Homecoming Triggers PTSD

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My daughter has her first “official” date this weekend as it is her high school homecoming.  I had a very stressful high school career due to growing up in an alcoholic family.  I was a extremely shy yet self-destructive teenager.  Those years looked fun on the outside, but on the inside it was the most painful experience ever.  Well, not ever, because I have experienced painful things that have equaled it since then.  I have experienced many painful situations and emotional states lasting for days, weeks and months on end.  My life in general is pain-filled; right now, physically as well.  My migraines are out of control, and the increase in medication this month I was hopeful would work is not.  I’ll have to call the doctor on Monday.  I am very depressed about the pain I have from the migraines.  It makes me think of killing myself to escape the pain.

Back to homecoming…my anxiety is through the roof because of it, but not because I am worried about her.  Well, I am worried about her, but the PTSD anxiety is there because the homecoming brings back so many horrible memories for me.  Years ago this happened when my kids went to a sports clinic put on by the high school when they were still in elementary school.  When I walked them into that gymnasium, I almost threw up from panic.  My therapist at the time said I just needed to acknowledge the feelings.  She said they will always somewhat be there.  The key was to integrate them.  I forget what she meant by that now.  Wish I could remember because it is obviously what I need to currently do.

I was up at 5am baking.  It is what I seem to do when I am stressed.  I am trying to stay in the moment and I am praying and doing my chores and taking care of my children.  I did my daughter’s pedicure, I’ll take her to get her hair done tomorrow and to the park for pictures with her friends and date.  I am functioning; going through the motions; not totally faking it, but not one hundred percent there either.  I am in pain, physically and anxiety wise, but I can still live.  It is not an either or proposition.  It never was, is, or will be.  My disease likes to tell me otherwise.  I have to be wary of that.  If you have mental illness, you might want to watch out for it, too.

Stress Triggers Hypomania

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Something is not right.  I am obsessively working on projects.  When I do that I am either becoming hypomanic or overly anxious.  I sort of think I am dealing with a bit of hypomania because I can’t seem to keep my mind still and I feel like my cells are vibrating on some sort of low-level frequency.  I’ve also been seeing the world in techno-color, and I mean full-on mega saturation and contrast, damn near HDR quality, which I’ve been blaming on too much photo editing time on the computer, but now I am thinking maybe not.  Maybe hypomania is to blame.  Weird because I have never experienced this visual symptom before.  It is really freaky – almost like hallucinating.

I don’t like hypomania.  It makes me feel edgy and uncomfortable, like having an itch that I can’t scratch.  I want to nap, but I can’t.  I want to relax my muscles, but I can’t.  I think I will try some stretches.  Maybe some meditation.  It will be difficult since the end result will not be something tangible, something I can see, hold, touch, observe, like my photos, this blog post, the cookies I baked the other day, the new hairstyle I did yesterday, the pedicure I gave myself over the weekend, etc. etc.  So project oriented…good ol’ hypomania.

Funny thing is that just the other day I was writing my last post worrying about becoming depressed because of my prolonged anxiety.  It just goes to show you how unpredictable bipolar disorder really is, and how hellish it can be to have it.

On the up side, I know from experience these moods don’t last very long for me because I am what they call a rapid cycler.  This hypomania may last a few days or a week or two at the most.  What comes afterwards is anyone’s guess.  I’m bummed about that.

I am tired but wired; being pulled in opposite directions; literally bipolar.  Those of you who have it, too, please know you are not alone.  I feel your pain.

 

Stress Triggers Depression

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For me extended periods of stress triggers depression.  I have some extra stress going on and it is, of course, causing me to fear the onset of a depressive episode.  Fear is such a nasty thing.  It is the insecurity of losing something we have or not getting something we don’t have.  In this case, I am afraid of losing my stable mood.  Sure I have anxiety, but my mood is stable.

