Category Archives: PTSD

I May Hex Myself

But I have to say this: the PTSD hasn’t gotten up in arms about what I’ve been doing. I’m amazed, really I am. For DECADES I couldn’t do this, make a list of 5 things and then do them without feeling vulnerable, targeted, panicked, and weepy.

Not there this time!

As I said, the tacit acknowledgement of what I’m doing may be the thing which ends this, Gawd knows it has 100s of times before. But, it doesn’t feel that way this time.

Maybe that’s why I’ve felt compelled to write this post? It’s a sort of emotional running your tongue over the hole where your tooth used to be.

We’ll see!

J

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Long Term Work

I have a large notebook for my journal. The journal is for:

  • Dates and appointments
  • Life goals
  • Long-range projects
  • Seasonal chores
  • Figuring out and doing the next steps for the long-range projects
  • Tracking milestones as they occur

Many of these are things which I suppose you could put on a vision board. I haven’t.

I wanted to do the planning this way because I have had too many date books, organizers, plans, etc. They were all separate — which creates its own mess. I don’t need more messes or complications, I need less.

What’s not in there? The cleaning plan. The cleaning plan is broken into two main pieces: everything else and “stuff.”

In my world, STUFF =  things which make up clutter. That is, it’s usually items you can pick up in your hand.

Stuff/clutter is my bugaboo. I needed a way to organize dealing with it that it didn’t lean on the PTSD. I needed a way which was organized and not so complicated I’d never do it. I think I’ve found it!

The house won’t magically be clutter free in a week or even 2-3, but it might be in a few months. I’m doing 5-6 pieces a day, usually 5. Today I will:

  1. Declutter the entry
  2. Clean/clear a shelf in the pantry
  3. Work on the kitchen table
  4. Clean/clear a shelf in DH’s office
  5. Clean/cull (as req’d) the potato/onion baskets in the pantry

Some of this will take very little time, the entry for example, as I just cleaned that not too long ago! Some of it will take a bit longer: the piece in DH’s office, the baskets. NONE of it will take hours to do and the culling, cleaning and organizing can be done interleaved between the day-to-day necessities of laundry, dishes, writing, gardening, and other projects.

By the way? I do this Monday – Friday only. It’s work. I have other projects and things to do on the weekends!

So far, so good! If it keeps working, I will do what I can to detail the process and make my plan available here. (I could use 2 people other than me as testers in a while. If you’re interested in being a “tester,” let me know!)

J

 

Blind

I just looked at a graphic which is about the 7 things you need to do for your “vision board.” I have NEVER been able to do one of these. I made a brief list of where I’m trying to go:

  • House: no more culling required.
  • Writing: projects finished
  • Job: make $.
  • Debt: gone.

I have no other goals. I have no pressing need to become someone else, create something others want, etc. I suppose that after 50+ years of trying to do something I eventually did, that is learn to deal (mostly) with the PTSD and the pain associated with it, the rest is anticlimactic.

I’d like to be DONE with the long-term projects: writing, house culling of stuff, and I’d like us to be debt-free because I worry about our retirement.

All that said? Do I have other things I’d like to do?

Yes:

  • I’d like to sell my crafts, more I’d like to sell articles about doing crafts, so that I don’t have to keep hauling STUFF to shows to try to convince someone to buy whatever.
  • There’s some math things I’d like to play with.
  • I’d like to do the tutorials I’ve had in mind: wood stack, using my cleaning plan, etc.
  • I’d like to learn how to control my body so I can lessen as much as possible the effects of being anxiety-ridden from the PTSD.

Except for the 3rd one, they’re “pie in the sky” and I won’t be depressed or see myself as a failure if I don’t do any of them.

I know where I’m going and I believe that (eventually) I can get there. Why find another person’s image which is likely to not be very close and put it on paper? What’s the point?

I know people I respect who make vision boards.Maybe I’m different? Fighting to see myself as basically not a bad person for 50 some odd years and then getting there makes a lot of things others get bent about pretty unimportant.

That said? I wish I could do a vision board even for this much. But it seems silly to even try.

