Living with PTSD: When Good is a Trigger

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.

Next Steps: Oh…Actually…I Don’t Know

I went through a process of being intentional about healing for 100 Days straight. It was transformative. I’m not wealthy, popular or traveling the world and living my best life with an Instagram account gaining 100+ followers daily, but I am wiggling out of the cocoon I wrapped myself in following my PTSD diagnosis. I’m fully engaged in work for the first time in a couple of years, and I’m starting to put myself out there. I was just notified that a conference proposal I submitted was accepted. A piece of legislation I wrote will be filed and sponsored. A report I wrote is generating real questions about accountability.

And yet I’m still crashing into bed by 9:30pm, not bothering to brush my teeth or get dressed unless I have to be somewhere, not exercising regularly and not able to put a grocery list together.

I’m listening to audio books to learn more about what I don’t know – how to successfully navigate relationships, my healing brain and being an entrepreneur. I’m reading more about what I don’t know for work – methodologies, law and best practices (and throwing out some of it because my experience tells me it’s not a very sound way to do things, then realizing I have the confidence now to make those calls).

I’m finding myself more attractive.

No really! When I look in the mirror now it’s a much more positive response. I’ve lost 12 lbs but let that stall out for the last couple of weeks before I go back to focusing on where I want to go next.

So the next thing, really, is to decide what’s next. But based on what is best for me, what brings me joy and what makes me excited to get out of bed most mornings, not based on obligations, responsibilities and the belief that I’m not enough. I am. Time to act like it.

100 Days of Healing – Day 13

Several years ago I started experiencing TMJ. My jaw popped every time I opened or closed my mouth. It was horribly annoying. I don’t chew gum, so it wasn’t that. It was probably stress. I was told there was nothing that could be done about it, and I would just have to live with it.

I realized on Saturday that my jaw no longer pops. I have no idea how long it hasn’t been popping, but it doesn’t no matter how much I move my jaw. I am thrilled and grateful and excited and pausing to appreciate this moment of healing.