The best way I know how to handle fear is to stay in the present moment; to not think about it; to think about, or more like observe, literally only what is in front of me.  The couch, the sky, the family, the food, the dog.  Observe, not judge.  Watch, not criticize.  Watch the thoughts and feelings go through me.  Don’t hold on to any of them.  Let them float by like clouds in the sky on a breezy day.  Accept, not fight.

Breathe, not die.

If You Can’t Say Something Nice

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“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Remember that old saying mom used to tell us?  I think it is a useless piece of advice at times when it is necessary to stick up for one’s self or set a healthy boundary with someone.  However, say for example, you are given an opinion for which you did not ask, then yes, maybe that person should just keep his mouth shut.

Case in point:  I got a new hair cut yesterday and my youngest daughter comes home from school, takes one look at me and says, “I don’t like it.  It’s too puffy on the sides.”  Normally I would have been secretly hurt a little, but laughed it off and responded with something like, “Oh yeah, it kind of is.  Oh well.”

However, I have noticed something inside of me as I have stopped allowing myself to have negative judgements about myself.  I am suddenly feeling the urge to challenge those who negatively judge me as well.  So, instead of my usual response, I gently said to my daughter after she criticized my new hairstyle, “Please only say positive things about me from now on unless I ask for your opinion.”  She said she was just giving her opinion and I reminded her that I didn’t ask for it.  Then I asked her if she would have said something like that to one of her friends and she said, no.

In general, my kids tend to say negative things to me about the way I look and act in a teasing way, and we all laugh about it, but after awhile it starts to wear on me and my self-esteem.  I feel like I am at the point where I don’t want to listen to it anymore.

Of course, my normal self is saying, “Oh, Jessica you are being silly.  They are just joking around.  Quit being so sensitive.  You are making a big deal out of nothing.”  After all, I tease my husband, and really, we all tease each other sometimes.

I think I may just be extra aware of it because I am being so conscious of my own negative judgements.  It is such a fine balance between being able to joke around and being offended.  I am truly confused right now about where I stand with everything.

I know with the hair comment, what my daughter said was rude.  But, with the other stuff, like them teasing me because I cry over sappy commercials or because I am forgetful or about getting old, it really is said in loving fun.

What do you guys think?

Tired of Anxiety

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I am tired.  Anxiety does that to me.  I was awake at 4am this morning thinking about a meeting I have to go to later today that I am anxious about.  It has me anxious because one, I have to leave the house; two, I don’t know where this place is, I’ve never been there before, and three, I have to meet new people.

I told myself I was being stupid, then I caught myself.  Since I now have a no tolerance policy for negative self-judgements, I immediately stopped the “I’m being stupid” thought and replaced it with, “I am not stupid.  The anxiety is simply a part of my disorder and I can’t help it.”  It is just a fact of my life.  No use making big drama over it.  Geez!  Get over myself, Jessica!  Acknowledge it and move on.

Move on to what though?  The anxiety is so damn uncomfortable and nagging!

Distractions.  That’s what I usually do is distract myself.  So, I’ve spent all morning on creative projects such as photography and baking.  I am trying not to stress eat all three dozen chocolate chip cookies I made.  It is really hard.  😉

How’s your day going?

I Stuck Up for Myself But Now I Feel Guilty

fitness-826940_640Here’s the problem:  I am so sure in the heat of the moment that I am doing the right thing when I express my opinion, set a boundary or stick up for myself.  Then ten minutes later that little voice inside my head begins to ask me unassuming questions like, “Are you sure that was the right thing to do?”  “You caused that person harm, didn’t you?”  “Wouldn’t it have been better just to have walked away?”  “Was it that big of a deal?”

The voice is infuriating!  I hate it!  It robs me of my confidence and fills me with fear and self-doubt.  Fear of what the other person thinks of me and of being wrong, and self-doubt for saying what I said.

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to a restaurant where they seat you.  We stood there for five minutes watching a waiter wait tables and mop the floor, another waiter bus tables, and another worker behind the counter ringing out customers.  All three of them saw us standing there.  Half of the tables were filled with dirty dishes that needed to be bussed, so they were obviously short-staffed.  The people in front of us walked out.  No one even greeted us.

