Stress Sensitivity and PTSD

Hi peeps, it’s a rare and special time when I get to blog these days, though I think of it (and you) often. Things are going quite well over here. Life continues to be almost completely mad, but somehow I’m mostly holding it together. I’m continuing to juggle the WT and the PNT, and I’m learning heaps, especially from the PNT who’s approach is completely different.

One thing I’ve noticed, particularly in the last week, is that my stress tolerance is much lower than it used to be. Apparently stress sensitivity is relatively common among those of us with PTSD. That’s kind of a no brainer, but isn’t something I’d really thought about or consciously (mindfully) experienced before.

My workload and the never ending pressure at work has been increasing exponentially over the last few weeks. Last week it hit the point where I couldn’t even tackle anything. I was completely paralysed. My to do list is so long all I could do was just stare at it. I’m not sure what caused this. I guess it was fear. Of what, exactly, I’m not sure. Not getting things done? Not getting them done on time? Getting into trouble? Oh, and then there was the presentation I had to give at a client training day last Friday. Ugh. Have I mentioned I have a pathological fear of public speaking? Well, I have a pathological fear of public speaking. 😉

Seriously, that alone was enough to tip my stress from ‘just about managing’ to completely paralysed… and, along came all my old “friends” – my PTSD symptoms. I was a triggery mess, flash backing all over the place, having nightmares and dissociating like crazy. 😦 I haven’t been like that for a while, so it was a bit of a shock to the system, yet strangely familiar.

It made me realise a couple of things I thought might be important (the PNT said they’re really important). One: my baseline isn’t as highly strung as it used to be. I used to be stressed like that all the time. And I mean: All. The. Time. I didn’t even know I was like that, but I was. I was a jittery, heart pounding crazy woman; literally running on cortisol and quickly spiralling out of control. Apparently I’m more relaxed now than I used to be. 🙂

The second thing I realised was that not only am I not like that anymore, but I also don’t want to be like that any more. I much prefer it when I’m NOT feeling so stressed. Who would have thought? 🙂

So what do I do with this information? I’m not sure. It’s obviously important. In a few ways, actually. First, it’s important that I’ve realised these things. And (possibly more) important that I even noticed them. Probably shows I’m not as out of it as I used to be a degree of mindfulness. Or something. Second, it seems important in a ‘how I want to live my life’ kinda way, although it’s really all too new for me to understand what that means, or what that looks like in practice, and how I keep it that way. Definite progress on both fronts, I’d say. 🙂

A new start?

I’m sitting at my desk, in my new study, relishing some time to catch up on the blogosphere. I moved house, with Mum, just over ten days ago. While physically it’s still chaos (we are drowning in a sea of boxes, from her house and mine!), I am enjoying having made the move. I now have a bedroom AND a study to call my very own. Somewhere I can escape and have some ‘me time’ – and (with a bit of luck) blog time 🙂 I’ve been putting quite a bit of effort into setting up my study – I’ve painted the walls, put up a whole wall of bookcases, and ordered my new ‘reading on a Sunday afternoon’ armchair. It’s my retreat; my escape from the world – and from Mum and her foul comments when needed. I can see a little bit of the garden – the hydrangeas are battling winter, but the tulip tree is flowering beautifully, and today the sky is bright blue – a reminder that winter can sometimes be beautiful. 🙂

Life has been completely hectic for the last couple of months, but mostly I’ve coped well. The PNT is helping me get back in touch with myself; helping me become more mindful (not always successfully), and helping me learn some better ‘self-care’. Say what? I hear you utter. Crazy, I know…

I also consulted a natural therapist last week – she reminded me of a lot of the good things I’d somehow forgotten. The importance of nutrition, the importance of whole food, the evils of gluten… things I’d somehow let get lost in the hurly burly of caring for Mum. Actually, if I’m honest, much of this got lost before Mum got sick. Somehow, in looking after my mental health, I’ve almost completely forgotten about my physical health! I’ve been eating much better since seeing the natural therapist – I can’t tell you how good that feels! Not that my diet was overly bad beforehand, but I’d got trapped into eating food that Mum likes to eat and which I don’t like. Or do like but aren’t at all good for me. It feels so good to be eating ‘me’ food again. And by that I mean it feels good physically, not just emotionally; in fact not even emotionally really, as I’m not even gloating in some faux feeling of virtuosity. It just feels good physically to put good food in my stomach. Nurturing and grounding in a whole other way. 🙂

I have plans to get back to yoga, and may be start meditation, but for now they are stuck in the procrastinating box. I’m not sure why, they just are. I’m trying not to beat myself up about that. It will come; when I’m ready it will come.

I’m a little puzzled at how much of myself I’d forgotten, or left behind, during the last couple of years of therapy. More fodder for the PNT, I suspect. I’ve been reminded over the last couple of weeks that when you do things that align with your ‘inner self’, it feels good. Not just good or even great, but life-giving and energising as well. (Though clearly I’m still struggling a bit with ‘feeling words’ LOL)

My plate overfloweth

Hello Blogosphere, I’ve missed you. I mean really missed you. I’ve no good excuses. As my friend Strangename said in my last post – my plate is full. It’s more than full. It’s overflowing and I’m officially drowning.

I was keeping my head above water (if only just) until a week or so ago when I found out I may not have a job in a couple of months. That was the proverbial straw. I was already slightly depressed and that was enough to tip me over the edge. Again. It triggered a whole lot of old messages about being “not good enough” and a “complete failure” (“not just a partial failure?” asked the PNT, a little facetiously. 😉 )

I’m not sure how but I ended up in that dark place many of us find ourselves in every now and then. I’m a lot better than I was, but still grappling with the idea that I’m a waste of space. Every evening I find myself battling the Judy Garland Trail Mix, mentally at least (although the image of me actually fighting some giant pills is kind of funny LOL) and drinking just a little too much so as to dull the pain and the incessant chatter in my head. It’s not good, and I’m sick of it. I’m due to go back to work tomorrow so we’ll see what new joys that brings.

