Friday, September 27, 2013

Still Not Good, But a Different Kind of Bad

Funny thing about PTSD.  It tends to make everything else in my life seem unimportant.  That's a good thing when the problems I was having with my therapist no longer matter and I'm ready to get back to work.  It's not such a good thing when I forget about the house payment.

The PTSD is not quite as bad.  I am still cramping a lot.  I am still touch-averse.  The nerves in my system are still on hyper-alert.  But I am able to think a little more clearly.  And, as of now, it doesn't look like he will become a bigger part of my life after all.  There is less fear.

But when the PTSD lets up, all those other things start to be problems again.

The depression is still in full force.  I'm having to force myself to eat and sleep.  It takes a monumental effort to leave the house.  But I was able to perform a couple acts of service this last week.  I've been able to play my flute a bit.  And I even went to book club.  Small victories.

My body seems to be in rebellion as well.  Whatever virus it is that causes my fatigue has flared.  I could easily sleep twenty hours a day (it's a different tired than the depression tired).  Accomplishing any one thing, even just writing a blog post, saps me of all energy and sends me back to bed.  I do a load of dishes; I have to lie down.  I straighten the living room; I have to lie down.  I practice my flute; I have to lie down.  Not being able to do anything doesn't particularly help with the depression.

My headache has been awful, too.  Severe pain.  Blurry vision.  Dizziness.  Nausea.  And an inability to process thoughts or find the words (simple words) to communicate.

I haven't gone back to therapy yet.  I'm still figuring out our insurance options.  But I will soon.

I'm worried about everything:  money, each individual aspect of each of my children's futures, all the ways I've failed to prepare them, everything that needs to be done today, everything that needs to be done tomorrow, everything that should have been done yesterday, everything that should have been done last week, everything that should have been done years ago, my daughter's health, my husband's health, my health, the safety of each family member every second that they aren't with me, my friends' difficulties, my parents' difficulties, all the ways I'm failing my parents, all the ways I'm failing my friends, what I should be doing right now, how much to stay on top of my kids' school work and how much to let life teach them, and any other little thing that crosses my path.

I'm still avoiding people.  I don't want to do anything.  It's even tough for me to make myself go to my son's football games (which are my favorite things in the whole world).  Octoboween doesn't even have the same appeal as usual.

I'm trying to do things anyway.  I do enjoy the football games once I get there.  I am doing an Octoboween count down on facebook to try to psych myself up for it because I believe it can bring me joy -- eventually.  I'm trying to fake it 'til I make it.  I'm trying to convince my body and mind to get back to work.

But I just want to crawl into bed and cry and let the world go on without me.  Is that really too much to ask?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Trying to Find the Words

** If you are an abuse survivor, this post could contain possible triggers.  Please make sure you are safe before reading it.  Also, this is a very heavy and adult post.  Listen to your heart and do not continue if you know this won't be okay for you. **


Words are important to me.  I sometimes take a little longer to speak because I am trying to find just the right word.  Not one that's close, but one that conveys a multitude of meanings all at once, one that conveys truth and feeling and exactitude.  Just the right word.

But sometimes I don't have the word.  If I could communicate telepathically, I could make you understand.  But there just isn't a word for it and nothing else really does the job.

This is what happened when I tried to explain to someone what triggered a PTSD event for me this week.  I didn't have the words.

A little history, somewhat vague, to help set the stage.

There are dark things in my past.  There was abuse and assault.  Over many years I was hunted.  And too often I was caught.  I wasn't killed physically, but pieces of me were destroyed.  I was changed.

I was changed in a way I believe many others who were abused are also changed.  But I can't speak for them.  I speak only for what is true in my life.

I was prey.  In many situations.  And, yes, there were times I feared for my life.  Other times I just feared for the inner me, the part that was being attacked.  What happened to my body didn't matter.  What happened to my core did.

Because I was prey, I was on constant alert (an alert that is never silent, even now).  I learned to read the emotions of everyone in the room.  To sense even the tiniest shift if something changed.  Long before anyone else knew.  Because I had to in order to protect myself.  It was necessary to stay alive.

But it goes beyond just reading emotions.  And this is where I lose words.

Some people have a . . . something to them.  A color/flavor/spirit.  Each of those is somewhat close, but none of them are accurate.  I would say aura, but it isn't visible.  A presence?  A feeling?  An emotional radiation?  None of these are right either.

As a child I often swam in a lake.  I would be swimming along, in the warmth, and hit a cold spot.  Out of the blue all the warmth was gone.  It's kind of like that.