My daughter finally said, “Mom, let’s just go.”  We walked out, and I told my daughter to head to the car.  I went back into the restaurant and walked up to the woman (it was a woman, not a kid) bussing tables and told her how we were waiting to be seated for five minutes while she bussed tables and “I don’t think that’s right.  I will be calling your manager.”  She said, “I’m sorry, ma’am.”  I turned around and left.

We went somewhere else for lunch then home.  After getting home and sitting with myself for about ten minutes, thinking about what I did, the guilt started to creep in.  What if I upset her?  Ruined her day?  Made her cry?  Pushed her over the edge to suicide?  I know, I know – catastrophic thinking on my part, but this is where my mind takes me.

Then I realized:  I am not responsible for other people’s feelings.  I didn’t attack her personally.  I did not degrade her, verbally assault or abuse her, threaten her safety or well-being, or even yell at or embarrass her, or make a scene.  I simply explained the situation, shared my opinion about it, and told her what my plan was.

Am I justifying my behavior?  I am not sure.  I just know I needed to let someone in there know how unacceptable their service was and she was the only one that I saw who could have easily seated us.  Although even if she had, I can’t say we would have gotten served anytime soon after that.

Do you ever second guess yourself after expressing your opinion or sticking up for yourself?

I think the most important thing I learned from this, and now, after looking back on a lot of the times I have doubted myself after expressing my opinion about things, is that I have a great fear of, one, what others think of me and, two, of being wrong.  Those two fears really drive many, if not all, of my behaviors.

How to get rid of these fears – that is the question.  Any ideas?

 

We Always Have a Choice

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I wear clothes that are at least five years old.  I use my make-up down to the last swipe of lipstick and dust particle of eye shadow.  My hair is full of dead ends before I’ll get it cut.  I borrow books, paint my own nails, have my husband give me massages, and wax my own eyebrows.  In other words, I never spend money on myself.  I figure with kids and bills and a house, there is always somewhere else the money could be used.

So, the other day when I was taking photos of my daughter and I mentioned that it would be nice to have a reflector to get the shadows off of her face and my husband said he’d go get me one, my first reaction was, ‘Oh no.  I don’t need that.’  He said, ‘But you want it and you deserve to spend money every once in a while on things you enjoy.’  After he said that, I honestly agreed with him, but it took him saying it for me to admit that, ‘yes I do deserve to give to myself every once in a while.’

I think as moms, women, wives, etc. we are so used to giving and sacrificing for others that sometimes we lose sight of providing for our own wants.  Many lose sight of providing for their own needs as well.  I don’t believe that I do the latter.  Although, how would I know?  How can I tell if I am ignoring my own needs?  What is a need in this case versus a want?  I don’t have the answer to that.  Maybe I should research it.

I know I need a lot of rest, and I do take the time for that even if the kids are home.  I used to feel guilty for laying down during the day when they were here, but I don’t anymore because I need that time to myself.  It was great progress for me to let go of that guilt.

I also need to be at home a lot.  Spending too much time out in the community wears me down to the point of becoming over-stimulated, over stressed, and in physical pain.  So, I say no to taking them everywhere they want to go.

Sometimes I over do it, however, when I force myself to go to too many outings that I don’t want to miss, such as birthday parties, school events, games, and recitals.  Nothing is perfect, but I always have a choice.  I do see that I always have a choice, which is good, because the worst feeling in the world is feeling like a victim to my circumstances.  I used to feel that way before I figured out what my limitations are.  But, now that I know what my mind and body can and cannot tolerate, I can for the most part choose whether or not to push it beyond that threshold.

What keeps me from thinking that I have a choice is the negative self judgements I inflict upon myself.  When I am negatively judging myself, I will push myself too far.  I am finding out that as I work on getting rid of the negative self judgements, my sense of choice is returning and becoming clearer and clearer each day.