1% Failure

Last week I had a new goal to improve by 1% every day. Not in an actually measurable way, but to make small, incremental steps toward bigger goals. I had two things that I wanted to do every day last week, and this week would have two more things that were a step up of last weeks things.

I made it 3 days.

Then I got sucked into a whirlwind of anxiety and PTSD symptoms, and totally forgot I was even doing this.

I’m not even the least bit disappointed or discouraged about it, I’m simply going to try again. So this week is 10 kettlebell lifts every day and one little bit of design work every day.

Living with PTSD: When Good is a Trigger

In the last two days I have started to feel good. My PTSD symptoms seem to be significantly reduced, I have more energy and am more interested in personal projects, and I am willingly exercising, taking breaks from work and stopping work when it’s time to stop for the day. I’m looking into creative projects for myself and for work, and I seem to be paying much more attention to what’s going on around me.

The last two times this happened I was blindsided about a week later by trauma. It has taken me months to recover from both.

My parents are headed on a vacation that my mom is really excited about, and rightly so. They’ve been through the same trauma, and it’s been a long, hard effort to get everyone well and stable. I’m excited for them, and I think it’s long overdue.

My parents were supposed to leave town the day after my brother’s accident. They spent the weekend and the week after in the ICU with him.

My body remembers. Parents plan to leave town: trauma. I start feeling really good: trauma. I’m usually blindsided by trauma anniversaries and triggers, and I spent the month of October struggling to cope with the terror lodged in my brain. This time I know what’s coming, I know how I feel, I quickly recognized the circumstances, and I am making a plan to address them the best I can. I’m having someone stay with me this weekend so that I’m not alone (and therefore all up in my own head), I have plans to do things I enjoy with people I enjoy, and I don’t have any set responsibilities, only a plan of action in case an emergency happens. I communicated how I feel and what this is like for me, my concerns have been acknowledged and accommodated without negativity from anyone involved in helping me, and I am so, so grateful that even though positive growth and change can be a trigger, then can also be an opportunity for better.

100 Days of Healing

I’ve leaned into healing this week. I’m still listening to Healing From Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide, and I’ve had to face up to my post-experience and the symptoms that are and aren’t going away. I’ve found that I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck – enough to limit my range of motion. I’ve had a couple of mild headaches. I hurt everywhere at times. I have muscle spasms at times. I have intense and lengthy dreams every night, and yesterday woke up with only survival brain functioning and not much else.

I went for walks anyway. I listened to the book anyway. I did yoga anyway. I slowly stepped forward with work anyway. I ate nutritious food anyway. I ignored all social obligations that were just obligations and not things I truly wanted to do. I handled some banking and finance transactions that needed to happen, I made the beginnings of a plan to run my company solo (my business partner has abandoned me but still has to be officially terminated from the business and we have yet to discuss any of it because he bailed out and has not bothered to communicate). I also made a backup plan for work in case that doesn’t work out.

I’m going to heal anyway.

I haven’t been intentional about it until now. I’m waking up to how often I disassociate, how much memory I don’t have because I wasn’t present, how numb I am, how overwhelmed I am, how often I am in survival mode. I’m still surviving, not living, and I am now starting to understand why.

THIS IS HARD. I’m going to do it anyway.

The next 100 days will end sometime near the end of September, close to the 5-year mark of the week of trauma that nearly took me down. And for the next 100 days, I’m going to be intentional about healing and see where I get.

Sucker Punched By My Brain

Thanks, PTSD. I was wondering if this would happen.

I was minding my own business when I got hit with mental hell. Not really a panic attack, not really anything I can successfully describe, but it was like I got my mental teeth knocked out, and I was reeling. Shit. I still am.

This morning was another episode of unwilling to get outta bed. I have no problem with this, thankfully no one and nothing needed my immediate attention, and I am determined to get as much sleep as I can this week. I’ve had a lot of problems with memory lately – I have a hard time recalling events and feelings, and I have no clue for the most part who I used to be. I was surprised, then, that this morning I clearly remembered the day of my car wreck and the day after.

I remembered that I didn’t stop.

I hydroplaned early afternoon. By 4pm I was at the doctor being checked for a concussion and internal bleeding (which I didn’t have). By 7pm I was at my grandma’s for our weekly tv watching, acting as if nothing had happened (she still doesn’t know I had a car wreck). By 7am the next morning I was at Enterprise renting a car and by 9:30am I was sitting in law class, on time and with my books and notes.

It never stopped after that. I worked 50 hours a week and was in grad school full time (12 hours a semester). The couple of times I have tried to slow down I’ve had a close family member have an critical injury or a medical crisis.

I’m not really surprised that I’m starting to see some of the harder to deal with symptoms of PTSD. All the digging around in my brain I’m doing is likely to stir up some hard to deal with moments, including the ones I can’t explain or understand or manage very well. And I have very little capacity for additional stress right now, so work emails and some text messages are setting me off.

But dammit, I’m going to do this.

Some If, Then… of Trying to Manage Severe Anxiety

I’ve lately been thinking a hospital visit or heavy medication would be a good idea. As I go through constant rounds of severe anxiety, my energy is wearing down, and the last two nights of driving over an hour in heavy mist and fog have just about done me in. I’m super stressed about work, even though it’s something I can and normally would handle just fine, and the thought of going back to my grandma’s house tonight for four days to care for her is just about more than I can stand right now.

So I had this thought last week and it continues to this weekend that the hospital is kind of an appealing option, and feels close to necessary. Right down to the hospital gown, the bed, the bracelet, the people checking on me, the relative isolation…whatever.

Because if I am experiencing anxiety this bad, I might need a medical intervention. If I am experiencing anxiety this bad, and my family will not hear me, I might need something that they would view more credibly, like a doctor and a hospital. If I cannot manage to come off of this going-on-two-weeks spike in PTSD symptoms, I may need something to help me do that. What I am doing is not working, so I need something else. What I am doing is not helping, so I may need to try a different tactic. If I keep going with my current responsibilities, I might go into crisis that I cannot manage.

As I mentally sorted through my options after I got home last night (after driving through some of the thickest fog I have ever seen), as I said to myself, “Ok, if I do this, what am I trying to accomplish from that? And if I take that option, what will it solve?” I realized that it wasn’t really about going to the hospital, it’s that if I check myself in, my family will maybe have to acknowledge the severity of my condition in a way that they presently will not. Then I might not have to struggle under so many burdens. Then I might get a break. Then maybe I will be accommodated. Maybe.

Other option is to hang in there for two and a half more weeks, try to do my job the best I can, try to stay calm and sane at Grandma’s, do the things on my calendar, sleep more on the weekends, then go on strike when my mom’s job finishes and she is more available to help with Grandma. I’ve been at this for two months, I can make is another two weeks, right?

If I do, then…

If I don’t, then…

If this keeps up, then…

Anxiety is the worst, y’all.