Today has been a bit of a fragile day.
I’m meant to be packing since I’m moving next weekend. I’ll be putting all my stuff in storage before I go overseas for a month. I know! Lucky me, right?
But I hate packing with a passion, even if I recognise that it’s an important step towards what I’m doing and where I’m going. As a result, I’ve done very little packing yet. There’s probably still about 80% of the work to be done.
If I count all the houses I’ve lived in (excluding short term stays with other people) then we’re talking 18. I seem to have a gypsy curse! Even when I’ve wanted to stay put, life just never worked out that way. The more I move, the more I detest packing things up.
So I’m procrastinating ofcourse and I’m sure that’s contributing to my current mood.
But, it’s not the main reason I’m feeling this way right now. One of my major PTSD triggers is being in the shower. Stripped, naked, all the barriers are down.
Sometimes PTSD episodes are really intense and involve lots of visual flashes, but other times its just a full on emotional state that takes over. Today it’s been like that.
My therapist says I should try to remember the emotion or thought that triggered the episode, but that can be challenging when it’s just so subtle. I just don’t know what it was today!!
There I was happily washing my hair when I began feeling very, very small, weak, and traumatised. So sad, with deep grief pouring out from the depths of my being. Before I knew it I was bawling.
Have you ever cried your heart out under the shower? It’s weird, because you can still feel the tears even with the water cascading around your head. It doesn’t go away. And there’s nowhere to run, in the shower.
One of the symptoms of my depression has been to simply stay inside my house for the whole weekend. To not go anywhere, do anything, see anyone. Even if there’s something I need, or if I promised I’d go somewhere, I end up not leaving the house.
Today I could feel that vibe coming on after my shower. Things weren’t getting any better, so I made myself go out. I knew I wasn’t going to get much packing done today, and it would be better for me to go and see the world around me.
Actually, I needed to go out coz there’s still a bunch of stuff I need for my trip. And it was nice to see other people, living lives that are possibly less bizarre than mine.
My first stop was the local Macro Wholefoods for lunch and some supplies – organic liquid soap and Vicco toothpaste. A couple of essentials for when I’m in the wilds of Thailand, way off the beaten track.
Then the local camping store strip. Yay for me, there were some mid-year sales happening. And now I have fantastic travel pants, some technical socks, a tiny but powerful tent lamp and some other bits and pieces.
All good, and then I distracted myself by putting things for my trip in my backpack (see left) – its starting to look like it’s about to go travelling, don’t you think??!!
But then I ran out of things that needed ‘doing’. And here I am, still facing the emotional aftermath from my shower.
So I’m bringing out the big guns.
The following is a technique that comes from the yogic tradition I’m an initiate of.
What to do – think about your feelings in terms of its qualities. Right now, my feelings are:
Once you’ve identified the qualities – which might involve a little effort and contemplation – the next step is to meditate on the feelings as the qualities. Where in your emotional landscape and your body is heavy? Where is there contraction? Where? Where? Where?
Keep looking, keep searching it out. Interestingly, the more you do this, the more you realise that the feeling is not where you thought it was.
The ultimate goal of the practice is to see that you don’t own these feelings at all. That they are much bigger than you are. Eventually if you keep meditating like this, you can resolve the energy ‘cramp’ causing your emotions.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds and I’m certainly no master. But it’s extremely useful for me in any case.
For those out there who also deal with PTSD, what do you do? How do you deal?