A Moment of Thanks to Strong Lotus Yogi

I think one of the benefits of pausing to be grateful and reflect on positives is that it helps with perspective. I’ve struggled so much through the last few months, and living with PTSD can be a pretty hopeless situation. I’ve felt that I just can’t so many times, and taking steps in recovery have at times seemed to difficult or overwhelming or inaccessible.

And that’s why I’m grateful for Amanda at Strong Lotus Yogi!

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Photo from Strong Lotus Yogi – Benefits of Side Plank https://stronglotusyogi.com/2018/05/29/benefits-of-side-plank-vasisthasana/

One of my biggest challenges has been exercise or really body movement of any kind. I have mostly just wanted to stay in bed and block the world out, and I am still working through the situation of my brain thinking an elevated heart rate means I’m going to die. Amanda’s blog and her yoga practice have been such a calming and accessible way for me to stay mentally engaged with what I’ve wanted to do even when it was too hard to make my body do it, and she has kept me motivated to stay with it until I could get back to yoga practice myself.

She has many videos in which she breaks down yoga poses so that it’s clear and understandable how to hold the pose in a way that’s most accessible to you, and I think she is a wonderful example of what conscientious yoga teachers do to make the world a better place. She is a truly beautiful person and her good energy is contagious, even in the blogosphere!

Thank you, Amanda! I appreciate you so much!

This Weekend Has Been A Bermuda Triangle of Anxiety For Me

I am dealing with multiple weekend-long situation triggers, and it has been tough. I can do nothing about it, and have a lot of chores, errands and THINGS to get done, so I am busy and a little frustrated on top of experiencing severe anxiety.

I used to wish time away, and consciously stopped doing that, but it is really tempting to wish this weekend done already.

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.

The Long and Unlikely Road to Bettering Self

I have a constant urge to be better, whatever that means. I don’t have a clear idea of what “better” looks like, I just know that for a long time I haven’t been satisfied with where I am, and I want things to be different. I know that to great extent I can effect change within myself, and I can accept that I can do (functionally) nothing about anyone else, and that has put me in a place over the last few months that has gotten me really curious – about myself, my abilities, where I am with PTSD and where I want to be instead, what it looks like to love myself and care for myself and make myself a priority and what I can and cannot tolerate in my own behavior and that of others.

I don’t have that many “good” days, days that I feel energetic and interested in life and happy and motivated to leave the house. I push through most days, trying to not drop back down the hole while I try to do the things that research and a lot of smart, caring people think might have the best chance of getting me where I want to go. I’m starting to oscillate a bit, I think – I’m having noticeably more stints of positive and motivated than I’ve had in a few years. I’m definitely more awake and aware, and am staying less in the dark hole and am peeking out at the world more. I’m thinking more about doing things that I enjoy and have taken a few small steps that I don’t seem to have backtracked. I’m seeing some ripple effects from my changes and it’s cool. I like to think that building better energy around myself has the potential to positively radiate out, and I’ve lived with negativity for so long that it’s a nice change.

But, I still have the question of what better looks like and what I need to do to get there.

Waking Up Lonely

There are times that my introspection becomes overwhelming. I haven’t yet learned to moderate it – although I was so numbed out for years that there’s a lot built up.

I really miss having a lot of people over for meals. I used to entertain quite a bit, and had a large group of friends and acquaintances who were happy to appear at my command when I wanted to cook.

I love to feed people, and I love to cook. Which I no longer do.

My family has been through a lot in the past two years, and through part of that and prior to the start of a series of traumas I cooked for everyone. I liked it, and was good at it. Now that my mom isn’t working and has turned her energy to caring for my grandmother, she has pushed me out of the kitchen. It’s her domain, right down to washing the dishes.

My mom was not a good cook when I was a kid. I have zero good memories of her food, and a lot of bad ones. It’s different now, and she makes great food, but she also leaves no room for me to do what I love.

She gets really anxious about cooking for holidays. I mean weeks of freaking out and planning and more freaking out and lunch two hours late and panic about the turkey not thawing in time. Every. Holiday. So I started cooking holiday meals myself, because I like it, it’s not hard for me, I can do it to the nines in 5 hours, it’s perfectly cooked and timed, and mom doesn’t stress us all out. And I get to feed people, which I love.

But now that’s she’s back in charge of the kitchen, we’re back to the unnecessary anxiety of Thanksgiving. I say unnecessary, I don’t know what it is that bothers her so much, she’s not one to discuss feelings. I do think it’s unnecessary because she knows she can just let me handle it. But she doesn’t. I’ve been pretty much ignored, and this morning she was going on about making my brother her sous chef to get things prepped tonight so that she doesn’t have to do them tomorrow. She would also rather cook everything tonight and microwave it tomorrow.

