Prickly

I just want to be a cactus.

As I’m sitting at my laptop, navigating the first of what I anticipate to be several perceived “threats” today (a work email already set me off on high alert and really it’s just someone asking reasonable questions, ugh), I started thinking about the desert and how I don’t have email there, and there’s cactus and I like cactus and anyway I can be pretty prickly too and…

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Oh hey, cactus, I get you. You have sharp spines to protect yourself and your water. Pretty smart. Works less well for humans.

Shit. I just want to be a cactus.

Work, Hustle & Coffee

Can I just repeat that the man fed me while I worked?

I did NOT phone it in yesterday. I cried my way through therapy, turned out work and volunteer work, went to a very productive lunch meeting and went back to work and volunteer work. I think it’s important to give back, so to speak.

Since I was feeling a bit out of sorts yesterday and had A LOT TO DO and places to be, I decided to check out a new coffee & beer joint on the other side of town, not far from my lunch meeting. It was in a light industrial complex, and when I walked up the large garage door was rolled up and the place was open air, which felt good on a warm and humid morning. I ordered a latte and a chocolate croissant, and sat at the bar to finish a small knitting project before I hopped on my laptop.

I liked the place so much I asked David if he wanted to join me after lunch, and a scurried off for a very productive and pleasant lunch meeting (quiche Florentine), then headed back for the afternoon. Afternoon turned into evening, and as the sky darkened they opened the big door back up, left the overhead lights off and placed votives on the tables. I was still cranking out work when we decided to order dinner, and the coffee and beer bar is a dinner restaurant. We got the grilled cheese sandwich and the chickpea salad, both very yummy, and David fed me while I typed away, trying to beat my battery dying.

Can I just repeat that the man fed me while I worked?

I’ve scraped a lot of things out of my day to protect myself so that I can be really productive over the next couple of weeks while hopefully not being triggered so frequently or severely. I still don’t feel great, but I’m told to keep doing what I’m doing.

Onward, with coffee.

Letters to Linda – Feeling Overwhelmed

No really, it will be fine if I don’t do that today.

Dear Linda,

I, too, would rather stay in bed and watch tv…pretty much all the time. And I don’t even have that much interest in television, it just usually seems like a better alternative to having to think or having to be alone with my thoughts. Or deal with people, or deadlines, or obligations, or people, or…anything.

I think it’s important to know that there is a difference between feeling overwhelmed and being overwhelmed. They’re very similar, but as I’ve mentioned, anxiety will make you think things that aren’t true, and part of recovery is working toward acknowledging what is the real situation and what is anxiety. Most of the time when you feel overwhelmed, it’s the anxiety talking. And anxiety is loud. Sometimes you really are overwhelmed, and that can happen when you experience a trigger. I have two different approaches, depending on what I identify as my experience.

If I am feeling overwhelmed, and for me that means I feel like I have so much to do and it’s hard and I’ll never get it done and PANIC, I have to stop and assess – rationally – what is the least amount I can do today? What has to be done and what can wait? What will be a real problem if I don’t complete that today, or attend today, or do today? What can I do tomorrow or a different day and it will be fine?

No really, it will be fine if I don’t do that today.

Usually if I stop and assess rather than let anxiety dictate my to-do list, things become much more manageable and less scary. Then I push aside things that do not have to happen today and see about getting started with what does have to be done. And the rule is only one thing at a time until I finish. This way I reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, I feel more in control and things feel more manageable and achievable – which makes me feel better, which makes things easier to do.

If I am being overwhelmed (by anxiety), it’s a different experience. For me it’s usually a PTSD trigger, it has nothing to do with how much I have on my plate and everything to do with my brain being flooded with whatever my neurons just went wild about. I used to keep going and try to force myself to work or clean or ANYTHING to not address it, which was not a healthy thing to do. These days, I acknowledge that I got triggered, I find a place to rest, I drop everything, I may or may not call someone in my support circle, and I rest until it passes. Sometimes that’s ten minutes, sometimes it’s four hours, doesn’t matter, it’s time I need to recover.

Yes, I can still go to class or meetings or drive or function when I’m being overwhelmed, and I do if I really have to. It’s a judgement call every time. But if I stop and rest rather than pushing myself and not taking that time out, I recover so much faster and so much better than if I ignore it. I’m taking care of myself when I do this and acknowledging that my condition is legitimate and deserving of care and space, rather than telling myself I’m not worth it. If you knew I was triggered, you would help me get to a safe place and do what you could to see that I was comfortable and cared for. Do the same for you!

I Got Flowers From A Stalker, Not My Boyfriend

I read the bottom of the card and saw that yes, it was from the stalker.

After two really rough days dealing with birthday trauma, the end results of pushing myself too hard and probably some wonky hormones, the sun literally came out today, and I feel much better. My mental status is up and down like my resting heart rate, but where I want that to trend down, I want my mental health to trend up. I feel motivated to make some priority changes for my health and well being, and those changes and habits are best made while I feel good, so now is the time!

Yesterday, 18 red roses were delivered to my house, along with a box of good chocolate. I’m guessing the whole thing cost over $200. My brother answered the door since I was about to try to nap, and he called out that it was for me. I knew the flowers weren’t from David as soon as I saw them, because he wouldn’t send me something so unnecessary and ostentatious. No one who knows me well enough to send me flowers would send such an over the top piece of floral insanity, and I was appalled. I was more appalled when I read the bottom of the card and saw that yes, it was from the stalker. Ew.

My brother offered to break the arrangement in the front yard. I decided instead to offer it to my business partner for his wife. There was no way I was going to keep it, and he was so excited. She got the chocolate too, I wanted nothing to do with it.

