Dr G. nailed my hyper-vigilance for me yesterday. She puzzled out that I am feeling overwhelming stress about money, a situation exacerbated last week by my knowing that I had a finite amount of money to spend while I was away, and I'm finally letting
myself feel that stress. Usually I would self-soothe by spending money (as a backward way of saying to myself "you still have money") but because that's not possible, stress hormones are dumping into my system constantly. That triggers my PTSD because that's how PTSD works - it's triggered by physical reminders of overwhelmingly stressful situations in the past - and hence, HV.
Makes complete sense. It also gives me a little breathing room, because as always, if I understand why I'm doing a thing, I can live with it much more easily.
She told me at the end of session how proud she was of me, and what a difference there was in me from the very first time she saw me. I got a little teary, and I thanked her for everything she's done for me. And that was that. I made an appointment when I left with the new nurse practitioner, and a new chapter of things will start with that appointment in June.
I listened to some On Being podcasts yesterday as I drove to and from Dr G's office. One was about how PTSD manifests in the body, and the psychiatrist talking about it said that he first began to understand what trauma is when a veteran he was treating for terrible nightmares came to his second appointment and said he hadn't taken any of the medication that he'd been given to help him sleep. He said that he needed his nightmares to be a memorial to all his buddies who didn't come back from Vietnam. And the psychiatrist said - that's what PTSD does to people; makes them living memorials to a thing that's not happening anymore.
It's the first time I'd heard that sentiment in exactly those words, and it shook me. PTSD means that I think of my abuse and assaults as present-day things, things that are always with me, things that condition my day-to-day life. But they're not happening
. I am living a life free of abuse and assault. That realization was so profound. It doesn't magically make my PTSD go away, but it does give me a different framing for what I experience. Here's the podcast if you're interested
I also listened to a podcast about ambiguous loss
- loss where there is no body (such as in a natural disaster) or no definitive end point (like losing someone to dementia, or divorce). And at one point the psychologist speaking said "Closure is a terrible word in human relationships. Once you’ve become attached to somebody, love them, care about them, when they’re lost, you still care about them. It’s different. It’s a different dimension. But you can’t just turn it off."
Wow. I mean, of course, yes? But I really hadn't thought of it that way before. It made me think a lot about my last relationship. I think about it often, in part because it was abusive, and so it's intrusive as all my memories of assault are. But I did love the guy - mistakenly, misguidedly, but I did - and that went away. Thinking about "you can't just turn it off" gave me a new perspective on what it is I'm processing. The same goes for thinking about my dad. So I'm turning those things over in my mind, and maybe I'll write something more pointed about that in a while.
I'm realizing doing something like listening to these podcasts needs to become part of my daily routine. I absorb so much toxicity from the world we live in - particularly the U.S. political situation - and I'm not doing nearly enough to build up alternate resources for myself in hold everything in balance. So that's something I want to make a real point of doing - giving myself time and space to remember the qualities and values that are meaningful to me in a positive way, rather than simply noting their absence in the federal government. And so this morning I'm making a second cup of tea and I'm going to sit with a book and read something beautiful. I hope there's beauty out there waiting for you, too ♥