Goodbye Bummer Summer or Living with PTSD Part 2 (The Rage Stage)

Thank you so much for the really kind feedback re: part 1.  To those who asked for the the “raw and unedited” version, I’m pretty sure I got it to you all but if you asked and I didn’t send please let me know.
It’s hurt my heart to learn how many of us are suffering in so many different but very real ways,  but your stories and your courage have made me feel so much less alone and that’s a gift I can’t even begin to express adequate thanks for. Thank you for your trust and your honesty. I’m rooting for you more than you know.
Labour day has come and gone and as everyone starts contemplating the change of season and all the excitement that it brings, I can’t help but be transported in very surreal way to last year this time when we were preparing to leave Ohio, “for good” (in both senses of that phrase).  It seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago.  Holy smokes, what a year it has been.  I remember driving around town last year as the trees changed and the light changed, as November 1st approached.. being in a constant state of panic and excitement and dread and thrill.  But at the foundation of it  all was a resolute sense that I was doing what needed to be done.
It’s impossible to explain the emotional intensity and enormity of this past year and the cataclysmic impact it has made on every facet of my life.  It would take days to even begin to describe the harrowing that has been going on, the depth of the toxic soil that has been turned over and  the healing that has begun, the perspectives that have changed, the bridges that have been built.. and burned. 
I have wondered time and again whether the whole South Africa thing was the most epic mistake I’ve ever made (since I drove the bus on this decision for our family) or the most vital and wise thing I have ever done for myself and my family.   I wonder if it’s going too far to imagine that I knew somewhere deep in my sub-conscious what would result in my personal life from that adventure? I don’t know. The more I learn about our brilliant brains the more I’m struck by how little we give them credit for.
Honestly? The person I was a year ago would have recoiled in absolute horror at the outcome, at the suffering that has resulted for me personally, my family and my closest friends.  What I pictured happening has become in reality the polar opposite. The person I was then would have aborted mission for sure.
But if I had to do it all again as the person I am now,  I’d still flinch but I’d like to believe that I’d set my teeth and go through with it.  The person I am now is  Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, sitting in his car, realizing that resistance is futile, punching the seat saying, “I’ll go…I’ll go, I’ll go….SHIT!” 

As shitty and angry and  incredibly painful and messed up as life has been for the last many months, I’ve been promised (and I’m getting closer to believing)  that it’s like when you have to make a huge mess of your bedroom to clean out your cupboards.  It sucks for a while and you can’t find your bed and you wish you’d never even opened the closet doors at all but deep down you know that it will be a lot nicer once the dust settles and all the clothes have been weeded through, some discarded, the others properly folded. Or something like that. As a disciple of KonMari this is the analogy I’m working with right now.
Speaking of cleaning up the mess. I got to see a psychiatrist last week. Finally. That was enlightening to say the least. I’ve always understood the role of the psychiatrist and how much it differs from the psychologist but I was unprepared for how much clinical information I would glean and gosh, I found it fascinating.  Oh if only I were (much, much, much) smarter I would be a psychiatrist.  He explained to me how my brain  has been rewired by trauma, how the neurotransmitters have been jacked up, how this affects my core endocrine system. How my body is programmed to stay awake and alert. How random little things are perceived as an “attack” how this affects me on every level, biologically, emotionally, socially even mentally. How the myriad of disorders, symptoms and problems I have dealt with most of my life are not as they would seem,  and how all of them can quite directly be linked back to and covered by the umbrella of PTSD. This of course was in many ways, a relief.  And in other ways it caused me blinding rage. Let’s just say I entered the “anger” phase of my grief cycle this week. My sweet husband barely remembers a time when I didn’t express myself almost solely in expletives.  In the last week my heart has shrunk three sizes and I’ve become cold and ruthless. For sure the anger has been a nice change from the depression, it will get a girl out of bed but it’s not without its drawbacks. It’s not like the girl is particularly happy to be out of bed, or much fun to be around, ya know?
Dr. Psych also prescribed a med. My situation is complicated because the one med I could really use for my emotions is not going to play nicely with my jacked up body which my emotions probably messed up in the first place. Gah. Is that irony? I never know.  In lieu of such a med he prescribed yoga twice a day. For the rest of my life. He’s pretty adamant that we will see appreciable changes in my blood work from a strict yoga protocol.  He was also hugely supportive of using essential oils.   So we’ve got all our bases covered. I liked that.
The one med he did give me though is no joke. It makes me sick and spacey,  but most importantly people…’s also making me even FATTER THAN I ALREADY AM from the ineffective meds I’ve been taking! That’s a big disappointment because these meds aren’t supposed to cause weight gain. But it’s like when I’m pregnant and I can’t stop puking ,but I also can’t stop eating because it sort of helps with the pukiness.  And again…cue…..RAGE.  I AM SICK OF BEING FAT.  I don’t want to be on drugs! But I’m even more sick of being depressed and completely useless so I guess fat it is. #alltheswearwords.   PS: All this fussing over weight may sound shallow to you but the weight gain over the course of this last year has been a real blow to my sense of identity and disassociation with life right now.  This is not about vanity it’s about the fact that I don’t feel like me.
Here’s a few links for stuff that I am finding helpful through this journey.
A very easy to read article explaining Complex PTSD and Emotional Flashbacks shared with me by a dear friend who is also psychologist. I can’t begin to explain how helpful this has been in identifying my triggers and working through them.
Said friend also highly recommends this book which I have bought but not yet read so I can’t vouch for the book but I can vouch for the wisdom of the friend.
I only did this yoga for PTSD routine once but it was good.  Very intense but good. I feel like I need the discipline of a time and a place to go and do yoga but maybe as my motivation and willpower grows I will be able to force myself to do this in between those times.
I use this app to help me to sleep and wake up. I notice a big difference in my ability to fall and stay asleep when I use it versus when I don’t.  It also has beats for mood lifting, relaxation, meditation, learning, energy etc. I don’t know how legit it is but it helps me to sleep for sure. I used to see getting enough sleep as a luxury and did not place much of a priority on it at all but now I take sleep extremely seriously. I will do/cancel/take whatever I need to do to get enough of it or I’m sunk.  When I think about it, that’s some major progress in self-care and I’m going to give myself props for it. Friends, if nothing else, make sleep a priority. Life is just too hard to do sleep deprived.
I want to end this with a rallying cry or a word of hope and optimism but that just seems disingenuous right now. I will say that I’m feeling better. There’s definite progress. I can almost feel little frissons of excitement for stuff. Not quite but almost. I’m cautiously and curiously optimistic. I am hanging in to see how things progress. Love to you all.

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Jules said...

I love love love you. Thanks for the tip about the sleep app. Going to give it a try tonight.

Also, my therapist has assigned (can't prescribe, y'know) yoga for me as well. When I do it, life is better, for sure. Hope it does the same for you!