Done for the Year

My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful.

I mentioned in therapy yesterday that I am done with 2017. I’m done with work, done with social engagements and all I want to do is sleep in comfy pajamas and bake in between reading books and sipping tea. Really, in two more weeks I can do that, but I don’t want to wait two more weeks. Even a week and a half.

I think a lot of other people are feeling this. We’re done. This year was rough, there has been a LOT of trauma and anxiety and negative energy, and I want to just bubble up and pretend it doesn’t exist for a bit. My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful. I want to do things that bring me joy and that are gratifying to others. I’ve spent so much energy trying to hold it together this year that I am depleted and in need of rest, rest I haven’t taken the time for because…reasons.

Maybe a re-frame is better. Maybe I’m not done for the year, maybe I’m done expending energy on anxiety for the year. Maybe I’m done expending energy on externalities for the year. Maybe for the rest of the year my energy will go toward positive things that bring me joy rather than black holes of negativity. I think I’ll be in a much better position to give in the new year.

Getting Me Back

Sex and dating have been the last big issues I haven’t really dealt with post-PTSD. I didn’t have to, so I didn’t, and figured I’d deal with it when I had to. Well, now I have to if I want this relationship to continue. Which I do, because Client’s Brother is an incredible surprise, and I’d like to see where we go. He knows I still have a lot of shit to work through, and he’s kind and compassionate about it. Since I have a giant question mark about my reactions to everything (post-assault I am pretty skittish about, well, everything), I have no idea what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not. I have so many negative emotions about sex and dating, and changing that is going to take time and energy that I don’t yet have available for this. He’s walking through this with me, and I couldn’t really ask for more. It’s quite wonderful.

As I’m rolling into the end of the work year and things slow down for about a month, I have some space to step away from the office and focus on myself. It’s time I really need to do this, to get ME back. I need to form different coping habits, need to resolve some background noise and pursue some things that bring me joy, things that I haven’t had the energy to pursue. As much as the recovery process is central to my life, I’m ready to move beyond recovery and be more than the anxiety and scars. I think that identity was ok for a while, and I think it gave me a bit of shelter, but I’m more than the scars and want to be more than the anxiety. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t start things on Mondays and I try to avoid high-expectation change scenarios. I’d rather start something on a Tuesday in April. So no end-of-year or new year plans, just seems like the right time to push myself forward a bit and regain some of what I like about myself.

Wreckiversary #4

A 5k, lobster rolls, popcorn for dinner and some stroke-inducing college football.

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Four years ago today I lived. Since then I have done little beyond survive. I think that was ok, because I did survive, and now I get to start living.

I ran (hahahaha I mainly walked) a 5k with a large group of friends. Three of them placed (they actually ran), and we had a great fun time, kids, strollers and all. I missed my usual bagels since they had sold out by the time I got there, and the bagel guy told me that if I message him next time and let him know I’ll be late, he’ll keep a couple back for me. This is why I like to know the people who make my food! What a kindness!

Bagels a no go, I grabbed a couple lobster rolls from a food truck and headed home for pajamas and college football. I knitted, I ate popcorn for dinner, I am almost having a stroke over this game.

While it sounds nice – and is nice – these times usually bring up unresolved issues for me. I still struggle to find a peaceful lack of churning thoughts. Even last night I was very concerned about a payment that hasn’t made it into our mailbox. This morning I had a note from the client letting me know the check had been misplaced, but was now found and in the mail. I spent a good half an hour trying to fall asleep last night but wide awake over an issue that had resolved itself. It’s not just sleep, it’s any time I’m not “busy”. And those churning, anxious thoughts drag me back to previous coping mechanisms and conjure back up previous issues.

I’ll write more about it later, but I have a bunch of boomerangs in my life. People who come, leave, then come back, always on their own terms. I never know when they’re in or out, never know if they’ll respond or not, and when they will or won’t pop back up with an unexpected text message. I had one pop up last week, he’s already gone again.

WHY???

