I’m sipping a cup of tea and thinking about life. In general, things are good. My anxiety has flared up, though, and it often feels as though “dial is turned up to 11“. My PTSD is reliably aggravated by my anxiety… and my anxiety is aggravated when my PTSD flares up… and around and around I go. My finger tips are torn and my cuticles are ragged from gnawing at them mindlessly. My Traveling Partner notes my overall stress level and suggests various things to help me “relax” – I reliably reply that I am relaxed – I’m not.

My self-care is going to shit quickly… there’s definitely a “mind-body” connection to be considered, too. As my anxiety worsens, I sleep more poorly. As my quality of sleep degrades, my pain becomes harder to manage. As my physical condition worsens over time, my emotional resilience is undermined, and I become more volatile, more easily provoked to anger, and struggle more and more to maintain a rational perspective on circumstances and events. It’s an emotionally painful and demoralizing process.

…I’ve “been here” before. I have tools now that I lacked years ago. I know to address the source(s) of my stress, and to meditate regularly, and practice non-attachment. I have learned over time that my reaction-in-the-moment, at the best of times, is likely to be less helpful that a well-considered, responsive approach, that is nuanced and thorough. I know that I am prone to “catastrophizing” and that this can become a real problem very quickly, robbing me of perspective, and a sense of sufficiency. I quickly “lose my joy”.

So, I am sipping this cup of tea and thinking about practices, and next steps, and how best to take care of myself under the current circumstances. It’s not “easy”, but that’s often the case with stressful situations. I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner, and good quality of life; at least I’m not having to also worry about those details!

I had talked things over with my therapist at my most recent appointment. He made some follow-up suggestions – almost a “homework” assignment, in practical terms. It was just 4 things he wanted me to consider doing. I’ve done two of those, so far. Feels pretty good.

I sigh. I am thinking about how often it seems that when a person expresses a deep interest in a topic, or shares some detail that gives them great joy, there’s often someone lurking in their social network who seems eager to pull the rug out from under them. Weird, eh? Don’t do that. Treat people as people. Treat them with kindness (you don’t know what they are going through). Appreciate that you can’t possibly know life and the world (or the decision-making of others) from the perspective of someone else – even if they choose to share that perspective with you. We’re each having our own experience. Do what you can not to fuck things up for someone else, eh? If we each did just that, the world would be far more pleasant for many more people.

This weekend my Traveling Partner when for a long drive together. We talked about life, and future other camping and cool drives we’d like to take together out in the wildernesses of America. It was lovely. Time well-spent. It’s not enough, however pleasant, to remove all my challenges from my experience of self. I’ve got the issues I’ve got. I’m learning to manage them more skillfully – and sometimes that means “change”.

It’s time to breathe. Exhale. Relax. And begin again.