Managing Stress and Uncertainty While Working with PTSD

My brain has a low tolerance for uncertainty, and all of me has a low tolerance for stress.

One of the continuing challenges – and lately feels like increasing challenges – of working with PTSD is that I work on projects that frequently have a lot of conflict and uncertainty. I’m finding that with the re-experiencing I have following my latest driving incident, I have less tolerance for the uncertainty.

As much as I know I am good at what I do, that I have the knowledge and savvy to navigate the conflicts successfully and that the most likely outcome will be reasonable and acceptable to my clients, my “lizard brain” is pretty good at taking over at any given time and negating the rational thought that could otherwise be encouraging and calming.

I know I’m not the only one who experiences this.

The question for me now is whether I acknowledge that I have a limited ability to manage my response to uncertainty and remove myself from those situations (not take on that type of project or transition to another work situation), or try to find a way to more successfully manage it, which may include going back to therapy for a period or an EMDR session.

I don’t have the answer yet – more uncertainty – and as much as well-meaning affirmation from friends is nice to have, it doesn’t reach the issue. PTSD in my experience doesn’t respond to rational statements, and it doesn’t respond to positive thinking, which are very surface level ways to address a complicated neurological issue. I have a neurological issue to address, not a lack of positive attitude or lack of knowledge, experience or preparation.

The dichotomies of PTSD are many and complex, and I’m doing the best I can. But I don’t want to stay with a situation that does not benefit my health and well-being, and I think I would be foolish to continue to complain about a substantial barrier to my health while not being willing to take the steps necessary to address it. Now that I’ve learned to listen to my body and pay attention to what I’m experiencing, I have to make good use of that information, and it’s part of what it looks like for me to take good care of myself.

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