Archives for posts with tag: ptsd

Intense connected weekend, deeply emotional, profound, moving, close, intimate, filled with friendship, community, heart… and love. It was pretty wonderful. It was also very weird. Like all of our hearts were cracked open by our own pain and circumstances, and what spilled out was how much we all really care about each other. It was splendid… and deep. I can’t do a whole lot of that over a prolonged period of time, myself, I am open and raw, and struggle to manage self-care and boundaries. It can go very wrong if I don’t make a point to get a few minutes of space and take care of my own needs, also.

This past weekend was lovely. The closeness, authenticity, and emotional complexity of it all apparently hit me right in the immune system, though, or brought me into too-close contact with someone recently ill. By Saturday in the early afternoon, the itch in my sinuses was already giving me a heads up that I had picked up some passing virus. I thought little of it, and began drinking more water, and taking steps to be more well. Practices.

By evening, I just wasn’t “up for it” – any of it – and not in a mean or unkind way, I literally couldn’t cope with the sound of human voices talking over each other, however happily. The stream of information felt more like… a flood. An avalanche. A tidal wave. It was just more than my broken brain could handle in the moment. I took a step back. I returned later; no change. Apparently, this head cold comes with an optional “cognitive impact” package – no extra charge. I ended up taking my leave early in the evening – no hugs – and keeping to myself, drinking tea and drifting in and out of awareness. At some point I considered making the drive home that night… and thankfully either thought better of it, or just… didn’t. I wasn’t at all up to it. Hell, I wasn’t up to the drive home when I finally did get into the car on Sunday morning – but I was still holding out hope that I’d be working on Monday.

It is Monday. I’m not working. I’m home sick. The only reason I am “out of bed” at all right now is that the “coffee alarm” in my brain went off, and I got up to have my measured amount of morning coffee before I collapse back into bed to be sick “more skillfully”. lol I’ve literally “no business being out of bed right now” to quote my Granny from many years ago.

The drive yesterday was surreal. I don’t take some types of cold medicine (contra-indicated due to other things), so I made the drive feeling fairly shitty, but not further impaired by OTC mix-n-match weirdness. I observed the effect of this particular “head cold” (is it? I think it is…) over what seemed a longer than usual drive. I could still assess distance and speed fairly well, but my ability to determine relative risk (decision-making) was definitely impaired. I often felt confused, slowed down, or dithered when some choice suddenly wasn’t so certain – while driving at freeway speeds. I was happy to arrive safely home. There were definitely one or two points along the drive when it was not a given that I would.

I got home feeling a stew of aggravation, frustration, anger, and all manner of nuanced negative emotions. My heart felt like a snarl. Not a snarl, as in “tangled”, nope; I was the embodiment of snarling confrontation waiting for someone to step to me and make something of it. lol Omg. Seriously? Why is there even such a thing as head colds that tamper with emotional balance or cognition?? So not okay. I unloaded the car haphazardly, reserving 100% of my fucks to give for the precious cargo in the trunk; I have my paintings back. I make a point of pausing to really appreciate that. I settle in for the evening, make tea, have a shower, change into comfy clothes, bundle up, have more tea, and go to bed. I exchange messages with my Traveling Partner later, and go back to bed. Between 1 pm and 5:30 am this morning, I slept about 12 hours. I’ll be going back to bed for more of the same once I finish my morning coffee.

So many practices being practiced. Boundary-setting, self-care, communication… all involving careful use of practices learned over time such that they feel pretty natural when needed (which is good because right now I’d struggle to do anything “new”) – but, being sick, none of it “feels effective” – however effective it may actually be. It’s a good time to be alone, and calling out today is a wise choice. It’s hard though. It’s Monday. I try to “never take Monday off”. I notice the chills, again. I finish my coffee. Treating others well also involves not bringing further contagion into the office space where coworkers would soon be dropping like flies, themselves. Treating others well involves making the (hard)(adult) choice to respect work spaces, and the quality of the work experience, by not bringing heightened ferocity and reduced resilience into the calm productive emotionally neutral space that is our work area. Acknowledging that I am “not myself” is also less than ideally easy; we often don’t want to admit it when we are not well, sometimes due to nothing more than “FOMO” (for fucks’ sake, really??) because we don’t want to pass up some event, activity, or connected time “just because we’re sick” (no, really??). I allow myself to be the adult in the room in my own experience; I call out.

Coffee’s gone. Even when I’m sick there are opportunities to begin again. This is one of them; I’m going back to bed. lol

 

 

…And anyway, the point is, practice does matter, and it is there for me when I need it most.ย  The skills develop over time, and are useful in circumstances I may not have anticipated. I’m just saying; keep practicing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll head out this morning, and in a relatively short time (hours) I’ll catch up with my Traveling Partner for the weekend. Friends. Music. Goings on. The weekend. Lovely – and I am so looking forward to it! I’ve missed him greatly.

