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Friday, April 22, 2011

A Classic Case of PTSD - aka Me.

If anyone doubts the physical impact of emotionally based issues, think about how exhausting a stressful day at work can be, or when traveling, ever been puzzled by how tired you feel when you've been sitting down for a couple hours? It's stress and stress is physically draining. Stress is caused by any change, we need stress in our  lives otherwise we would all be dead - imagine not ducking if a ball gets thrown our way (or, being Canadian, a puck)? If our reptilian brains didn't prompt us to move we wouldn't last long. Or  a car goes through a red light, we (hopefully) stomp on our brakes. The speed at which our brain transmits and receives such warning signals is quite striking (heehee), if it wasn't fast, well we wouldn't be having this (one-sided) conversation. These messages are our stress responses. These are good things to have. It is good that when we are cut that our brains tell our blood to slow down and clot a little, otherwise we would all bleed to death. It is good that our brain feeds our blood oxygen and dumps more energy into our muscles so we can slam on those brakes (or run away from the mean bear), it's good that we get extra adrenalin and cortisol dumped into our systems too, we get stronger and faster. It is good that our pupils dilate when there's trouble so they let in more light, so we can see what the problem is. These are all good things. The problem is that when the trouble (the loss, the scare) is really big our most fundamental brain functions just take over (you girls stay here) and keep control. Instead of responding to the trouble then as the trouble decreases we relax (you know- the crash after the high) we stay in response mode, it's as if the trouble never goes away so we have to keep in response mode. It's like our brains freeze in place, we stay on alert: always wary of, always expecting, always feeling a threat. Always in trouble, always in danger, always afraid. That's me.

Small wonder that when the big hurts happen, we can feel even more wasted. Imagine then if the hurts don't stop, ever, the brain stays on alert. Pretty exhausting and that is how I feel right now. I saw the psychiatrist again yesterday and I am still reacting to the stress of it. It's not  like I was ever in any true danger, but my brain is now hardwired to feel like I am. perpetually. in danger. I get depleted very easily, I don't have any reserves, no back up generator. This is PTSD.  And the brain Dr.  said yesterday I have it and that I represent a classic case.  I was shocked actually, that he stated this with such certainty. such casual conviction. sadness and validation. Sorrow and regret (from the muppet frog prince).

He wants me to find and include more restorative things/actions in to daily life. He thought me watching Family Guy again was a good idea (I laugh very hard). Wants me to cut out the naps since while naps help me rest (mystery that), they don't really replenish. I need replenishment. Wants me to include more people in my life. wants me to - gasp - socialize. Suggests that I volunteer in some sort of artful fashion. Work with kids. I love kids and I love doing art and encouraging imaginative play with children, I just don't trust myself to make (and keep) the commitment. I doubt my ability to be reliable. I guess I can just try, and keep an eye (just the one) on myself so I can tell when I have had enough. You know, listen to my mind and body, recognize the warning signs, respect my boundaries. Tricky stuff this, makes me even more self-centered. Actually, I've always been "other" centered.

It feels good to write, it was the only thing that felt right to do right now, the only thing I felt I could do. So hurray for everything.


  1. Hurray for hurray!
    You doctor sounds very sensible. Am now waiting to hear how your volunteer art instruction for kids is going.. you are doing that, right? Yesssssssssssssssss. Family Guy, though? Really? And here I thought we were clones.... (really????)

  2. yeah, family guy, Brian and Stewie crack me up, especially when Brian is sometimes more person than dog, but even better when he's more dog than person. Thank for checking in! XO