Flashbacks in the Rain

I almost died in a car wreck that happened in the rain. For the most part (and thanks to EMDR and a lot of therapy) I don’t really have problems anymore when I drive. When I do, I have coping skills that work well. So today was a pretty big surprise when I was driving in the rain on my way to a meeting and started having flashbacks, not about my car wreck, but about the day of my brother’s accident. Clear as anything were the memories of getting the call from my mom, picking up his truck, sitting in the ICU waiting room unable to pray and barely able to hold it together, leaning on the prayers and shoulders of friends.

I’ve rarely had flashbacks of my own trauma, much less that of someone else. And while that day was traumatic for me, it hasn’t had nearly the impact that my own trauma has.

As I began to write this post, I also began to ask why and to process what happened this afternoon. I’m dreaming again… I’m processing again… I’m resolving trauma again.

I am done being afraid of the hold the past has on me. I’ve survived this much this long, and I can deal with whatever else boils up. But this was interesting, because as much as the flashback experience while driving on slick roads was not pleasant, it didn’t shake me. I’m now more curious about it, about where it came from and why that day?

I dream when I’m relaxed or when I am processing. Emotions, events – they all get run through my dream cycles in full color and epic drama. I don’t dream the exact thing, I dream versions of it, or nothing at all related. I started dreaming again this week after a long time off. My resting heart rate is slowly dropping, I’m a little more calm during the day and now memories are emerging that probably haven’t been dealt with. The human brain is fascinating.

Am I excited by this? Nope. Am I afraid of it? Also nope. Gonna deal with it and move on…

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The New Normal? Geez I Hope Not.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it.

I’m about a week into moving from my normal anxiety program into anger/rage/short fuse under tight control. I don’t want to explode on someone and hurt their feelings.

After a week of this I have zero idea still of what is behind it, and can only guess its some combination of weather/trauma anniversary approaching/lack of support from my family/stupid friends/driving in rain a few days (I wrecked in the rain). I have done different things every day, eaten sugar, not eaten sugar, eaten gluten, not eaten gluten, taken vitamins, drank more water, gotten more sleep, shrugged off some responsibilities, taken on some responsibilities, exercised, not exercised, read before bed, eaten tacos and organized my work space.

No. Change.

Now it feels like the new normal, which is not good news, and I don’t know how to change it because the things I usually do to feel better are having zero noticeable effect. And since I’m pissed of at everything all day anyway (plus there is not a minute of the day that I don’t want to DRINK), I’m more annoyed than usual at my weight, my work, my family, my friends and my hair.

I can exercise choice, right?

Might be time to make that plan to lose the trauma weight.

I have been ON IT at work, which is going really well, and I am also putting it down when the work day is over.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it. 4 years later they are not going to change even as I continue to. And that’s really ok.

My friends and their bonkers relationships are also not my problem. Better to accept their weird selves and not insert myself into what annoys me.

I got a haircut, and it looks amazing. Go me.

I Just Got My Ass Kicked, And I Deserved It

I made a light-hearted social media post this morning about getting coffee and bagels from a local joint in spite of the “hurricane”, which hasn’t actually hit my area yet with anything bust a bit of rain and wind. I was watching a lot of local businesses say they were going to be closed today out of panic over conditions that weren’t happening, and as a staunch supporter of entrepreneurs and local business I was happy to promote a new coffee truck that had creatively figured out how to keep customers out of the rain and in good supply of coffee and bagels, which happen to be my favorite coffee and bagels ever, THE END.

A friend who is from one of the coastal areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey was upset enough about what I said to tell me what she thought about my insensitive post and relate all the hell her family and friends are going through.

Did I mean it like that? No. Did I make reference to anywhere other than my own town? No. Did I mention harm or coastal areas or make any lame “thoughts and well wishes for those affected” statements? Nope. I told my local friends to not be pussies and go support a local business that couldn’t afford a major hit on a Saturday.

That was not the point. The point is I inadvertently hurt someone with my cavalier statement, and she was friend enough to call me out on it. I was friend enough to not be defensive, but to explain my perspective, acknowledge she was fair in kicking my ass and I immediately changed my post. It didn’t matter that I didn’t mean to, it mattered that what I said upset her and maybe other people. She didn’t call me out publicly, she texted me. We had a sincere dialogue about it, she understood and admitted she may have reacted a bit strongly, and I corrected what I had said wrongly in her eyes. We both walked away in agreement, satisfied and committed to a friendship that has lasted over a decade.

I want that from my friendships, and I want that from myself. I don’t want to get defensive when someone tells me I’ve done wrong, I don’t want to deflect a rebuke, I want to have the maturity and humility to say yes, I am sorry, how can I make that right? I have heard so much refusal to take responsibility lately, and I’m glad I’ve learned from it rather than participate in it. I’m glad I got my ass kicked. I’m glad I have a friend who was willing to kick it.

Weather-Induced Anxiety

My anxiety is skyrocketing with every decline in barometric pressure. I am freaking out.

Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, flash floods, fires – I’ve been through it all. Storms don’t bother me and never have. I’m more likely to walk outside and see what’s happening than sit in front of the tv with concern. That was until PTSD, anyway.

I still don’t get bothered by severe weather. If anything, I prepare out of concern for my own convenience than because I think it’s necessary. I stocked up on groceries before everyone wiped out the grocery stores ahead of Hurricane Harvey just because I didn’t want to wait in long lines and I knew people would go bonkers the next day. I’m planning to stay home if we get the rainfall we are expected to get, and I will skip my social plans.

My brain has a totally different way of dealing with an approaching hurricane. My anxiety is skyrocketing with every decline in barometric pressure. I am freaking out.

I experience anxiety from several sources. Weather-induced anxiety is the weirdest for me because it is so disconnected from how I feel. My brain is flooding with anxiety chemicals as fast as my body can produce them, but I’m not actually scared, just exhausted because SEVERE ANXIETY IS EXHAUSTING.

I had a panic attack driving to an appointment this morning. The major source of PTSD for me was a car wreck on a rainy day, and I have had A LOT of driving-related anxiety. This was the first time that I have ever thought I might pass out and wreck the car. As I was driving I had to stay very conscious of my thoughts so that I didn’t let them wander off to death and destruction as the unavoidable consequence of being on the road. I can barely work today because – and many of you will relate to this – I just can’t.

So I set work aside for later and went for a walk (promptly got soaked through when the skies opened up and dumped rain on me mid-walk), that didn’t work so I took a shower and got into pajamas, that didn’t work so I rested for a bit, that didn’t work and that is why I have meds. I’ll take it easy this weekend, sit out the storm and take care of my anxious brain. I might be medicated all weekend, and I’m fine with that because I am able to differentiate my chemically-flooded brain from what is “normal” for me. I know I wouldn’t normally be anxious, I can call this what it is and I can address it. I am also not going to let it keep me from doing things that sound fun.

Recovered? No. Recovering? Hell yes! Bring it on, Harvey!