It can be really hard for me to remember that PTSD does not have a linear process for healing. Things go well, they don’t, they do, they don’t, they really don’t, they get worse, I start feeling better and that’s followed by days of panic.
But sometimes things go well for a while. Sometimes quite a while. Not at the moment though. Right now things are hard and not getting easier. Not yet.
I would be more discouraged if I weren’t able to see the underlying differences from when things have been hard before. In spite of a massive trigger experience that has taken over a week to calm down from, and which was probably as bad as anything I’ve experienced since I was diagnosed, I’ve kept up with my challenging new job, accomplished the tasks I’ve needed to and not put energy toward the chaos that is my speaking partner’s approach to…everything. Three more weeks and my commitments there will be finished, and I’m trying to minimize conflict and focus on achieving the best outcomes possible under the circumstances so that I don’t expend energy I don’t have one something that stands a good chance of becoming volatile if I try to steer the ship. Not everyone is open to suggestion.
PTSD is really hard on relationships. It burdens existing relationships with fear and eroded trust that come from the trauma that doesn’t leave and the fabricated version of reality that comes from not being able to calm the imagine threats enough. It also tends to create new relationships that aren’t healthy because people who experience PTSD often don’t have healthy boundaries in place, and the damage attracts damage and behaviors that at best don’t contribute to healing and when worse prey upon the tendency toward harm.
I’ve come to an emotional, physical, mental and financial place of “no” in the last month. I haven’t said no enough, haven’t been careful enough, cautious enough or aware enough to keep myself out of the situation I’m currently in. And as hard as that is to deal with at the moment, I’m dealing with it. That’s the difference, and why I know I’m healing, is that now I’m dealing with it.
It’s really uncomfortable to have to work yourself out of a situation you don’t want to be in. I have three more weeks of speaking engagements with a partner who will only do things their way, and in a way that leaves me not knowing the plan until the last possible minute. I need to be putting in a lot of hours at work at the same time I’m scrambling on the speaking and having my attention diverted by that. I need to engage more with healthy practices – what I eat, yoga and walking – that my panic and anxiety and the never-ending grief from trauma constantly get in the way of. I have unexpected dental expenses from work that needs to be done, partly because clenching my jaw from stress is causing me some problems with my teeth. That’s going to delay other plans I had for that money, which is discouraging because I was feeling really good about my new job and life choices and where I thought things were going next. Now I’m going to be in the dentist’s chair way more than I want to, and I think a lot of people can relate to that!
It’s so hard under these circumstances to not get discouraged, especially with the hell I’ve just been through – again. My brain is normally my greatest asset, but it can now be my worst enemy. I want to do better, I used to do better, but I’m still waking up to the realization of just how far behind I’ve gotten as life has moved on and I’ve been trying to heal. Now I have to heal as I catch up, and it seems pretty impossible. And maybe it is, maybe I need a longer timeline to recover, a less ambitious expectation to catch up.
It’s just that I’ve been so low for so long, it’s hard to tolerate much more, including this last severe episode. I’m grateful I can see a difference, because if I couldn’t it would be much harder to deal with this.