I think one of the benefits of pausing to be grateful and reflect on positives is that it helps with perspective. I’ve struggled so much through the last few months, and living with PTSD can be a pretty hopeless situation. I’ve felt that I just can’t so many times, and taking steps in recovery have at times seemed to difficult or overwhelming or inaccessible.
One of my biggest challenges has been exercise or really body movement of any kind. I have mostly just wanted to stay in bed and block the world out, and I am still working through the situation of my brain thinking an elevated heart rate means I’m going to die. Amanda’s blog and her yoga practice have been such a calming and accessible way for me to stay mentally engaged with what I’ve wanted to do even when it was too hard to make my body do it, and she has kept me motivated to stay with it until I could get back to yoga practice myself.
She has many videos in which she breaks down yoga poses so that it’s clear and understandable how to hold the pose in a way that’s most accessible to you, and I think she is a wonderful example of what conscientious yoga teachers do to make the world a better place. She is a truly beautiful person and her good energy is contagious, even in the blogosphere!
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.
I don’t quite know how I got here, but for the past week I’ve slowly started to feel good in my body. Not because I’ve lost more weight, and even though I gained a few Thanksgiving pounds. Not because I have more muscle or am stronger, and even though I think I could be. Not because my clothes fit better or I fit into old clothes, and even though my jeans are tighter today than they were yesterday.
This morning did not start well. I had so much anxiety last night that I was dizzy every time I stood, and I couldn’t sleep enough to get out of bed energetically. But two things happened to turn that around for me.
I met with a graduate student I am mentoring through my alma mater’s former student network, and we not only connected well but my professional work and personal interests align well with hers, so it looks like I will be able to provide real benefit to her. I’m thrilled by that, because not all of the matches are so successful, and I want to give back. I think it’s important.
During that meeting I got a call from a client who wanted to discuss some plan changes, and who is really happy and excited by what I am producing for them. That was gratifying, and I’m really happy that I am helping someone turn their vision into an achievable goal.
I still don’t have much relief from the anxiety and being “on” half the day has been tiring, but the good is there, I acknowledge it and am grateful for it and I am doing the best I can to be responsible for the energy I bring into the room.
I don’t know if you can completely heal from PTSD. I don’t know if I can. I’m certainly making the best effort I can, but since I’m still untangling the bundle of trauma that wrecked my neuron paths after a couple of years in therapy, maybe that’s just not in the cards, and the best I’ll get is fairly successful management of a condition I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
It’s so damn limiting at times.
I’m back to not being able to intentionally exercise because I’m so adverse to it. When my car hydroplaned my heart rate was… high is an understatement… and now if I’m in a heightened alert state, upping my heart rate is a trigger. Makes my fitness goals a challenge. And it’s not always, but it’s frequent, and it takes so much work to get myself calm sometimes that I don’t have any energy left.
Since I’m an introvert and people drain me, going out in public is hard for me. I can (thankfully) do it for work when I need to, but I need recovery time after. It’s pretty limiting.
So I’m not living the life I want, but at the same time I’m living my best life right now. I’m the most wholehearted I’ve ever been, and despite the recent setback, the most healed I’ve been in a long time. I’m slowly adopting and sticking to healthy lifestyle changes that I didn’t think I could do. So at least there’s that.
Things aren’t so hard. Still hard, yes, but not so hard. Positive change doesn’t seem impossible. Challenges don’t seem insurmountable. Calm and focus are not longer out of my reach. Yoga is not too difficult for me to enjoy. Prioritizing a balanced diet, sleep and rest is not making me miserable, behind with work or friendless. I am not alienating people by asking for what I need. I am not crippled by being honest with myself on the habits I need to change.
Things are better, I am healing and I am grateful.