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Resigned

What is this new feeling I have lately? It seems to be a new flavor, a mixture of several. I’m feeling calmer, not exactly at peace, but not so turbulent either. The sadness is still there, a deep underlying sadness that I’m sure will always be there. I have less anger.  I have less ambition and determination, less fight in me. I think this is a good transformation, or if not good as I don’t like weighing in with good and bad, lets say a necessary transformation, though it feels odd.

I think perhaps my spirit is finally broken, tamed, like a wild horse, I have been broken. Even more, I’m the wild horse forced to live out its days on a carousel. carousel-1703273_1920.jpgI am resigned to live my new life, accepting the constraints of the saddle and bridle and staying within the limits set upon me. I’ve been trying to be free for far too long. I don’t need freedom to do good. There is much I can do from here and it will have to be enough. I can be grateful to keep moving, if only in circles.

I searched for words for this feeling and I read the synonyms for resigned, I feel this is exactly where I am right now. Look at this list…tame, agreeable, long-suffering, stoical, patient, tolerant, gentle, quiet, ready…I could describe how each of these words fits me.

resigned

A few days ago this feeling settled in and said hello. I’ll describe that day here, because it has taken me several days to say hello back.

I can’t rely on my memory any more. When smartphones first came out I ridiculed people for spending so much money on a device. Now I can’t live without mine, as it truly thinks for me, reminding me all day long about what I’m supposed to be doing. So I check it as usual and see kiddo has a baseball game. No problem. No other conflicts. I know I may have to drive him, so I plan my time so that I am rested.

When he gets home from school I look again and see it is an away game at a ballpark I am unfamiliar with..and I map it and see it will take nearly an hour to get there. I remain calm as I tell kiddo we have to leave very soon. He asks for his uniform. Crap. I forgot to wash it. All my checking on the game and calendar nothing jogged my memory for this detail. So I add “wash baseball uniform” to my calendar so I don’t forget again and he has to wear it dirty for this game, luckily he didn’t do much sliding it didn’t look terrible.

I throw away my feeling of failure, no time for that. I feel calm again. Kiddo needs a snack. Make him a sandwich to eat in the car, except I forgot to go shopping, used up the bread this morning. Crap. quickly slice some cheese and grab pretzels. That feeling in my stomach again, like I should be doing better, but I have to ignore that. I make coffee while he gets dressed.

Out in the car my phone wont let me get the address for the gps. We are already late. I can’t think clearly. I call hubby from the driveway for the address. I enter it the address and pull out while it it loading. But then I can’t see the screen on my phone. I hand the phone to kiddo and ask him to adjust the brightness, I had it turned way down and couldn’t see it in the sun. He didn’t know how. What? How does he not know this, its just just his kindle, but I have no time to feel irritated. At the next red light I adjust the phone myself and see the gps is still not loaded. I know I have to get on the highway but I have no idea where to go after that. Anxiety is rising. Breathe. Its okay. I pull over and really look at my phone. I notice the cellular data is turned off…oh yeah, I did that at his last game when I was playing a game on my phone and didn’t want to use data. Crap. That has been off for 3 days.

I turn data back on and my phone blows up with all the queued MMS texts that could not come through. Crap. All that missed info – yup, thats why I didn’t know his last practice was a different time, and so much from school, but no time now to feel stupid. GPS is loading finally so I get back on the road. I don’t look at the clock. We are late, I already know we are late, and the clock won’t change that and I don’t want to feel nervous while driving. Kiddo is chatting about his school day. I can barely understand him, my head is racing and I have to focus on driving, but I say “uh-huh” a few times.

We make it off the highway, and into these terrible, but beautiful, twisty turny hilly roads. I’m getting motion sick and driving slower than the speed limit. Crap. We are so late and I can’t even drive full speed. We go through forest lined roads, past green mucky ponds, further into the valley. We make it to the ballpark, and can’t find his team, there are several fields and games. We spot his uniform color and I see the closest parking lot is full, so I continue on. We got there. Sigh of relief. He grabs his gear and heads to the field. I stay in the car.

