I get tired of reading my own stories of struggle.
For everyone who thinks it’s just a matter of thinking positive, or having a better attitude, or trying harder, I wish so badly that were true. I wish so badly that I didn’t have to face the incessant hell of my existence every morning, and that any joy I might experience at accomplishing something important to me weren’t stolen away before I can take the first breath in.
To manage anxiety I often have to stop what I’m doing, whether that’s work or engaging with friends or trying to meet a deadline or pursuing a hobby. It’s disruptive and time-consuming, so I often don’t do it in favor of getting shit done. Sure self-care and making myself a priority and all that, but 30+ years isn’t undone in even 3 years, as I’m finding out, and one of the things that keeps me getting paid for what I do now and not have to make substantial life and career changes depends on me putting a lot of speed and focus into work. Although I’m increasingly ready to make those changes if it gives me more room to breathe.
I don’t handle relationships well anymore. At the moment I can barely stand to have a non-work demand placed on me. Favors, requests, questions, my mom asking me to help with my grandma – I. CAN’T. I cannot deal with barely being able to care for myself and having others ask for help on top of that. My compassion is at an all-time low, and to protect myself from hurt and heartbreak I’m just not able to care – about anyone. I’m on autopilot for a few things, but I cannot emotionally engage with other people right now, nor do I want to. My boyfriend went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to snowboard and has been gone nearly a week. We’ve barely texted and not talked, and I don’t even want to begin dealing with the fallout of what happens when I suddenly lose a big part of my support system in the middle of a week that I need help getting through. I’ve done it on my own, and that doesn’t make me want to connect, it makes me cold and reserved and completely uninterested in anything other than what is keeping me going and what I have used to cope for so many years – work.
I wish it were as easy as trying harder and having a better attitude. I wish I could just shake it off or get some sun or take a break. But those phrases, which we throw at others so casually, completely ignore my situation and what I deal with as a trauma survivor whose brain was changed from what I experienced. Anxiety is not being anxious, depression is not being sad or having a poor attitude and PTSD is not something you just try harder at. THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF US WHO WOULD LOVE TO SEE HOW HARD WE TRY REFLECTED IN SOME MEASURE OF HEALING.
It happens slowly, intentionally, and at great cost. It requires not only hard work but effective work, and the complexity of the human mind and the damage trauma wreaks upon it are still barely understood. And none of us asked for it. No one asked for this.
But it’s what we’ve been dealt, and we do the best we have with what we can, suffering through crippling anxiety, holding ourselves up against incredible heartbreak and for me, still working at the thing I used to love and hoping that I somehow find a way back to loving it before I forget how to do that too.