Tag Archives: panic attacks

Status

The work piece got done. I have more, there’s a glitch and it’s being fixed (above my paygrade).

The kitchen has a temporary counter, a piece of plywood, covering the dishwasher and a drawer unit while DH figures out the necessary changes. The new dishwasher wouldn’t go in the space where the dish drawer had been: it’s too high and wide. So… the nuking began.

The writing piece has been completely reviewed by my co-editor: comments made and corrections applied. After > 10 years working on the piece, I am both relieved to have it done and terrified because it’s done.

Other things pending: waiting for the reviewer at a site to tell us who he wants the book file to go for the last book to get it reviewed.

I made some $ from the new online job. Hurrah!

Life is in flux, and stressy accordingly: new online job changes, writing project changes, and kitchen demolition.

My plan is that after the book project goes to the publisher mid-month, I will seriously start working on the cleaning plan and the house. I will have the other, biggest, long-term project complete, so it’s about time, right?

(Excuse me while I freak out!)

For a long time I didn’t understand why I was so afraid of finishing things? I talked to my therapist about it. She said, “If you finished something, it was subject to attack by the Abuser, right? It was much safer for you to not finish things, then she’d attack you for being lazy and/or not finishing things, but you controlled that and it wasn’t a surprise.”

Which made total sense.

The panic/terror of finishing things applies to the house cleaning. Also it’s part of the PTSD, not wanting to be too visible, because you see yourself as a target.

If I think about what I’m doing, really think about it, I will totally panic. I’m not letting myself think about the big picture, just the little one. Just getting the next step done; that’s all.

But I’m running out of road.

end of road

(Image from JimmyBuiPhotography.com, via images.google.com)

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Two Types of Flashbacks

The last time I was cleaning 5 days a week (my goal) except for dishes/food clean up was last month. On the 15th, I wrote this blog saying, “I’m doing it!” and started waking up in full panic: heart pounding, palms sweating, shaking, the whole thing. When I have a full, emotional flashback, it’s a two-week readjustment, but not a cleaning flashback. Those take longer, about 4 weeks.

What I’ve done successfully, is to make the routines, at least a minimum of them just habit. So, for the past 4 weeks, I’ve done some laundry, but haven’t put it away consistently. Done some dishes every day, but rarely are all of them done, etc. There aren’t 4 weeks of accumulated laundry and dishes to do. I haven’t gotten much sleep and my stress levels are up, but I’ve dealt with it.

My challenge is to either 1)Try and add to what I can do in the “bad times.” or 2)Lengthen the period when I can clean. The problem with either and this challenge is that if I notice what I’m doing — the panic starts.

I’m really sick of fighting this stuff! I’m in my 60s — I am honestly, truly tired of being affected by things which happened in my childhood. But they gave me PTSD and all of it, the mess to hide in and the other events or adaptations I made to protect myself, are all wrapped together as my flashback. Push on any piece too hard and there I go down the flashback rabbit hole.

The only difference is that when I’m pushed emotionally, I have a successful route I forged back. From something like the movie thing, it takes a day or two. If someone attacks me? It takes two full weeks.

I don’t have such a mechanism for the panic attacks/cleaning flashbacks. What I originally did with the emotional ones was to recreate my growth, one step at a time away from the painful place I used to live. I haven’t managed anything except the very first steps away from the panic/stress.

  1. I understand the root of the panic.
  2. I also understand that the reason it was and is so hard to fight is that when it occurs, I’m in full fight/flight panic mode.
  3. I have realized that the only way I know which might work is to habitualize the cleaning.

That’s worked to some extent or the other.

What hasn’t worked? Finding a way to notice that I’m cleaning and not go into a full-blown panic attack/flashback.


There’s hope. Until I typed what’s above and remembered what I’d done for the emotional attacks, I’d forgotten that I ritualized the steps away from the bad old days. I did that for years until my therapist said, “Do you really have to recreate each step, one after the other these days? Next time, see if you can’t condense some of it.” And I could!

So, hope exists. But it took me 20 years or so to heal enough that I could conceive of  recreating the healing route. Twenty months longer on the cleaning/panic is about 18 months more than I want to spend….

But, of course, the being dictating the rate I can go isn’t my conscious, adult brain, but that wounded little girl, whose body remembers all the trauma. She and the body run the roadways and determine how much I can do and how fast. train image from target

My adult self just has to sit back, be patient, and wait. It sometimes feels as if I’m a passenger on an electric train. I got on, the doors closed and locked. All I can do is patiently wait until it stops!

trolley

 

New Monday List!

