Insomnia Of Fear

There are some nights when my physical illness prevents me from sleeping. This makes for very long nights, listening to the seconds slowly tick by. These endless nights are followed by days of exhaustion and mental fogginess. The inability to sleep, further impacts my health because it’s at night that healing and (mental / emotional) processing takes place.

There are other nights like tonight when I’m awakened by some intruding thought or idea which invokes intense anxiety and fear. The slow ticking of the clock on these nights is worse than any of the nightmares I’ve ever had. These are waking nightmares from which there is no relief.

Earlier this evening, my wife was talking with me about a meeting she had and mentioned that she would be retiring in about 10 years. When she said this, I winced. I winced because we can’t really afford the life we live right now. All the savings that we had was wiped out more than 10 years ago and it’s only recently that we’ve been able to get back to the level of living paycheck to paycheck. How she thinks she can retire in 10 years is beyond my comprehension. If my son had not gotten ill. More so, if I had not become ill and not lost my job in the tech field, retirement would have been possible. I would have had to work beyond retirement myself, but that would have been fine with me so long as my wife and son were taken care of.

In the past week or so, I’ve written a number of things which may seem to paint a picture of happiness and contentment with my family. All of the things I wrote about were true. But there have been and are still difficulties. I’m not now trying to say things are awful, but this entry may help to balance out what may have seemed a more skewed picture of life here. We live in the real world, not that of the Brady Bunch.

There are certain things my wife has always had difficulty with. One of them has been control over finances and this is due to issues of her childhood which would not be appropriate for me to get into detail here. Suffice to say, many (if not most) women reading this know what it’s like to be dominated and controlled. One of the ways that dominance and control is lauded over women is through money and finances. For myself, I grew up with so much conflict, violence and power struggles, that I have difficulty setting healthy boundaries and asserting, even pushing, for certain things. Finances have been one of those areas. The trouble is, I’m a saver and a budgeter. I look ahead and skimp now so that things will be easier later. My wife has had a different perspective about these things. Combined with medical expenses and my inability to work, there is nothing to retire on.

When we first met, my feeling was that if there were certain things she needed control over, I was alright with that. In any relationship, compromise and accommodation are acts of deference, respect..and most of all, love. So long as the important things were mutually agreed upon and I was able to get myself established, I really didn’t care about other things. If allowing my partner more control over things like the finances and the bills, I didn’t have a problem with that.

The problem is that another tendency is that her loyalties were focused on her friends, her parents and their family. This sometimes (I would say often) superseded the loyalty and attention I believe should have been given you her own spouse and child. While I don’t mind accommodating and extending myself to my partners friends and family, I believe ultimate loyalty and dedication belongs, first, to one’s partner and children. I don’t expose my wife or son to the demands or abuse of my parents or their family – and for good reason. Yet, as I became more ill and incapacitated, my wife’s lack of focus and commitment to helping me became a source of my feeling profoundly betrayed and abandoned. Since then, there have been some adjustments, but her focus has shifted from the extremes of friends and family to her career and networking peers.

I’m not trying to intimate that I’m the only injured party. We both carry scars which were inflicted by the other and we’re still in the middle of trying to figure out how to change the worst of what we’ve inflicted on each other and offer healing and support in place of those things. The difficulty has been our struggle to address and resolve both my son’s illness as well as my own. The strain of just trying to survive has been intense and led us both (in the past) to revert to survival instincts. These survival instincts changed the positive ways we complimented and helped each other, into all the worst of what we triggered in each other.

One of the results of all this is that I have no marketable skills and an almost complete lack of experience in anything but trying to attend college classes and work at minimum wage jobs. Some attention and support on my spouses part would have helped to at least alleviate the worst of this situation. But her attention has been elsewhere and no one, including my wife, believed I was legitimately ill until I finally found a doctor who knew what was going on and was able to spell it out very clearly.

This has been a source of rage for me and is something I continue to struggle with in relating and living with my spouse.

I’ve written that I love and adore my wife. I wasn’t trying to deceive in that assertion. I do. Marriage is a challenge. Parenthood is a challenge. Life is not an exclusive “right” or “wrong,” a “black” or “white” choice. It’s a very deep, foggy grey which can be confusing and disorienting as we make our way along. I suspect that this is at least one reason for divorce. I condemn no one who’s broken up with a partner or gotten divorced. Marriage is a difficult path quite frankly and, sometimes, love just isn’t enough. But for a number of reasons, my wife and I are still together and we’re both working very hard to heal ourselves as well as each other. The important point is that we’ve both gotten to the point where we’re willing and able to reach out to each other and work towards meeting in the middle of our wants, needs and…well, quite frankly, neurosis. For us, that’s made all the difference.

