I woke feeling well-rested and content, and  I got a great start to my day – even on the professional side, or so it seemed, initially.

Like most people, I am not universally skilled at all things – personal or professional. It’s been pretty well confirmed over time that if my symptoms flare up (PTSD), or my brain injury gets in the way of getting things done, like dominoes falling in sequence more challenges begin to pile up, emotionally, cognitively, and socially. This morning, a ‘what the fuck?’ moment of frustration quickly developed into the sort of challenges I can’t easily manage in the office, and I made the choice to get out of the challenging environment, head for home and take care of me. I knew as I walked home in the chilly autumn sunshine that I would be more easily able to support myself in the quiet safety of my wee place, surrounded by green and contentment.

Home.

Home.

There’s been some construction in the community. My windows were recently replaced. Then a tree was removed – part of a ‘drainage improvement’ project. Not easy experiences – but I got over it, and the overall look of things has remained substantially unchanged… (You know where this is going, right?)

Today, when I get home, things are very different indeed.

Today, when I get home, things are very different indeed.

Speechless. Also just at the edge of becoming enraged by frustration, and a feeling of being actively undermined – professionally and personally – at every turn, if not by the willful intent of human beings, certainly by circumstances. This is hard. Frustration is my kryptonite, and I’m not even super.

Now I’m home… my feeling of safety is destroyed by the continuous sound of the voices of strangers shouting over machinery – on all three sides of my apartment (3 different work crews: painters, a pipe crew with a ditch witch, and a crew of…well…carpenters on the roof, or roofers doing carpentry). My sound sensitivity increasing rapidly to the point where sounds will actually seem… psychologically painful. (Is that the right phrase for this experience, I wonder?) My ability to sooth myself is shattered by the combination, and the tears I will no doubt cry sometime soon are beginning to queue up waiting for the next thing I can’t take more of. Just fucking great, right? I come home to take care of me… and… now what? Please tell me – now what? I’m even completely alone, no reassuring hug from my traveling partner, or anyone else, unless I want to step outside and start randomly asking construction guys for hugs. There is no human comfort to be had until I have to force myself into the world to get to my therapy appointment on the other side of town – using mass transit – at which point I can pay another human being a lot of money to spend an hour with me at arm’s length.

Sorry. You’re ‘seeing me’ at what is my current near-worst. I hope you understand that, for the moment, being heard is the best thing I can do for myself – even if it is the being-heard-at-a-distance of writing words that someone else will read from far away. It actually counts for a lot, so… thank you for being here. So…what else can I – what else will I do? Things. There are things to do that will help – the harder part is accepting that each thing may only help some tiny tiny seemingly insignificant amount, and that it is critically important to go ahead and do each and every one to get to the best possible self-supporting outcome. It’s harder than I’d like it to be in the moment.

  1. I’m going to put on some music to mask some of the background noise; I choose Squarepusher, and turn it up louder than I might ordinarily, because some of the noise of the machinery will tend to blend in and fool me into perceiving more music than noise.
  2. I make a soothing hot beverage (no stimulants, though); the heat of the cup in my hands is comforting, and enjoying a cup of tea requires me to slow things down and take a minute for me.
  3. I make a point of alerting the construction crews politely that I am at home, and ask that they be courteous about the noise as much as possible; given a chance, people are frequently fairly kind and accommodating when they are aware that a veteran with PTSD is struggling nearby.
  4. I sit down to write about my experience, without determining in advance whether this will be ‘for publication’ or not, freeing myself to ‘get it all out there’, and leave spelling, grammar, syntax, tone, clarity, and intent to be reviewed afterward. No self-censorship. No self-criticism. Just words.
  5. I review my self-care checklist and verify that meds and basics are handled, making any adjustments needed.
  6. I put the writing on hold for some little while, to meditate if I can (it’s really really noisy around her today), but that may have to wait for the work crews to go to lunch at noon.
  7. Yoga helps me relax my body – and right now every small bit of ease I can provide to myself is going to have value.

I’ve done what I can for now. Soon I’ll be leaving for my appointment, anyway. So far, step by step, practice by practice, I have dialed down my stress enough to feel calm and mostly okay. I am okay right now; it’s important to notice and reinforce the awareness to help build more positive implicit emotional memory, and emotional self-sufficiency.

Today is a good day to be a student. Today is a good day to practice the practices. Today I’m okay right now.