I’ve been writing about my fall into the old coping skill of wanting to kill myself these past few posts. I came to a really important insight last night about why.
I treat my recovery from my CPTSD like a job. It’s something I have to work at and dedicate time to whether I want to or not. On those occasions I’ve chosen to skip my recovery work, I usually fall. Skipping out doesn’t usually mean I skip out on everything though.
Having had major surgery and now being in a flare of my chronic Epstein Barr has left my recovery work untouched since I came home from the hospital two weeks ago. It wasn’t purposeful, in fact it was forced.
I’ve come up with a recipe or plan of sorts that keeps me balanced, positive, and generally ok. It’s really hard work, but I know it works for me as I can feel the changes inside of me and others recognize it too. I’m going to kind of list my CPTSD care plan and how it completely fell apart to give you ideas for your own or maybe talk to a good friend, therapist, or even me about starting your own CPTSD “job”. Most of these solutions are good for anyone and probably just good ways to live.
1. Isolation. I make myself have contact with a support person or friend via text or phone everyday and force myself to do something social with one of these people once a week. I’m amazing at isolation, but it’s bad for my mental health. With my surgery, I have been so sick and in pain that I haven’t been reaching out much and I’m restricted from driving so I can’t go anywhere.
2. Exercise. I make a point to get gentle exercise everyday. My favorite is lap swimming, but I also walk and do yoga. It manages my anxiety and keeps my body healthy, which keeps my mind healthy. As part of my back surgery was a pretty lengthy fusion, I’m not allowed to bend, twist, or lift anything, and swimming is out as I have an extremely long incision that will take weeks to heal before it can be submerged. So, my anxiety and thinking in rapid circles sky rocketed to pathological levels.
3. Eating. With the help of a nutritionist, I went on an extremely strict anti inflammatory diet to help with my autoimmune issues and chronic pain. Eating this healthy is very labor intensive and requires a couple trips to the grocery store for fresh produce, herbs, and organic meats. My healthy eating lifestyle (I hate the world diet, as I’m not depriving my body, I’m truly nourishing it) improved a lot of my life, probably more than anything on this list. First of all, I’ve dealt with eating disorders and body dysmorphia forever. Having a nutritionist who tells me what to eat makes me know I’m eating the right foods in the right amounts, and my body looks great as I normalized to the proper size for me. It also eliminated my depression within 2 weeks of starting. With my back, i can’t stand and cook and there’s no getting out to get my foods. So depression returned, I’m back to constantly weighing myself, and have huge anxiety about getting fat, especially as my body atrophies.
4. Art. I try to do one art project a week to be a visual representation of what’s going on inside me. It’s fun, sometimes more expressive than my writing, and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I complete something. Well, it hurts to do anything but lie here.
5. Writing. I’m not working on my book as once again, it hurts. The blog I’m managing as it’s done quickly.
6. Independence gone. I’m super independent and definitely to a fault. I am glad I have recognized asking for help is necessary, but when you need help with everything, it’s depressing as you’re obviously going to get disappointed by people because I’m no longer in control of my own time line.
7. Reading. Reading is my lifeline to learning about all sorts of things to it just being enjoyable to me. Once again, just holding a book hurts. I don’t watch any tv or movies, so my way of zoning out is gone when I just need a distraction.
8. My son. I’m not seeing my son at all. Mom isn’t the only hat I wear, but I truly enjoy my son. Even if we are both home and not interacting, I just love knowing he’s here. He’s my favorite person in the whole world and it hurts that I haven’t really seen him in a month. In fact, it doesn’t just hurt, it devastates my heart. It’s especially devastating as no one finds it important that he even come visit me as it takes too much inconvenience to drive him to me for a few hours. I really love being a mom today as when I decided to rescue myself and really parent, I got really engaged in my sons life to even being proud to say I was stable enough to volunteer at his school regularly. It’s been taken.
I know there’s more on this list that I work at everyday, but can you see how when I take away all my positive coping skills I do regularly, I end up turning back to the old ones that are terrible? I don’t want to be suicidal, I actually like life. I’m not particularly fond of my life right this second, but I have hope it will improve in a matter of weeks.
I hope sharing my list helps you come up with your own list to improve your life. The biggest hint is that you have to work at it EVERYDAY! You can’t cheat, or you won’t reap the successes.
I’m hoping In just a week, my body won’t hurt so much and I can begin to do some of what I love that keeps me balanced and positive. Right now, I’m trying to use the old phrase “this too shall pass” as a mantra in knowing my body has to heal and much of healing is just being still and alone. I’m not happy about it, and actually hate it, but it’s what I got thrown for now.
Anyone have other suggestions on what they do to keep from going completely “crazy”? I could use some new ideas, and I love hearing from you.