 

 

 

Crisis

People who know/see me IRL know that things haven’t all been jolly-jolly here. To the point where I thought I would have to talk to a lawyer about divorce. The issue isn’t something I’ll talk about here, because frankly, the sordid details of my life aren’t up for public discussion.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been dealing/coping with potentially life-changing issues. Last time things got this bad, about 20 years ago, we got help. We may do that again, or may not. The last time we thought we’d acquired the skills to deal with whatever potential problems we might encounter, unfortunately, that may not have been true.

I always wondered how people who stayed together for more than 20 years could then just split? You had it beat, didn’t you? We’ve been married 37 years and together 39.

The one good thing I know that’s happened as a result of this is what I said in my post here. No matter what, I’ll weather it. I know that again. For a long time I wasn’t sure there was any of the fighter left in me to face a major change. But whatever way things work out, I’ll make it.

Energizer-Bunny-300x270

The One-Trick Pony Lost Its Trick…

There are days when I wonder wtf I’m doing on the planet, except wasting resources?

I haven’t changed the world, I doubt that there are more than a few lives which are better for my having been here, and I wonder, seriously at times, why I’m here?

I used to feel heroic, challenged, and as if the challenge mattered. I had to feel that way or I would’ve quit. I didn’t quit and I made it through.

So what?

My last insight isn’t mind-shattering, but obvious, if you’re not me. For years decades I thought if when I beat the PTSD/pain I’d be invulnerable, super-powered!!! Then when I did get to where I could really cope, I felt like a wimp and tissue paper.

I think I finally know why: after fighting for approx. 50 years, I was emotionally exhausted. Sounds obvious, right? Much of my life I thought of myself as an “emotional heat sink.”  Throw trauma at me, I’d “hug” it and push it down into my gut. I’d get up again and keep going, over and over, like the stupid Eveready bunny.

Suddenly, I couldn’t cope — I became someone who was weepy at nearly any challenge — and I’ve been that way for years now.

So instead of ending a 50 year challenge with strength, I became a quivering nerve. I’ve just wanted to nest: stay isolated in these woods, this house, my marriage. I’ve wanted to cook and garden and read and hide from almost anyone and everything. There was a part of me, a small part —  it was the old voice — that just couldn’t understand it? I had never been like this!

I spent 5 decades fighting myself, the terror that I was a homicidal maniac, really f’n crazy, actually damned or flawed in some awful molecular way, only to win against that and see that I wasn’t crazy, or a murdering maniac, or damned — and I became a weepy raw nerve???

Talk about unexpected consequences! And no wonder I wasn’t interested in being an advocate for anyone or anything!

I have had to grant myself grace. I have to understand that yes, I’ve been exhausted, and that’s okay. I also have to let myself move on.

I’ve been afraid, as much as I let myself get involved with anything, that there was nothing else, I was a match, I’d burned myself out, and now it was my time to die. Seemed pretty stupid and it’s the damned Ibsen play I always wanted to avoid being. But. Maybe there’s more? I don’t know.

I have passed a magic marker, somewhere. I can feel strong now for short periods. I can and have been making small lines in the sand and I’m doing whatever it is. Things are getting done, finished. I don’t feel like a dandelion floating in the breeze all the time any more. The anchor maybe very thin and long, but it’s still there.

For the last 3 years or so of my therapy I’d just get overwhelmed by the idea of something and say I couldn’t cope. My therapist would reply, “You’ve weathered so much. Why wouldn’t you think you’ll be able to cope with this?”

I never had an answer: I had no strength. More, I had no belief in my strength. Maybe that is (finally) turning around?

Rather like this blog — this is NOT the topic I intended to write about!

The human brain is bizarre and wonderful.

 

Going Down for the 3rd Time

I can’t do this.

No matter how much stuff I get rid of, there’s more. No matter how many books I get rid of (and I’ve been doing that for 13 years now, ‘eh?) there are still more.

It will never end.

I have (literally) gotten rid of 1,000s of items. And I’ve done it for years. I’m still drowning in stuff.

See? I can’t do this. It will never end.