Why do I stay in the car? So many reasons, where to start.

  1. my limp. Okay so this place is full of steep hills and slippery gravel. I did not want to attempt that steep hill and the only other way that was not so steep was about a quarter mile away and through the grass fields, still difficult. Even with my walking stick and new knee brace, these distances look like miles and miles to me, it is just so difficult to walk across. And I feel stupid, like everyone must see me coming.
  2. neuro issues. It was hot out and no shady places to sit even if I did manage to get myself down there, so I stay in car with AC running, my meds make me dangerously heat intolerant on top of the struggles I have to self regulate due to nerve damage. Sitting in full sun also triggers migraines
  3. my limp and social issues. no places to sit at all, I would have to carry my own chair which would be very difficult on the already difficult terrain. If I had ever spoken to the other parents, yes I’m sure one of them would carry a chair for me, but then I feel like I would be stuck sitting with that person and forced to be social. I can barely manage my own life I don’t want to hear about theirs, it is too much, never knowing what people might share or ask me.
  4. anxiety. If I managed to get myself down there and find a place to sit, I didn’t see any place to be quiet. Some of his games I can put a chair at the end of the line of parents off by myself enough that I feel I have my own space. But here with so many games going on at once, cars and people constantly coming and going, There was no way to position myself safely, I’d be jumpy and startled the entire time, and I can’t do that – I have to drive back home
  5. mental fatigue. I can’t pay attention to the game. Sorry kiddo, I’m proud of you for working hard, but baseball is dreadfully boring and I have no clue what is happening even when I do try to focus it makes no sense and my mind wanders. I usually bring my camera when I sit near the game but in my car I can close my eyes, read a little, play a game on my phone. And they last for hours, too exhausting to pay attention that long to anything. So I try to watch for when its his turn at bat and a few key plays when I hear the crowd get excited, otherwise I reserve my energy for the return drive

Thats about it I think, though I think I jumbled them up a bit even though I tried to organize it in a nice numbered list, hope it makes sense.

I’m just trying to illustrate how this simple task of getting my kid to his game is not simple for me. I can barely do it. I try to be grateful that I can still do it, at least be useful and get him where he needs to be. But it is difficult to watch the other healthy parents, hooting and hollering, running down that gravel covered hill like its nothing, carrying chairs and coolers, sitting and chatting with their friends, they seem to really enjoy the experience. I don’t know this, of course. I’m only giving my observations and they seem to enjoy the game and the social time with the other parents. I’m not a part of that world. I live in a different one. Am I jealous of the other parents? In some ways, yes that is likely what I am feeling. Anger that my life is so difficult. But I can’t stay there long or it festers. Acknowledge and keep moving because life does not slow down for me.

My life is often surreal. Like I’m in slow motion or everyone else is on fast forward. They walk and talk and think faster than I can. I am no longer trying to keep up.

I am resigned.

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I rolled in it. So what

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I wrote about my bad mood and bad attitude yesterday. It felt a little like I was rolling around in the mud, getting good and covered, feeling it ooze out between my toes, clump up in my hair, even crunch down on some grit in my molars once in a while.

I think that bad mood needed validation because I feel so much better today even though absolutely nothing else has changed.

But I’m generally not allowed to gripe, moan, complain, vent, or bitch. I’m supposed to roll with the punches and keep on smiling. Usually I can. But lately it has been getting harder to smile and I wasn’t sure why. The thing is, these punches, they actually knock me out, flat into the mud. Each time I drag myself back up and keep limping along. But for a little while, I’m going to stay down here and roll around in this mud. Stop hiding.

I can’t exactly go on strike, but I can lighten my load a little while I stay here and make mudpies. I’m supposed to go to an awards banquet tonight. I’ve been so worried how to handle it, how to smile for that long, how to pay attention and get out of conversation I don’t want to be in…screw it. No one needs me to eat chicken tonight. My husband can go without me while I make mud angels.

