Category Archives: PTSD

Flow or No

Whether it is because of the PTSD or otherwise, I tend to work in spurts or fits and starts. I keep thinking I should just be able to schedule something for a few hours, I can, but mostly don’t.

I need to accept that the abuse, panic attacks, and PTSD all make a regular schedule very difficult, if not impossible, as much as I’d like otherwise.

I need to stop fighting this and just accept it as the way I flow, period. I think when/if I can do that, the panic attacks or vestiges of them will lessen dramatically. It’s my belief that the panic is due largely to people being able to “see” what I’m doing or have done. I have a lot fewer problems, like nearly none, when I’m working for other people. This is only the stuff I do at home.
fits & starts2
Can I repeat, again, how much I really, absolutely hate the woman who abused me? It totally sucks to have your brain be your main enemy. It sucks more to view any finished project as something which will be attacked, belittled, or sneered at, whether it’s a clean kitchen counter or an art work. This just makes getting anything done a real challenge. [And I needed more of those, right?]

P.S. Reading this, I realized t’s wrong. I don’t hate her. I hate what she did to my brain. If it wasn’t that no matter how much work I do, this will be with me forever, I would have very few feelings about here at all.

She’s gone, her daughter is gone. The memories of what she did just make me feel sorrty: for her that she could be so nasty, her daughter and myself because she felt it necessary to emotionally attack two innocent little girls,, who grew to be wounded women because of it. It was just a waste.

Irritating & Human

I spaced an appointment today. I’ve been working hard at being organized, really organized the past week or two, and just blew it.

Which of course makes me mad — madder than when I was completely disorganized! The more I work at it, the madder I get when it doesn’t work. And it seems like I go through a period where try as I might, I screw up, over and over. I think it’s the broken egg/omelette problem.  This time at least, I’m determined NOT to throw my hands up in the air (figuratively) and give up.

chaos-to-order-image

So I “forgave” myself for the lapse. I have another appointment which I have an email out to reschedule. hopefully it can be. There’s a workshop I’d like to go to which creates a conflict.

In some ways being organized is MUCH easier, in others, it’s just work. Not the adult life I thought I’d have, but not feeling like I’m always in a state of chaos will be worthwhile, although scary. It was a major piece of my “camouflage.” I don’t think I need it any more. In fact, I think I need the low stress that not being chaotic will bring!

We’ll see.

J

 

Tertials?

One of the ideas in those problem-solving books I got the other day is to reorganize your calendar in tertials, instead of quarters. That is, 3 four-month long chunks, instead of 4 three-month chunks.

My current seasonal cleaning, etc. is divided into 4 awkward quarters: Feb-Apr: Spr, May-July: Sum, Aug-Oct: Fall and Nov-Jan: Win. That was what I came up with when it seemed that Jan-Mar, Apr -June, July-Sep, Oct-Dec just didn’t work. September is fall here, as is October. March isn’t winter, but early spring at the end and still winter at the beginning, etc. It was a compromise, it has always been.

Tertials? Let’s see? Nov – Feb: Winter Mar-June: Spring Summer, July-Oct: Fall? Nope.

January-April: Beginnings to transition

[or winter-last gasp of winter transition to first breath of spring]

(blizzards to melting snow)

*

May-August: transition to Middle

[or spring transition to beginning and mid-summer]

(ground thaw to the dog days of summer)

*

September-December: Middle to Ending

[or last-gasp of summer transition to fall then transition to the first of winter]

(hot, hot days to the crisp colorful whirling fall colors to icy winds and snow flurries)

*

The tertials aren’t ideal, but a lot closer. Things shift here, sometimes quickly and dramatically, mid-month, so there’s no way to divide seasonal or weather-related things if you use month chunks.

calendar-image

I could use weekly chunks and number them. This would be more accurate, but there are 52 of them and it’s not intuitive. It would also be hard to plan and probably complicated to implement I think?

I’ve been looking for simple, easy to use ideas, because I want to make this into a HABIT, it’s the only way I can consistently get the myriad chores done and not lean on the PTSD.

We’ll see!