My wife’s unrealistic expectations about retirement is something I need to urgently discuss with her tomorrow. This situation needs to change. I’m not as ill as I was 10 years ago and if she wants to retire, then I need to be the one to find a way to earn enough income to make this possible. I don’t mind working. When younger, I worked harder and longer hours than anyone I’ve met in my life. I don’t even mind working while still physically unwell (as long as I’m actually capable of doing it). I do love and adore my wife, but she’s a person who focuses on solving problems within the moment. I’m a “big picture” guy and can see the consequences of what today will have on the future. This isn’t a bad thing. Our differences compliment each other. Together, we cover all the bases of what needs to be done in the moment, yet seeing and addressing what the needs of the future are.

I’ve spent my life terrified of living in poverty or ending up on the street. I worked so hard and was so terrified of ending up destitute that I suspect I ended up triggering the thyroid / adrenal / immune system illness which has immobilized me for all these years. I don’t know how my wife thinks we’re going to live after 10 years, but she’s going to have to start planning more long term (and “big picture”). I know that she still has a need for control over certain things…but she’s going to have to address at least her need for financial control – or learn to give me some semblance of support – in order for that 10 year deadline to be tenable.

I can’t sleep tonight. I’m terrified of what the future holds. Not only am I physically ill, but I continue to be tormented by CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms…in part because my partner has triggered symptoms for many years, rather than helped me heal and grow beyond them.

I know for a fact that I’ve done my own share of harm. It’s just difficult to live in the “grey” of life.

Well have to see how all this works out.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

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Just Another Day: Hashimoto’s, Complex Trauma…And Doctors

NOTE: Rereading this, I know I sound more angry and bitter than I feel (if that makes sense). Venting helps and knowing your there helps me here! I’m going to have a nice evening watching “Groundhog Day” with my family tonight. I’m really looking forward to it.

My symptoms have improved since my thyroid medication was increased a week ago. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to find a chiropractor and a family practice MD who understand what is going on with my physical illness and are able to create a regimen which has greatly helped my situation. I don’t think that all doctors are bad. Lest we forget, doctors, like teachers, coworkers, lawyers, cab drivers and everyone else are, after all, people. There are some who are good at what they do and some who are bad. Like you, me and everyone else, most of us are in the middle, trying to do the best we can with what we have to work with. My frustration over the years has been that so many didn’t understand what was actually going on with me physiologically, because they assumed a great many things and didn’t look into what the symptoms and blood work actually indicated. Because my illness has had such a profound effect on me, my need for assistance – and the frustration and anger at being patronized and invalidated – is greater than it all would have been under less serious circumstances…

…I don’t just have a cold.

Today, I’m feeling very weak and a bit light headed. This is an improvement to my situation a week and more ago. It’s immensely better than 5 and 10 years ago.

I wanted to include a list of symptoms, but some of the future possibilities of what might happen is more than I can deal with right now. From my own experience, symptoms have included: intense migraines, nausea, digestive issues (constipation and food allergies), muscle pain, joint pain, muscle twitching, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, bloating, weight gain, “foggy thinking”, short term memory issues and others which I can’t recall at the moment…

…Oh, and all the wonders which CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) adds to the mix…

The fatigue was just about always assumed to be depression rather than a valid endocrine and immune system issue. Depression is certainly valid, but I’m fortunate to not have to struggle with that. Growing up as I did, I know what depression is like and I haven’t experienced that in many years. Frustrated? Yes. Discouraged. Yes. Angry. Yep. But I also have hope, determination and a certain audacious optimism which freely flows so long as I’m self-aware and “mindfully meditative” (living consciously in the present). The innumerable medications therapists of the past put me on only made me feel worse and aggravated my illness. Working with the chiropractor and family doctor now has greatly reduced just about all of my symptoms and made the remaining ones more manageable.

I have to say that it’s very frustrating to be told your symptoms are due to something…which you know for a fact isn’t true. I’ve never claimed to know as much as the doctors I’ve been too, but there are basic things in terms of my body, mind and emotion which I do know. I’m fortunate to have found 2 doctors who understand what is going on with me. I didn’t completely believe them at first, but followed their prescriptions and recommendations. All they’ve described seems to have been true and just about everything they’ve suggested and prescribed has worked. I still struggle. I’m still very ill at times. But my illness has greatly improved after working with these doctors.

I don’t expect to be as healthy as I was at 20. I don’t always like what my doctors tell me to do. Yet I’ve come to trust them because of their willingness to follow symptoms to their cause rather than prescribe pills and offer platitudes based on their assumptions.