Living with my mother is having its ups and downs. One of the ups is that her physical health is better than anyone would have predicted. It’s still not terrific, but I don’t think the doctors thought she’d be here now. But, as most of you predicted, living with her – or her living with me – is not good for my health, emotional or physical. And probably not my mother’s either. I know for a fact that I drive her crazy sometimes. She loves to remind me. She also loves to criticise and speak negatively about just about every damned thing. It’s what the WT once called “wading through honey”. In the circumstances, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are looking for a bigger house in the hope it will give us both some much needed space. Even that is a bigger ordeal than I expected. We seem unable to agree on anything. Mostly it’s my mother who can’t agree and is acting like she wants a pony. Regardless, I am close to giving in to just get some SPACE. I know this probably isn’t the best decision for me, but more on that another time.

I know I’m stressed. I don’t think I really understood what stress does to me until now. I’ve developed a lovely skin rash that flares when my stress levels rise, and I’ve started getting migraines. At first it was “just” the aura – a kind of kaleidoscope of visual weirdness. But last week, after the news at work, it developed into the full on head-splitting migraine. Lucky me. I’ve now had two in the last ten days and they’re leaving me a little worse for wear. 😦

I am hoping that getting back to blogging might help me deal with things. Along with eating well, getting lots of rest, exercise, breathing and all that usual sh*te people tell us about. I know they’re right, but when getting out of bed is the most complicated thing you can tackle in a day, chances are the rest of it will go to hell, too.

We’re all going on a…

You know the song. I’m meant to be on a summer holiday in my favorite place in the whole world. The place that brings me peace, calm, rejuvenation. My spiritual home.

Actually I AM on my summer holiday, but it doesn’t feel like it. The weather has been awful. I think it’s rained non-stop since I arrived. Instead of spending the week on the beach with the magic of the ocean, I’ve spent most of it checking the weather, the flood warnings, road closures and beach closures. Sigh. Of course my heart goes out to the people who are seriously affected. I can’t imagine what having your home flooded must be like.

I never realised what an impact the weather could have on my mood. I don’t mind the rain so much. I mind missing the healing and recharge I came for. I’ve been to the beach a couple of times, but it’s just not the same. Instead of this:

20120127-204740.jpg

I’ve had this:

20120127-204844.jpg

And then this when the pool turned into a lake:

20120127-204949.jpg

It’s just not the same. I’m not getting the cleansing I usually get, or the healing or the recharge or the … anything really. I didn’t realise the weather would do this to me. or may be its the stress of the floods distracting me too much.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the beach in winter, and the roar of a rough ocean. I guess I just haven’t been able to connect with myself in the way I had hoped and haven’t been able to release all the stress I’ve been carrying 😦

Man what a whinge this post is. Sorry peeps. Just needed to vent I guess.

A year in review

So 2011 is finally over. I say ‘finally’ coz it was a pretty awful year for me. Completely sucky, actually. As always, the start of a new year is a time for reflection – what went well, what didn’t, what we learned, and what we’re striving for in the New Year.

2011 was such a whirlwind for me, it’s really hard to sort out what’s mine and what’s external. In some respects I feel I lost myself a bit this last year. Part of that, I think, is not spending as much time reflecting, blogging and working on myself. I got caught up in events in my life, perhaps not surprisingly. Anyway, here goes for a recap of 2011.

My year in review

I learned that some friends can be relied upon, and some can’t. And sometimes it’s not how you expect it to be, though perhaps if you’d looked harder you might have seen what’s what a lot earlier. Oh, the power of hindsight!

I learned we can’t have everything we want in life, no matter how much we wish for something or how hard we try.

I learned that I’m really cr@p at dealing with my emotions. I also learned this is why I have a well-oiled self-destruct switch.

I learned, and moved a step towards accepting that I may always be FITH. I don’t like it, but part of me’s just giving in to it.

I learned that my life is much nicer without my father around, but that he can still haunt me from the grave.

I think I also learned that it’s our relationships in life that really matter. More on that in a not-to-distant future post.

And that we should never take our loved ones for granted. The small stuff really doesn’t matter.

So, on to my hopes for 2012.

My biggest hope is that I get more (quality) time with Mum. This is obviously something I have little control over. I’ll find out next week what the prognosis is.

I’d also like to spend a bit more time on “me” – physically, as well as emotionally. So fingers crossed for more blog posts this year, peeps!

And I want to spend more time doing creative things – they’re great for my soul. Photography, and most recently knitting.

I’d like to keep my job. I’d like to get better at managing my job with a completely out of control and somewhat f***ed up life. Or give up completely.

I’d like a holiday. And world peace. Not too much to ask for, is it?

Goodwill to all humans

Dear friends,

I hope each and every one of you out there has a Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukkah/Happy other festive occasion. I know this is a difficult time of year for many of us – perhaps not surprisingly, less so for me this year or differently, at least. 🙂

I hope each of you can take time out to cherish your loved ones (even those who drive you C-R-A-Z-Y) and take time out to do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

Sending peace, happiness, love and other good things your way.

Kerro x

 

Photos and pheelings … feelings and fotos

I finally escaped the house with my camera for a few hours this weekend. I had forgotten how good that felt, even if it was cold – winter is settling in – and a bit miserable, though that fitted my mood perfectly. Here are a couple of shots I took. They also seem to fit how I’m feeling.

***

I recently discovered the talents of an Aboriginal singer who is blind. He’s amazing. Here’s one of my favourite songs and you can learn more about him here.