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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I didn't have a lot of time this semester, so rather than dealing with PTSD, I ignored it. Which means I lived on low-level anxiety and panic for about 90 days. It's a bad idea and I know it. But it's also something I've done all my life. I'm a performer.

Performers learn that we'll be in stressful situations, but if you concentrate only on the thing that must be done now, the stage fright and performance anxiety can be successfully ignored until after the performance is over. A successful performer learns to channel the anxiety into controlled energy which is consumed throughout the performance, but that doesn't always happen. So between that training and my life experiences, I'm a pro at putting off dealing with emotions and stress, regardless of whether or not that's healthy. And sometimes it's necessary.

So now that my teaching is on hiatus, I'm allowing the procrastinated stuff to manifest itself. It's worse than I anticipated. Panic attacks are strong enough to cause chest pains, shaking, and vomiting. I'm using all the breathing and calming techniques I know, but they don't seem to be helping. So I just wait. Usually after about fifteen minutes the worst is over and I can function again. Along with the panic attacks are PTSD symptoms. Because of those I alternate between suspicion, anger, numbness, and hyper-awareness when it comes to people. I seem to be unable to feel affectionate at all.

I suppose that beneath all of this I am afraid. It's difficult to see an end when you're in the middle of everything. I'm afraid I won't be strong enough to make it through the panic and distress - that at some point I'll break and I don't know what that means.

I'm afraid that Darrin won't get a job and I'll have to work 60 hour (or more) weekly for the rest of my life. Or that he will get a job, but I won't be able to stop working anyway because I don't know how.

I'm afraid that if I don't keep being pleasant and delightful, people will leave. And I don't know why I worry about that because part of me wants them to go away so that I can figure out what is happening to me without interruption.

I'm afraid that some people are already gone. And, again, confused about that fear because I'm pretty sure that if this is the case, it's the best thing for everyone involved.

I'm afraid to talk - to sleep - to rest. I'm afraid if I don't schedule every second of every day and night, I'll have to

I don't even know how to finish that sentence. I have no idea what I'm afraid of.

All the roads leading into or away from my small town are "closed indefinitely due to weather." That hasn't happened in all the time I've lived here. But it feels metaphorical and fitting.

I had a friend once who needed help with her life for a number of reasons. And I wanted to help her. So I spent time with her, and recommended a couple of therapists, and we went for walks and talked a lot. But she never got better. And she never went to either of the therapists. And eventually, it seemed that she didn't want to get better. I didn't understand.

What I understand now is that it takes energy - lots of it - to get better. It takes courage to see a therapist. It takes both to continue afterward, and I'm running on empty. Literally.  :)

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