Each person is different and there is no panacea which cures everyone’s thyroid / adrenal / digestive issues. I’m not healthy, but I am better and there seem to be a few specific things which have helped address my illness and symptoms. Again, there is no magic pill or cure (despite what money making books, websites and programs say). It’s taken me 6 months to a year or more to begin to see the benefits from attending to these areas. Currently, I’ve regressed this year and am likely going to spend October to June with much more severe symptoms. Addressing these areas has taken time for me and there are no quick fixes. This, quite plainly, sucks and has been a great source of frustration, even despair, for me. However, this is what has helped me to improve my general state of health (and a significant reduction of symptoms).

* Stress: CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) invokes stress as a “normal” state of being. I’ve been learning how to reduce this, but it’s been decades in therapy and there’s still a lot I haven’t learned (and a great deal I still need to process). I suspect that this caused the onset of my thyroid / adrenal / digestive issues. I do know that when I allow stress a free hand over an extended period of time (weeks or months), my illness and symptoms get worse.

* Diet: No “vices,” meaning no smoking, drinking, drugs etc. I’m on a casein free, gluten free, soy free diet. My diet consists of fruit, vegetables, proteins (fish and chicken), nuts, salad and the like. This basically means nothing with wheat, milk or soy in it. Gluten takes 6 months to get out of your system, so even slight cheating is impossible and it takes months to feel the positive effects. I’ve often been mocked for this and all I can say is that when I feel sick, and then go back and check the ingredients of something I ate, there’s always some gluten, casein or soy in it.

Of course this also means no “crap” food: Fast food, soda’s, coffee (I cheat a bit here), lunch meat with nitrates and preservatives, are all out.

* Sunlight: For some reason, my symptoms are reduced and I feel better when the days are longer and the sun is out. June to September I feel relatively better. October to May are generally incapacitating. Vitamin D and B12 seem to help, but the fall and winter remain brutal.

* Exercise: My exercise consists of walking for an hour. I don’t lift weights or power bike or anything extreme. I go out and walk for an hour. I ran track and cross country in high school, but I can’t manage that stuff anymore. I can’t say that I fully believe that this helps, but my doctors have suggested this and I trust them.

I’ll have to go into more detail with these later. I’m getting tired now and need to rest. If you don’t believe me, I suggest an experiment. Stay up for 2 days and nights in a row and then try to go about your day without any issues or challenges. This is how I’ve felt all day, every day, for 20 years now…don’t dismiss what you don’t understand.

Hope I didn’t sound too bitter. Thanks for “listening.” Writing about my situation does help.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

(Not) Just “Crazy And Lazy”

I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been rather ill. Since 1998, my immune system has been attacking my endocrine system. This has led to several conditions which effect my digestive system, adrenal glands and has resulted in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (thyroid disease) and more.

If it weren’t enough that I continue to struggle with complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), I’ve also had do deal with this health issue on top of that.

I suspect, however, that this immune issue was actually triggered by the CPTSD. Actually, it doesn’t really matter whether one caused the other or if my physical issues would have happened anyway. The bottom line is that I have to deal with them both and do the best I can.

I was surfing the internet yesterday to find some helpful hints as to what I can do to address my physical symptoms. One thing that struck me was how many people with Hashimoto’s are regularly ignored and patronized by the innumerable doctors they’ve been to. There’s a frustration and anger about not being believed that their symptoms are valid and many times such folks are referred to psychologists and put on various medications. I’ve experienced this myself. Going to an endocrinologist or primary care physician and being immediately referred to a psychiatrist was not the assistance I was looking for and didn’t even begin to address the many physical symptoms which have often made me completely unproductive and immobilized.

Then, of course, there are the legions of people who say “oh yea, I have that too.” People who are able to work and exercise and live normal lives…if your able to function, you don’t “have that too.” Others will just say, “suck it up. Get over it and move on. Your just being lazy.” Before my illness got as bad as it is now, I worked 16 hour days. I worked nights, weekends and holidays. I was committed and determined to be the best that I could at any job I had and was regularly recognized for the quality and quantity of my work. I was often recommended for promotions whether I worked at a convenience store or in a corporate setting. Without empathy or compassion, it’s all too easy to just dismiss the struggles and tribulations of others.

Yet, since becoming ill, the general consensus is that I’m just crazy and lazy.

After all I’ve been through. After all I’ve struggled through. With all I still try to do. These flippant judgements have been a source of a great deal of anger and resentment. In seeing others with similar experiences, I can appreciate their rage and bewilderment at being cast aside and invalidated so casually and with such unthinking, absolute conviction. Combine this with the continued effects of CPTSD and it leaves me at a complete loss as to why I should care or make an effort about anything.