Okay, this is a restart of my 6-5 list idea. This is the six things on Mon and 5 each Tues – Fri, and catch up on the weekends notion.

Also I will redo the larger, long-term “to do” list sometime this week.

This will make THREE chore lists! The backlogged 6-5 lists, the current 6-5 lists, and the long-term list. Either I’ll just get overwhelmed and quit, again, or I’ll get it done.

What’s really likely is that I’ll get some of it done, for a while, then get overwhelmed and quit. That’s my pattern problem. Somehow, being organized about getting things done eventually leans on the PTSD and I panic and stop. Since many folk seem to get overwhelmed  I guess I don’t feel so bad about not being able to stick to it.

This blog has been a many-year long set of experiments to get me to be able to set a goal then get to it, ‘eh? A tidy house doesn’t seem to make most people panic like it does me, it makes them feel good. It makes me feel good too, but if I do it too consistently? I panic.

The problem has always been the panic. It took me until I was in my mid-50s to be well enough otherwise (not hurting/running scared) to be able to see that what happens to me in a tidy house is panic, and that because of that, it is instantly overwhelming. Telling me “ignore it,” [I can’t tell you how many people have said that to me!] is really useless. Telling myself that is equally useless.

The only real answer has been to find ways to turn tidying into habit, so that I don’t think about it, I just do it. Fine. Except that the process of doing that causes me to panic too — and the rat wheel goes around — again.

So. Here I am, again. With another shot at it, again.

Monday’s 6:

  1. File something. 5:11 p.m.
  2. Clean the front of the kitchen cabinet that hasn’t been cleaned the longest (I put stickies in the drawers/cabinets that tell me when I cleaned them last.) 6:30 p.m.
  3. Clean the cat food bin. 10:28 p.m.
  4. Straighten an underwear drawer. 10:20 p.m.
  5. (fill in). Bathroom floor & counter clean up. 1:40 p.m.
  6. Get the planner started.

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.

Soooo Bizarre!

It just occurred to me that I haven’t panicked about the house. I won’t go back and look for how long, but here I am, whaling away at the painting, thinking about culling, nearly every.single. day. And no panic?

NO PANIC????

Not that I want to panic mind you, but it’s just really, really weird if you’re me.

Part of this is that I’ve tied it to the living room painting project I think. But part of it seems to be that I may have healed enough?

panic

And of course, the “gotcha” with my PTSD is that having noticed this, and having had the audacity to say it OUT LOUD?

Now I’ll panic!

 

Waiting for the Shoe

The shoe? You know, the one that drops.

 

shoes

 

In short, I’m waiting for the panic attacks to start, again. I’ve been working on the cleaning plan, working on the memoir, working on the garden. None of it full bore, none of it to completion. . . but the house/yard is neater. The memoir retype is sloooowly getting done. Things are being worked on, sometimes in an orderly fashion.

And no panic?

One of the last “Aha!” moments I had with my therapist before she retired was the bit about finishing things. You have to understand, it was as if I were a prisoner or war or in jail or something.Almost everything I owned, everyone I knew, everything I said or did, wore, etc. was possibly taken, broken, denigrated, etc. I doubt anyone had any idea how confined I felt at the time: how scared I was that whatever I was doing or had or said would generate an attack. I was 3-12. It was a long time ago. But what happened in those years gave me the abuse behaviors and the PTSD which determined how I lived for the next 50 years. It’s been less than 10 years that I’ve been “well” enough to set aside the terror of being crazy, of being damned.

And I still, in my 60s don’t finish things, or hardly ever. I brought up the panic that I feel when I do finish things. I immediately go into hyper-critical mode, every flaw or fault is examined and derided, internally at least. Frequently I toss it out, if it’s knitting or crochet, I’ll take it apart. I find some reason NOT to finish things. So I brought this vexing problem up with my therapist. Who did, what she did, for years: look at me and say something which just blew me away: “Since you felt whatever you did was subject to attack — why would you finish things? You were much safer if you didn’t.”

And given how I felt, yep, that makes total sense.

Now I can see the home emerging from the house clutter. I can see the pattern of the food system emerging. I can see patterns of cleaning. All new, all at the same time.

And I’m waiting for that shoe. There’s always been a shoe. I’d rather avoid it this time, so we’ll just wait a while.