I think if I embrace this dank muddy place I’m in, instead of trying to hide from it, I’ll be much better off. Besides. Mud can be really great. Think hot springs and mud masks. Mud wrestling? Well…not my thing but hey some people like it. Adobe houses. Clay pottery. Yeah. I’m just going to stay here in my deep dark pit and see what happens if I stare at it directly.

Behind Sad Eyes, Green Eyes, Blue Eyes

I’ve had the echo of a song in my head for days and was struggling to place it. My memory gaps have hit especially hard in the musical and lyrics area. I can no longer sing along to songs I’ve known my entire life. I kept getting the phrase about sad eyes and this haunting melody, and thanks to the miracle of google I figured out it was The Who “Behind Blue Eyes”. Makes sense I made it sad in my memory since this song expresses such pain. My eyes are not blue, they are green, but they are sad, always sad, even when I smile and laugh, the sadness never disappears. I see it in the mirror, I see it in every picture, others see it too – if they actually look.

I wanted to share the song here, and I found a lovely cover instead, by Janet Devlin, who may be a magical Irish elf, her voice gives me chills. Be sure to check out her other songs when you get a chance. Her singing this song gave more meaning to me. I look a bit like her. Or I used to, a few years ago. When I visited Ireland everyone thought I belonged there, finally no one thought I was too pale. My hair was redder before the whites took over and I had to color it browner than my natural shade, because I’m allergic to red dye, of course.

Anyways, here’s the song, have a listen, then I’ll talk about why its on my mind.

I am not well. I am not doing well. I am not feeling well.

I need to find a way out of this hole. I’m not sure that this is depression exactly, as I’m eating well, exercising, have good hygiene, going through all the motions that usually stop when depression hits. Some of the grief has lifted for losing my parents so that has actually improved.

But my attitude is terrible. I’m angry, irritable, annoyed at the world. I really don’t want bothered. I’m finding every human to be a huge nuisance and I keep them as far from me as possible.

My life is difficult. I spend my days doing physical therapy, brain rehab, and vestibular balance exercises – all to keep from getting worse – nothing seems to be improving. I’m tired from this constant effort and getting nowhere. But if I stop I do decline rapidly, so I know its important. My knee complaining in its brace and my new sciatic pain is proof of that. I have to keep up my strength and flexibility or I hurt myself when I try to do something so outrageous, ya know, like walk on a slightly uneven path to take a photo of a wildflower. That was over a week ago and I’m still in so much pain I can barely walk across a room. I am waiting to see an ortho for the nice popping sound my knee is making.

Yes I’m complaining. I’m in a sorry state of mind, a dark, foul pit. I don’t like it here. But I can’t pretend I’m not here and conjure up some rainbows.

I stopped at the liquor store the other day, held the bottle in my hand, put it back on the shelf, and went back out to my car to cry. I have not used alcohol to escape or hurt myself in years. I was very close to it. I wanted some freedom to not feel like this. But I know it will hurt me, cost me loads in recovery, and cost my family too. So I put it back.

It seems my only tool is distraction in the form of video games, netflix, and sleep. I can’t keep up on the video games any more, so I play them and try not to care that I don’t do well, my reactions are so slow now, my visual processing delayed. I exist in this zombie state of tv and light sleep mainly that passes the time when I can’t do anything else.

I actually hate my life. I do not look forward to anything. I hate that I wake up each day. I try to be grateful and feel horrible that I genuinely am not. I don’t want this. Yes I know it could be worse. I could be blind or deaf or in a wheel chair. I don’t feel grateful to sort of be able to kind of walk a little.

