Sometimes it is incredible how much can unfold and happen in a short period of time. For my most obvious example, there’s Matthew’s death. My whole life irreversibly changed in a matter of hours. It is almost impossible to comprehend, to be honest. I have started to view it as an extreme form of cognitive dissonance at times. Even in the last week or so, a lot has happened for me. I am choosing to go more in detail about my life right now (and therefore a way longer blog than average) than I normally would, for a couple of reasons. For one, I want to show what it can be like to navigate this kind of mental health – the type of mental health that leaves a person day to day, sometimes even moment to moment. Also, I think there’s some universality in these shifts I have been having this week, so I want to share. This is also a form of documentation for myself to track my journey.
I think it is safe to say that we all know that I have been in a rut recently. Last weekend was particularly rough. On Saturday, I woke up with pretty intense low back/hip pain. Not an uncommon phenomenon for me because of my chronic health problems. However, this was the worst it has been since before my surgery, before Matt died. So I wasn’t just in pain. I felt defeated and I was emotionally transported back into a different, also fairly recent, struggle in my life. I felt trapped, drowning in struggle. I had plans to get things done and instead I was in bed. I ended up sleeping for a large portion of the day, too. I was so frustrated that what would have been a productive day was lost. Time feels painfully precious when you can’t seem to get anything done. Sunday, I woke up immediately on edge. I ended up falling into PTSD flashbacks pretty shortly after waking up, and that resulted in a meltdown on my end. I ended up shutting down completely and sleeping for a good portion of the day, again. I managed to get some chores done once I woke up, but I just felt off and wanted nothing more than to be sleeping. I was exhausted and feeling incredibly defeated.
Then, there was Monday. I woke up and noticed pretty quickly that I was having some sort of an allergic reaction. My tongue was swollen and my throat felt a bit tight, and the whole mouth area felt like pins and needles. I had no idea what I was reacting to, so I decided to take some antihistamines and planned on going to work once the reaction subsided. However, the reaction never improved and the medicine caused me to fall asleep on accident. And that resulted in me missing enough of the day that it was not worth it to commute one hour to work. Repeat the feeling of utter defeat. Tuesday I only vaguely remember, I was shut down completely at that point. A zombie version of myself.
Everything turned around on Wednesday, thankfully. I had hoped that would be the case. Last Wednesday, my therapist and I agreed it was time to really dig into some of my trauma this week. So, I dug in deep this week and was able to come to some important conclusions and had some much needed release. From therapy I went and had a bite to eat, then went to a session with my reiki practitioner, who has also grown to be a friend. We had an amazing and productive session. I finally dedicated an entire day to focus on healing myself on all levels that I could, to try to bring all of the pieces together. It was a turning point in which I said to myself it is time to get out of this hole.
I came to a few substantial realizations from these sessions. First, I had fallen into the classic psychological trap of trying to twist my past within my mind to be more negative, and tried to somewhat discredit myself and my life, in hopes of relieving the pain of having to leave the past behind. But really, I was denying my own personal truth and was not living my authentic self, which left me feeling extremely lost and without purpose. I do not recommend doing this to yourself, ever. Second, I was getting too bogged down on the fact that I can’t work full time yet. I was pushing myself way too far outside of my capabilities, thus repeatedly setting myself up for failure. I created a toxic cycle within myself of trying to push myself in order to grow, but I was pushing too hard. When you’re pushing too hard, you will never succeed. It’s like trying to compete in a high impact sport with a major injury, just don’t do it. You deplete all of your energy, and it takes away from all factions of your life. If 100% of your energy is going to work, that leaves no room for maintaining your life outside of work. I was falling behind in chores, my social life halted almost entirely, I was barely eating because I didn’t have the energy to eat. There was no room for grief, no room for joy. Third, and last, I was not present. At all. I was deeply embedded in both the past and the future. And I was genuinely stuck. I would not have been able to get out of this without the help of both my therapist and reiki healer. I was trapped in the negativity of what had happened to me and I was paralyzed by fear of the future. I still have transition happening, my life is not quite stable yet. I realized that all I would do was sit and analyze what is unstable and try to think of 500 different possibilities and how to deal with them. Which is extremely unhealthy and pointless. You can be aware of the future, but when you get stuck there you will get nothing done now. And now is what matters. I cannot get to the future if I do not focus on the present moment. I need to have faith in myself and trust that I will be okay. I have proven that I am adaptable and able to survive extreme circumstances, I will be okay.
Actually, I was wrong when I said it was only three things. One more thing, that I almost forgot. I was overthinking everything, not just the future. When I was unable to do what I wanted, or on the days in which I was stuck in bed, I spent the whole time thinking of what I wanted to be doing. Over and over, thinking of myself as an absolute failure, berating myself for not being able to get my shit together. But really, I need to accept that I have been going through extreme stress and change over the last couple of years. The body and mind have been wounded, and it takes time to heal. It is time to take a step back, breathe, and process. I have come very far, and it’s time to look back and appreciate the work. I am not currently a failure. I am holding my life together to the best of my capabilities. I can push myself without simultaneously stomping myself into the ground.
Release and realization are essential. On Thursday, I woke up emotional but felt I could at least attempt work. I chose not to have an opinion on the fact that I was emotional and just allowed it to be. And you know what happened? I had an extremely clear and productive day. My thoughts felt more natural. My comprehension was there. My body felt physically lighter. I had energy, it was amazing. Even my physical pain was significantly better. But I was iffy on appreciating it or feeling hopeful. I have had clear days before. But I woke up today, Friday, feeling amazing. I felt rested. I had another clear, productive day. My internal dialogue feels more like itself, more authentic. I have been laughing, making jokes. Genuinely enjoying the moment, and appreciating how wonderful and beautiful life can truly be. I have been able to be present and outside of my head, finally. I was able to engage with friends and family more than I have in a while. I feel human for lack of a better description. And I am going to enjoy it while it lasts, and remind myself that this is amazing progress that shows that one day, after all of the blood, sweat, and tears, I will feel authentic again. My life does not need to be free of stress to be beautiful or wonderful. I am on the right track, and I will do what I can to maintain momentum and be more graceful with myself if I slip or fall. This is a tough path, but it is worth the effort.