The Big Squeeze

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you for the lovely feedback after the last post about my small epiphany in the park!  It was a pretty special day and I have been basking in the afterglow since.  Trying not to look around that corner and ruin my own buzz by checking how long I have to be happy…!

What is tricky about PTSD, or major depression, or having your career taken away is that when anything else happens in life – and it of course will – there is so little left in the reserves to fight with.  This would be applicable across the board of human experience so I know that I am not alone.  But I just have to say this tonight…

The intense strain that your nervous system is already under.  The sheer determination required to manage the mundane when your focus is on getting outside your own house or in my case most days, letting myself ‘be seen’ by the general public.  It takes such energy and drive to manage those functions that when another crisis splats on your windscreen and blurs my vision (the vision I have so recently crafted into something full of promise) I am at once terrified of the extra challenge and quite simply pissed off that someone has heaped something extra onto the pile.  Especially when they know about this private struggle.  Especially when it is avoidable.

So I feel the wires strain and some fray a little…I feel the panic.  The constriction of my airways.  The pressure on my chest.

I can’t deal with THIS as well.  I just CANNOT handle more, such emotional and personal issues.  I can’t prepare for a different kind of fight.  Don’t you know it takes all of my fight to stay here?  Don’t you know that I’m exhausted inside and I just want to go to the park again?  Watch the ducks and build a future with a small amount of certainty (as much as life can let you have). 

When that feeling, that terrifying panic, passes…and it does.  Note To Self:  It Will and It Does.  When it subsides enough, I turn the helplessness into action.

Right, this feels SHITTY.  I don’t like these feelings.  What do I need to do to manage this as best I can? 

First, I purge.  I ramble and cry or just sit in the presence of another who I can trust.  I feel safer and less of a danger to myself if my fear and panic can be experienced at its worst when someone else is there if I need them.

Second, I often talk it through…not too much, but I find that helpful to put the Great Panic back in its little box.  Shrink it.  Cut it down to size.  Get to the bare bones.  If you are someone who finds themselves in the position of witness or listener here; just BE there.  You don’t have to perform a magic trick or answer the problems.  Just be there and even say, “I don’t know what to do.  I feel useless”.  So that someone like me can embrace you and say “You are already DOING IT by making this a safe space for me” or “Make me a cup of bloody tea then”.  Say too much and you risk alienating the wounded person.  Making them run.  They can tell by the look on your face that you care, that it’s ok.  And that support is quite simply priceless.  It could literally be LIFE SAVING.  I have some people who I can go to and break down and I know I am safe there.  I know they love me without question.  I didn’t always trust in that but I know they are there.

Thirdly, I like a brief distraction.  It’s intense to feel mentally and physically overwhelmed.  Paint my nails, tell me something silly your kid said, watch crappy tv.  A magazine and some Cadbury’s.  Sometimes, it may be to help me get my glad rags on and get lost in the music somewhere.  This gives me time to refuel, reboot, whatever you like.  Puts a bit more in the tank.  And *fingers crossed* I’ll be laughing through my red puffy eyes in no time.

After this I usually go into Sergeant General mode.

Righto, chaps!  What seems to be the crux of the problem?  What do we need to do to deal with this mess and sleep easy tonight, then?

Problem-solving time.  Is there anything that actually needs to be addressed through formal channels? How might I best rectify the situation? Can I do that now or in the morning? With someone or alone?

The final part is looking at the problem (and it’s a big one, trust me) through mindful eyes.  What do I need to just accept?  What can I artfully ignore altogether?  I think there are times when you can only shrug and think, “At least I’m not that stupid/nasty/mean/misguided/deluded/you get the picture person…I care a lot and I’m trying my best to resolve things for the best outcome” or similar.

I need to work on this bit but I can say that these thoughts of ‘letting go’ have become more natural to me.  Which is a bloody miracle.

To keep myself on this road, the thing that keeps me in line is Little Dude.  A toddler’s loving hug can at times erase anything.  His excitement at Waybuloo yoga moves or those bloody ducks is a miracle cure.  If I could bottle it, I would share it with you.

This blog (or a diary, journal, counselling, whatever works) helps to get me over the line.  I love that I can go through the stages of acceptance and reach an understanding of what matters most, what I need to do to get that and that at the end of the day I should take pride in the fact that I care so much and try my best.  Right?

Thanks to my sisters (during this current mini explosion) for having no idea what to do with me but standing beside me while I work it out.  I love you up to the stars xxx

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