My daughter was being silly this morning, and for a normal human this would have been silly. They were ringing a bell and placing it on each other. She got it ringing and came up behind me and touched it to my ear. I screamed in pain and lost my balance, barely catching myself on the counter. It is hours later and I can still feel the fullness in my ear, the tingling in my face, the pain in my head, and the after effects of that much adrenaline. I nearly blacked out. From a random sound near my ear. Yes the doctors have documented all sorts of abnormal acoustic reflexes for me that activate my central nervous system. No the doctors can’t do a damn thing about it. My daughter was scared to death by my reaction and I had to minimize the pain I actually felt, try to gather myself together, recover, and get them off to school with partial tunnel/slanted vision. Sometimes I’m not sure I should be driving like this, but I seem to be able to see through it as long as I’m careful. I never take chances, I wait until no cars are there before I pull out. Sometimes I can’t see well enough, and then I don’t drive. My ears are still ringing, screaming from this morning. My nerves have otherwise mostly calmed back down.

I hate living like this. How am I suppose to heal from PTSD when my world is actually hazardous to me, when ordinary objects: sights, smells, sounds – can overload my brain and ruin my day in a second? So yeah. I am paranoid. Looking for things that will hurt me, make it so I might not be able to walk or drive home. I have gotten stranded too many times. I have people relying on me, with schedules, or it might not be so bad to be patient and wait it out.

New doc adds chronic pain syndrome. Basically means I’m a nervous wreck. Yeah seems to fit.

I’ve just been stuck here too long. 3 years now since I stopped working. I’m in the middle of applying for disability which is not a fun process listing everything wrong with you. I know that’s part of this dark mood, that horrible paperwork.

Another part I still the constant stress from Hubby and this broken relationship. Most days right now my dislike and resentment for him border on hate. I have repeatedly told him I have no feelings for him and he continues to try to get affection from me. I have no where to go, no money, no family. I can’t leave him and he won’t go, so I am stuck in this house with him. We try to be good to each other, make a pleasant home for the kids while giving each other space. But then he gets lonely and “forgets” some of my biggest triggers, like touching me while I’m sleeping. He did it again this morning. Maybe another wife would like to be woken up with a foot rub, but for me it is terrifying, and I hate having to tell him to stop, and I hate the mental workout it takes me to be able to say stop, and I hate the anger I feel, and I hate the fear, and I hate the fatigue that comes afterward. Just leave me alone.

I feel like other people get a break from stupid life, get to enjoy things like games, concerts, movies, festivals, amusement parks, sports, camping, boating, painting, writing, reading.

I have nothing. I can’t tolerate anything for long. I lost my ability to create, and I can barely experience what others have created without causing myself pain. I’m trying to find balance….trying….but these scales seem tipped, not in my favor at the moment and I don’t know if my rotten attitude is blocking the solution or this is how it has to be.

Opposite of Lonely

I don’t often feel lonely, not the way I hear others describe it. I looked it up in a dictionary and thesaurus, and curiously, could not find an opposite for lonely that makes sense to me.

Lonely is defined as the one of the most terrible things in the world: Sad because one has no friends or company, isolated, alone, lonesome, friendless, with no one to turn to, forsaken, abandoned, rejected, unloved, unwanted, outcast, deserted, uninhabited, unfrequented, unpopulated, desolate, isolated, remote, out of the way, secluded, off the beaten track/path, in the back of beyond, godforsaken; in

the middle of nowhere.

Opposite? Populous. Crowded.

I do have a longing for meaningful connections in my life. Love and acceptance from people you can trust. I have a deep, dark, pain, an emptiness much greater than loneliness, because I know it will never be filled. I’ve looked into the depths of this chasm, and it is seemingly bottomless. It seems I’m safe as long as I only glance at it, no jumping in.

For me, acquaintance people are nearly always a nuisance, a stressor. Hell even the current people in my life that are supposed to be loving, supportive, combat loneliness, like my husband and in-laws cause stress and conflict. My kids are the only people I enjoy time with, and even then after a bit , I still feel crowded, smothered, like I can’t think or breathe. When I am alone, I feel peaceful. When I am with others, the tolerance clock starts clicking and I have limited time before I bolt, hide, isolate myself and recover from the constant scrutiny, questions, confusion, misunderstandings, obligations, words…so many endless words attacking my system.

