I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but for some reason I’ve been putting it off. I think I’ve just been wanting to let it settle on me, be a bit clearer about what I think about it all. Because the world doesn’t really make sense, this doesn’t really make sense, not even yet, but it is getting clearer. I suppose I don’t really believe it yet, not truly, but maybe writing it down will help me to start.
I’m starting to notice the signs that I’m better, it’s almost like I’m waking up from a deep, but deeply unsettled, dream. Trying to figure out who I am, what I am, what I love, what I hate, how to be, post PTSD is no easy task. I’m a new version of me, I’ll never be the person I used to be ‘before’ again (and I can’t even recognise her as someone who I used to know, but that’s ok as my memory is conveniently erasing it all anyway) and the person I became ‘after’ was a chameleon shell clinging onto the raft as it battered against the rocks. The person I am ‘now’ is still being determined, a work in progress. I’m consciously trying to create new habits and new experiences, to discover what the things are that I enjoy. I’m experimenting with new sensations – smells & scents through essential oils, touch & the language of the body through massage; exploring my creativity through writing and through learning to sew; and the revelatory discovery that exercise can be fun (through cycling and swimming).
It’s now 4 months since I was discharged by my lovely psychiatrist, a full bill of health, no longer suffering from either depression or PTSD. It’s been a very odd 4 months, with starting my own business, not having the routine of paid employment; I’ve swung wildly from over-doing it to days of doing very little at all, struggling to find the balance. I’ve noticed that whilst my head is definitely better (breaking a glass on the floor doesn’t leave me in floods of tears, but I can swear, shrug & clean it up without a problem), my body is lagging behind. I know my still-unfitness (despite lots of attempting to rectify) is a contributing factor, but the fatigue I get is definitely correlated to the exertions of energy – it’s as though now my head has unlearned the hyper-panic response, my body still needs to unlearn the hypo-disassociate response. Whilst I’m not really in hyper at all anymore, my body is still associating exertions of energy (for example when I pack too much into a day, or over-do it on the attempting-to-get-fit front) with hyper and so crashing into hypo at any given opportunity. I know it’s a habit that my body needs to unlearn – but when you’re lacking in energy, it’s really not so easy.
I’m very glad I’ve had the chance to take it when I’ve needed to, being largely in charge of my hours with the new ‘emventure’ – I really don’t think I’d have been able to do 5 days a week without crashing every weekend. And I vowed that the point of the new business was to have the opportunity to find a different balance to life, to be able to look around me and see the world without letting it just fly by. Of course, I’m nervous that I’m not exactly earning at the moment, and the money will be gone before I know it if I’m not careful. I’m worried that whilst I believe in emventure, maybe others won’t and I therefore won’t be self-sufficient. I know that my CV and past experience doesn’t get erased by trying to go my own way – but of course I worry that the job market is a very competitive place. Keeping the belief in myself is key; keeping the belief that I am better, that this ‘remission’ will prove to be lasting, is key.
I’m about to face a very big test of whether my betterness is real. I’ve faced some difficult tests (family relationships are improving, as much as they ever might) but this one is a doozy… After the divorce and the end of the white-picket-fence dream, I didn’t know where to be. I chose a place and it was in that place that I was raped. Following that, I moved 6 times in 3 years, not doing much more than 6 months in any ‘home’. Three & a half years ago, I found the flat where I’ve been happy, felt safe, felt like I’d made a home. Economic times being what they are, and house-prices & rents sky-rocketing has meant that my landlord is selling my flat for an obscene amount and I need to move. So, I’m moving. This will be a test of epic proportions. I’m staying in mostly the same area (I won’t need to change my doctor, my dentist, my hairdresser or my gym) and I’m moving closer to a friend, who loves the immediate area so whilst I don’t know it so well (yet), I’m reassured that I’m making a good choice. The flat is smaller, costs a little more, is further away from the hustle of my current corner of the world, but it’s full of character, been done up new by the landlord and has a garden. Rationally, it’s a sensible choice. Emotionally, I don’t know. Emotionally, I’m worried that the stress of moving, not so much because moving is stressful (although it is), but because of the past associations I have with moving will knock me off-balance.
Rationally, I know it probably won’t. Over the course of all the therapy & psychiatric treatment, I’ve learned a great deal about how to ground myself, how to notice the signs I’m feeling overwhelmed and take appropriate action. I’ve also got a lot more insight into how different scents can disrupt my senses and calm me almost instantly (which although first used by my psychiatrist, I’ve been using a lot more since then after having been introduced more widely to essential oils by a friend). I have oils to diffuse, to inhale, to apply to my skin and feel safe.
Different to the past, as well, is the discovery that I like exercise, that it can feel beneficial to me. Whilst I still maintain that exercise can’t overcome depression until your depression is ready to be overcome, I have found that some exercise can be fun (cycling, swimming) and when I do make the effort, I enjoy it and it lifts my mood. In the days when I was fitter, it used to be a great way to manage my stress; I know that it’s a tool in my armoury when I need it and I can go for a swim, and a steam after.
So, I know it’ll be a test; but awareness is half the battle. And I know that I have ways that have worked in the past, and will therefore likely continue to work, that mean I can rely on myself for support. But I also know that I’ll still have the support of all my lovely friends who helped me get this far and aren’t about to disappear just yet. In a ‘practice’ coaching session recently, I hit upon a very visual description for how my journey towards this reawakening feels – it was a very dark, stormy night, then for a long time I was in a fog, now that fog is lifting, it’s just a light mist and the sun is clearing the way for bright blue skies.