100 Days of Healing – Day 4

I’ve realized over the weekend that I can come across as cold. My guardedness toward potential triggers, being overwhelmed and not being able to control or escape things I don’t like leaves a bit of a snarky shell, and it’s not a good look.

As I’ve given myself the time to rest, sleep and dream so that my brain can get busy processing (and has it been busy processing!), revelations about what things I don’t like about myself are coming to the forefront. So.

I’m not sure how I feel about letting my guard down, but I do know I want to be less cold. I can pretend in social situations in which it feels expedient to be talkative and responsive, but none of that gets below the surface. So.

Time to practice being less cold.

100 Days of Healing – Day 3

Using anxiety management tools is hard. I went a bit too long without eating yesterday, which can be an issue for me as my blood sugar will drop and that by itself will send anxiety skyrocketing and potentially trigger me. I had to get food, I was about a ten minute drive from food, as as I noticed my irritability increasing and my decision-making abilities decreasing, I was also trying not to lash out, cry, leave and just go home, eat something that might make me feel ill (and therefore worse) or do or say something regrettable. I was also trying to communicate the urgency of the situation to someone who neither understood nor made any effort to help me solve the problem – I was left on my own to leave on my own, get food on my own (make decisions that were, in that state, nearly impossible for me to make) and make a decision about whether to return or go home.

That was a lot of drama for a sandwich.

But I got in my car, headed to town, picked a place with relatively healthy (but quick) food options, ordered and interacted with people as if nothing was wrong, chugged a lemonade for the sugar then ate a high-protein sandwich right after.

I still had to wait about half an hour till I calmed down, and I stayed a bit fuzzy, but I noticed, I responded and I took care of myself instead of going to pieces and being helpless. And my brain got a message that yes, I can handle it.

When Someone You’re Close to Triggers You

My boyfriend triggered me the other day, and my brain is now reading him as a threat.

He didn’t mean to, but he did something that I’ve previously expressed can be triggering for me. It was a communication issue, and he dropped the ball, so to speak, without having a reason or explanation why. I was PISSED, not only because I had been triggered but now I was facing having to do the work to make him not be a threat. Work I really wasn’t sure I even wanted to do.

Avoiding is easier!

But.

I am working hard to not avoid, to face my challenges and the reasons behind them and I am really trying to heal. It’s hard, it’s scary and it makes me sleep a lot. It makes me react a lot when I even think it should be a fairly calm scenario.

Throw on top of that a person I am close to and trust triggering me because he didn’t bother to do something that is, frankly, common courtesy at least and for me a necessity.

So I did what I have a really hard time doing. In my last decade I had a lot of people run roughshod over my boundaries – a lot of that at work, but trauma stacks up, and I had some traumatizing work experiences. I set a hard line boundary of what I will and will not tolerate, and made peace with whatever outcomes resulted from holding that line.

The result has been both of us working to calm the effects of the trigger, a good weekend, honesty and some teamwork.

Leaning Into Healing

I started listening to Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide while I walked yesterday. After I did yoga. So there I am doing yoga, exercising, not making excuses and working on my brain.

That shit was hard.

The book was good for me from the start. I’m only to the second chapter, but the first chapter started with “Shit happens.”, and I knew I had found a resource that would help me.

As much as it’s helping, as much as I am already learning and recognizing and feel grateful, it is really hard for me to listen to. Not because she recounts trauma stories, she’s careful not to do that because she understands getting triggered isn’t helpful. It’s hard for me to listen to because I am having to face my own experience head-on. I am having to process what happened as I hear the narrator talk about how our brains and bodies respond when we experience trauma. It’s so empowering to have this information. And so painful.

It was tempting several times to cut the book off and switch over to music for the rest of my walk. And I can certainly do that – she even talks about how to read or listen to the book if you are a trauma survivor in a way that is accessible for you. But for me it’s time to start leaning into it. Time to allow the pain to process, even if it’s hard. And it is.

Bucket O’ Fucked Up

I got a little blindsided by this last round of PTSD symptoms. It hasn’t been this severe or lasted this long in maybe a couple of years. I feel dizzy and stupid at times, and very alone.

Don’t make important decisions now, right? Right. Because if I did I’d cut off everyone who isn’t supporting me right now… which is everyone. But in my few rational moments, I remember that they don’t know, and I’m not really in a place to be coherent enough to tell them. And I get this is hard to understand if it hasn’t happened to you, and I’m learning that people can’t tell there’s something terribly wrong with my head unless I tell them, and I’m apparently not good at saying what I need.

But honestly it’s a really isolating condition. And defining my needs is hard when my brain is chaos and struggle and survival.

So without placing blame on myself or others and trying to take a rational view of how to better address this in the future… I’m so fucked up right now. And I know why.

This weekend I was asked by a friend of mine if I wanted to have an affair. He’s married and has been diagnosed with an incurable illness with an uncertain progression. His wife now views him as his illness, and he’s maybe not making super great choices. I get it, to a point, but not only does he know I have a boyfriend, he knows my boyfriend. He asked anyway.

I was shocked, and it brought back most of my 20s – being asked to be a side piece by so many guys I worked with who weren’t happy at home. Which was never for me. It was always for them, and it sent a weird message about my value.

This hasn’t happened for years – until now. And now I’m having to fight to put all of those negative messages about my value where they belong, which is not with how I value myself.

The answer is no.

Epic Meltdown

My brain is supposed to be healing, right? That’s the point of therapy and going off the meds, right?

I had an epic PTSD episode last night. It was a panic attack, but different than usual. I don’t recall ever having a headache after. I don’t recall being dizzy and feeling like anything but laying in bed was too hard before. I was starving once I started to calm down, but food was downstairs and that seemed hard too. I did eventually stumble down and shove some grated cheese and chips in my mouth. I didn’t even care, I just had to eat.

I’m recovering today, but still put in almost a full day of work, cleaned the house and got groceries. Yes, that was my recovery day while I was still a little slow and upset.

Because dammit, this is not going to beat me.

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.