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One Step Forward, One Step Back
How’s your little slice of the universe doing today? Are you on bedrock or does it feel like a rocking boat?
It’s autumn now, so a shoutout to all of you SAD passengers out there. For me, it effects me the most in the autumn and spring, right around when the seasons change, and then again around daylight savings time. Last night I was hit with a pretty severe wave that knocked me right over. It was a combination of a lot of things, kind of like a chain reaction.
First, it started off with a relatively short run of insomnia related fatigue from unexpectedly having my son stay with me 24/7 for ten days in a row, something I haven’t done in almost a year. So of course that was a blow to my confidence as a mother, which where you can hit me the hardest if you want to knock me out.
Ironically, though, I didn’t feel too badly afterward. I was sure that I would crash for like two weeks or need to go to the hospital afterward, because by the end, my mental health was in the trash and I couldn’t even go to church. I don’t quite remember what happened, even though it was only a few days ago, but I was still able to get quite a few things done, even if I didn’t quite leave the house. Sure, I had to do my work in sweats or PJ’s, and I had some dark moments, but I didn’t sink into an emotional coma like I was expecting. I was kind of on an emotional high, other than the not leaving the house part, but then I started drifting. And I think I’m starting to recognize that as part of my depression cycle. Those times where I’m just unfocused, the day seems to stretch on forever. I’ll finish a task and then can’t think of what I want to do next. I think it’s called being bored? I don’t think I’ve ever consciously felt bored before, but I think this is what this means. But this drifting also can happen when I have some sort of emotional blow. Sometimes it’s boredom, more benign, sometimes it’s being in shock, very near to numbing out and not being able to pull myself out of it.
Let’s call it drifting. I know it wasn’t numbing, because I was still able to communicate with the outside world. A friend invited me out, and I was excited to go, even if I could feel the undercurrents of some sort of unease under the surface. I got dressed up really nicely and did my hair, and felt great. But the night did not go as expected. It was quite a toxic and triggering environment, and someone said something pretty horrible to me that still has me reeling a bit. You know what I mean? Someone says something so shocking that you can’t really respond to, so you laugh it off and try to ignore it, and then you go home and it’s so terrible that you can’t even think about thinking about it, let alone trying to journal about it or process it through some sort of care cycle. You gaslight yourself because even though it has your emotions on fire, you can see their side of it, and maybe they didn’t mean it that way, and you tell yourself this, but it doesn’t take away the fact that they have cut you to your core. You feel trapped because you couldn’t even talk to them about it, since they wouldn’t see it as a big deal. Welcome to the trauma response, ladies and gents.
So, my mind, which loves me so much, reached for our lovely numbing agent. We tried not to think or move too much, and still went to bed on time. But then, I woke up after oversleeping with a headache. I spent the day in my pyjamas watching TV. It got so bad that I didn’t move for about five or six hours without realizing it. Thankfully, I still managed to make myself eat some food and drink water so that I can avoid a migraine. That’s the last thing I need. But, the feelings kept building in the background, and I stayed up a little too late. My headache came back in full force, and I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t numb, and then the flood of thoughts couldn’t be stopped. It was a borderline storm of epic proportions. I tried to journal, but the headache was too bad, and then I just kind of lost it.
Then, there was a bit of a break in the waves, so I thought I’d try to work through what was happening. Why the autumn is so hard for me, especially leading up to my son’s birthday. I tried to remember the details leading up to when he was born, and I realized I couldn’t. I walked myself through as best as I could, remember the hospitalizations and the surgeries and the rude, bossy medical people, and then, finally, I got to the event that traumatized me the most – my c-section. And then, I don’t know, it’s like when you’ve got a toothache, and for the most part you’ve learned to chew around it, but every now and then you accidently bite down on the bad tooth, and the pain shoots everywhere?
And I’m like, yay, PTSD, welcome to the party.
It used to be the good child. Out of all the acronyms, that was the one that I felt affected my life the least. It used to be really bad, so I know what it’s like when it’s bad. At least, I thought I did. Looking back, I can see how a lot of what I’ve been doing might have been caused by it. But at least the flashbacks and severe panic attacks, the ones that leave me shaking and out of control, hadn’t been an issue for a while. But last night I felt like I was hit by lightning.
I’ve never experienced something like that before. I felt like I’d been punched in the face, and I used every defence I had to shut that thought down and numb out again. I was this close to an addiction relapse, but I didn’t. Not because of me, but because I was too numb to even do that. So that’s a win, at least.
And of course, the piece de resistance, is that I felt like I was doing so well. I was slaying at the office and getting supports in place for myself. I felt like I was on top of things, using my accommodations and whatnot, and that maybe things were going to be okay. But I can feel those episodes coming sometimes. They kind of are like migraines. I can drink all the water I want and use my strategies, but every now and then, I’m met with a wave that I can’t stand up to, and I’m down for the count.
During last night’s episode, I did have some positive thoughts at the bottom of the current. Or maybe at the surface, since it felt like I’d been capsized and plunged upside down. The back of my mind was remind me that this is like a migraine, and that it will pass. If I just go to sleep, I’ll feel better in the morning. And I’ll be grateful if I keep my sobriety, from drugs or porn or cutting or anything else that I almost did. So I hunkered down, battened the hatches and waited it out. And I do feel somewhat better this morning. My borderline amnesia from lack of conceptualization of object constancy is doing its job, and even though last night felt like being in a shipwreck in a hurricane, now it feels like more of a dream. Or a movie. Just like when I’m in the trenches, the peace and happiness feels like a dream. I’m writing it down so that I don’t forget. And so that you don’t forget. And so if you have any loved ones reading this, trying to understand why it seems like you’re on and off, hot and cold, all the time. I wonder, even to this day. Last night I was yelling at God, asking him why he made me this way. Why couldn’t have just made me a normal human with a normal brain. I’d rather just be down all the time than have these annoying ups that just make me feel all the worse for falling.
Internal validation, external regulation.
I’m trying, okay? And I know you are too, even if not at this precise second. I see you, and I know it sucks. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Thanks for Stopping by!
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13