I’m feeling pretty good this morning. Time to seize the day while it lasts!
I still feel like I was just in a car wreck, and I have a lot of neck and upper back pain. PTSD is a weird animal. I slept 12 hours last night and spent a lot of it dreaming about whether I experience schizophrenia. It was a main point in my dream sequence, questioning myself about it and evaluating and seeking out evaluation.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD I was evaluated for numerous mental health conditions, all of which were ruled out, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I don’t believe that’s what I’m experiencing now, but I’m also curious as to why that condition specifically. I don’t know much about it so I’m not approaching the question with a lot of knowledge, and I’m not aware of knowing anyone with that diagnosis, so I don’t have personal experience to speak to. I don’t know why that was part of my unconscious processing. I don’t know what, if anything, it means.
I do know that this week, the anniversary of the trauma that got me an altered brain, has been painful and limiting. There are so many things that I want to do that I am not able to access because my body’s memory of being under life-ending threat is so powerful that it is blocking my attempts to live. I’m not even talking about jetting off on a last-minute weekend trip or kayaking on some of the fast rivers created by recent flooding, I’m talking about cleaning my floor and pulling out the cold weather clothes I’ll need for Monday. I’m listening to The Body Keeps Score, but I’m not making it through fast enough to know how to address this and what I can do differently. It feels like I’ve reached a sticking point in recovery – as in I AM STUCK and don’t know how to wiggle past. Somewhere in my brain below the trauma I have the desire to wiggle out and start living, but that desire is under a mountain of trauma that does not want to budge.
I feel like I was in a car wreck two days ago. Josh’s service was today and I had forgotten that his wreck was also in October. My body, however, did not. It’s painful, I hurt and I am struggling to not shut down and hide.
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 went through a process of being intentional about healing for 100 Days straight. It was transformative. I’m not wealthy, popular or traveling the world and living my best life with an Instagram account gaining 100+ followers daily, but I am wiggling out of the cocoon I wrapped myself in following my PTSD diagnosis. I’m fully engaged in work for the first time in a couple of years, and I’m starting to put myself out there. I was just notified that a conference proposal I submitted was accepted. A piece of legislation I wrote will be filed and sponsored. A report I wrote is generating real questions about accountability.
And yet I’m still crashing into bed by 9:30pm, not bothering to brush my teeth or get dressed unless I have to be somewhere, not exercising regularly and not able to put a grocery list together.
I’m listening to audio books to learn more about what I don’t know – how to successfully navigate relationships, my healing brain and being an entrepreneur. I’m reading more about what I don’t know for work – methodologies, law and best practices (and throwing out some of it because my experience tells me it’s not a very sound way to do things, then realizing I have the confidence now to make those calls).
I’m finding myself more attractive.
No really! When I look in the mirror now it’s a much more positive response. I’ve lost 12 lbs but let that stall out for the last couple of weeks before I go back to focusing on where I want to go next.
So the next thing, really, is to decide what’s next. But based on what is best for me, what brings me joy and what makes me excited to get out of bed most mornings, not based on obligations, responsibilities and the belief that I’m not enough. I am. Time to act like it.
You know the when you’ve been struggling with situations that you don’t really understand and are frustrated that the outcomes not only don’t match your expectations but you can’t really connect to the issue? Just me?
This week it’s been fear. The underlying issue in so many of the situations I’ve struggled through is fear. And I don’t immediately recognize it because I’m not connected to my center. I’m stressed, overwhelmed and straying from being present, so I can’t see it. Until I step away from the chaos, get a good sleep, take my time to wake up and…ah. There it is.
Usually it’s me that’s fearful. This time it’s fear in others that I want to tackle head-on. I want them to be aware, to see it and to give it a name. And at some point it will come back to me, because choices will be made that will push me to choose, and fear will undoubtedly be part of the equation. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m not enough? What will I do next? What if I get hurt? What if it gets worse?
I have stayed stuck by fear for a long time. As I push my way out of it and work to open up my life and myself to a way of living that isn’t based in fear, I’m learning how often fear is at the root of an issue, and trying to be aware so I can give it a name and release it.
This morning did not start well. I had so much anxiety last night that I was dizzy every time I stood, and I couldn’t sleep enough to get out of bed energetically. But two things happened to turn that around for me.
I met with a graduate student I am mentoring through my alma mater’s former student network, and we not only connected well but my professional work and personal interests align well with hers, so it looks like I will be able to provide real benefit to her. I’m thrilled by that, because not all of the matches are so successful, and I want to give back. I think it’s important.
During that meeting I got a call from a client who wanted to discuss some plan changes, and who is really happy and excited by what I am producing for them. That was gratifying, and I’m really happy that I am helping someone turn their vision into an achievable goal.
I still don’t have much relief from the anxiety and being “on” half the day has been tiring, but the good is there, I acknowledge it and am grateful for it and I am doing the best I can to be responsible for the energy I bring into the room.