It wears me out to nod, smile, be polite, figure out how to respond, sense danger, protect myself. Talking is my least favorite activity. I’d rather go to the dentist than have to chitchat with some random person. Is it my turn to talk? What did they just say? Are they lying right now? What time is it? Is that a TV show they’re talking about? Is this something I’m supposed to know snd recall or are they telling me something new? Ugh. Too stressful

Add multiple people and this feeling is exponentially heightened, to being the opposite of lonely, I get a strong need to be alone, to escape.

I’m not heartless. I do wish all these people well. I just don’t want to hear about it, sorry. Most things people tell me I can’t do anything about and I feel uncomfortable having to express sympathy or advice. Most people I start diagnosing their personality disorders, recognize cognitive distortions popping up, and of course I must remain silent. People don’t want to know this. They don’t actually want to change their own behavior or think about their thoughts. And they would be insulted or embarrassed, even though they are the one oversharing to me. It is only socially acceptable to offer support like, oh you poor thing that sounds difficult for you. They just want to hear it sucks, for validation.

I’ve found when I interact online, I can control the pace and intensity and don’t get overwhelmed. Each time I venture out to a real life Meetup, it is not a positive experience.

I’m not sure that’s bad or unhealthy. At this point in my life, if I feel satisfied by this level of connection, than maybe I need to stop trying to force myself into a more social, extroverted role just because I’m supposed to be lonely this way.

I’ve been reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain and embracing my introverted self. I don’t think I need fixed. When I socialize it is to complete a task, or because others want me there. I get nothing but stress from most gatherings otherwise.

I watched the Netflix series “Atypical” which was fantastic. I’m not an expert on autism to know if they portrayed this accurately at all. It was entertaining, but also I indentified strongly with his social struggles. I don’t think I’m autistic. But I do think I’m atypical and that my brain can’t be changed much at this point. I don’t connect and form bonds or relationships like most others do. I’m highly sensitive, tuned into emotions, which is the autistic difference. My hyperactive neurons though gives me high scores on tests for autism, overwhelmed by sensory input, can’t look people in the eye, don’t make friends, can’t work in groups, hate loud noises and bright lights, take things too literally at times, repetitive soothing behaviors, trouble following conversation, it goes on and on. Fascinating really. So it seems that autism may be caused by too many neural connections, a lack of pruning, is one theory. I’ve read similar theories for anxiety and PTSD, our connections stay strong reinforcing past memories to keep us vigilant and safe.

This is me rambling and I hope not being stupid or offensive with these curious thoughts. I only look for similarities to figure out the puzzle of me. I don’t claim to be right, ever.

Social Seasons

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It is my social springtime. I know the world is still fully frozen outside here. We had another 8 inches of snow dumped on us last us. Another snow day with kids home from school. More days in brutal skin killing negative temps. But that doesn’t matter. It is my social springtime and time to come out of this self enforced cave.

I know myself well enough to know that I retreat into a deep dark winter of my soul each year. Winter is a perfect way to describe it, as I freeze up, and freeze everyone out. I hibernate. I withdraw so far inside myself that I can no longer be a social being. Not that I’m a party animal now…but this is extreme even for me. I slow down all emails and texting and blogging and chatting online in the fall, usually ceasing completely mid December. I rarely do phone calls anyway, but forget it during this time period, not going to happen. I look at a ringing phone like a torture device if I acknowledge it exists at all. Meetings at school? No. Talk to cashiers? No. Eye contact? No. Snuggle time? No. I shut down completely and become an empty shell going through the motions of life.

