Next Steps: Oh…Actually…I Don’t Know

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.

I Woke Up, Sleep Shattered

I don’t often have nightmares. I don’t recall ever having a triggering nightmare, although I don’t tend to retain memories of triggers so I may have just forgotten. That all changed the other night when I started awake at 3:30 in absolute terror. I had been dreaming that I was riding home with my mom and instead of turning left onto our street, she turned right and we were facing the street dead ending into a cornfield. Sirens were suddenly blaring, lights were flashing red, it was the end of the world, people were starting to appear, screaming, the car hit something, she was dead and I was crumpled in the passenger floor board.

It took over an hour for me to calm down enough to go back to sleep.

I rarely have literal dreams. I don’t remember having dreams that resemble flashbacks. I don’t have flashbacks. It was so literal, and so related to the car wreck that broke my brain. It was horrible and terrifying and shocking after I’ve worked so hard at recovery and have experienced something like that so seldom, especially after the 5 years it’s been.

I wrecked in early October. We’re approaching that time, and I don’t want to make a deal of it. One year, maybe year 3, it didn’t bother me and I seem to remember sailing through like it was past. That doesn’t seem to be true, and I think part of the difficulty I’m having now is related to an approaching trauma anniversary. Maybe because I’ve dragged so much up to deal with? Maybe because I’ve dug so deep? That answer feels like the right one, much as I hate it. I hear the body keeps score, after all. And I still need to read that book.

100 Days of Healing – Day 83

So…that weight loss? It’s a trigger for me.

I’m one that unconsciously gained weight to insulate me from trauma. I also insulate myself at home a lot now, but at the time I had to be out and about all the time, so I gained weight as a protective measure.

Brains are funny things. Trauma does weird stuff to your brain. Like this.

Now that I’m losing weight (I’ve cleared 10 lbs!), I’m losing my protective layer, and that – that is what’s behind my recent relapse with severe anxiety.

Wow.

The body does indeed keep score.

But now that I know I can address it and keep moving forward!

100 Days of Healing – Day 82

I don’t know if you can completely heal from PTSD. I don’t know if I can. I’m certainly making the best effort I can, but since I’m still untangling the bundle of trauma that wrecked my neuron paths after a couple of years in therapy, maybe that’s just not in the cards, and the best I’ll get is fairly successful management of a condition I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

It’s so damn limiting at times.

I’m back to not being able to intentionally exercise because I’m so adverse to it. When my car hydroplaned my heart rate was… high is an understatement… and now if I’m in a heightened alert state, upping my heart rate is a trigger. Makes my fitness goals a challenge. And it’s not always, but it’s frequent, and it takes so much work to get myself calm sometimes that I don’t have any energy left.

Since I’m an introvert and people drain me, going out in public is hard for me. I can (thankfully) do it for work when I need to, but I need recovery time after. It’s pretty limiting.

So I’m not living the life I want, but at the same time I’m living my best life right now. I’m the most wholehearted I’ve ever been, and despite the recent setback, the most healed I’ve been in a long time. I’m slowly adopting and sticking to healthy lifestyle changes that I didn’t think I could do. So at least there’s that.

100 Days of Healing – Day 74

Healing from PTSD is not easy, and it’s not a linear process. I would prefer it were, because it’s hard to be making progress and have a setback. It’s like tripping and going face first on the ground when you’re walking and starting to think about speeding up.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety this week. I’ve made so much progress in managing anxiety that I’d forgotten how bad it can be and how exhausting. My therapist checked with me on Monday if I’m still using Xanax? I haven’t touched it this year. But this week I could have, I had such a hard time managing it.

I wiped out today. I slept late, went to see a movie with my mom, got super car sick/ low blood sugar sick on the way home, ate something and went to bed.

Have I mentioned how much I hate keto? My body does not like low carb.

I watched TV for a bit then napped for a few hours until a call woke me up. I ate dinner, then went back to bed, still wiped out. I felt every bit of mentally ill that I am.

BUT.

I took it for what it was, a reminder to slow down and let my body catch up. A chance to practice self care. A lesson in the benefits of mindfulness and putting myself first. Loving myself and showing myself compassion. New and good things.