100 Days of Healing – Day 88

I’ve needed some space to think.

I have big dreams, great plans and a love for life bubbling up from somewhere deep. I have creativity that yearns to be expressed and a comfortable in her hard-earned skin person that wants to be seen.

I haven’t given her the space to emerge, because I’ve been covering her up, first because I thought everything was a threat and then because my protectors were disappearing and I started actually hiding from the world.

I’m learning that one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves is meet our own needs. I’m doing that by taking a well-timed opportunity for quiet and space this weekend. I stepped away from my to-do list, my chores and my habits and placing myself in a comfortable space that is a bit of a mental void. There’s only what I bring in and what I allow to stay, and helps me engage with the practice of choosing what I want to bring into my life and what I want to stay. It’s a retreat of sorts, but I’m (for once) not retreating, I’m pausing and forming so that I can step forward and live in more light than darkness.

Be kind to yourself, and give yourself what you need. You’re worth it.

100 Days of Healing – Day 67

Two-thirds of the way through a focused effort to heal a lot of the damage wrought on me by PTSD, I’m astounded by how far I’ve progressed in two months. My sleeping and eating habits have improved, my relationships have improved or been released, I’m spending less time trying to control what I can’t, I’m much more aware of when I need to pause and get to a place of calm, I’m more focused, I’m much better at managing triggers and I am getting to the root of a problem more quickly and with less time spinning in anxiety. I have more creativity, more critical thinking, more problem-solving and more willingness to try new things.

100 Days of Healing – Day 40

I am learning to be intentional about taking days off. For a long time I would have so much anxiety and distress that I didn’t have much of a choice, I couldn’t get anything done and spent hours in a mental vortex. Rather than giving myself some space, I still struggled with the need to “get stuff done”, and probably made things worse because I felt guilty about my anxiety interfering with my productivity. It’s been a battle for me to accept stopping, pausing and resting because I’m so afraid I’ll fall behind and not catch up.

Having a day in which I don’t accomplish anything and don’t intend to is a radical form of self-acceptance for me. And while my mind still has swirls of “but you could…” or “what if you did…” and “you need to…”, I am pushing those thoughts aside and letting the day be the day.

And on a Monday, I am not behind, I am not scrambling to catch up, I am not in the weeds or faltering, I have a normal workday with requests, requirements and opportunities and a schedule that was not negatively impacted by taking a full day off.

100 Days of Healing – Day 20

I bought clothes that fit.

That is a huge statement about acceptance for me. For whatever reason I have been trapped by the size of the clothes I used to wear. I don’t want to buy new clothes, so I have a fairly limited wardrobe at present of clothes that will stretch to accommodate my weight gain. I also don’t want to buy new clothes because I’m an inch away from shopping at plus size stores, and I have not been able to accept that about myself.

I’m heading off to the desert to try to get my nervous system regulated and to begin practicing a more caring lifestyle toward myself. I need a break from my normal routine and I need space to think. As I was planning my retreat, an email popped up about REI’s summer sale. I have been needing a sports bra that is not like wiggling into a straight jacket, so I had a look and found two things that I’ve been wanting, a new bra and a sun protective shirt for hot weather. Both great for this trip, both on serious sale, both…

…in my size.

My actual size. Not my old size, not the size I wish for, but my actual size. I checked the measurement charts to be sure, thought briefly about ordering a size smaller, then got honest with myself and ordered my actual size.

The items arrived in the mail today (early!), and they fitIt was so nice to have clothes that fit. The size labels suddenly didn’t matter, what mattered was that I was comfortable, confident and excited that I had successfully ordered clothes online. And I am going to enjoy the heck outta that bra and shirt because they represent healing, growth and positive change for me.

100 Days of Healing – Day 13

Several years ago I started experiencing TMJ. My jaw popped every time I opened or closed my mouth. It was horribly annoying. I don’t chew gum, so it wasn’t that. It was probably stress. I was told there was nothing that could be done about it, and I would just have to live with it.

I realized on Saturday that my jaw no longer pops. I have no idea how long it hasn’t been popping, but it doesn’t no matter how much I move my jaw. I am thrilled and grateful and excited and pausing to appreciate this moment of healing.

I Just Failed My Homework?

I had intentions yesterday. I intended to practice pausing, taking a bit of calm time to process and not let my schedule contribute to a meltdown. That did not happen.

I woke up late, scrambled to get some work sent out, was mindful that this was not the way I had wanted things to go and hopped in the car for another 4-5 hours on the road for an evening meeting. I can get stressed about getting places on time, I was stressed about getting a document out that I realized as I worked on it was not what it needed to be because of some technical issues that were happening once I made a big format change at the request of the client, and I was stressed because my uncle’s wife was pushing me to let her sign my grandma up for Medicaid when that woman is not part of my grandma’s care team or recovery program. I was agreeable rather than making an argument out of it, because I just didn’t want to get into it with her. But it stressed me out.

I picked up my boyfriend on the way so that he could attend with me, and we got back to his house fairly late. We talked for a bit. We’re both sorting through a lot of past behaviors and baggage that need to go, and it’s tough. It’s good for both of us individually, but it’s tough for us as a couple. We have different personalities and communication styles, and we’re trying to manage growing new careers, difficult personal growth, family issues, distance and things that are pretty normal but feel like they’re in a pressure cooker for us. And we don’t fight or yell, we talk, and that’s hard sometimes too.

Hard enough that I tipped over the anxiety edge of a panic attack very suddenly. One minute we were talking, the next minute I started feeling really upset by everything, then next I disassociated and went off to wherever chaotic place my brain goes. It didn’t last very long, kind of came and went, but I was reeling a bit after, trying to sort out my jumbled brain and why that had just happened.

Too much stress earlier in the day that I didn’t deal with, too much stress to get somewhere on time, intense conversation and…BAM.

But hey, I learned something, I worked through it, I let someone be there for it (although telling someone you just had a panic attack and all they see is a quiet calm is ironic), and I know what I need to keep practicing.

Be the Introvert You Are

That was advice from my therapist, who explained to be that in very simplified terms, people either drain you (introvert) or energize you (extrovert).

People drain me.

One of my new goals as I try to practice a lifestyle that leads (hopefully!) to fewer panic episodes and less anxiety is to be much more mindful about the things that push me over the edge of the panic cliff, and about letting stress build up until my brain freaks out and quits.

I’m in week two of wanting to mostly stay in bed, so this seems like pretty good goals.

I don’t really rest much. I haven’t in years. I don’t take vacations that act like vacations, I don’t schedule down time, I don’t pause – I just speed through life then crash and burn and get up and do it again.

So!

I spoke on a panel yesterday evening about two hours from where I live, so spent a lot of the later part of the day in the car or talking to a room full of people. I really enjoyed it, the topic is of real interest to me and my fellow panelists were very informed on the topic. I stopped for dinner with a friend on the way home, got home at midnight and went to bed.

I woke up at 10:30 this morning. I slept hard.

This evening I’m back at another program, although I’m not speaking at this one, and it’s not quite as far away but it’s very similar. So, trying to learn from yesterday and be mindful of how I feel, I’m taking an hour or two this afternoon to be quiet and still before I hop in the car and go be work me around a lot of people. Then tomorrow I will plan some down time during the day so that I don’t get too rushed and overwhelmed as I recover from this last big PTSD episode.