Thanks, PTSD. I was wondering if this would happen.
I was minding my own business when I got hit with mental hell. Not really a panic attack, not really anything I can successfully describe, but it was like I got my mental teeth knocked out, and I was reeling. Shit. I still am.
This morning was another episode of unwilling to get outta bed. I have no problem with this, thankfully no one and nothing needed my immediate attention, and I am determined to get as much sleep as I can this week. I’ve had a lot of problems with memory lately – I have a hard time recalling events and feelings, and I have no clue for the most part who I used to be. I was surprised, then, that this morning I clearly remembered the day of my car wreck and the day after.
I remembered that I didn’t stop.
I hydroplaned early afternoon. By 4pm I was at the doctor being checked for a concussion and internal bleeding (which I didn’t have). By 7pm I was at my grandma’s for our weekly tv watching, acting as if nothing had happened (she still doesn’t know I had a car wreck). By 7am the next morning I was at Enterprise renting a car and by 9:30am I was sitting in law class, on time and with my books and notes.
It never stopped after that. I worked 50 hours a week and was in grad school full time (12 hours a semester). The couple of times I have tried to slow down I’ve had a close family member have an critical injury or a medical crisis.
I’m not really surprised that I’m starting to see some of the harder to deal with symptoms of PTSD. All the digging around in my brain I’m doing is likely to stir up some hard to deal with moments, including the ones I can’t explain or understand or manage very well. And I have very little capacity for additional stress right now, so work emails and some text messages are setting me off.
But dammit, I’m going to do this.
Sometimes I’m just not ready. I ruminate for a while on my options and think through what I want to do next before I do it. I think so much of my life happens in a way that demands an immediate response that when I have the option, I take my time. So I’m taking my time on the big pushes forward – the kettlebells, the schedule change, the diet change, the consistent yoga and meditation practice. It’s going to be a lot of work to make my recovery a priority after a year and a half of putting other people’s crises first. It’s going to be a lot of work to drop the stress levels.
But the work must be done. When I’m ready.
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.
A word has stayed with me over the last year as I’ve endured one trial after another. Not one I chose or a “word of the year”, rather one that came to me, that I’ve grappled with, that expresses the complexity of my experience.
It is used in different ways in English. It means a few things to me.
First it was that I’d had enough. How much could a person endure? I’ve since learned not to ask that question. Then I wondered if I could do enough, if I had the capacity to do what was required of me. I’ve struggled with believing I am enough, that what I offer and what I can do is sufficient.
There aren’t many aspects of “enough” I haven’t contemplated, worked through, worked around and sought to understand. I’ve looked at the concept expressed in Scripture, linking the idea of fullness and completion to the concept of “enough”. It’s notably part of Jesus’s teaching on forgiveness – how many times do you forgive? Essentially, “enough”. He said 70 x 7, but those words were symbolic, not a literal 490.
I’ve been so challenged by this word. But I think the challenge is past and the practice is present. To live with “enough”, peacefully.
I’ve had enough.
I have enough.
I am enough.