Something to Look Forward to

Grandma is being crazy (loose term, yes I know, but I don’t want to get into it), and I am actually counting the hours until I get to leave. I’m like the custodial parent here: I get all of the bad behavior while everyone else gets to see her perform for company. There is no rational thought happening in her head, and it is really frustrating to me because I cannot solve any problems here. She won’t let me solve her imaginary problems, and she frequently doesn’t tell the truth, so…I’m counting the hours.

One of my coping ideas is to figure out something to treat myself with when I get out of here in a couple of days. I haven’t settled on anything yet, but it’s as varied as a nice dinner out to getting my car detailed. I’m going to be working the next two weeks straight with a lot of travel, and there won’t be much room after Thursday for something for myself, so I have about a day and a half free before I hit the road.

I want to spoil myself a bit, then it’s back to work, back to working on my health and back to recovery. But I haven’t settled on something yet, so feel free to weigh in!

No Kettlebells Yet

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.

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.

Obtrusive Grief

My experience with PTSD has included a lot of grief, which tends to be delayed in presenting itself for processing. If I’m stressed (most of the time), if I don’t feel safe (a lot of the time) or if I feel like I have to have my performance face on (also most of the time), my ability to grieve trauma isn’t there… until it is. Usually when I have other things to do, or find it inconvenient to have a tear – streaked face.

I had the weekend off. Actually off, as in no working and no grandma. I hiked, I napped, I went to church for the first time in a while, I slept… all supposedly restorative or restful things. So I was annoyed by increasingly severe anxiety this afternoon. I woke up with anxiety, it ramped up through the morning and after a four hour nap I couldn’t even make myself go to the store for some aloe gel for my sunburned shoulders.

I thought it was because I had to be back at grandma’s tonight, and I’m almost at my limit of being able to be pleasant while dealing with her situation. I get treated like a custodial parent, with a lot more worrying and nagging about how much money my family is spending (which, thankfully, we can afford, but she cannot, and she will not let up about it).

Grief hit me hard, and suddenly. I realized I was grieving for the relationship I lost when my forever turned abusive. The fingers my brother lost in an accident. I don’t even know what else… maybe the part of my brain I lost from the car wreck? I couldn’t stop crying.

And when I needed to sit with the grief and cry it out, I had to get in my car and get back to grandma’s for my shift, which has no space to grieve.

My life, interrupted has pushed off so much of what I need to do to heal, and I’m not that surprised it’s starting to bubble out at inconvenient moments. I wish it were easier to schedule, but trauma processing never is.

Exhaustion or Reprieve?

I’ve been really stressed about work, on top of everything else. I have a few challenging and contentious projects in play, and as much as I’d like to bow out of them, I need the money. I don’t get paid for the 100+ hours a week I spend caring for my grandma, and something has to pay the bills. As much as I’m trapped here, the world revolves on and things cost money.

I had a meeting with a client and a local government representative today to see if I needed to recommend that he pursue litigation. I expected the parties involved to be contentious, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve my client’s best possible outcome.

I’m exhausted, and got about four hours of sleep last night because grandma talked to herself and rustled around so much. I was pretty sure I was going to be worthless and forget my points. Instead, I got a calm and professional meeting with clear information, and I think I’ve convinced my client that his best course of action is to pursue the standard approval process, since it will save him a lot of time, maybe money and definitely grief.

This option keeps me involved in the project, which will still be a challenge but I appreciate the vote of confidence by my client, who asked me to proceed directly with the next phase and send him a bill.

I’m either so relieved the stress has lifted a bit or so exhausted I’ve stopped caring. Hard to tell until I get some sleep, which won’t be tonight.

I had someone in my corner, cheering me on and reminding me that being tired would tell me a lot of things that weren’t true, and that I’m good at this and will perform well regardless.

I’m grateful for the reminder. It was true.

Hello, Edge of Sanity

I was supposed to have a care giver at grandma’s this morning so that I could leave to go to therapy and to work and do a few errands. We got a different person than who I was expecting, a new person who has injury restrictions on lifting.

I can’t have an injured person who can’t lift. Grandma has to be lifted. Right now she really isn’t bearing her own weight, she’s a bit out of her head, and I need to get her rechecked for an infection. But that all takes phone calls and paperwork and doctor’s orders.

A replacement is supposed to be here at noon, but I’m still missing my therapy appointment, I’ll need the hours I’m gone to calm down after this morning’s confusion (I had to handle the care giver and grandma) and change of plans (I was really counting on going to therapy), and I have to get some work out to a client by the close of business.

I don’t even have my laptop or clothes since I thought I was going home this morning.

#mondayfail

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.