My therapist suggested that I make a calendar and put it some place I pass every day. She said that anxiety can make a person very forgetful. You may think you are losing your mind when in reality you are consumed with anxiety so much of the day that you are walking around like a robot doing tasks mindlessly. I do this. A lot. That is why I go for specific mindful walks to try and recalibrate these mixed up PTSD wires in my brain.
I made a calendar last week. I printed it. I wrote out all of the bills. I wrote the date to mail them. I wrote the date on the calendar and I put a sticky not on them that said when to mail them. I put a note on the fridge of things to NOT forget. I felt very empowered that I organized, I set out to do a task and I did it. Then I didn’t.
I walked past that calendar and that note for an entire week. Today is Tuesday. I was supposed to mail the bills on Saturday. All of a sudden at 2 am I remembered!! I got up and left a note. A LARGE note for my husband to put the bills in the mail as soon as he gets up before the mailman does.
Then I realized the electric was due TODAY. So I thought. Ok. I am obviously out to lunch and who knows when my brain will choose to come back so how will I remember tomorrow to call and mail this bill over the phone…I taped it to the stool next to my toilet. At 5 am I taped the bill to the stool because I knew I’d have to pee and I would have to use that stool to get up (muscle disease issues with getting up).
I woke up and I paid that bill over the phone. Sticky notes and calendars apparently did not work for me this week. I am sharing this as an example of how PTSD can work in the brain. I was so overwhelmed and so overloaded in my mind with trigger after trigger after trigger that I walked past those reminders every day for over a week and they did not register in my mind.
Today was one of those days. All day there were triggers. I wish there were another word. Switches. Yes. Switches. A switch is flipped. I went into a store today and only half of my mind was really there. I was talking and listening and the other part of my mind was thinking that this store is so fragrant I will never get the smell out of my hands or clothes. It is as if PTSD does not allow ME to be completely present. I hate that! It is still bothering me right this moment as I write this. So much that I finally went into the kitchen and put gloves on my hands so I no longer could smell the smell. Truth. Here it is. I want to be completely transparent and authentic in what I go through because I think there is power in the truth. The truth helps others, maybe one person in this world who did something today like put on a pair of gloves to not have a trigger say to themselves, oh, ok, I’m ok, and we are all just trying to cope. But if we lie and cover up the truth of the magnitude of what PTSD can do then it leaves others feeling lost and lonely. I know this because I feel this way often.
I’m typing on this tiny ipad with these gloves on because the smell on my hands is so stimulating to my brain that it makes me want to throw up. It reminds me of things that I need to “GET OFF” that is what a smell switch does to me. It is linked somehow to a “get this off now” emotion and reaction in my body and I could, if I let myself, go scrub my hands raw. Instead, as silly and absurd and possibly full of judgment it can be, I put on a pair of gloves.
THIS is what all those little switches triggered on this week have done to my brain. I am thankful I have the self control to not scrub my hands raw at this moment. Prayerfully I will remain in control of this. So much of my PTSD is rooted in lack of control, helplessness. Having this muscle disease, feeling actually physcically weak, contributes on a daily basis.
I have not given up. I keep trying. I am very self aware. I know why this is happening. I just don’t yet have the tools to cope with it. My therapy tools and even medication tools have been limited in working so far. I am seeking out other ways but that is on hold until my husband is settled into his new job.
In the meantime:
Suggestions requested : ONLY ON BOOKS.
If you have read a book on PTSD that you have found helpful please let me know and I will buy it ASAP. Thank you!
May you for tonight, not feel alone.