And this last week a person crossed my path whose . . . whatever it is . . . triggered my PTSD.  This person's color/flavor/whatever is darkness.  This person carries evil with him.  Willingly.  The cold spot that he wears is that of a predator.  Even with all the abusive situations I've been in over the years and all the people I've known and all the horror I've experienced and witnessed, I've never felt like I was in the presence of evil.  Until him.  And he knows it and uses it to control.

He is not a close part of my life, but there is potential that our paths will continue to cross.  I am trying to strengthen myself and gather support so he can't wound me again.

I hate that it only took the mention of him to make me feel weak and powerless.  And scared.

He triggered one of my most difficult memories.  One that I haven't fully processed and healed in therapy.  One of a very early sexual assault.  One that causes me severe physical symptoms.  So since he crossed my path, I have been having very painful uterine cramps.  Nonstop.  Whether I am thinking about it or not.  Sometimes so bad that I have trouble standing up.  My anxiety is high.  I am snapping more at my family.  My nerves feel like they are on fire and I cringe if anyone tries to touch me.  Even when I am completely safe, there is fear.  Like the rabbit whose ears prick up when he senses danger.  I will not relax until the danger is gone.

I was not ready to go back to therapy.  My therapist and I have some things to work out.  I wanted to do more processing on my own on that stuff before I went back.  But I may have to put all that aside and go back to therapy anyway.  I may not have a choice.  I'm having trouble functioning.  I'm having trouble getting every day things done.  I need help.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Triggered

All it takes is a PTSD trigger to make everything else in life that was bugging me seem like nothing.

Rally the support troops.  Deep breaths.  You can do this.

Monday, September 16, 2013

He's Got Me Unsettled

A couple of months ago I decided I was ready for a break from therapy.  These have been a couple of really tough months.  And even though I've had moments when I wished I had my therapist to draw strength from, for the most part I was happy with my decision.

I have faced incredibly difficult things without him these last two months.  Ugly times between my husband and myself.  My parents pushing boundaries I've established to keep myself emotionally safe.  My husband's unemployment.  My depression.  The loss of a friendship.  A personal struggle with self-definition.

And I've done well.  I held my boundaries.  I practiced forgiveness and humility.  I communicated openly and honestly.

I've been doing just fine without therapy.

But something happened Friday that's got me unsettled.

My dad was going to be out of town and asked if I could take my mom to her therapy appointment.  I thought about this and decided I was okay with it; it didn't cross my boundaries.  I agreed.  But as I thought about it I realized something.  There was a possibility I would run into my therapist because he works in the same office as my mom's therapist.

I wasn't sure how I felt about this.  Did I want to see him or avoid him?  Did it matter either way?  Would he even say anything if he saw me?  Would it be uncomfortable?  I just didn't know.

Well, I took her.  She went in and I waited in the lobby.  Therapist after therapist came out and claimed their clients.  It was almost half past the hour by this point.  Maybe he wasn't there that day after all and all my worrying would have been for naught.

And then he opened the door to the lobby.

I was listening to an audio book and playing a game on the ipad.  I was just going to let it be.  I knew he was there but didn't look up.

I heard a slight sound.  Then another.  With my audio book playing in my ears it wasn't clear.  But soon I realized he was calling my name.  I turned off my book and looked up at him.  He smiled and waved and said hello.  I returned his wave and hello and looked back down at my game.

His client was waiting, had been waiting for an extra long time, so I expected that was the end of it.  Then I sensed him approaching.

I took out my headphones and looked up to see him extending a hand to me.  As he shook my hand he said, "I just wanted you to know I'm still here if you need me."  All I could muster was, "Okay.  Thanks."

And then he was gone.

And I've been unsettled ever since.

Our last session was not a good one.  I don't know if he understands this the way I understand it.  I don't know if he thinks I quit coming because he challenged me to do something difficult and I am hiding from it.  He could very easily think that because of what happened in our session, but it's not the truth.  Not even close.  If he knows me at all, he should know that I don't run from difficult things.  There was so much more in the reason I quit seeing him.

I've been asking myself why I'm unsettled.  Why am I suddenly questioning my decision to quit therapy?  Do I want to go back once Bill gets established in his new job and we have good insurance again?  What's got me so stuck in my head about this?

Is it because there was no closure, because I didn't go back and tell him what the problem was and why I didn't want to see him anymore?  Is it because I am struggling right now and really could use a trained professional to talk to?  Is it because therapy had become an addiction for me and seeing him was like getting a tiny taste of my old, familiar drug?  Is it because no matter how much I tried to say he was just my therapist, I really see him as a friend and I miss him?  Or is it just because I'm lost and floundering for direction?

