I’ve just been through a week of terror. Lots of possible triggers. I haven’t had this bad a bout of terror for many years.
Tuesday, June 28
I’m feeling terrified. I was reading Deborah Crombie and felt scared while I was reading. Kim left a message. She sounded a little drunk on the phone which was unnerving. I have to leave for St.J. to see Bess about Writing for Recovery in 45 minutes. I set it up because Erica is out of town today.
The Crombie series is one I read over because I know it is safe. This is the last book. Not having something safe to read immediately can be a trigger.
Wednesday, June 29
The meeting with Bess was good. I was scared all the way over and for a little while after she’d come, and then as we talked I started to feel better. The work sounds fascinating. Bess is currently teaching the workshop at the Recovery Center in St. J. It’s Wednesday night, and she has just started, so I’m going to go tonight.
What am I afraid of? Asking the question makes my heart feel cold. A lot of my skills for coping seem to have vanished with the meaning. I’m thinking it’s a mistake to try to lower the Ativan right now. I’m so scared I’m frozen.
Trying to lower the problematic tranquilizer (it can cause memory problems in seniors) may be the problem. Going back to the higher dose didn’t help however.
Thursday, June 30
Went out to walk the dog while the prunes cooked. Went around the loop but came back breathless, still feeling scared. Sigh. There were mornings when I was glad the dog got me out.
Terrified. It started after I came back with the dog. This afternoon I get to see Karen, thank god.
Being outside, especially in the bright sun is often, but not always, a trigger. I have no idea why.
Friday, July 1
Awful waking. I was able to lie & count my breaths. Finally made myself get up. Bright sun. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. I realized driving back from Montpelier, that all the different shades and textures of green were too much, that my efforts to “take in” everything were overwhelming me. So I closed down which helped a little.
I stayed terrified until I saw Karen. Being with her helped quite a bit. The session was painful. I said I was scared I would never get better. I told Karen about the image of lying helpless in the street with a steam roller coming toward me. She asked if I was being too hard on myself. I puzzled over it for a little, and then said that I wasn’t, that I knew I was up against a lot and that I was doing the best that I can. I see that part of my discouragement was seeing that the best I can do is not enough. That’s when you see that only something bigger than yourself can help. “Came to believe…” I guess I’m stuck right there at Step 2.
The first four steps of AA’s twelve:
(1) accepted that I am powerless, my life is unmanageable
(2) came to believe that a Greater Power could help
(3) became willing to turn my life and my will over to Greater Power
(4) offered my life and will to the Greater Power.
I’m interested that the two steps in between suggest that there’s a process that may take a while. You don’t just move from (1) to (4). When I’m frozen with terror, I find it very hard to believe in a process.
The image of being alone and helpless is a pretty good rendering of how an infant feels when they are left alone too long. They have no language, no concept of death.
I just watched the video on Writers for Recovery. 5min. I found it supportive especially after being with the group on Wednesday.
Saturday, July 2
Nothing to say. Empty, unmeaning, bleak, scared. Lonely.
O yes, I talked to Erica in the morning. It’s a little scary that I can forget it so fast, and forget whatever connection and hope there was between us. She thinks the fear is coming from taking big risks — planning to stay at Riverglen and starting the writers’ group. There’s also the Francis Weller workshop. The travel arrangements are scary, the workshop itself sounds like a refuge.
Blank again. It’s so painful and confusing. I get a lift from something and then lose it right away.
The Riverglen is independent and assisted living for seniors. I have signed up for four days of “respite.” Usually a respite stay is for a caregiver who needs a break, or for the one who needs assistance so the caretaker can go on vacation, visit family, etc. I realized that I am the caretaker of terrified Jenny, and I’ve hit the end of my resources.
Terrified while shopping. Lynelle is going — has gone— back to her parents. I thought she was going to stay a week. So my level of fear escalated. I was able to shop at the Co-op, and Rite Aid, despite being terrified.
Sunday, July 3
I got out a puzzle but I haven’t opened the box. I haven’t done much typing either. I read or play Solitaire. I guess that’s a measure of my degree of terror.
At one point I thought “Suppose I were going to die tomorrow.” Sometimes that thought makes me notice good things. Sometimes I feel guilty that I haven’t “experienced” the beauty and depth that is there. Yesterday I felt huge relief and sorry that I was too terrified to appreciate the day, but that’s how it was.
Judith Herman says traumatized terror is qualitatively different from ordinary fear.
Monday, July 4
May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live in peace. My mantra for this morning. I’m OK right now.
But when I walked the dog, I got terrified being outdoors. Heart feels shocked and vibrating. Body feels full of electric energy. Sight frozen.
Erica suggested that the odd thing that happens with my sight is like a deer in the headlights. Exactly right. It helped to have that image.
Tuesday, July 5
Woke up feeling the heat, the hot-cold thing. I feel a bit dazed. I notice that if I get lost in thoughts I’m OK, when I return to paying attention to myself I can feel the first little vibration inside that will become fear.
Bright sun. I know the light and the heat have been part of the problem.
In fact I’m wondering if some of this isn’t a flashback to the Summer from Hell after I had that horrible experience on Paxil.
O gosh I’m starting to feel blind. Can I hold myself with kindness? The best I can do is think the word. I do feel a little softening.
Just now I put my head on my hand and closed my eyes and felt very sleepy. The thought came to me to start shaking. So I did and then let it become involuntary. I can feel the terror draining out. I will just keep doing this.
Yesterday I saw the chiropractor. I told him I was terrified and he was sympathetic. When I was on the table I started telling him about the physiology of trauma, how your system gets activated into fight-flight-freeze, the energy built up to run or fight had to be discharged somehow. I told him about the video of the possum, it’s not actually “playing possum” its instinct has frozen it. The coyote noses it and then walks off. The possum gets up and shakes itself, and walks away. Dr. Dean was really interested. I wonder if talking about this is why I thought of shaking today.
I’m also starting to feel clearer and calmer from the shaking. And also feeling better because I have something I can do.
Wednesday, July 6
Some waves of fear before I even got up. I’m working on feeling compassion for myself. Take a big step back. This woman is terrified, and trying to bring compassion to herself. Now I’m wondering if she deserves compassion. There’s nothing wrong in her life right now, she has no excuse to be terrified. Well I know that’s not true. She was traumatized in infancy.
I think about a tiny baby experiencing that degree of fear, and my heart just goes out. I feel much more relaxed and softer. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to awaken my compassion.
Looking at the DNR. So grateful to have such a thing. My life is so painful and difficult right now that death would be a relief.
[Do Not Resuscitate order: so if you’re in an accident and your heart stops, they won’t resuscitate you.]
O it’s such a relief to sit here and be relaxed. I have “Writers for Recovery” tonight!
Thursday, July 7
I’m OK this morning. So grateful. The bliss of not being terrified. It was having compassion for myself that did it. And being with the writers.