Living with PTSD

(Written in February 2008)
I notice that my urgency has faded for both the dance project and the letter to the editor.  Not that I don’t still care, but I’m more able to accept the reality of my lack of energy.  I think the urgency was fueled by childhood beliefs: 1) I am the only one who sees clearly what needs to be done 2) I have to do something to justify my life 3) my survival is at stake.  I see that it’s a fairly delicate balance between the urgency and the lethargy that allows me to get anything done at all, and that at the first sign of difficulty (“looks for support & approval”) I collapse (“conclude I can’t do it”).  If the action is relatively easy: sign petition, send email, I can often do it, if it’s a little harder: make phone calls to Congresspeople, I can sometimes do it.  If it requires any follow-through — like the dance project or the letter to the editor — I just don’t have what it takes for sustained effort.  I’m too easily triggered and then I collapse.  I’m ashamed of this, but here is the nub of my work: to accept my limitations.  And to let go of the need for results.

Had a bit of a visit with Lynelle yesterday.  I told her about my struggle with the false urgency that gets triggered because my survival is at stake.  She validated that for a baby, the survival issue is global, total.  I described the set of tangled beliefs that I had discovered, and she said “No wonder you are tired.” What a relief.  I talked about how hard it is to accept that I’m so disabled.  Even now, when I’m doing so much better.

In the morning I was reading Ode, and feeling cheered by good news — especially an organization called HUB that’s providing space for people — business people, scientists, visionaries — to get together and share ideas.  There was an article on Byron Katie and I immediately got triggered.  Into that uncomfortable state of activation where I can’t sit peacefully and watch the chickadees.  In the past, I’ve thought this state was inspiration and forged ahead with some project — like the Barnstead water rights issue.  I put a lot of energy into typing something up, getting it posted on the website — and then bogging down at the point of trying to express it to other people, and then collapsing into depression.  Having recently run this cycle twice, I was wary.  I tried to just sit quietly and relax.  At one point I even set the timer & did 20 minutes of following the breath.  I also did the snowshoe loop to try to ground the energy in my body.  I also talked to Kayla which was perhaps most helpful because I could feel the energy move down in my body.  We agreed that this was a letter that I probably should write because I can speak to the issue of Katie’s method not working for someone whose difficulties are physiological in nature.

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