Sorry, I’m Taking Up All My Energy

One of the things I like least about my experience with PTSD but which has perhaps been one of the most important lessons for me is that I don’t have enough energy to go around.

Anxiety, depression and my misprogrammed neurons suck up most of the energy I have, leaving not much else available. What is left goes to maintaining myself (food, bathing, drinking water, staying somewhat organized) and working, which means that I have very little left for anyone else.

I now avoid a lot of people, crowds, noise and social “obligations” because I do not have the capacity for it. If it is an energy suck (and a lot of people from my life before PTSD are), I do not engage, or engage at a minimum. The capacity to do so is just not there. I got called a misnathrope the other day, which I think was unfair. If my mental illness were visible, y’all would be shocked that I do as much as I do. I think that is true for a lot of us with “invisible” illnesses.

But please know that I see you, and I respect and admire what you are able to do and who you are able to be. So often Life finds a way, even in the darkness.

And this is very different from my life previously, in which I had so much energy for other people and building community and volunteering hundreds of hours a year and working long hours and working out 7-11 hours a week and dating guys that put very little effort into our relationship…which is a different story.

I’d like to be able to direct more energy externally, I’d like to not have to qualify relationships by how draining they are for me and I’d like to be out and about more. But I don’t have the capacity, so I do the best I can with the people I can and go from there.

Making Room for New Things

My desk faces a wall. It’s slim, not very deep, but has worked well for me for over a decade. On the wall in front of me I’ve pinned up cards, artwork memories and various and sundry bits of detritus that people have sent me over the last few years. I don’t gaze upon it with adoration, it’s more background noise. But it’s fun, and I like it.

Since I’ve been feeling better this week, I’ve had a lot more creative energy (a lot more energy overall), and the ideas are starting to flow. I have a number of personal and professional projects I want to work on, many that I was working on when my family members started going down two years ago. I want a place to capture that, to make notes and jot down ideas and keep track of what I’m working on. Digital space is fine, but I like paper for this type of thing.

When I was sorting through boxes a couple of months ago in an attempt to organize and consolidate my belongings, and found a stash of Post-It note pads in varying sizes. In a previous life I was obsessed with Post-Its and bought tons of them in different sizes and colors to organize myself. I’m not obsessed now, but I do find them occasionally handy, and put the stash in my desk drawer for later.

I now have a use for those oversized notes.

I’m taking down most of my wall detritus to make space for an easy-to-reach note wall so that I can keep up with my projects, ideas and progress. I’m going to stick large pieces of brightly-colored paper in front of me. Not that the cards and artwork are less meaningful, it’s just time to do something different, and give myself some space for where I am and what I can do now.