J

Cleaning Techniques

I have a thing I call the 7 levels. One of these days I’ll finish getting that blog going, but in the meantime, I had to fix a scheduling problem with it. My original idea leaned too hard on the PTSD, so got dropped. The idea is to have a low-stress cleaning plan, which if you’re me is nearly impossible. Any schedule leans on the PTSD, nearly any cleaning plan or schema I’ve read, tried, or come up with has too at some point. Because of all that, it’s a long-running challenge:

How do you clean the house consistently without a recurring schedule or detailed plan?

It’s difficult, to say the least.

One thing I decided early on was no seasonal cleaning gluts, like spring cleaning. But the difference between traditional spring cleaning and other cleaning is that spring cleaning is deep cleaning and traditionally, in winter, you only do maintenance.

Further, some cleaning or maintenance chores are mandated by the season. Maintenance cleaning on the wood stove is hardly required midsummer and is absolutely a necessity midwinter, for example. Other chores like this include dealing with snow, vegetable or flower gardens. Another example: we do our own baking fall, winter and spring, but buy bread in summer.

So, how to make all of it work?  I have tried various things over the years. Most didn’t work, in fact none of them worked until I started making my own plans. And, until recently the 7 levels plan worked to cut the work up into chunks, but hasn’t dealt with the maintenance vs deep cleaning piece.

And I think I’ve finally licked that.

We’ll see! I sure hope this works, because I am tired of trying this and that with only partial success. I really, really want to get where I can just clean and not worry about it, which would be the ultimate low-stress cleaning plan and that’s my ultimate goal!

J

 

 

Why I Don’t Do “Konmari”

The big, obvious answer is that the “keep what brings you joy, get rid of the rest” idea didn’t fit my situation. The clutter kept me feeling safe, for decades.

If it works for you? Great! But easy answers didn’t work for me. Or even some very complicated ones. It isn’t now nor has it ever been about just getting rid of stuff.

Also, I can’t say yet that purging stuff brings me joy. The redecorated living room, which works, that brings me joy, but getting rid of the stuff does NOT. It brings me anxiety and fear. It brings me determination and steeling myself against my “old self,” but joy?

No.

broom-cartoon

I have tried many ideas for purging stuff and cleaning house. Until I dealt with a lot of the PTSD and figured out the function of the mess (see link) there was no way I could clean the house and KEEP it clean.

My hoarding was never about laziness or thinking things had value. And it was more complex than  I had dolls when I was a girl —  therefore dolls make me happy — so I have too many. (That last scenario seems to be what the “psych” side of “Hoarders” is like.)

I still have too much stuff and bad habits. But it’s getting better, and mostly staying that way. It ebbs and flows. I have no idea wtf is “normal” that way, so I decided a few months back that I wasn’t going to worry about it. As long as I’m not continually reconstructing the mess/barrier, I’m good.

Not your standard — oh well!

J

 

A Piece of the Clutter

are items staged to go “elsewhere.” Frequently, it’s items for sale, but sometimes it’s items to go into storage, into another room, be mailed, or some such.

I started working on those yesterday, that’s where the 45 photos (on the tally) came from. They’ve been on my desk, part of the clutter ON my desk, in an envelope to be mailed to a relative. I don’t have my relatives’ addresses anywhere.

This is a deliberate part of my moving away from my birth family and towards DH’s. Mine, whether they intend to be or not, are toxic for me, so I avoid them. Not having their addresses stored is one way I avoid them. I had to look up the recipient’s address. I knew their phone number and finally did a reverse look-up. It’s addressed and ready to to the post office this afternoon.

I have another envelope, for another family member, unaddressed. I had found her address previously, but haven’t gotten the piece of paper with her address in front of me so that I can address that envelope. Found! Will be mailed this afternoon 2/3/17.

The last pieces from this album will be donated to Dad’s alma mater, he taught there as well, so they have his “papers.” I have sold portraits of various family members at antique stores in the past few years.

Do I hate my family? No. But the person who abused me wasn’t stupid and used who and what my family was as another stick to hit me with. That brainwashing is so old and so deep that I cannot remove it, try as I might. My family isn’t the warm/fuzzy type where you can talk about things like that and actually get a response which includes an adjustment in behavior. They don’t value me enough to do the changing required to stop punching my buttons, they think my buttons are ridiculous.