I don't know.  But I've got some time to chew on it for a while as I try to figure things out.  My husband starts work next Monday and won't get paid for a while after that.  It will take us some time to figure out what our insurance situation is.  I've got at least that long to postpone the decision.

Oh, so much to think about.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

He Got a Job -- Why Am I Not Happy?

My husband lost his job two and a half months ago.  It's been a tough time.  Financially and emotionally.  I've been dealing with my emotions, my kids' emotions (they are 15-22, so very aware this time around), and my husband's emotions.  Along with all the emotions and expectations and concerns of friends and family.  And I've spent every day wondering how I was going to pay this bill or feed my family and praying no one got hurt or seriously sick because we have no insurance.

Yesterday, all my husband's hard work (and lots of prayers from friends and family) paid off.  After two and a half months of interviews and tests, someone finally offered him a job.  It's significantly less money but has some good trade offs.  And better yet, my husband feels valuable again.  Someone wants him.

I'm very grateful for that.  It eases my heart some to know that he feels better about himself.  That he feels useful.  And it eases my stress a bit to know that money will soon be coming into our house on a regular basis.

But my world is still dark.

My world has been dark for about the last week or two.  I had hoped the good news would make it better, would part the clouds and let the light back in.  But it didn't.

Because sometimes the darkness is situational -- because things around me are not going right.  And sometimes it's biochemical -- because things within my body aren't going right.

I believe this darkness is biochemical, with situational aggravators.  There are lots of things in my life that have been hard lately.  I have no doubt they've taken their toll.  But they could all go away tomorrow and my world would still be dark.

It takes time.

I will do what I can.  I will try to take care of myself.  I will eat and sleep and try to move.  I will draw nearer to God and serve others.  And over time, it will get better.

Right now I feel like a shadow walking through my own life.  Others see me and think I am whole, but I am hollow inside.

I am not okay.  But I will be.  Eventually.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Writing

Writing because I need to.
Writing because my heart feels like it's going to explode.
Writing because I'm lost.
Writing because it's healing.
Writing because it's often how God and I communicate.
Writing because my world is dark.
Writing because I feel like I'm missing something obvious.
Writing because I'm sad.
Writing because I hurt.
Writing because . . . I just don't know what else to do.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rerun: A Pebble or a Pea?

I was recently going through old posts, from very early on in my blogging days, trying to clean up all the spam comments.  I found myself reading some of them and remembering how much I liked them.

My readership has grown a lot since the early days, so I have decided to share a few of my favorites from times gone past.  And if you've been following my blog from the beginning, just consider them reruns.

**********

A Pebble or a Pea?

Let me take you back to your childhood, the days of fairy tales. 

Remember the story of The Princess and the Pea?  Maybe like me, you remember it as told by "Kermit the Frog" reporting.  While the details change in the retelling, the basic story goes like this.  In an effort to determine if a young girl is a real princess, so that she is suitable for the young prince to marry, a bed is prepared for her as a test.  The bed has many mattresses.  And a secret.  Underneath the mattresses is a single pea.  If the girl is a true princess, she will be sensitive enough to notice the pea despite all the padding.  Morning comes.  The girl hasn't slept because there was something hard in her bed.  She IS a real princess.  Happy ending.  All is well.

Only, let's think about it.  Now that we have lived a little life and had our share of troubles.  How do you see the princess now?  I'm afraid she is now a joke.  Someone who has had such a blissful and pampered life that the smallest difficulty is so troubling that she cannot sleep.

And let us consider another difficulty of similar size.  A pebble.  On the path in front of you it is nothing; inside of your shoe it is everything.  It's about the same size as a pea, but few would argue that you were wrong to be troubled by it.  It would bother most anyone.  Of course it is a problem.

So how often do we confuse the two?  I think that sometimes I'm the princess.  Things have been going well and the smallest thing ruins my perfect picture so it becomes a big deal.  Other times I am so involved with everything else that I try to ignore the pebble in my shoe.  It just doesn't seem like that big of a deal.  But it does take it's toll.

Sometimes the pebble is an easy problem.  I take off my shoe, dump it out, put my shoe back on, and am back on my way.

Other times the pebble is disaster.  It was the thing that pushed me over the edge.  I sit down, take off my shoe, throw it, curse it, and cry.

I would like to be better at discerning between pebbles and peas in my life.  And since I have difficulty with my own problems it would stand to reason that I would have even more trouble judging someone else's.

I will try to remember this the next time I see someone I think is a princess wallowing over a pea.  Maybe it was really a pebble in her shoe and she has been walking with it a very long time.