Wednesday, November 13, 2013
When It Just Gets To Be Too Much
I swear I have illness PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Whenever I feel a blip in my level of pain, I panic and go to the never and always places. You know: I'm never going to get better. It will always be like this.
There is no room for reason when I'm in this state. I tighten up physically and emotionally like an armadillo protecting its soft underbelly by rolling into a ball and only showing its armor to attackers. Somewhere ancient I learned that this is what self protection needs to be. And of course, constricting is just the opposite of what will help me ride through a pain episode.
But when I'm in this state, I lie curled and unmoving. Nothing goes in or out. And any external requests of me are just too much to bear. An armadillo can't go food shopping or attend business meetings or be distracted by conversation or TV. All my energy is invested in staying still and isolated.
When this happens, I cancel whatever can be cancelled. I tell friends and family who call that I'm in hibernation mode. They understand and leave me alone. I phone into meetings rather than have to dress up and drive somewhere far away from my burrow.
Richard, my SO, does the house chores and reminds me that I will get better. His voice does get through my defenses. It feels like honey slowly dripping in and delivering a few touches of sweet hope.
Sometimes that's enough to help me remember what I always forget -- that the pain will go away. That's the pattern. And I have better tools to use than tightening. Sometimes I can start to use the things that do actually work. Like breathing and paying attention to each breath. Or walking slowly. And asking for help - help that reminds me of the bigger world and my place on it, a place I will soon be able to occupy again.
So I unfurl and find more honey and try to learn to hope, one more time.
(btw this post is included in this month's collection of patient blog posts which is up at Getting Closer to Myself )