Anxiety and intruding negative thoughts haven’t been as much of a problem for the past day or so. Yesterday and today, I’ve been trying to start some sort of daily routine and be mindful, present, conscious. With respect to intruding negative thoughts, I’ve gotten better at handling and reducing them. I don’t try to force them away, I allow them to express themselves. However, I also challenge them. I confront negative thoughts with the things that I’ve learned from all my years of therapy and self contemplation. There are things I didn’t understand when I was a teenager, that now seem obvious to me. There are other things which I wasn’t even aware of which I’ve come to know. There are even things which I used to believe to be true which I now know are false. Part of the technique is to not try to prevent those thoughts, but not allow myself to ruminate on them. One of the Taoist teaching is that “if you want to make something weak, allow it to be strong.” So I’ve gotten to the point where I allow negative thoughts their expression, but then think about them for all the falsities that they are and allow them to fade out. This has taken a lot of practice and there are some times when it’s easier to do than others. But in the 5 or so years I’ve been making use of this, the overall number and intensity of intrusive negative thoughts has been reduced. I still have them. I still struggle with them. But getting to the point there something is better or tolerable is better than continuing to be a prisoner to it.
With respect to the anxiety. It comes and goes. Depending on the weather, the severity of my pysical symptoms, the circumstances of a given moment or any number of things, the anxiety comes and goes. The best I can do is not expose myself to stressful things (like watching the news) and have realistic expectations about what I’m capable of on any given day or any particular moment. When I’m experiencing anxiety, I try not to “feed” it or give it any air. I try to engage myself in and focus on something pleasant. In preoccupying my mind on pleasant parts of movies, books or memories, the anxiety (at the very least) doesn’t get worse. If I’m lucky, it is reduced or even dissipates completely.
But even in the absence of these 2 things, there’s still that faceless emotional pain which is always there. This is the worst of it. It’s from this emotional pain that the anxieties and negative thoughts emerge and gain strength and staying power. This pain is central to my CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) and has become a way of life and a way of being. I’ve unfortunately learned over the course of my life that feeling searing emotional pain is a “normal” way to feel. There is no logic which I can use to dispel emotions. Emotions have a logic of their own and just, simply, are.
I’m working with a therapist using EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and every morning I try to take a walk (exercise) and use CES (cranial electrical stimulation). It’s my hope that, in time, these things will be able to help me heal and to change what “normal” feels like to me. All the years in therapy were helpful, essential. But talk therapy hasn’t been enough. Not only that, but the things I’ve experienced in the past 20 years – specifically, the past 2 to 5 years – have reinforced the emotional pain, further entrenching the faceless emotional pain and making it more powerful.
One vital requirement for reducing CPTSD is to live in a safe, peaceful environment. Because of CPTSD, even everyday annoyances and inconveniences, trigger powerful reactions and can be debilitating. But if I’m to have a chance at all, I can’t live with a constancy of more trauma and major conflicts / problems.
The challenge is that so many things have happened, that now, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m always expecting that something bad will happen and I’ll be put in an untenable situation again. I assume that I’ll be betrayed, mocked or callously ignored, that no one will take me seriously, that I won’t be able to get the basics of food, shelter, clothing and safety. In my experience, something always happens.
I don’t know how exactly to fight this faceless emotional pain. I’m trying different things and if I come across something which helps, I’ll see how far I can take that. But it still hurts. When I haven’t slept well or am fatigued, the pain is even harder to fend off. It’s with me all the time and I can shake it. Experiencing it all the time is very draining, physically, as well as emotionally.
So I’m glad that the anxiety and negative thoughts haven’t been as troublesome…but the emotional pain is still there. It shapes and colors every moment of my day.
I’ll just have to do the best I can today.
Be Well, My Friends