Somehow I survive this way. get through the holidays, and begin waking up around the end of January and start doing some clean up. Do I have any friends left? I start reading old unanswered texts and emails. I start replying and responding. Some people are angry. Some people don’t understand. Actually most don’t understand. I’ve lost many connections with otherwise good people that could not handle my radio silence. (It’s been a month girl and I’m supposed to just start talking to you again now? Its too weird, too rude, I thought you were angry with me, what did I do wrong…I’ve heard it all)

I’ve managed to find a few online friends that accept this quality in me. They are still there when I return, and I’m so relieved. The others…I add to my pile of casualties. It hurts, but I have to let them go.

I will never understand how a switch seems to flip deep inside me that I either need to speak to someone NOW or the loneliness will swallow me whole – or – I want nothing to do with humanity and I isolate myself as far away as possible with no feelings of loneliness, only relief when left alone. This is partially a form of seasonal depression, but more likely triggered by PTSD with too many emotions to handle regarding holidays and memories of that season. But If I can’t fully understand this switch, I certainly can’t expect others to understand it. I have accepted it though, and I am grateful for those in my life that have accepted it also.

Those friends have not my blog. I have chosen to keep the nitty gritty details private for my new friends. It is simply too much for anyone to handle. I do tell them vague bits, that I was abused and enough to be authentic, but not enough to overwhelm and frighten them away. I think I finally found the balance that works to form connections and start feeling human. So yay for that.

I’d still give my left kidney to have a real life friend to meet in person some day…but I’ll be patient. The universe will provide that once its ready I suppose. Or maybe I don’t get one in this lifetime. I’ve accepted, well come on, sorta accepted, that may be my truth.

Anyone else notice ebbs and flows where you can’t socialize at all or where you need people desperately? I’m curious

Trauma is in the eye of the beholder

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What do people really think about you? What are you showing them? Well what they think depends on how they frame it in their minds anyway. So much subjectivity, so much interpretation and assumption.

I’ve become increasingly interested in my doctors varying opinions of my mood lately and how it applies to my future. As most of you know, as soon as you have “Psych” history on your record, it can be difficult to get medical attention without doctors telling you how you feel and that somehow trauma and depression are actually causing the issues, not anything they can solve, and you end up with another referral for therapy.

If you have an “extensive Psych” history like mine, it is almost impossible.

I started comparing notes.

My back surgeon notes that I am pleasant and upbeat, cheerful, even 3 weeks post surgery when my pain level was still quite high.

But the neuropsych team inote, flat affect, appears to be severely depressed, speaking noticeably slowly, moved to tears.

Let’s see what is the difference here? It’s not just that the psych team is looking for it, I’m not saying that, I am behaving differently in these appointments. Hmmm, I wonder why? Seriously. That was snarky if you couldn’t tell. OK let me spell it out by giving you a glimpse of the conversations.

When I am talking with my back surgeon, I am grateful, he has changed my life, reduced my pain, restored strength and balance to my weak leg. He see me as strong, able, resilient, and able to do whatever I want to do. He knows nothing about my traumatic past and never has asked about it. He expects me to heal, because nerves, bones and muscles heal at an expected rate.

When I am talking with the psych team, they continually poke and prod about the relationship with my parents and brothers and husband. They force me to relive and retell some of the worst moments of my life. Usually I am meeting someone new, forced to tell my story to someone I do not fully trust for them to make another assessment of my condition. My flat affect is me trying to remain calm and choose my words carefully, knowing I am being judged. My tears are me, reacting to pain in the moment, recalling my sorrow.

But I don’t live there in that sorrow. Each doctor is only seeing a snapshot of me, a moment of me, not all of me, not how I function each day all day, not my life. I wonder how many people can retell their worst fears and memories without appearing traumatized. Even if you weren’t abused, I bet if you spent 3 hours describing every pet that died, how you miss your grandparents, maybe you were bullied, your boyfriend broke your heart in high school, your friend died in a car crash or overdose, your parents split up – whatever – life is full of heartache and tragic moments that we don’t call abuse. I bet if you made a list of them and described them out loud, that any “normal” person would appear depressed and traumatized and dysfunctional.

