There are times in my life when I think why? Why do we as humans struggle so much just living. Was it like this since the beginning of time? Is there anyone out there who truly has no stress, no difficulties and breezes through live without conflict? Or is this what human nature means?
Being diagnosed with PTSD was the biggest ah-ha moment of my life. So much finally made sense in my world. Diagnosis means being aware and of all the medications and treatments, being aware the one thing that matters. Because I believe there is no cure. There is only living with it.
I have done as much mindfulness and meditation as humanely possible. I have sought treatments from cognitive behavior therapy to AAT and other forms of energy work. I am not saying they do not “work” but they do not cure. There is no cure. There is acceptance and awareness.
Last week, something tripped me over the weekend. I have no clue what. That is one of the tricky parts of having PTSD. You do not need to know what trips you off, it just happens. By Tuesday, I was in a full blown attack. During the day, I am anxious about stupid things like driving and loud noises. I jump at the slightest provocation. I am bit short in patience. But the telling sign for me is I gain a few pounds that won’t come off. And I have not changed what I am eating. My body pain level is extremely high and I have sharp pain in certain spots like my neck and shoulders which were tight as a trampoline. I cannot take a deep breath even when I doing breathing exercise. But the most telling is I do not sleep. Tuesday night I had about two hours of sleep. The rest of the week my sleep was fitful and full of nightmares that stay with me during the day.
On Wednesday, I was asked to do a presentation for the whole management group on a project I am leading. I then have to drive 40 miles one way to deliver the same presentation to another group. Just as I seemed to becoming down a bit, or maybe just calmer because of lack of sleep, this set me off to an even higher level of anxiety. Just writing this made me catch my breath. It is not that I am nervous about presenting. I just hate presenting to this group. Hate it! It is like they are sitting there with bared teeth waiting for you to make a mistake or in total judgment (which they are). Driving is another big time stressor. By the end of the day on Wednesday, I was a mess. The rest of the week I was a walking nerve fretting about it.
On Friday, I sat down to finish the PowerPoint and having accomplished that helped to calm me. Later at home that night when I was somewhat at peace, I went into my work email. Big mistake. We have a Coach from the med center who is overseeing the program I am presenting on. I am supposed to be learning from her because when she leaves in a couple of months, I am supposed to fill in. She never likes anything anyone is doing. We have had people actually go to our CEO and complain about her. She always has something to correct me on. I think she is a terrible coach. Sure enough, she hated the PowerPoint and said that she thought that only three of the fourteen slides had value. I just burst into tears and sobbed for a while. I was exhausted from the week and then this.
I did something I usually do not do. I fought back. I forwarded the email to my boss who is aware of the situation with the coach. I also sent an email back to the coach and said that it seems I never seem to get things right with her and this was making me very anxious. My boss wrote me back and said the PowerPoint was exactly what the administrators wanted and she liked it. I have not heard anything from the coach. But I felt I stood up for myself and that in itself is powerful. Shame is often a big part of having PTSD and so to stand up for myself was a big deal.
My thoughts for this week included feeling trapped. That is a sensation I have lived with forever and it is not because of any one situation. It is from years of emotional and mental abuse. I felt feel trapped in a job that is frustrating and limiting and often does not bring much satisfaction to me. It does not make me feel like I am contributing to the world. I am trapped as I need to work and the thought of switching jobs is worse than living with it….which is why I stayed in a shitty marriage for 27 years. Fear.
I hate the thought of presenting to this group because of their critical judgment. This is all management including the ones who are clawing their way up the chain and would do whatever they could to push someone out of their way. This group also has staff that have been there a while and like the way it was always done…. Change agents are not welcome. Fortunately, there are less of them now. There is a woman who will be in the audience who looks and act so much like my mother and I have had a terrible time with her. Her reputation is that she looks for the holes or mistakes in presentations and will pounce on any weakness. She constantly interrupts to ask for “clarification” and asks a million questions. Everyone knows this about her and it is a big joke, but it is also terrifying when she is grilling you. It does not help me that I have her position which she held for 12 years and she feels I am inadequate because I am not a nurse. When I first started, she had a posy of peers who felt the same way and made my work life difficult. A few of them have left or retired but she perseveres on.
The thing is… I know this is only fifteen minutes max of my life. I know this will pass. I know I will be fine driving 80 miles as it is not snowing and I take back roads. I know that by Wednesday night, all this will be over. I know all this. I fight to be in the present moment and not worry about the future. I know perseverating on this only adds and does not help. I am writing as another act of trying to cope. I am employing techniques that have I learned to calm. I am trying to think before I react, which is another sign of being in the throes of PTSD. My reactions are over the top and visceral. I am using all the techniques and skills I have been taught to cope. They are helping some.
But sadly the truth is I just have to wait for it to pass. I can only hope that nothing else triggers me and I can deregulate down to a more homeostatic level. I know I will emerge once again out of the rabbit hole.