Whirling Through the Week – Until I Hit a Wall

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable.

I had a lot going on this week.

I had some kind of idea that work would slowly pick up over the month and I could adjust. Nope, things blew up this week and I’ve been scrambling to do it all. Plus I had to be “public me” a lot, and spent a lot of time managing conflicts, in conferences and meetings and taking on more work. Not surprisingly, I hit a wall this afternoon and started to slide into a panic attack.

I have been doing a lot to recognize and address past trauma, which I am increasingly aware was in great part due to abusive communication, and when I have already hit my stress limit I have a really hard time not taking everything the wrong way.

Basically, if I start saying I’m tired, there is a meltdown on the way.

I realized today that I have a tendency to recoil in preparation for a verbal beating when I start toward a panic attack. I start making plans to isolate, I use any and every excuse for why I must not bother someone and I make a really big deal out of something that hasn’t even happened. My brain, in the process of wrecking, ties communication to abuse and prepares me for it by telling me to shut down and shut out.

This is without there being any verbal beating or any communication abuse. Or any abuse. Or…anything.

Sometimes dealing with this shit is really weird.

It’s a little terrifying too. I was in the middle of talking to a client, changing a drawing and trying to tell David what was happening so that I could hopefully stop the process of making problems where there weren’t any. He reminded me to breathe, and that helped for a few hours, but now I’m back in a similar place, where I’m making a lot of assumptions and creating problems that aren’t there. I’m glad I’m starting to recognize what’s happening, but dealing with it while I’m also exhausted and have hit my stress limit for the week is challenging.

I did a couple of yoga classes when I finished work to try to continue the process of calming. They were more meditative than active, and I found the word vulnerable coming up repeatedly as I stilled my body and slowed my breathing. As in be vulnerable.

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable. I want to put up my defenses and not have to challenge myself and my thinking and repeat to myself that I am experiencing cognitive distortion and that things are not what I am making them out to be. I would way rather tuck in and take a Xanax than sit in pain and stop the negative, destructive thought patterns that I lived with for a few years.

I’m done waiting for a better time to deal with this. There isn’t a time that I will be less busy, will be in a better place, will have less on my plate, will have my shit together or will be more ready for a relationship. I can’t put my life on hold because this shit is hard, and I have so much opening up to me. I think that was the message in yoga. When the choice is before me, and the choice is hard, time to choose vulnerable.

I Finally Had an Open Conversation with My Mom

She accepts that I am not ok, and may never be.

My Mom had it hard growing up. I’ll likely never know how hard. She deals with things quietly and doesn’t often show emotion.

I am about as opposite as it gets, with one exception. I can act, and I can make anyone believe anything. Even her.

We had a long talk today. Yesterday I had multiple stressors, and it was all topped off by my notice that my health insurance premiums are increasing AGAIN by 21% while my coverage is decreasing by an average of 27%. Just try to justify the Affordable Care Act to me. I’ll destroy you and your paltry stance.

Yesterday was also the first time that “suicide” crossed my mind. Twice. Because I am tired of fighting a condition I can’t seem to beat. Tired of not feeling like I can achieve anything, that I can’t get ahead, that I can’t live the life I want. I have never been suicidal, and am not suicidal, but that was the first time I’ve had the thought. It scared me, and I prayed hard. I was able to tell Mom that had happened, and she completely accepted it with no judgement, just an offer to always be there if those thoughts happen again.

She acknowledged that what I have is real, that it’s exhausting and that it has changed my life. She thinks it’s ok if I have to tone down some of my ambition, if I push responsibility onto others. She also said that even though she doesn’t understand my work, she knows I’m really good at it. My Mom is one of the most talented and hardest working people I know, and that was a really uplifting compliment.

I’m reminded in this that God provides. He always has for me. He did today too.

Anxiety, Drugs and PTSD Kicking The Shit Outta Me

I don’t look like PTSD.

I take a low dose SSRI, have a Xanax prescription for panic attacks (still fairly low dose), exercise regularly if not strenuously and eat a fairly healthy diet, although I could reduce the sugar and carbs a bit.

Post-trauma I completed two master’s degrees at a top-ranked university on time and with high grades, started my own firm before I graduated and have had a financially successful and solid first year of business. I have managed family health crises, dropped everything to run my mom’s company for a month last year when she was ill, run the household when my brother was injured and I take care of my grandma.

I don’t look like PTSD.

And that has been hard, because not only is it really hard for people to even recognize that I have a mental health disorder, I often don’t acknowledge it. I didn’t go on medication for two years, and even now I take very little. I work full time running a successful firm. I make and keep appointments, I make time to exercise, I work really hard on my thought life and am always working to be better…so many people who have challenges with the same name have such harder struggles than I do. It’s often hard for me to not feel like I really have it pretty good and that maybe I don’t even need the meds.

On Friday PTSD kicked the shit outta me, then kept kicking.

I had gone for a walk and not taken my keys, which was normal. Friday I had a lot of anxiety and decided I would go for a walk to see if it would calm me down, then when I got home I would take a Xanax and go to bed early. When I got home after 3 miles I was not in good shape, and I really just wanted the Xanax so the anxiety would stop. But no one was home, the house was locked and I had no keys. Yep, they had all left and locked me out, unable to access the pills I had been wanting for the last half hour solid.

I texted my mom to be sure, and yep, they were gone. I had mentioned to her earlier that I was not having a good day, but she didn’t seem to hear me. Now I was really not having a good day, but rather than sit at the door and get eaten by mosquitoes I decided to go for another loop. 6 miles and 2 hours after I walked out the door, I was sobbing and when I finally did get let it and get my hands on a couple milligrams of bitter-tasting drugs, all I could do for 20 minutes was lay face-down on a tile floor in a heap and sob.

I’m still recovering from it. I’m still not feeling great, I’ve had to keep working to meet a project deadline and so that I can be off work for my brother’s next surgery, and I am currently really adverse to walks. If I never walk again it’ll be too soon. And maybe a few slow days is the best thing, which is a little hard after putting so much energy into exercise and working on my brain, but I’m still pretty beaten and not looking for another fight anytime soon.