I don’t think its me that needs realistic expectations, I think it is the medical community. I almost want to prove my theory by starting over with a new doctor, stating I have a brain injury from purely physical means, caught in a shockwave perhaps and see I still have the same sad “Sorry but we can’t help you, you’ve been through too much to get better at this point in your life” story. I bet I would get sent to rehab and expected to heal if I didn’t have a psych history.

Well I expect more of myself, always have. Yeah, I got knocked down. But I’ve been down before, so what. I am out there jogging you guys. It isn’t beautiful, I mean I won’t win any medals, but I am not using a cane and both feet leave the ground at a pace faster than walking. I know I am healing. I know what I can do. I can do more.

I don’t care about my history, its irrelevant at this point. My brain doesn’t care. I am no longer being traumatized. I am sleeping, eating well, exercising, going to therapy, doing brain training games, pushing towards creative thought – why can’t I expect healing to happen? I don’t have a bunch of faith, but I’ve always believed in resiliency, set a goal, make a path, and eventually you get there.

My therapist thinks my lack of creativity is tied more to grief than brain damage. I’m starting to think she is right. My mom was my constant cheerleader, so supportive of my artwork and writing. I always shared my ideas and progress with her, always created for her, and she poured on the constant praise, sometimes annoyingly so, and almost over the top. I think I depended on that more than I ever knew though. Without her daily comments on my blogs, her multiple emails, I have no one else cheering me on, encouraging me to draw something today, asking what my next project will be, asking me to make something for her. She kept me going. I see this now. So at some point I will have to draw through the tears, and just keep going, until I am drawing for myself and the world, and show her that her years of support were enough to keep me going even after she is gone. I need to feel this pain of missing her and draw anyway. Somehow with my teary eyes and shaky hands I know this is the next step I need to take. An empty page has never been so frightening.

Get Motivated. Right Now.

How do you reach that motivational state of mind?

Motivation is tricky and not well understood. It is not linear or one sided. No motivation is complex and loopy and involves multiple factors, some within us, some external to us. Each move we make is a choice. How do we choose?

Our motivation is a combination of our beliefs, our goals, our dreams, our environment, and our mood. Currently I’m in a safe environment that is a bit lax on housekeeping standards. No one here cares if I leave some dishes in the sink or dust on the shelves. No one cares if the papers pile up on the counter. The clutter is overlooked.

I would prefer if everything was perfect and tidy at all times. Somehow I allow myself to overlook the clutter as well, feeling overwhelmed and defeated by it, by the repetition, by the fact that even if I clean it all up perfectly now it will be destroyed later the same day. I can’t keep up so I stop trying. I lost my motivation long ago in this losing battle.

But when someone is coming over to visit, I dig in deep and take care of it. I talk to myself encouragingly to get the job done. I break it down into small steps and lists. This may sound silly. If it does, then I am happy for you that brain functions without you having to kick its ass. If I don’t jumpstart mine, I will remain motionless, thoughtless, an empty shell trapped inside itself. I have tried being my own drill sergeant. That makes me angry and stubborn. No, I like to be my own nurturing mom, holding my hand, gently reminding and encouraging myself that I can do it and what I need to do next. I speak to myself firmly but gently, just like I do to my own kids when I give them instructions. They listen to me because I’m supportive and authoritative. They know there will be consequences if they don’t

Make yourself some coffee
Load the dishwasher
Wipe down the counters
Sort the papers from the hutch

Go on, get up, get started, you can do this. (give possible consequence: You don’t want so-and-so to see this mess, right?) back to supporting. It won’t take long. You’re strong now. Just get started and it will be done before you know it.
Coffee, dishes, counters, hutch

Coffee, dishes, counters, hutch

I turn into a Dora the Explorer episode, repeating to myself what I am going to do. I usually do about 3-4 things in my list. Then I start a new list if more needs done, so nothing gets overwhelming. Often I turn on music once I have my list going in my head.