I plan my route with care this morning. See, there’s this particular experience I have pretty much every time I make this trip, and it’s not pleasant. There’s rather a long stretch of “highway” that is almost always gridlocked, aggravating, and populated with frustrated aggressive drivers, a handful of unskilled ones, and lurking in the mix, one or two people who are actually straight up “up to no good” – you know the ones; folks that get angry, take shit personally, and then act out their anger in real life putting everyone else at great risk. Drivers who “brake check” someone following them uncomfortably closely, or who is simply driving faster than they are. Drivers who deliberately cut other drivers off – and then “brake check” them, to “make a point” or otherwise demonstrate dominance. Drivers who “match speeds” with a car in an adjacent lane specifically to prevent another driver from passing them. It’s dumb – and it’s dangerous. Fuck, people, just drive your god damned car, and do it safely. Focus on what you’re doing in the world, yourself. Shit.

See? I’m already caught up in a moment that hasn’t even happened yet. I don’t enjoy that, and I would prefer not to just hand over the keys to my emotional experience to some rando fuckknob in a car. lol So. I am replanning my route with greater understanding of what I want from my experience in life, instead of letting my gps direct me down the same road everyone else is taking.

I have the time to enjoy the drive. I shoot for making it enjoyable, instead of “efficient”. Can I literally not even travel that stretch of highway at all, perhaps? Looks like I can – on a smaller rural road. My gps would not ever even consider this route; it’s a bit too close to the interstate highway, and the gps doesn’t really understand why I would choose anything else. In miles, it’s a bit more distance to drive, but in estimated time it’s very nearly the same. Speed matters, and the section of interstate I won’t be driving rarely moves faster than a residential street as it is. Do I mind not driving freeway speeds? Not at all. Not a thing with me, it’s more about a comfortable experience ofย  being neither rushed nor crowded. I plan my route down this rural “state highway”, and find that it avoids basically the entire stretch of the freeway that aggravates me. Nice. What will the experience be like? I don’t know – I haven’t had it yet. I do know it won’t be “the same” – because I have chosen differently. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a metaphor. You have choices. Begin again. โค

By the time I got home from work last night, the anxiety that had been in background much of the afternoon had deepened and begun to take over. It was a visceral experience of anxiety, and mostly only that; I felt anxious. There seemed to be nothing much supporting it, and I probably prolonged it more than necessary by continuing to insist to myself that “it’s nothing”. Well, so what if it is “nothing”? I was still feeling it – and that’s something.

I disconnected from the digital world and began to practice very self-care focused practices with the specific point in mind of reducing my anxiety. Nothing much seemed to be helping. My Traveling Partner phones. A few minutes of gentle conversation seems to ease my anxiety almost entirely. Okay, well… that’s awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚ We end the call.ย  Later, I end the evening…

…I laid awake feeling anxious for some time. Weirdly, I’d get sleepy, and as soon as I even started to doze off, the anxiety surged back and woke me. Fuck. Damn it. …Did I have too much coffee? …Am I stressed over work?? …Am I not “anxious” at all, but actually excited and not discerning the difference? …The weather? Troubleshooting anxiety doesn’t really help matters at all, that’s not how anxiety tends to work (for me). Trying to find answers to “why am I anxious” just puts all my attention on the anxiety, which makes it the focus of my experience. Yuck.

Strong steps seemed necessary if I wanted to sleep. I got up for a little while, went out onto the deck in the cool-not-quite-cold night air with my meditation cushion, and sat quietly in the cold, just… being. I went back to bed, and to sleep, shortly afterward.

This morning I woke without the anxiety lurking in the background. I don’t reach back to mess with the “why” question any further. I’m content to be without the anxiety. This morning, my thoughts are on the weekend ahead. The sound of bird song outside my window. How satisfying my coffee seems. Finding out the “why” of an anxious afternoon holds more potential to create another anxious day than it does to answer any profound questions about the nature of anxiety. lol I let it go and move on. It’s not as if there hasn’t been ample stimulus in recent goings on for anxious moments. I totally don’t need “reasons” beyond that. ๐Ÿ™‚

I look at the clock, and notice that it is time to begin again… the weekend ahead of me… love, adventure… choices. All of that and more, just beyond this moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee and staring at this blank page (well, it was, it isn’t now…). The future is a perpetual blank page. I hold the pen in the present. Whatever narrative I jot down, whatever map of the world I attempt to draw, it is done from this moment, from this perspective. It has so little to do with the actual future that will actually happen. It’s easy to overlook that detail, but it is significant and worth keeping in mind.