No.

I feel pretty ignored by my mom, which is usual since I’m the only one with an (mental) illness that she has not stepped in to help, and she seems to have forgotten how smoothly things have gone the last five years when she just let me cook. And now she and my brother, who get really extra around each other, will be spreading their manic energy all over the kitchen, which was once my place of calm. And I’m going to…find something else to do, or else suck it up and join, because these are not two people who reflect much on their own issues and behavior.

Yeah, I know, get my own place, do something else (i.e. leave the country) for holidays, tell them how I feel, etc. But you also know that family isn’t that easy, and that doing the best thing for yourself often has consequences that you’d rather avoid. I would. So here we are.

Neck Pain & DREAMS

I still feel like I was just in a car wreck, and I have a lot of neck and upper back pain. PTSD is a weird animal. I slept 12 hours last night and spent a lot of it dreaming about whether I experience schizophrenia. It was a main point in my dream sequence, questioning myself about it and evaluating and seeking out evaluation.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD I was evaluated for numerous mental health conditions, all of which were ruled out, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I don’t believe that’s what I’m experiencing now, but I’m also curious as to why that condition specifically. I don’t know much about it so I’m not approaching the question with a lot of knowledge, and I’m not aware of knowing anyone with that diagnosis, so I don’t have personal experience to speak to. I don’t know why that was part of my unconscious processing. I don’t know what, if anything, it means.

I do know that this week, the anniversary of the trauma that got me an altered brain, has been painful and limiting. There are so many things that I want to do that I am not able to access because my body’s memory of being under life-ending threat is so powerful that it is blocking my attempts to live. I’m not even talking about jetting off on a last-minute weekend trip or kayaking on some of the fast rivers created by recent flooding, I’m talking about cleaning my floor and pulling out the cold weather clothes I’ll need for Monday. I’m listening to The Body Keeps Score, but I’m not making it through fast enough to know how to address this and what I can do differently. It feels like I’ve reached a sticking point in recovery – as in I AM STUCK and don’t know how to wiggle past. Somewhere in my brain below the trauma I have the desire to wiggle out and start living, but that desire is under a mountain of trauma that does not want to budge.

Wreckiversary Year 5

I am struggling this week. Losing Josh in the middle of the week that my body remembers as the most traumatic week of my life is just hard. I didn’t prepare for it because my therapist thinks that creating that expectation will make the week inevitably negative, but not preparing for it has just left me unprepared for what I’m experiencing. I worked well past midnight last night and have been busting my ass for the last few weeks. I’m busy with work, yes, but I am also using it to cope, per usual. I didn’t plan to take a day for myself to be still and reflective and work on reprogramming, I was going to travel out of town on an unnecessary work trip just to accommodate someone I have already over accommodated. This was not a good approach for my situation, and now with a funeral tomorrow and my owns needs and experiences not met or addressed, I am struggling to hold it together.

This shit is hard.

It’s likely that by Monday (or even before) I’ll be ok and the moment will have passed and I will have some freedom for a while. That does not help me today. Today my body hurts, I feel compressed and pinned, I want to isolate and disappear and be swallowed up and I am so consumed by stress (not anxiety, strangely) that I cannot let my foot off…

And in writing those last 6 words and reading them on the screen I realized what I am doing. I pushed down on the brake of my car so hard and for so long as I smashed down a highway that my heel was bruised. I tried so hard to stop the crash that could not be stopped that I have stayed that way, foot on the brake, for five years. I am that way now. My body feels like it did while I was bracing myself to die. It hurts.

I don’t know why today. Today isn’t the anniversary, but it’s the date that I’ve had in my head. The 14th will be the 5th anniversary by date, it was on a Monday. Today is the 11th, a Thursday, and it’s in the middle. I had a traumatic breakup (the back story covers four years so just understand that it was a severely traumatic moment) on October 8 or 9 (I can’t even remember things were so blurred at the time) so the 11th is in the middle of the two events that resulted in my PTSD diagnosis. It was too much for me to handle. I had no support. I had no way to talk about it. I just had to keep going. And my body remembers.

But now I know. I don’t quite know what to do about it, but if the first step is to recognize what’s happening and notice how it feels, there are surely more steps to take following that will lead away from what I’m experiencing now so that I don’t have to do it again. I would really like to let my foot off the brake.