For much of my life, I tended toward extremes. I was either super productive, or got nothing done. I was super interested, or could be paid to be interested. All-out effort, or zero effort. I knew this, and just shrugged at it and accepted that was just the way I was.
Fast forward to post-PTSD diagnosis (my diagnosis was the event that allowed me to stop my manic pace for the first time in nearly three years, but once I crashed, I crashed hard), and that approach to life, which didn’t serve me before, is certainly not serving me now. What I was really doing then was balancing extremes. After my car wreck and before I was diagnosed, there was no balance, just the extreme end of staying busy and never stopping. The mindsets and habits that I had developed then led me to do nothing when I wasn’t feeling well, and everything when I was. That really wasn’t doing me much good.
So I’ve learned, slowly, to work through my illness. Some days are really slow, some days not a lot gets done, some days there is no noticeable progress on the to-do lists. But I don’t let it stop me, I don’t give up and I take either small steps or large steps each day, depending on how I’m feeling and what my capacity is.
I no longer shrug at bouncing from extreme to extreme, I purposely regulate it, paying attention to when I can keep going and when I need to pause. I try not to get upset with myself when I struggle or am slow, and I try not to get too jazzed when I am feeling better and can do more. Feeling good tends to get me excited, and then I can go a bit overboard, which often circles back around to not feeling well. I like the rush, but it doesn’t do me a lot of good to chase after it without making sure I have what I need to do that.
It’s been a long process of understanding myself, my past narratives and my current limitations, but as I finished a project this morning that I have completed in the midst of more than a week of dealing with severe symptoms, I’m really proud of myself for taking those hard steps and sticking with the project when before I would have given way to my narrative of extremes. We can change if we want to, we just have to really want to.