I had no idea I could fail so hard at managing PTSD, and come out of it so hopeful and sure.
After Trying Yes this past weekend, all of the pushing forward caught up with me, as it does, and knocked me on my ass again.I have been fighting through old responses to triggers for the last month or two, trying to notice, check in, reprogram and do things differently. Sometimes I’m winning, sometimes I’m losing, sometimes I get knocked down, sometimes I get knocked out. PTSD is an ongoing battle with your own self, and you don’t win just because you want to and try hard. Not in the short term, anyway. But somewhere in all of it I’m winning, because my creative thinking, problem solving and ability to connect things are stronger than they have been in a very long time, and I don’t have that function when I’m overwhelmed with the battle.I have a lot of stress, personally and professionally, and I don’t have the stress tolerance I used to. I’m trying to get my work to the next level (and get bills paid, along with everyone else), trying to support my boyfriend through a lot of personal and professional change (all good, but hard work!) and deal with the constant messages in my head that I am facing doom, death and destruction if I leave my house/take a risk/don’t take that safer job offer/get in a car. It’s a lot.I also have to stay off caffeine, limit sugar, not eat meat (my guts can’t digest meat proteins, and it can make me sick), do yoga, sleep a lot, not get overheated and whatever else I am not always good at sticking to, because I really like coffee, good desserts, and being outside in the sunshine. And sometimes I forget, because I don’t have clear and consistent connections between most of these things and worsening symptoms (except the meat eating, that one has plenty of evidence).I picked up my boyfriend yesterday evening to grab dinner after a marathon of phone calls related to work and careers and next steps and what not to do because it would likely result in utter failure. We’re working on balancing tough conversations with quality time, and we really love to share meals. We didn’t have a clear plan on dinner location, and I tossed out that I knew a woman with a vegetarian soul food truck on the other side of town. After a quick check on the internet, off we went to try it out. She and I once partied in South Dallas for a mutual friend’s birthday, and have kept in touch for over a decade, finally landing in the same metro area again. She greeted us warmly, boyfriend learned a few new things about how fun I used to be, and she cooked us greens, peas, cornbread and vegan “chicken” (seitan) and waffles. It was the best meal I’ve eaten in a long time, the kind of good food that gives you a buzz and makes you wonder what kind of voodoo people use to make food taste so good. We actually felt kind of happy buzzed, and kept remarking on how good the greens were WHEN I HATE GREENS AND DO NOT EAT THEM. Not this time, I cleaned my plate.
But the stress of the previous week, my inability to practice acceptance, my short-lived coffee habit (had to quit again already) and the sugar in the sauce the chicken was dipped in, plus the crazy of darting through downtown traffic with a few near-misses, was too much, and I hit high-alert. I can’t connect on high-alert, I can’t calm down, I can’t be present, I lose physical sensations to some extent (I have zero memory of what the impacts of my car wreck felt like on my body, I only remember the bumper cars part) and if I am not already at home, I head for home like it’s a beacon in the ocean. I was also terrified of wrecking my car on the drive home. But I drove anyway, because I HAD TO GET HOME.I slept long and hard, waking up fairly late this morning. I had a small panic attack as soon as I got out of bed. I was still on high alert (how I sleep at the same time I have no idea), and I was stressed and anxious about EVERYTHING. But all of that – all of it – melted away when I thought to myself that maybe I needed to take a day to fast and pray about all of this, because I didn’t seem to have it right. It all melted away when I decided to try to make peace with it, when I sat down to answer the emails that needed a response, looked at what I needed to do to prep for a hearing tomorrow and decided to take the rest of the day to rest and make peace with the raging fear. When I walked out to my garden to check the two tomatoes on my sad plant because they looked ripe, and I have been working so hard to protect those two tomatoes until they were ready to pick (they were!).
I’ve been struggling with whether to take a more secure job that was offered to me (it would be a great fit and I think I would do really well, but it would not be realizing my full potential and comes with other challenges), with whether I will have the energy and drive to get a lengthening list of projects accomplished to drive my career forward (being an entrepreneur is HARD), with outgrowing my circumstances but not being positioned yet to change them (money) and with how hard I have had to work to become a whole person when it looks like success and attention are easily snapped up by others.We listened to Ed Sheeran and Khalid’s Beautiful People last night while we drove home through quiet, unpretentious neighborhoods, and that’s what’s running through my head today, adding to the hope that maybe I’m getting it right after all.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj0XInqZMHY