But something always happens, I can feel the change in my brain and mood once I make the decision and start this motivation process. I go from feeling empty, spaced out, exhausted, to having a bit of energy and focus. Although I don’t exactly enjoy the tasks I am doing, I feel good about doing them. I battled depression and won again.

I found an interesting article here http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/03/469033034/could-you-hack-your-brain-to-get-more-motivated explaining how people could use feedback to access the motivation centers in their brains. With practice and fmri they could see this area of the brain lighting up. Super cool.

Excerpt from the article:

Two of the researchers, Kathryn Dickerson and Jeff MacInnes, tried the system out on themselves. Not everything worked. Dickerson said she tried thinking about different memories that left the feedback meter cold. “Zip lining was super fun, but [thinking about that] was just terrible and not effective at all.”

So she switched strategies and tried giving herself a pep talk in the scanner. “I was like, ‘Come on Katie. Move the thermometer. Just do it and move it.’ And I just pumped myself up. That was very effective,” she says. “It was exhilarating.”

It was also exhausting, MacInnes says. “The experience of the task was very difficult. You’re being asked to generate these intense motivational states for 20 seconds over multiple periods. It was very fatiguing for people.”

Study participants had a similar experience, Adcock says. Some people sang Queen songs to themselves or imagined having an angry coach yell at them. “My personal favorite was running down a line with everyone giving you high-fives,” Adcock says. When she took the feedback meter away, the participants were still able to light up their ventral tegmental area by thinking about the same things.

People really are changing their mood when they’re doing this, Adcock thinks. They’re really becoming more focused and eager. And it seems the effect begins reaching out to parts of the brain involved with learning and memory,

“We think that’s exciting because it shows after this training, something changed, Dickerson says. “The brain isn’t quite the same.” She thinks people might be achieving a state of mind that’s more conducive to learning and motivation.

I believe I have learned how to do this myself with the self talk I mentioned above. I know how to get myself moving. My problem is, I don’t often find a reason to these days. Most things sadly seem pointless. I’m struggling with staying motivated or setting goals that I care about. I used to be an overachiever. I know how to get things done. I simply don’t want to anymore. I’m not even sure I’m depressed exactly. I’m struggling with my purpose and identity, which I suppose is depressing and exhausting. But I’m able to motivate myself when I need to, when I see a reason to. And so I am desperately searching, seeking a goal, a dream, something to cling to, to attach motivation to, to stop floundering and wasting all this time.

What I’m good at:

  • I go to the gym and workout at home because I want to be stronger and have a healthy body. I hate being weak. I hate relying on others to lift and carry things. I hate feeling vulnerable. So I am motivated, this one is easy, I exercise daily to meet this goal and my progress is easy to see.
  • I eat whole foods from my safe list because I do not want to have a migraine attack. I do not want days of pain and suffering. I do not want to let my family down and be a burden. I want to take care of them. I am motivated to avoid pain and be a good mom.
  • I continue to blog and fill out cpt worksheets even though my therapy program has ended because I want to continue to heal, to process, to grow. I am motivated to be self aware of ptsd, to manage it as best I can, and work towards minimizing the symptoms.

What I’m not good at:

  • I am not working yet. Although money is tight, we are managing with one income. I am not motivated to return to work. I feel I am a better mom and wife without trying to work. I’m already exhausted and stressed daily. I do feel guilty, but this guilt is not a strong enough motivator to overcome the rest. I am grateful Hubby supports this decision.
  • I am not doing much with my free time. This should change. Eek there’s a dreaded should, but I’m leaving it because it came out. I do have considerable guilt about how I spend my days. I don’t feel like I am doing enough, or like I am enough. No one complains, I put this on myself. I’m so used to achieving and I feel so lost. I want to feel motivated again. I’m hopeful this whiny stage is the first step to finding an action item. As odd as it seems, this is better than not caring. This is an improvement.

So. I know how to put my mind to something I care about. I know how to make a change. I know how to set goals and achieve them. I just need something to care about. I need something to do. Right now. (Yes of course it’s Van Halen time)