I can’t undo the buttons, I’ve been trying for over 50 years, right? So, the answer is to not let them punch them at all. Removing my “family heritage” photos is another concrete way I can stop feeling tied to them. I have one framed photo of my mother, and that’s it in the entire house. We have photos of DH’s family waiting to be framed. When they’re framed, they’ll go up. That’s my family because of two things: they will try and be responsive if I ask them to change in some way. (It’s a reciprocal relationship!) Also, I don’t have the brainwashing pushing me with them all the time.

Is this my family’s fault? No and yes. No, they aren’t responsible for my behavior (buttons) but they are responsible for their own (lack of being willing to accomodate my needs). I will not fight them, and I will not ask, again. I will simply remove them from my life as much as possible.

Harsh? I suppose. But you know? I’m  much, much happier without them in my life. I have nightmares about one or more of them coming to visit here. I’d have to do an exorcism, or something. It would be awful. I keep wanting to move so they don’t have my phone number/address any more.

It isn’t so much that they’re deliberately cruel, although some of them are, it’s that because they think my triggers are silly, they ignore the idea that they might need to pay attention. The only response accepting any responsibility for what they did to me was the last time someone really went after me and I went into a full flashback? They said, “I’m sorry you went into your flashback.” as if the attack which caused it was someone else speaking, as if the 2 weeks it took me to get back onto an even keel was trivial. To them I’m sure it was.

That was the “best”, the most responsive person in my family. When I reasoned it out, I decided they were all just too dangerous for me to be in contact with, and mostly I stay away. Removing these photos is another way to distance myself. No more memory lane — Thank God!

Getting Back on Track?

I have wandered fairly far afield in the past 2-3 months. That is, I’ve nearly stopped posting the weekly “to do” list, stopped thinking about or working on my larger, long-term goals, except in a spotty fashion.

I haven’t done a concerted purge for the tally in the past few days, either.

The house is staying cleaner, which is great, but for more than a month I’ve been doing whatever was in front of me, instead of trying to make the work I do count towards my bigger, long-term goals.

I know why: I’ve been fighting off exhaustion and depression. Rather than simply ignoring it and trying to push it away, a couple of days ago I finally sent an “I need help!” email to my nearest friends. I got what I needed, that is, a reminder that I’m not alone, there are people in my corner. In the recent past, except for real crisis, I haven’t asked for help much (or at least that’s my perception). I had a good therapist, and that’s what I used her for, I leaned on her, and our session recharged my batteries about 2x a month, and usually, that was enough.

She retired in June. The idea of establishing a new relationship with someone else after 15 years with the same person was just exhausting. Also, the people she recommended did not appeal to me at all for various reasons. Maybe in person that would be different, but the short bio forms, much of it a sales pitch, just left me cold. This means I haven’t gotten a new therapist.

Unknown to me, my energy started to fade. When I finally realized what was going on last week, I saw that it was like a slow drain of my energy and enthusiasm. I think of myself as a self-starter, but I need energy shots or something from others. Didn’t realize that those energy shots were a lot of what I was getting from my therapy. It was my 2 hours a month to be as whiney and selfish as I wanted. For someone with PTSD, or at least for me, it was a time/place to talk about all the ways/places/times that others pushed those buttons and how I should or did deal with them.

Because my flashback is a 3 year old’s grief, I have as I say, ” a grieving 3 year old, caught in the amber of my psyche.” Accordingly  my PTSD reactions to things are almost always inappropriate! Having a safe place to start there and then see/figure the more reasoned response was a blessing I’ve now lost. That created another drain, as I’ve been monitoring myself and my behavior in ways I hadn’t had to for a long time.

All of this and a few other things created a situation where I’ve been fighting off depression and exhaustion. I’m glad I finally realized what was going on and asked for help. I’m not sure what a long-term fix is, as I really don’t think I can do this every six months for the rest of my life, any more than I think I can afford a therapist 2x a month forever either, even assuming I had one.

I need to find new answers.

In the meantime, I need to get back on track: purging, culling, cleaning, and moving towards a time/space where I can do whatever’s next, even if it’s just dying.