First Successful Trigger Cope of 2018

It wasn’t long before I starting thinking I might want to prepare for a trigger…

The work is paying off.

I’ve spent the last week or so working on new coping techniques for anxiety while I didn’t have a lot of anxiety (relative to what I can and often do experience). I’ve learned to not pressure myself to learn new things while putting my energy into dealing with intense anxiety episodes, which is why my default anxiety food is still grilled cheese.

I found out two days ago that a friend of mine from grad school had been hit by a car on Christmas, and was in the hospital recovering from severe injuries. It wasn’t long before I starting thinking I might want to prepare for a trigger…and sure enough it was a trigger.

I dropped what I was doing and went through a yoga practice. Didn’t sit around stewing or freaking out or getting really emotional, I acknowledged what my brain was doing, let it go, chose another way to think about it, and did yoga for a while. It stopped the trigger experience, and I was left with mild to moderate anxiety the rest of the day instead of a massive panic attack.

I’ve been practicing yoga every day for a week in the hopes that getting accustomed to that will help me not have such a barrier to accessing that tool when I get triggered. Different coping tools for different trigger, but this one was a success, and the first trigger of the year didn’t become the first panic attack of the year. #grateful

Restoring Through Energy Balance

After months in an anxiety hole, this feels so good.

I was on high speed New Year’s Day.

I went to bed NYE finishing off a bottle of Proseco and a grilled cheese sandwich, I woke up feeling a bit hungover and chugged a quart of water while I scrolled around on my phone. My usual Earl Grey with half and half later and I was full of energy and purpose.

I can’t even remember the last time I had energy and purpose.

Either the Proseco had some magic in it, or all of the work, the thought and the decisions I had been making over the previous week converged into some amazing results. I’m also nearly two weeks into tapering off the antidepressant, and I am finding that my energy, creativity and motivation are WAY UP. I had no idea. Anxiety is also up, but I am recognizing and addressing it in ways that I have not been motivated to do before now.

Cool, right?

It was too cold out for this kid (I am a hot weather girl), and as much as I had the energy to go run around outside, I decided to channel that energy into inside stuff. Into clearing some of my spaces, making small changes that made me a little happier, following through on the meditation intention I had to release hatefulness, which you can read on my post Restoring Through Releasing Others’ Hatefulness, pulling out my little notebook to start writing down thoughts and experiences, and generally doing things that made me happier and feel more accomplished.

After months in an anxiety hole, this feels so good.

Before I started paying more attention to caring for myself, I would have run around on high speed all day, done all the things, worked myself up and crashed in the evening with a panic attack. Now that I’m beginning to understand the concept of balance a bit better, I worked at the things I wanted to do until I reached a point of satisfaction, then I stopped, sat down and read for a bit. I moved from high energy to low intentionally so that I didn’t crash later. Enough was good enough. Maybe sometimes balance is also stopping to appreciate your hard work. I like this so much better.

Restoring Through Making Decisions

I didn’t even realize I was frozen. I didn’t realize that I was stuck, but I was STUCK.

I have been sitting on a lot of decisions, I realized this week. As I’ve started taking a hard look at the anxiety hole I’ve been wallowing in and making plans to do some work to restore myself to a more positive human, a person who does things (I am a doer, for sure), I have needed to pull my head out of the sand, as it were, and make some play calls.

I didn’t even realize I was frozen. I didn’t realize that I was stuck, but I was STUCK, and I think I have David to thank for the realization, because as he was describing someone else who was stuck, I was taking in those comments and starting to think, “Wow, that’s me.”

I don’t want to be stuck. I like to do things, and I haven’t been doing things, I’ve been letting life happen. There are a lot of reasons why, the primary reason being that my family experienced severe trauma through my youngest brother’s accident earlier this year. It has taken me months to recover and get to a new path of healing The path I had been on is no longer available to me, and it has taken 7 months for me to see that. I kept trying to get “back on track”, but that track is gone, so time to find a new one. Enter this process of restoring. It has been a way for me to find that new path toward healing from my current circumstances, not my previous or imagined circumstances. No doubt I’ll have to do it again, but that’s for when it happens.

With my substantial insurance and mental health care cost increase that starts tomorrow, I’ve had a lot of anxiety about cash flow and getting my bills paid while we ramp up contract work in the new year. A lot of my work is long-lead on invoicing, and we just went through the annual slowdown plus delay on decisions from the tax reform uncertainty. I like to plan ahead, not wait till I hit an emergency to make a move, but I’ve been worrying without taking steps to reduce my worry. That ended this week when I teed up some options and scheduled some time to see exactly what my options look like so I can make that play call. Even if none of it works out, I made the effort, and I don’t fear failure of attempt so much as failure to act.

I’m going into the New Year already on a path to restoring, and already having made some decisions to push me off high center. Happy New Year!

XOXO,

Ashley

Done for the Year

My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful.

I mentioned in therapy yesterday that I am done with 2017. I’m done with work, done with social engagements and all I want to do is sleep in comfy pajamas and bake in between reading books and sipping tea. Really, in two more weeks I can do that, but I don’t want to wait two more weeks. Even a week and a half.

I think a lot of other people are feeling this. We’re done. This year was rough, there has been a LOT of trauma and anxiety and negative energy, and I want to just bubble up and pretend it doesn’t exist for a bit. My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful. I want to do things that bring me joy and that are gratifying to others. I’ve spent so much energy trying to hold it together this year that I am depleted and in need of rest, rest I haven’t taken the time for because…reasons.

Maybe a re-frame is better. Maybe I’m not done for the year, maybe I’m done expending energy on anxiety for the year. Maybe I’m done expending energy on externalities for the year. Maybe for the rest of the year my energy will go toward positive things that bring me joy rather than black holes of negativity. I think I’ll be in a much better position to give in the new year.

Getting Me Back

Sex and dating have been the last big issues I haven’t really dealt with post-PTSD. I didn’t have to, so I didn’t, and figured I’d deal with it when I had to. Well, now I have to if I want this relationship to continue. Which I do, because Client’s Brother is an incredible surprise, and I’d like to see where we go. He knows I still have a lot of shit to work through, and he’s kind and compassionate about it. Since I have a giant question mark about my reactions to everything (post-assault I am pretty skittish about, well, everything), I have no idea what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not. I have so many negative emotions about sex and dating, and changing that is going to take time and energy that I don’t yet have available for this. He’s walking through this with me, and I couldn’t really ask for more. It’s quite wonderful.

As I’m rolling into the end of the work year and things slow down for about a month, I have some space to step away from the office and focus on myself. It’s time I really need to do this, to get ME back. I need to form different coping habits, need to resolve some background noise and pursue some things that bring me joy, things that I haven’t had the energy to pursue. As much as the recovery process is central to my life, I’m ready to move beyond recovery and be more than the anxiety and scars. I think that identity was ok for a while, and I think it gave me a bit of shelter, but I’m more than the scars and want to be more than the anxiety. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t start things on Mondays and I try to avoid high-expectation change scenarios. I’d rather start something on a Tuesday in April. So no end-of-year or new year plans, just seems like the right time to push myself forward a bit and regain some of what I like about myself.