David listened to me be upset by it and brought me dinner with no flowers, since that episode confirmed my not leaving the house for the day. My Dad brought me flowers that I do really like, and we watched the Olympics with my parents. Today was sandwiches for lunch and some practical gifts, plus a plan starting to form to focus more on health now that he’s just about finished his list of things to handle and I’m (overall) more stable and ready to tackle better health habits.

Time to shift my focus and energy, while I sit here enjoying flowers I appreciate, having gotten rid of the ones that I don’t.

It’s My Birthday!

This seems to be the year that I can process why I hate my birthday so much.

Last night was hell.

My birthday is a trauma anniversary. Eating is a coping mechanism. Work is a coping mechanism. Isolation is a coping mechanism. Ironically, all things that I can’t always avoid…

I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday and napped in between working. I had nothing left, and in therapy I identified that I felt like I didn’t matter to the people close to me and felt alone. I had forgotten that my birthday was used as a weapon against me in previous years, and it took most of the day for me to consciously remember that, and to realize that I was having a rough day because I was anticipating another horrible birthday. Another day that was supposed to be about me on which I was ignored, abused and made to feel like nothing.

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I ran off to the desert this year and thought through how to reclaim my birthday. I was going to make it about me doing for myself this year, about not relying on others to make the day special. My brain had other ideas, and last night was an emotional post-trauma hell. This morning I’m still shaky, still feeling a bit off. The well wishes started before 6 this morning, which I really appreciate. I still can’t connect to them, and I’m still a bit walled off, and still a bit emotional, but I’m much better, and the crazy has subsided.

I understand that sometimes the brain – and this seems to be true for mine – cannot process trauma until it feels safe to do so. My experience with that is as soon as I think I’ve taken a step forward in recovery and made progress, I get rewarded by the baseball bat of trauma memory. Congrats! You’re doing great in recovery! WHACK! It’s so painful and frustrating and…shit. This seems to be the year that I can process why I hate my birthday so much. Maybe that means a better next year? I was able to sit with the pain last night. I still haven’t needed Xanax this year. Yep, I made it through last night without meds to knock me out so I could avoid it. I took the beating, and today I kinda feel like I got that beating.

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I woke up early to a quiet house. No cards, no acknowledgement that it’s my birthday. It’s expected, my family doesn’t make a big deal out of my birthday. I used to be the one to make a big deal out of it, used to make my own cake and organize my celebration, so I can understand why they don’t. And the point for me is to not rely on others for this. Emotionally, it’s still a letdown, but rationally, I enjoy the quiet morning. It’s raining and cold and I’m temped to not even leave the house today. I can work from the comfort and safety of my bed again, and ignore the world for another day. I can nap again if I need to.

Cause, you know, it’s my birthday!

Fat, Sick and In My Happy Place

I didn’t take the time to decompress the way I needed to so that I could fully embrace being here.

Y’all, my weight gain has hit a level that I finally had to notice. And I’m still congested and occasionally coughing. But I’m in the desert, the sky is clear, the temps are cool and warm and the air is wonderfully dry. Plus every color makes me happy. There is some good energy here. And I’m not sure I’m open to it yet.

I ran around like a mad woman yesterday to get a project proposal delivered on time, then had lunch and a walk with David before I hit the airport. I didn’t take the time to decompress the way I needed to so that I could fully embrace being here. The negative stayed with me, the stress and the being sick with whatever the hell I have and the realization that I couldn’t avoid anymore, that I am feeling pretty fat.

It would be easier to enjoy rockin’ my body if I had the clothes for my larger size, but I am pushing the limits of what I own and this is not a time I want to shop for more. And it just doesn’t feel good. Not much feels good at the moment.

Ashley wrote a post-vacay post via Pressing reset (or maybe just pause) that covered it.

I didn’t take the time to get ready to vacay, so I’m spending the first part of it recognizing that and deciding what to do about it. Yes, let it go and all that, right? I have PTSD, so the fact that I am even able to think through and acknowledge all of this (I did run away, but still have to work today so am sitting in my friend’s office working away before we head out on a hike) while I still have obligations and responsibilities to fulfill.

So here’s to taking a day to figure it out, reset, reframe, clear my desk and be ready to rest tonight and enjoy the hell outta tomorrow…while seeing if I can’t maybe also enjoy the hell outta today.

Blogger Recognition Award

Many thanks to Ashtyn at Through Her He Speaks for the recognition! Her blog is a positive and encouraging space rooted in God, and her recent self-love challenge has been really great to follow along! I find self-love to be challenging for me to practice, and I was glad to see examples of what that can look like!

This came a day before I reached 100 followers – thank y’all so much for reading my thoughts and experiences. The blogging community has been a gift, truly.

Here’s how the award works:

  1. Post the Blogger Recognition Award Rules.
  2. Use Blogger Recognition Award badge on your website.
  3. Share the reasons why you blog.
  4. Share two tips for new bloggers.
  5. Nominate other bloggers for this award and notify each of them about this nomination.

Ok!

I started blogging a week short of a year ago because I wanted a space that I could be unfiltered and raw with my experience living with PTSD. The trauma week that nearly did me in was almost four and a half years ago, I was diagnosed about two and a half years ago, I’ve been with a great therapist for almost two years, and I moved from stable to progressing about 9 months ago, which got put on hold due to a family emergency, and I am almost ready to progress again. I keep blogging because I don’t have too many people that I can be this real with…yet.

Tip #1: If you don’t know what to say to another blogger, be supportive. A lot of people do this because they don’t have support where they are, and this is a relatively safe space for them. Lift them up! They will do the same for you.

Tip #2: Be your authentic self. This is a space to be real and see other people be real, and if you haven’t figured out who your authentic self is yet, this is a great place to work on that!

Here are the bloggers I would like to recognize for being so supportive of me: