Seasonal and Cyclical Battles

So what’s up with me? I’m not entirely sure, it has no name. Every November I risk losing my mind. My brain and body attack me until I wave the white flag. I think it may be some physical and psychological symptoms working together – like an annual perfect storm.

I think my PTSD kicks up a notch with triggers all around.I fear all of the upcoming holiday gatherings and memories of years past. My guilt picks up as I dread gift exchanges, never having enough money and giving handmade gifts, or sometimes nothing at all. I am tormented by giving tons of junk to my kids so they can have the same experience their friends have, and my own belief that the stuff is junk and not needed and I hate feeding their greed and materialism. (NEW! My therapist has a new theory as well, she thinks the darkness of the shorter days is actually a trigger to me since most of my abuse occurred when I was in my room at night. I may be feeling like it is almost bed time all day long, triggering my fear of abuse. Not sure what to do with this new theory though, just tossing it out there for consideration.)

I think my immune system crashes, after months of fighting allergies to pollen, grass and  mold, and the rotting leaves outside and the dry/dusty furnace air inside put me over the top. I get so dry that I can’t smile without my lips cracking and bleeding. My lips cause me all sorts trouble, from peeling to cracking, to chronic painful sores (chelitis and cold sore blisters – not so pretty). Running humidifiers, drinking extra water, peroxide rinses and using lip balm helps a little. My sinuses and ears stay blocked up, I have a constant headache and can barely hear. Antihistamines and decongestants only help a little. Neti pot and showers help more. (I have spoken to a friend with lupus and have decided to visit a rheumatologist to investigate a possible autoimmune disease. I’d hate to blame PTSD and actually have a physical disease. I get rashes from the sunlight, joint pain (I have a special mouse that keeps my thumb straight, have to wrap my knee to prevent it from locking while I sleep, have red swollen knuckles, mouth/nose sores, GI issues)

My sleep/dream cycle goes batsh*t crazy. I can’t sleep very long at all, sometimes wake up after just 10-15 minutes with a feeling like I have slept longer and get so disappointed to see the same TV program is still on. Often I can’t sleep on purpose, like a restless toddler, I can only fall asleep when I’m not trying. If I lay down and try to sleep, I get a panic attack. The flip side is I fall asleep when I don’t want to, like during business meetings. And my dreams are always vivid and wild, sometimes terrifying, sometimes just wild goose chasing – always exhausting. I’ve increased vitamin D supplements again, reduced caffeine, try meditating, and that list goes on, I blog about it often. But the fact remains that a big part of me still fears falling asleep.

My negative mental tapes start running and looping endlessly. I fall into cognitive distortion land where everything is black/white and all or nothing, I misunderstand simple comments and interactions to my detriment, and I somehow misconstrue my own beliefs to unintentionally sound hurtful. I think I’m not good enough, feel like everyone is sick of me, that I’m a huge bother, and can’t accept any compliments without it feeling patronizing.

I stop taking care of my body. This time of year, my eating gets all disordered. I don’t ever feel hungry or full, so I try to eat by the clock and the plate size, but I end up not eating for way too long, and overeating sometimes too. I get random cravings, I stress eat junk food, and sometimes I get a panic feeling when I start eating and I just can’t stop, so the overeating enters binge territory. And then the shame, hiding the wrappers and empty containers from my family, avoiding the scale, knowing my pants are getting tighter. I’m too tired to move, I barely shower and change clothes, actual exercise seems impossible. More shame. I want to be healthy. I know I’m mistreating my body, but I can’t figure out how to change this part yet. (NEW! My therapist has a theory about this too. She thinks part of me wants Hubby to scold me for over eating and putting on weight – like my both my parents always did. She thinks I still don’t trust that he loves me for being me, and that I may be partially testing him to see if he can love a fat slob. I don’t want to be that messed up, but I’m not ruling it out. ALSO something very interesting. I was playing Sims with my 2nd grader last week, and creating a sim that looked as close to me as possible. I adjusted the body weight to what I thought was accurate, and he started laughing and asked why I made myself so fat. ?? I was seriously confused and asked him to make it look like me, and I thought he was just being nice when he went down several sizes. My therapist said a 2nd grader wouldn’t be nice, he was being honest, and that I seem to have some body dysmorphic disorder to go along with all my other distortions. She told me I am beautiful and I cringed and felt nauseous. Hmmm. I understand this intellectually, I took psych courses. But once again understanding does not translate to  instant change. My BMI is 1 point on the overweight side, but could I be wrong about what the extra 10-15 pounds looks like on me? I feel huge and uncomfortable at my current weight.)

So lots to think about, that’s for sure. MIL is taking kids for the few days and I intend to sleep, sleep and sleep, and focus on my eating and any feelings I have while eating (homework from therapist).

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9 thoughts on “Seasonal and Cyclical Battles

  1. WOW does this time of year ever suck. I’m so sorry for all the physical troubles you have to work through in the colder months…I have different issues, but I know how exhausting physical illness can be, especially when trying to cope with mental and emotional ones. I seem to spend my days counting down to the next one too. :S

    Hang in there. Maybe things won’t get quite so bad this year. *hugs*

  2. No wonder you hate winter and everything associated with it. The darker theory would also tie into your trouble sleeping. It makes sense. I still hate to have my NM tell me I’m pretty or she likes what I’m wearing. To save my sanity, I remind myself she lies so much I don’t have to listen to anything she says. Keep fighting for you!

    • Your comment is so familiar to me, and yet so messed up. (sorry to say) If you don’t want to believe that you are pretty, and you know she lies, so it works to think she is lying. But we all actually want to be pretty, so it still hurts to feel we aren’t pretty, but it hurts less than having someone abusive think we are pretty. So I understand, better than I wish did, since it is so convoluted.

      And BTW, I don’t hate winter! I love snow and many parts of this season, and may have to post about that soon, but I’m trying to document all the icky parts to continue to heal and watch for patterns and like ntexas said, so I can look back and see my progress too. I’m working intensely with my therapist right now and trying to pay attention to everything I’m feeling and experiencing. Usually I get through this season with pure avoidance, but this year I am looking straight at it and acknowledging it, allowing myself to feel it all.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling so much. That is so much to be dealing with.

    One thought I had, I’ve read about molestation survivors often eating tons to try and make themselves (in their minds) less attractive in order to try and keep the abuser away. If you are having triggers of “night time” and the PTSD, maybe the over eating is your way of reverting back to a behavior that you thought protected you? Of course, I could be completely wrong.

    Sending you healing thoughts and peace.

    • I have definitely explored that option, and it may be a part of the whole picture, but I just don’t know. I think it has more to do with feeling worthless, and causing myself harm, or doing something shameful to prove I am worthless. Round and round it goes. My disordered eating seems to have so many variables, not just one clear cut cause. I don’t binge every night thankfully, so I’m trying to figure out the binging triggers, which are different from regular stress/comfort eating. Binges happen when I feel calm, not anxious, but definitely out of control, more like an addict gambling one more game. I enjoy the binges during it, and then feel ashamed later and hide the evidence. I start with appropriate portions and can’t resist getting more, until the bag/box/carton is all gone. I don’t feel the pain in my stomach until the next day, when I still have indigestion or heartburn from all of it, like my eating hangover. Thanks for talking to me about all of this, it really helps to shine light on it and not hide from it, feeling alone and ashamed.

  4. hoping you get through the winter and holiday season and come back out on the other side with the ability to look back and see that you were able to manage it better this year than any other year … sorry it is such a hard time for you, but hang in there, and keep believing in you.

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