part due to abusive communication, and when I have already hit my stress limit I have a really hard time not taking everything the wrong way.

Basically, if I start saying I’m tired, there is a meltdown on the way.

I realized today that I have a tendency to recoil in preparation for a verbal beating when I start toward a panic attack. I start making plans to isolate, I use any and every excuse for why I must not bother someone and I make a really big deal out of something that hasn’t even happened. My brain, in the process of wrecking, ties communication to abuse and prepares me for it by telling me to shut down and shut out.

This is without there being any verbal beating or any communication abuse. Or any abuse. Or…anything.

Sometimes dealing with this shit is really weird.

It’s a little terrifying too. I was in the middle of talking to a client, changing a drawing and trying to tell David what was happening so that I could hopefully stop the process of making problems where there weren’t any. He reminded me to breathe, and that helped for a few hours, but now I’m back in a similar place, where I’m making a lot of assumptions and creating problems that aren’t there. I’m glad I’m starting to recognize what’s happening, but dealing with it while I’m also exhausted and have hit my stress limit for the week is challenging.

I did a couple of yoga classes when I finished work to try to continue the process of calming. They were more meditative than active, and I found the word vulnerable coming up repeatedly as I stilled my body and slowed my breathing. As in be vulnerable.

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable. I want to put up my defenses and not have to challenge myself and my thinking and repeat to myself that I am experiencing cognitive distortion and that things are not what I am making them out to be. I would way rather tuck in and take a Xanax than sit in pain and stop the negative, destructive thought patterns that I lived with for a few years.

I’m done waiting for a better time to deal with this. There isn’t a time that I will be less busy, will be in a better place, will have less on my plate, will have my shit together or will be more ready for a relationship. I can’t put my life on hold because this shit is hard, and I have so much opening up to me. I think that was the message in yoga. When the choice is before me, and the choice is hard, time to choose vulnerable.

Making Friends From Total Strangers

A few tips from an anxiety pro.

I’m at a conference, making friends and connections and finding people who can send work my way. It’s finally time for a break before dinner, and do I need it! I was up late last night knitting my contribution to the silent auction (you won’t see me procrastinating on a craft project again!), up early to finish knitting and get to breakfast, and it is not the easiest thing for a person with anxiety to sit through a lot of sessions…which is why I mostly skipped them this afternoon. I’m here as a professional service provider, not as a learner (yup, may sound over confident but I am really good at this business and I come for clients), and it’s a challenge for me to not be completely exhausted a few hours in. Plus it’s cold and wet and dreary and I’ve had no coffee, only a cuppa Earl Grey early. I’ll sleep well tonight!

One of the things that helps me in these situations now is that I remember while there are a lot of friends and a few cliques here, there are also a lot of people who are here by themselves, who would be glad to not sit by themselves and who are here because what we do is also important to them. In a room full of strangers, I have a lot of potential friends, they just need to see me be friendly. So I am, and it works really well. As much as society has been seduced by the Modernist Utopia of efficiency, speed and mechanization, what we really want is connection and relationship. So I do that.

I’ll sleep even harder when I get home.