Hey everyone, I’m back!
Since my last entry, I’ve been trying to get back into the workforce in some way and this has been rather challenging. As I’ve still been caring for my son, my schedule is rather limited and I’ve been trying to do something at home. The problem has been that I tend to completely throw myself into what I’m doing and ignore everything else. For me, this means that I haven’t been taking care of myself and not accounting for the fact that there are certain basic things I need to account for as a person with PTSD. The result? I’ve been floundering and haven’t gotten any traction.
Our finances aren’t good, but my anxiety over that isn’t the issue. The problem is the generalized anxiety I feel all of the time (and always have). This anxiety isn’t really about anything in particular. In fact, even if there isn’t any immediate danger, I generally find something to be anxious about. Certainly, there are always stressors. Life is life. However, as a person with real trauma in my past, my stress response is always turned on. This is a part of the “hypervigilance” which folks with PTSD have. Because there have been long stretches of my life where I’ve lived with violence, abuse and immanent danger, my body has learned to be in a constant state of fear and readiness (the old “fight” / “flight” / “freeze” conundrum). Living with it for so long, my mind has never learned how to turn it off. Even when there is no abuse or immanent threat, I’ve been taught and learned that it’s always there, even if I don’t see it.
The challenge is that I need to find a way to turn this feeling of a constant state of danger off. I need to somehow appreciate that I’m not in that situation anymore and that, right now, things are safe and okay. I understand this intellectually, but my “gut” doesn’t believe it: My emotions and physical state are always at “DEFCON 2.”
Folks with PTSD react more strongly to stressors – even common, ordinary frustrations and stressors which others (who haven’t experienced trauma) can brush off and move on from. Our brains are wired to constantly expect danger, extraordinary abuse and violence. Not only that, but our minds are less able to process the stress and anxiety which we experience. We either never learned it when we were young or we lost the ability when the trauma occurred. Extreme trauma physically alters the architecture and function of the brain. It’s a bit of a pickle where our physiology is more intensely reactive to any and all kinds of stress, but it’s also less able to process and work through that stress.
What I have going for me is that I’m very stubborn and refuse to quit. I may be immobilized for days, weeks, even months…but at some point, I always get back up again and move forward. Even if I’m just crawling, I’m fortunate that, for some reason, I eventually always pick up the flag again and push on. Nothing grand about it, it’s just a characteristic I was born with. I’m lucky to have it. At times my stubbornness has also gotten in my way of caring for myself and living in a more emotionally healthy way. So my stubbornness has and can be a curse as well as a blessing.
The bottom line is that I need to find a way to heal. I need to find a way to heal enough so that I’m functional and able to see the options and possibilities which surround me in the moment. These don’t have to be grandiose things. Sometimes it’s enough that I can drive my son to school or do the dishes. All that is forward momentum. It’s a way to be active and fight off the “freeze,” the paralysis which is such an intricate part of my trauma symptoms.
I want to try and get back into writing. In the past it always seemed to help.
We’ll just have to see how it all goes.
Anyway, I’m glad to be back and hope everyone is well,