Real Life

To the man walking down the street at 11:30pm, staring at the woman putting out the recycling collection, in her cheepo jogging trousers with a hole in the bottom and her broken Birkenstock-look-alikes, swearing when the lid fall off the shampoo bottle …

Yes, this is real life.

This is real life when you have the first physical sensation flashback you’ve had in years.

And you don’t do anything, your face remains the same and you carry on listening to your friend talking. You swallow the panic and the intense nausea. You space out but try and act engaged.

You call your husband when you leave and forget why it was you called him and what it was that was so important you had to call him, when you’d be home in 5 minutes.

You go home, even though you need to go grocery shopping, and one of the first things to leave your mouth?

‘Why can’t I even react to a flashback like a normal crazy person?’

You try to take a nap, but can’t – or you drift out of waking and dreaming so quickly you can’t tell if you slept or not.

But you go get groceries and you cook your husband supper. Because that’s what you do.

You push away thoughts you don’t want all evening. Because that’s what you do.

And then you remember at 11:30 at night that you haven’t put out the recycling for the collection in the morning. So you do it in your comfy clothes that don’t get worn outside. Even though they have holes in and you’re grumpy.

Because that’s real life.

Anxiety is Exhausting

Being anxious isn’t exactly a new thing for me. But I’ve lived with it a long time, I get familiar with the regular feelings of anxiety and it kind of melds into the background normality of my life – maybe not normal or healthy for most, but it’s become my normal.

I’m about to do something pretty big and pretty brave – watch this space for more details in a few weeks.

I’m very excited about it and am convinced it is the right thing to do… but it involves me being pretty open about my story, in front of two-services-worth of my whole church …

That is just one part of the project, not even the most important part for most, but it is the motivation behind it and without doubt, the most scary part for me!

So right now, my anxiety is screaming, rolling around on the floor and demanding I pay attention. As I said, anxiety is something that’s become normal for me, but right now it’s more than I usually have to deal with. The constant reminding myself to breath evenly; trying to ignore my fast heart rate when I’m meant to be sleeping; the tightness in my breathing and the pain in my chest; the feeling deep in my throat like I’ve been breathing in too much freezing-cold air; the constant effort to un-clench my jaw and relax my shoulders… it’s exhausting.

Not just the exhaustion from the physical symptoms, but the exhaustion from a mind that won’t stop whirling with possible scenes of the events, what the repercussions might be, who might not understand, what people will say – if maybe I have made some horribly big mistake and I shouldn’t be doing this or maybe even that none of ‘it’ ever happened in the first place.

Despite being excited for this project, despite knowing it’s the right thing to do, despite wanting this to be a first step towards more… my anxiety is trying to cripple me, and it is exhausting.

When Anxiety Wins

This evening I was meant to be baking a birthday cake. 

The cake didn’t get made.

Was is just because of exhaustion? No. If I had just been tired, I would have made the cake. 

I was anxious. And my anxiety won. 

Now I’m going to have to make it tomorrow morning before work … ever heard about chronic lack of sleep and mornings? Yeah … 

My husband just asked if I’d made the cake this evening and when I said no I felt like I had to justify it (what’s new?) and said that after work, shopping for cake bits, phoning my Grandma, supper and doing a couple of days worth or washing up, I just didn’t have any energy left to bake a cake … I can imagine him thinking that, as I knew I needed to make a cake, I shouldn’t have phoned my Grandma. 

PLEASE NOTE: this is what I’m thinking, not what he said! I am probably wrong (as I usually am in these cases) and he is just looking sympathetic of my exhaustion. This is my anxiety/issues talking, not him. And later it turned out he really did understand …

This week I have been thinking of my Grandparents a lot and thinking that I should call them. Maybe because it was my birthday this week, so I normally get a card from them. Maybe because I am mourning the loss of my immediate birth family and that makes me think of my Grandparents who have been so faithful and supportive.  Whatever the reason, I meant to call them every day this week …

When I didn’t get a card from them on my birthday I (mostly) dismissed it, but the next day I was battling the paranoid thoughts that something awful had happened. It’s a long story, but basically my parents have kept emergency stuff about my Grandparents from me more than once, so I worry it will happen again …

This evening when I got home from work I was relieved to find a birthday card from my Grandparents.  It had the usual birthday cheque inside and a very typical amendment to the contents made by my Grandad!

Despite the relief of getting the expected card, I felt like I should ring them. I was exhausted and knew I should really make this cake … no, I NEEDED to ring them. 

I got on with some aimless bits and bobs, downloaded some programs to watch, but some fish fingers in the oven for supper (L was out) but got more and more panicked as the minutes went by.

I became convinced that if I didn’t phone them this evening, I would regret it for the rest of my life; that if I didn’t phone them this evening something awful was going to happen to them and I would always blame myself for not talking to them one last time …

Logically irrational? Yes. A very real, panick-inducing force? Absolutely. 

So I phoned my Grandma. The expected 10 minute chat was half an hour. Lovely, upsetting, exhausting. 

I knew when I put down the phone and started a late supper that the cake wouldn’t be made tonight. I was done. 

My week, my working day, my needed tasks, the panicked pressure to call family, the attention and emotional energy needed for a Long talk with my Grandma….

It was always going to be a slim chance of me baking after work, but my anxiety decided for me. 

Do I really think my Grandparents are going to be in some horrific set up tomorrow? Of course not! Not really … I mean, a little part of me …
Anxiety how I hate you. 

Another day

The main smell right now is of drying laundry that stinks of damp.

It’s been sitting in a washing machine or washing basket waiting to be hung up for too long, then put through again on an optimistic morning and left a day or two… then again … and now the damp smell just won’t leave. It’s too wet now to hang outside to give it a good airing, so I guess L and I are going to be smelling a bit musty for a week. 
At least, I hope it’s just a week. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.  Seriously, if smells could be the soundtrack of your life? Damp laundry would be a major theme in mine …
I wasn’t going to write tonight. I thought about it and decided I didn’t have anything positive to say; I didn’t have any sort of conclusion to arrive at; I had no funny story to tell or any nice photo to share. 
And then I realised. 
That’s kind of what this whole thing is about, right? 
I’m here, past midnight, can’t sleep, lousy day, crap thoughts, bad habits, depressing weather, sad prospects, confused AF … but this is my reality. This is life with PTSD. This is life fighting to recover from 22 years of abuse. This is life not making it every day. 
You know what? This is life. This is life!! I’m still here! I’m still fighting. I’m still searching for God in all of this. I still want to try. I’m still living this life. 

This Day, This Week, This Life

This week I have got up in the morning. I was assertive and persistent to get needed blood tests; I went and had the blood tests. I have washed my hair.. maybe once, maybe twice, I can’t remember. I’ve fed my husband every day. I made it to coffee with friends for 10am this morning. I have done maybe one load of laundry. I have woken up from nightmares not knowing where I was too many times. I have tried to bury myself and my thoughts in books and their stories every day. I have breathed. 

This week, this is what my CPTSD life looks like.