All I know is that I do the best that I can with what I have to work with. I continue to strive to be a good man, a good husband and a good father. My physical illness and the CPTSD have made this a challenge. I’ve made many mistakes and a lot of bad choices. Still, I refuse to quit. I have nothing to prove. I only strive to do the right things for the right reasons…because that’s the right thing to do.

The important thing is to maintain and invoke the core of who I am, even if most (or all) other people say I’m just “crazy and lazy.” If you hear something enough times, from enough people, there is a very real danger that you’ll start to believe it. I’m constantly pulling myself out of that quick sand.

I have good days and bad days. In the end, it’s enough to do what’s right. In the end, it’s enough to ever strive for and invoke the core and truth of who and what I am. I will continue to feel sick and be plagued by demons of my past for the rest of my life. There is no release, only progress. This is as stark as it sounds…

…and yet, I refuse to quit.

Be Well, My Friends,
Theseus

Why The Evenings Are So Tough

Picture In Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (Suburb Of Philadelphia)

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It’s 5:30 in the evening, here in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Evenings have been the most challenging and are one of the main reasons for my starting this blog.

I’ve been ill for over ten years and different times of the year effect me. What I’ve come to learn is that my immune system has been attacking my endocrine system. One result of this is a thyroid disease, but other things like my adrenals are effected as well. It would seem that one of the long term effects of dealing with the stress and challenges of complex trauma is that those emotional issues eventually effected me in a physical way as well. In essence, my body eventually began to give out.

Fortunately, I’ve been working with a good doctor for a number of years now and this has helped to improve the physical symptoms. However, while I have gotten better, many symptoms are still present.

But beyond that, early afternoons and evenings are a challenge because my wife and son are home. During the day, I have more energy and quiet. But when I pick up my son, I loose the silence and solitude which I had during the day. As I love them both, this isn’t a bad thing, but with the increase of my symptoms, it’s more difficult to interact with them in the way I would like to.

To be honest, part of the discomfort and difficulty comes from all the years I lived with my parents and siblings. Then, there was no place of safety if anyone was in the house. There were no boundaries and I could feel any emotional tension which anyone brought in with them. Violence could break out spontaneously, without any warning, and so I developed a hypersensitivity to anyone around and about anything they were feeling. This isn’t magic or some odd superpower, it was a survival skill which had been developed and honed over the course of many decades.

The problem is that even now, twenty or more years after I stopped living with anyone I grew up with, the discomfort and feeling of imposition – the sensation of a lack of boundaries – still remains and continues to effect me. This is true even though I have nothing to worry about from my spouse or child. Certainly nothing like the situation I grew up in.

Another challenge is that, despite many years of therapy, I haven’t been able to function much for a rather long time. This, of course, is a long story, but the basic reason why I ended up this way was due to intense stress, overwork and the onset of my illness.

This is rather frustrating.

It’s not that I like or dislike working, it’s that I feel that there is a purpose for me to accomplish, some reason for being, a life meant to actualize – to manifest – whatever I’m capable of doing. I’m not one who enjoys sitting around and doing nothing for the sake of nothing. I have no desire to watch TV all day or play video games or surf for lol cats (or whatever). There are some folks who do enjoy that and I have no opinion one way or the other about such folks. For myself, I see meaning and purpose everywhere and in everything…and I want to be a part of that. I want to take my place amongst that, in whatever way my path takes me.

***

I had to stop writing because my son’s therapy ended. So this may seem a bit disjointed. It’s now after 8 PM.

The bottom line is that afternoons and evenings are tough. That’s the reason why I want to try writing here. I need to do something which is proactive and positive, rather than continuing to languish during the latter parts of days. I want to find some community which I can listen to and speak to; a community which understands where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to say without having to (futilely) explain it.

I have no family or any friends. Those friends I do have are really those my wife has known for most of her life. Nice folks, but I don’t have the connection to them that she does and there are aspects and challenges my wife has which I should best steer clear of. My parents family are poisonous and destructive for me. For now, I can’t be in contact with them. Though deeply hurt, I do not wish ill of them, but I’m not at a place right now where I can be in contact with them. Certainly, I can’t ever approach them in need of support.

I don’t know. I enjoy writing and the WordPress blogs about complex trauma seem to be a “good fit.” If I’m unable to find assistance in the people around me, then I’ll keep looking until I find those whom I can call “fellow travelers.” I can’t be the only one who thinks and feels the way I do. I can’t be the only one who sees what I see and feels what I feel. The night is long and the journey far, but if I can do nothing more than search for such folks, then that must be my quest.

Be Well And Know That I Wish You Peace And Contentment,

Theseus (fightingtheminotaur)