Sunday, September 27, 2015

Easy . . .

Someone posted a link to this article on a board I frequent on Ravelry.  It's entitled "Are You Emotionally Overweight?"  I believe that self-talk is extremely important, and not just in terms of weight loss.  It's important in all areas of our lives.  I get the occasional eyeroll when I say, "let's relanguage that, shall we?" but words can hurt.  It's up to us to police our own self-talk and shift it to the positive.  I do find myself saying things to myself that I would never - ever - say to a friend.  That's a pretty big clue that something needs to be relanguaged.  I work on it.  A lot.  The part of the article that touched me the most, however, was the part about "finding your one word."  How do you  distill all that stuff flying around in your head down to one, comforting word?  A word to speak to stop a negative barrage before it can get started.  I narrowed it down to two.  It was between "breathe," and "easy."  Breathe, as in take a breathe; and easy, as in what you say to a skittish animal to get it to calm down.

I've chosen now.  I've decided that my one word is "easy."  It has meaning for me in many contexts . . . take it easy; easy does it; make it easy on yourself; easy peasy (lemon squeezy).  I'm hoping that I will be able to remember to use it.  That seems to be the trick for me with any sort of coping mechanism - remembering to use it, or using it in time for it to be able to work.  I don't know if I would have been able to head off Friday's PTSD episode had I started my breathing meditation sooner, but any tools I can add to my toolkit and have at my disposal can only benefit me  :-)  And just because my usual breathing meditation didn't work this time doesn't mean it won't work again.  It works pretty much all the time - just not this last time, and I think that was because I might not have started in enough time.

I am always looking for ways to make things easier for myself, because, according to a lot of people in my life, I do too much.  All the time too much.  At the moment, I have too many African violets again - 61 varieties.  I've been waiting on many of them to bloom for the first time to see if they will bloom true to their documented/registered description.  They don't always, and when they don't it makes it very easy for me to let them go to their Great Reward.  With very rare exceptions, I don't give shelf space to plants I cannot show.  I did make some hard choices this morning, however, because space on the shelves is at a premium at the moment and I had to let some things go.  In addition, The leaves I put down back in June have sprouted and now I have babies to separate and pot up.  I'll eventually have a little more space on the shelf where the domed tray used to be, but the babies will grow into full sized plants eventually . . .   You see the problem, yes?  :-D

I should be downstairs at my potting bench, potting things.  But it's Sunday and I would much rather just relax today - and I would like to get a workout in.  Those things are going to take priority, along with laundry and other chores so that I can be ready for the workweek to come.

Other topics flying through my brain this morning . . .
  • I think I've just gotten hooked into the Benedict Cumberbatch/BBC version of Sherlock Holmes.  No clue what season  I'm on on PBS, but I think I'm going to have to get the first season(s) from Netflix and watch them all.  It's really well done.
  • Almost no knitting got done on vacation.  Seriously.  But I'm nearly halfway down the calf on the second sock of the Elementary Watson Socks - they are #15 on the WIPs list.  I did not carry the pattern down the foot on these. (Seems like Sherlock and his sidekick are everywhere these days, doesn't it?  ;-D)
  • I'm breathing really well now that my asthma meds are at a better level for me. (Yay!)
  • I went back to Weight Watchers last week.
It's Autumn.  Ed Sheeran rocks.  :-)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Trigger . . .

I have PTSD.  I don't talk about it much, and I have done really well working through it. It's a relatively recent thing for me.  I'm not a war veteran, I was in a bad car accident last fall.  All the airbags deployed.  I must have instinctively turned my head away from the accident at the point of impact.  I'm left-handed, so it's natural that I would have turned my head to the left - unfortunately, because I did this, when the side curtain airbag deployed, it deployed across my right ear and the right side of my face, pinning my head to the driver's side window rather than mitigating the impact.  I was trapped in the car and when I came to/opened my eyes after the impact, I could not move and I could not see.  And there was smoke.  I thought my car might have been on fire - and I couldn't get out.  For someone who was already mildly claustrophobic, this was not a good thing.  I somehow managed to calm myself down enough to figure out a way to get my seatbelt off and open the car door, and the smoke was from the radiator.  The car was NOT on fire.  Unfortunately, since the accident I have had episodes of PTSD.

I've worked through the episodes I initially had that would occur while I was driving or when I was at intersections similar to the one where the accident occurred.  Now, it's very rare that I have one in the car.  I'm certainly a more cautious driver, though, and I don't think I'm the best passenger any longer because it's sometimes way more frightening when I am not in control of the vehicle.

I buy seats for plays, concerts and events defensively now - I go for aisle or box seats where I won't be crowded and pushed and shoved, and I have to make sure I know where the exits are so I can get out.

For the most part, I do really well.  I know that the accident was not my fault.  I worked with my former therapist to develop some coping strategies that really help when I'm driving, and I know that now, it's mostly very crowded situations that trigger for me - situations where I feel trapped or where I feel like I can't get out.  I left a number of holiday parties last December because there were just too many people and I was afraid that if something were to happen (you know, like a fire . . . ) that I wouldn't be able to get out.

I take the train to work every day, and I have never had any PTSD episodes on it.  I try to always get a window seat and I know where all the exits are.  I even sit in car that's more toward the end of the train because in the cars up front, people stand and block the exits long before their stop is called.  I've never had an issue.  Until today.

I made a brief post on FB about my experience today, and three of my friends clicked "like."  I couldn't understand why they would say they liked that I had a PTSD episode on the train - and then I figtured that I must not have been clear in my post so I deleted it.  But my heart rate is still up and I've been off the train for more than an hour, so I decided it might help to write a bit about it.

The train I take is an electric train and there was a problem in the main station that left tracks 4, 5, and 6 with no power.  I got on a train that never left and we were all instructed to get off the train and wait for the train to come on track 3 - it would not run express but would make all stops.  When something like this happens there are hundreds of people stuck trying to get home.  You can't get your regular train, which means that there are a LOT of people all wanting to take the first available train.

I got on the first available train not thinking anything of it.  I got a seat and they announced that there were two more empty trains coming right behind that one that people could take.  In hindsight, I should have gotten off the train and waited, but I was reading and it didn't occur to me at all that the situation might not be best for me.  It was standing room only.  People got off at every stop, but as we got closer and closer to my stop, I realized that there were still a LOT of people standing in the aisle and blocking the exit.  I started doing the breathing meditation that often helps me in the car:  Breathe in Peace, Breath out Fear. It wasn't helping very much.

I stood up just after the stop before my stop to try to get to the vestibule.  I moved past people who were not getting off at my stop, but I couldn't get out to the vestibule.  If I could have gotten out there, I think I might have been OK.  But I couldn't.  I held it together and I was able to get off the train without pushing anyone out of my way.  My heart was pounding and I just kept moving down the platform to the stairs, through the tunnel, and then practically running out to the sidewalk past the post office where I had to stop and attempt to get my fight-or-flight under control.  I walked home with my heart pounding.

I guess this is a very good reminder to me that (1) I need to pay attention to my surroundings; and (2) the holidays are coming and on the day before a holiday when people often get out early, the trains are going to be really full - I should probably plan to take a later train or stand in the vestibule all the way home.  And now the adrenaline has worn off and I'm exhausted.  Going to figure out something for a late dinner and lie down on the sofa for a little while.

My exciting Friday night . . .