The old storage unit still has stuff in it. I don’t have anywhere to put it. I don’t know what to do, donate boxes to Salvation Army tomorrow I guess. I have a bookcase in the old unit which came from S.A., I can donate it back. The library is taking books again. But that’s one piece of furniture, there’s at least 3. One of which has to come home (no room for it either). There’s about 25 boxes of books, maybe more still in the old unit. I have given away books every-single-day for the past 3 weeks. EVERY day. As few as 3 and as many as 3 boxes at once.

drowning

This isn’t quite as bad as figuring out I couldn’t beat the PTSD (or whatever it was, before I •knew* what it was) by just being stubborn and being willing to work at it, for 42 years to diagnosis, 50+ for most of the rest of it. So, the last piece, the very last piece is this stupid, neverending purge o’ crap, which believe it or not hurts on occasion, and is terrifying on occasion too. I do better and worse and I’ve kept going. I have been determined that I’d win — at least this battle.

But I think the abuser won instead? Can I just blow my brains out? (No gun.) You can bury me under a pile of books and papers and put on the headstone: she never actually accomplished anything and couldn’t finish anything, except her life. I really have no desire to commit suicide, but if suicide is the absence of pain, yes, that I DO want! How squishy does your brain have to be from beating it into the wall before you just give up?

Maybe the abuser was right after all? There just is something “not right” about me. I can’t do things.

Or maybe I’m just discouraged? I wonder why! And I suppose that tomorrow will be different. One of my largest life lessons was that I learned to “skate” when things are bad. Just let it go and don’t do anything permanent or dramatic: don’t break up a relationship, don’t hurt yourself, don’t drink & drive. Just find an emotional rabbit hole (for me that’s a book) and jump in, and hope you keep falling — at least until tomorrow. And tomorrow? Tomorrow you may find your life is completely different?

It usually is.

Let’s see, tomorrow starts in three hours. Can’t be here soon enough!

J

Note: Tomorrow, having come, isn’t perfect, but I’m not as overwhelmed as I was yesterday. Of course I didn’t sleep well, which never helps, but it is what it is.

Trying to Avoid Becoming a Clean-Freak Minimalist

I have a tendency, and have since I was a kid. I go from one extreme to the other, then find the happy medium. I’m trying to avoid that with transforming from being a hoarder.

book hoarder

I worked more on the cleaning plan today and “discovered” some new ideas: mostly, that the more often you use something, the more frequently it needs to be cleaned and/or maintained. Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

But because I’ve never seriously “let” myself think about cleaning up except as an intellectual exercise (It was dangerous. Remember the reason I became a hoarder wasn’t to keep things, complete collections, or perceived value — it was the safety I felt in the mess, and the panic I felt when my space was neat.) this is a newish concept.

Accordingly, floors need to be cleaned more than anything else. Even if you only walk through a space, like in a model home at a real estate development say, the floor gets used more often than anything else. So, they need cleaning more often. The other thing which needs to be dealt with every day is stuff, things you can pick up in your hand: food, books, papers, clothing, bedding, towels, etc. It’s stuff which makes up clutter. (The notion that clutter is made up of things we pick up and put down — was the last big AHA! I found.)

So, I modified my ideas about what has to be dealt with/how often. I’d figured the kitchen floor needed daily maintenance, but not other floors. I changed that.

Now I have a mental list of the areas in my home which need routine maintenance. Maybe not “deep cleaning” but maintenance seven days a week, or Monday – Friday. Some chores can be put off over the weekends, others can’t.

I swept from the entry to the hall this morning because of this. And then the stairs. [I kept finding more to do.] I swept the hearth, [twice]. I started to go into the kitchen, [but did the hall, again] — and made myself stop.

Then I cleaned the dustpan and the brushes (didn’t wax them, had done that last weekend) and the broom. [And started again, made myself stop.] Put everything away, twice.

See the flip side of the hoarding peeking out? Definitely one of the first times the idea that hoarding/OCD is a spectrum really became obvious in me. Intellectually, I’ve known this for a long time, but I always thought, “I’ll never have that problem!”

Sigh.

empty room

In my old age I  will need to monitor not only my stress levels (because of the PTSD) but keep myself from tipping over the edge from hoarder to OCD/minimalist/clean-freak.

Oh joy.

J