Learning to Interact with my PTSD

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Just over two months (which I had to go look up because I genuinely could not remember). I’ve been in a place mentally where I couldn’t put what I was going through into words, or didn’t have the ability to convey it in a way that would be relevant or worth reading. I am okay. Just working through a few things.

I am having a hard time finding words for what I’m currently dealing with. I suppose it’s easiest to say that I’m struggling with the complexity of my emotions and health on a day to day basis.

Grief is no longer the focal point of my life. It’s there, but it’s not steering the ship like it was for so long. I used to believe that if I could get my struggles with grief under control everything else would balance and stabilize, too. I created this fantasy within my mind of being freed from grief’s clutches and everything that came with it.

Then grief stopped being the focal point as my life started to fill up with new things which helped heal the wound and fill the void left in my life by Matthew’s absence. Side note: what I mean by filling the void is finding new ways to fill my time. Time that would normally be spent with Matthew, not replacing him in any capacity.

But I still struggle to find emotional stability. I kept wondering why. And I worried that I’ll never find emotional stability again. I slowly fell into a place where I struggled to interact with joy in any capacity and felt that there was no hope. Everything felt bleak. I felt completely and utterly defeated.

There was a while where I just couldn’t talk about the heaviness that I was carrying. I didn’t even like acknowledging it to myself. I didn’t want it to exist. I resented it for existing. I grew so angry and bitter. And these feelings weren’t related to my grief. Instead, it’s simply been a battle with my mental illness.

I frequently make the mistake of lumping my grief and my mental illness into one category within my mind because I never fully addressed my mental health issues until after Matt died. Then everything amplified and PTSD became a part of my life. And unfortunately PTSD is still playing a very active role. I struggle to manage my stress. And life has been throwing some major stressors my way. So I’ve been having more meltdowns, episodes, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and nightmares.

I have been really struggling with getting triggered. And these triggers have very little to do with the trauma of Matt’s death. It does ultimately connect to his death, though. I get consumed by fear of losing the new life I have built. The fear of losing everything and having to start over again. The fear of going back to when I was at my lowest point. It can be so paralyzing.

But I’ve been training myself, both on my own and with the help of EMDR, how to face the stressors and work my way through it. I’ve been missing some work, but not as much as I would have in the past. It helps that I work in an environment that is good for me overall, I’m very grateful for that. But I still have days where the weight of what I’m fighting tears me down so much that I cannot function. I’ve become exhausted. I’ve been sleeping more than usual. Taking more naps. I get weepy and emotional; I get the increase is PTSD symptoms.

I’m doing my best to work my way through a stressful and difficult time in my life. It’s just affecting me in a way I never anticipated. I truly thought that if I learned how to manage my grief, I’d be able to handle my emotions no matter what life threw at me. But I was wrong. PTSD is more impactful than I initially gave it credit for.

I admit I didn’t know much about PTSD prior to Matt’s death. I knew the basics. But I did not know the extent of damage it has on day to day life. It affects my memory. It affects my ability to be productive and efficient at work. It affects my ability to make decisions, no matter how small of a choice it is. It affects my ability to interact with people or communicate in any capacity. It sucks the life out of me sometimes.

When I get triggered, I often describe it as if PTSD possessed my body. It has a very distinct, wild, erratic, powerful energy. It’s as if my whole body vibrates. And then everything gets fuzzy. I remember almost nothing from these episodes. And sometimes an episode can affect me for a day or two after. I don’t always just sleep it off. Sometimes I wake up the next day feeling so anxious. These episodes are also really draining. It feels as if I had been in a fight, but the only fight was within my mind and body.

I am doing the best I can to be patient with the healing process. I’m doing what I can to remember how far I have come and realize the amount of healing I have done thus far. This time last year I was only able to scrap together about 15 hours of work each week and that was with the ability to work from home. I was having to take Xanax 3-5 times a week. I was constantly terrified. I had no normalcy in my life. Lately I only need Xanax about once a week, if that. I go to work the majority of the time, I limit my absences as much as I possibly can. I have so much more normalcy in my life. I have a social life. I see my family regularly. Things have settled down a lot, but there’s still work to be done.

Progress exists. It’s just subtle and slow. I need to let the process exist.

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