I spent the weekend in the studio. I didn’t finish anything. I started a bunch of stuff. It was a delightful and productive weekend, creatively. I am content and nourished by the time spent painting. I’m finding it rather challenging to “get my head right” for the compressed work week ahead; I am yearning for some vacation time, and the good company of my Traveling Partner and friends. I am distracted and energized, like a toddler after an espresso shot. lol

People are peculiarly resilient and adaptable. Have you noticed that? It’s an amazing quality. We can endure quite a lot, and still be hopeful. We can suffer immense trauma, and still find ourselves positive about life, and able to enjoy it. We can break trust, and rebuild it. We can choose poorly, act badly, or go to pieces – and often put things right nonetheless. Pretty amazing stuff. Yes, of course, there are verbs involved, and our results vary. Our intention, our will, and our actions all matter. Our words matter. The content of our character and the values we choose to live matter. Still… we’re pretty fancy primates with a lot of potential.

Today you can begin again. Today you can choose to be your best self. Today you can live your life on a path to the person you most want to be… You only have to choose to do so. ๐Ÿ™‚

Choose. Begin again.

I woke during the night with an unsteady tummy. I took steps to be prepared for being sick if things were to turn for the worse; I left the light on in the hall bathroom and a hair tie on the counter. It’s not the closest bathroom of the two in this place, but it is bigger, and more suited somehow to being ill. It’s near enough. Easy to get to, too. So. I was prepared, and I went to back sleep.

I woke sometime shortly past day break. 6:30-ish. I slept in. ๐Ÿ˜€ Well… that’s my idea of sleeping in. I’m usually up by 4:30 am. I woke to a tidy home, a clean kitchen, and a smile on my face. Nice. There are a few things to do today, to face the short work week ready to travel: some tidying up, laundry, vacuuming, empty the dishwasher of clean dishes… basic household care. It’s a good day for it. I feel rested. The gray featureless sky doesn’t tempt me to the trail – or to the studio. I have brunch plans, and a partially read book. Brunch and housework sounds like a fine when to spend the day, and winding things down with a quiet evening reading sounds lovely, too.

As I sip my coffee, first one brunch friend, then another, lets me know they can’t make it today. I hear from my Traveling Partner as we cross paths in the digital world, as I wake up, and he winds down from a long night. By the time I finish my coffee, brunch “with…” has become “brunch solo?”. I barely register any disappointment – and perhaps this sets me apart from some sorts of people; I genuinely value and enjoy time spent with myself (particularly now that I’ve learned to treat myself well, generally).

I pause for a moment to consider, seemingly rather randomly, that “genuinely” and “generally” positioned so close to each other in a sentence seem a tad repetitive, even though they are totally different words. Then I find cause to be irked with the frequency of -ly endings. I notice my coffee is finished. I feel irked by that and slightly irritable. I take a deep breath, relax, and allow myself to recognize that I am, actually, a bit disappointed about brunch falling through. Acknowledging the feeling, however fleeting, prevents it from becoming festering discontent. The moment needed nothing more than awareness, respect, and acknowledgement, and the feeling dissipates. Emotions are funny that way. Fight them, they fight back. Embrace them, feed them, they deepen, and sometimes take over. Resist them completely, they flare up in the background, influencing our experience of other circumstances in sometimes subtle ways, and altering our understanding of other moments. Acknowledge them with awareness, respecting the experience without fueling the fire, and they become a sign post on a journey, a reminder, and a moment observed; that tends to be what I’m going for these days.

I find myself still a bit irritable, and not finding anything in my immediate environment or experience to explain that, I pause my writing and do a quick “self inventory”. I take a moment to simply breathe and feel my feelings, both those of my physical experience (sensations) and those of my cognitive experience (emotions). Emotionally, I feel pretty at ease, and content. Physically, I find myself having to take note of a substantial amount of fairly ordinary arthritis pain in my thoracic spine. Well shit. Okay. That’d be enough to feel sort of grumpy and out of sorts “for no reason” – only, there’s clearly quite an obvious reason to it, once I am aware of it. Awareness is such an amazing tool! I continue checking in with myself, and notice that in spite of the arthritis pain, no headache. Hey, that’s pretty nice. Uncommon these days. I enjoy that experience, and allow myself to sit with the awareness of “no headache” awhile, while I decide on the morning, and what to do about the pain.

I think over the day ahead. I’ve got what I need, generally speaking. Maybe a bite of brunch and a stop for art supplies somewhere? I head to a search tab to look up my options…

It’s a great day to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€