I invest emotions, energy and time into other people, so every time this happens I don’t just drop it, it affects me and it takes a few days for me to let it go and move on. You would think that since I know that about myself and know this about them that I would “know better”. Sure, except that I often want people to be better than they are, and I want them to treat me better than they do, but I don’t demand it because for years I was told in so many ways that I don’t have value. That has stayed with my subconscious, and I am just now learning why this is such a challenge for me to just cut people off. One more thing for my brain to churn on. And 4 years later, I am so proud that I can say that and look forward to a day when that and many other things are not so damn hard.

Anxiety, Drugs and PTSD Kicking The Shit Outta Me

I don’t look like PTSD.

I take a low dose SSRI, have a Xanax prescription for panic attacks (still fairly low dose), exercise regularly if not strenuously and eat a fairly healthy diet, although I could reduce the sugar and carbs a bit.

Post-trauma I completed two master’s degrees at a top-ranked university on time and with high grades, started my own firm before I graduated and have had a financially successful and solid first year of business. I have managed family health crises, dropped everything to run my mom’s company for a month last year when she was ill, run the household when my brother was injured and I take care of my grandma.

I don’t look like PTSD.

And that has been hard, because not only is it really hard for people to even recognize that I have a mental health disorder, I often don’t acknowledge it. I didn’t go on medication for two years, and even now I take very little. I work full time running a successful firm. I make and keep appointments, I make time to exercise, I work really hard on my thought life and am always working to be better…so many people who have challenges with the same name have such harder struggles than I do. It’s often hard for me to not feel like I really have it pretty good and that maybe I don’t even need the meds.

On Friday PTSD kicked the shit outta me, then kept kicking.

I had gone for a walk and not taken my keys, which was normal. Friday I had a lot of anxiety and decided I would go for a walk to see if it would calm me down, then when I got home I would take a Xanax and go to bed early. When I got home after 3 miles I was not in good shape, and I really just wanted the Xanax so the anxiety would stop. But no one was home, the house was locked and I had no keys. Yep, they had all left and locked me out, unable to access the pills I had been wanting for the last half hour solid.

I texted my mom to be sure, and yep, they were gone. I had mentioned to her earlier that I was not having a good day, but she didn’t seem to hear me. Now I was really not having a good day, but rather than sit at the door and get eaten by mosquitoes I decided to go for another loop. 6 miles and 2 hours after I walked out the door, I was sobbing and when I finally did get let it and get my hands on a couple milligrams of bitter-tasting drugs, all I could do for 20 minutes was lay face-down on a tile floor in a heap and sob.

I’m still recovering from it. I’m still not feeling great, I’ve had to keep working to meet a project deadline and so that I can be off work for my brother’s next surgery, and I am currently really adverse to walks. If I never walk again it’ll be too soon. And maybe a few slow days is the best thing, which is a little hard after putting so much energy into exercise and working on my brain, but I’m still pretty beaten and not looking for another fight anytime soon.

A Day of Rest

Anxiety pushes me to keep moving, keep going, do, do more and do more than that.

Yesterday I carried a baby around, played with small children while their parents ate lunch (we ran like airplanes and made a “campfire” with acorns, leaves and sticks), worked quietly and watched my football team lose in the last minute after dominating the first half. No exercise, no letting the Fitbit dictate my day, no feeling bad about finishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, no staying up late “just because”. After a week of massive steps forward in my recovery, dreaming every night with dreams that are resolving things in my brain, putting dozens of miles in, hitting a big deadline and enjoying the heck outta some bagels and coffee, I rested. It felt so good.

Anxiety pushes me to keep moving, keep going, do, do more and do more than that. Resting, quiet, stillness have been my enemy. I haven’t quite gotten to taking a day off or going on vacation, but I have finally established a bit of a weekly schedule, set some boundaries for myself and gotten some sleep. This is the acknowledgement of that, that for an entire week I put effort and attention toward taking care of myself, even when I was busy, stressed, anxious and multitasking.

PTSD is a weird beast. It’s taken a long time to beat it back, but this was the first week that there wasn’t a glimmer of light, there was a beam of it. I’m basking in it!