I’ve made it to therapy maybe 3 times in the last two months. Before that I was thinking it might be time to stop therapy. Well, it’s not.
This morning I had to face unprocessed grief, missing out on triumph, losing opportunities, being financially stressed because I’ve put time into my family instead of my work, and not mattering enough to that same family for them to take the severity of my mental illness seriously.
I cried a lot, I kept crying when I left, I cried to my boyfriend when I got home, then I took a long nap.
I used to go home and sleep after therapy when I first started going, because it was so intense and exhausting. Today was like that.
On the up side, it was enough for my mom to see that I’m about to be the next family crisis. Nothing is changing overnight, and I don’t expect it to, but she’s committed to finding a different option for grandma that doesn’t require my involvement.
I need time and space to finish grieving so I can heal. I need time to practice healthy behaviors. I really need less cortisol so I can finally lose the trauma weight and hopefully some of the anxiety.
But hanging in there in the meantime is hard, y’all.
Since moving in with my grandma a month ago to care for her after she fell, I have very little free time. I stay with her 100+ hours a week, and am still working 40-50 hours a week. Last night was maybe the second time in a month I’ve slept in my own bed. It was wonderful. And it wasn’t nearly enough.
Skipping the exhausting experience of caring for an older relative for now, I’ve learned in the past month to live in the moments I have free. Rather than chaining myself to my obligations and responsibilities, I take every free moment, whether I’m in the shower at her apartment or driving to or from a project to just live. No mindless existence, sulking about how much has been thrown at me. No accepting my restrictions as unchangeable. Living. And enjoying it.
I’m packing as much into those free moments as I can, whether it’s meetings over coffee or blowing calories on Whataburger or sending birthday cards or getting my garden seedlings transplanted before the rain hits.
I am so limited. I refer to those 100+ hours as jail. But I’m finding freedom in the restrictions. I’m ironically thriving. My relationships are improving. I’ve maintained my weight (usually I pack on pounds during times of intense stress). I have plans. Not plans to travel or go to brunch or do the things that might typically be enjoyable. It’s smaller. More intentional. And so much more than I’ve done previously.
I’ve watched a few people I know make poor choices in the last coupe of weeks that put people (and animals) close to them at risk. They let in harmful things because they weren’t willing to recognize and assess potential threats, and it cost them. In one case thousands of dollars in vet bills and in another the dissolving of trust and family.
I’m not sure what causes it, because I protect my house. I guard my close relationships carefully and try to protect them – sometimes even from the chaos in my brain.
For me, when someone or something is important to you, you don’t put it at risk. You don’t ignore the warnings and the intuition that harm is imminent. And if you do, that repair work is on you.
With PTSD I’ve had to work hard to understand this, because my brain reads and misreads threats all the time. I can become my own threat when anxiety becomes too much to handle, and I perceive a lot of things as threats that aren’t.
I’m trying to keep my responses balanced. Needs more practice.