I am struggling this week. Losing Josh in the middle of the week that my body remembers as the most traumatic week of my life is just hard. I didn’t prepare for it because my therapist thinks that creating that expectation will make the week inevitably negative, but not preparing for it has just left me unprepared for what I’m experiencing. I worked well past midnight last night and have been busting my ass for the last few weeks. I’m busy with work, yes, but I am also using it to cope, per usual. I didn’t plan to take a day for myself to be still and reflective and work on reprogramming, I was going to travel out of town on an unnecessary work trip just to accommodate someone I have already over accommodated. This was not a good approach for my situation, and now with a funeral tomorrow and my owns needs and experiences not met or addressed, I am struggling to hold it together.
This shit is hard.
It’s likely that by Monday (or even before) I’ll be ok and the moment will have passed and I will have some freedom for a while. That does not help me today. Today my body hurts, I feel compressed and pinned, I want to isolate and disappear and be swallowed up and I am so consumed by stress (not anxiety, strangely) that I cannot let my foot off…
And in writing those last 6 words and reading them on the screen I realized what I am doing. I pushed down on the brake of my car so hard and for so long as I smashed down a highway that my heel was bruised. I tried so hard to stop the crash that could not be stopped that I have stayed that way, foot on the brake, for five years. I am that way now. My body feels like it did while I was bracing myself to die. It hurts.
I don’t know why today. Today isn’t the anniversary, but it’s the date that I’ve had in my head. The 14th will be the 5th anniversary by date, it was on a Monday. Today is the 11th, a Thursday, and it’s in the middle. I had a traumatic breakup (the back story covers four years so just understand that it was a severely traumatic moment) on October 8 or 9 (I can’t even remember things were so blurred at the time) so the 11th is in the middle of the two events that resulted in my PTSD diagnosis. It was too much for me to handle. I had no support. I had no way to talk about it. I just had to keep going. And my body remembers.
But now I know. I don’t quite know what to do about it, but if the first step is to recognize what’s happening and notice how it feels, there are surely more steps to take following that will lead away from what I’m experiencing now so that I don’t have to do it again. I would really like to let my foot off the brake.
I needed help, and I needed to ask for it from someone I didn’t want to bother or be one more problem for.
But I asked anyway, and got what I needed.
Healing from PTSD is not easy, and it’s not a linear process. I would prefer it were, because it’s hard to be making progress and have a setback. It’s like tripping and going face first on the ground when you’re walking and starting to think about speeding up.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety this week. I’ve made so much progress in managing anxiety that I’d forgotten how bad it can be and how exhausting. My therapist checked with me on Monday if I’m still using Xanax? I haven’t touched it this year. But this week I could have, I had such a hard time managing it.
I wiped out today. I slept late, went to see a movie with my mom, got super car sick/ low blood sugar sick on the way home, ate something and went to bed.
Have I mentioned how much I hate keto? My body does not like low carb.
I watched TV for a bit then napped for a few hours until a call woke me up. I ate dinner, then went back to bed, still wiped out. I felt every bit of mentally ill that I am.
I took it for what it was, a reminder to slow down and let my body catch up. A chance to practice self care. A lesson in the benefits of mindfulness and putting myself first. Loving myself and showing myself compassion. New and good things.
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.
It has taken a long time for me to be able to step back from a trigger and process through why it happened, what it brought up, where it came from and how to separate the emotions of the trigger from what I know to be real.
But I did it tonight.
More than that, I called the person who was part of the trigger and explained what had happened, what I was experiencing and what they could do to help me.
I’m so thankful that was a positive experience, and I went from spinning in negativity to resolving the issue calmly and in a way that built trust.
It was a huge leap to be willing to not only address the trigger head on, but to let another person help me calm down. It was a leap of trust in myself.
I trusted myself.
I’ve made it to therapy maybe 3 times in the last two months. Before that I was thinking it might be time to stop therapy. Well, it’s not.
This morning I had to face unprocessed grief, missing out on triumph, losing opportunities, being financially stressed because I’ve put time into my family instead of my work, and not mattering enough to that same family for them to take the severity of my mental illness seriously.
I cried a lot, I kept crying when I left, I cried to my boyfriend when I got home, then I took a long nap.
I used to go home and sleep after therapy when I first started going, because it was so intense and exhausting. Today was like that.
On the up side, it was enough for my mom to see that I’m about to be the next family crisis. Nothing is changing overnight, and I don’t expect it to, but she’s committed to finding a different option for grandma that doesn’t require my involvement.
I need time and space to finish grieving so I can heal. I need time to practice healthy behaviors. I really need less cortisol so I can finally lose the trauma weight and hopefully some of the anxiety.
But hanging in there in the meantime is hard, y’all.
That was my mom’s response yesterday when I told her my anxiety had reached a point that I would either need to check in to a hospital or knock myself out on Xanax for a few days. Either way, I was losing decision making and problem solving function and about to be unavailable to anyone for anything.
That was her response.
Kind of like the upstairs neighbor, I wasn’t even mad, I just didn’t know what was going on. Huh?
So I calmed myself as best I could, went back to grandma’s, tried to stay calm, handled work the best I could, was very pleasant, and tried to make a plan to reduce my responsibilities as much as possible for a couple of days.