If you read the post titled Listen from awhile back, you will have gathered that I am off work until the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has eased and I can get back into regular life.
Yes, I am still off work. The current “projected date of recovery” is some time in September, but really, that’s just a guess. PTSD is one of those things that takes as long as it takes, especially when the triggering incidents unfolded over a long period of time, as mine did, and it’s very difficult to predict what the path of recovery will look like.
For me, apparently, this part of the path of recovery looks like the life of an adrenalin addict with an unlimited supply of juice. I run for days on high throttle, unable to rest or relax, but also unable to sustain any kind of focused concentration for long. I go from one project to another, knitting a bit on this, then a bit on that, spinning some, carding some, restoring a wheel, surfing the web, reading a book, figuring out a lace pattern, starting another project, pulling it back and starting something else with the same yarn … on and on I go. After a few days of this, I feel utterly exhausted, but, poisoned by my own adrenalin, I still can’t rest. Eventually, I crash and sleep for ten hours at a stretch for a day or two … and then it all starts again.
It is getting a little less wild: the adrenalin high isn’t quite as rough as it used to be, there’s way less chest pain and I suspect my blood pressure is leveling out … and the exhausted crashes don’t last as long. I’m also able to do a bit more on any given day than I was at the start – early on, just getting out of the house to see the doctor was enough to knock me out for the rest of the day, despite the adrenalin overdose. This weekend, I survived a family trip to the waterpark without any chest pain or subjective anxiety. Today, though, the bill has come in - my body feels like it’s been through some kind of wringer, the chest pain and throat tightness are back, and I’m rattled and unsettled. It’s better than it used to be, though. Eventually, my body will reset to a more even keel and riding out the highs and lows is how I can teach my body that all I really need on a day to day basis is a really, really low dose of the juice. Just enough to stay awake and concentrate would be fine, thanks.
Despite that knowledge, it’s easy to feel like nothing productive is happening. Mostly I feel like I ought to be better by now – I mean, come on, I’ve got stuff to do, places to go, people to see! I said that to my counselor during my last appointment and she laughed at me … then apologized for finding it so funny. “But you are doing a lot of stuff!” she said. “Look at what you have written, look at all the work you are doing processing this. An awful lot happened to you, and now you have to work through all of it and let it reform into a new shape in your mind. It takes time to sort it all out, to take down the old pathways and build new ones.”
So, yes, it takes however long it takes. If a friend of mine were living through what I’m living right now, I’d say “Of course you need the time! The story you are reliving now unfolded over the course of ten years, then you tried to get by without really looking at it for another six. Get things sorted out and reorganized so that it stops making you ill. Take the time now, or you’ll find yourself in ER in another year or two, probably with something worse than psychosomatic pain.”
So I write, and knit, and weave, and putter, and lie awake at night, and do yoga, and follow the whims of my overactive mind, knowing that the only way out is through.
I discovered after writing Listen (and more importantly, after hitting the Publish Now button to release the story to the wider world) that telling the story sets me free from the weight of my history. When the words are out there, then they are not stuck in here. They are no longer my burden to carry but are transformed into my contribution to the unknown and unnamed strangers out there who will find strength or inspiration or the small shred of hope it takes to carry them through their darkness into the inevitable light.
There are more words coming. Writing them is part of my journey – and though I don’t know how, or where, or when, I know that those same words will be part of someone else’s journey too. It’s my job to put them where they can be found.
If I’m not back in a month, send ink. :)