PTSD and After Effects of Abusive Relationships

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A couple nights ago I was feeling so confused and conflicted inside that I started to feel a little bit claustrophobic. Some of you may not understand that feeling if you’ve never had it yourself, but it is something I have experienced more than once when the emotional and rational parts of my brain just can’t seem to find common ground. It is even worse when the emotional parts of your brain are telling you different things at the same time too.

Part of my brain might be telling me that someone does care about me because they buy me stuff (they are so generous!) and make such a fuss over me whenever I see them. While another part of my brain is reminding me of the times they fucked me over and left me to cry alone. From what I understand, this is a common thing experienced by those who have been victims of abuse. There is a real trauma bond that is created between abuser and abused, which makes it so very hard to see the abuser for what they really are and to be able to keep your wits about you when they suddenly do something nice or swear yet again that they’ve “changed”.

I know I have complex PTSD and a buttload of cognitive dissonance going on in this weary head of mine. I know that the healing process is long, and realistically, never-ending in some ways. I know that none of it was my fault, even though I still struggle with feelings of guilt, insecurity, and inadequacy. I know that I have made wide and sweeping relationship changes I had to make for my own welfare, but I still find myself feeling sorrow for what could or should have been.

I am often confused and desperate to understand what is beyond understanding. And I guess I have to make peace with that. I really have no other choice.

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Mother’s Day Drama and Us “Entitled” Millenials

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Sorry I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been focusing on other things, like trying to get back into vlogging on YouTube and starting up my Instagram. By the way, if you aren’t already following me on both of those, feel free to check them out!

Today I’m feeling pretty bad. I’ve had a high amount of anxiety, which seems to be partly left over from the weekend. Mother’s Day is always a little stressful because of the complicated relationship I have with my mother. I did go visit her in Indiana Sunday, which was a good time, but the trip and socialization really wore me out, not to mention all the mixed feelings I have whenever I spend time with my mom.

I experienced a variety of emotions, including sadness, regret, and sorrow. And as always, I feel a deep need for love from my mother, even though I’m not sure if she can always fill that need the way I desire. The last few times I have seen her, I have also been rather saddened to see her aging. I don’t know what it is, but seeing your parents visibly aging is so depressing.

I saw my psychiatrist today and it went ok, but left me feeling really down. Perhaps because we talked about my relationship with my mom, or maybe because he seemed hurried today and didn’t have a lot of time, which is easy to convert into feeling rebuffed when you are insecure like me. I often feel guilt about taking up people’s time anyhow, so when they seem in a hurry, it makes me feel even worse. I guess that is just my lousy self-esteem. It is funny that millenials are often described as so “entitled”, but I am completely the opposite! I don’t feel entitled to much of anything, including people’s time and attention….even when I’m paying for it!

Meet My New Reborn Doll, Anya!

I got a new reborn doll that I absolutely love! I thought I would share the video of her in case anyone is interested in that type of thing! I feel like I really bonded with her immediately. Getting into reborn dolls has really kind of been a comforting, distracting hobby for me to get into. I think it has even helped my depression a little bit. Now, if only something would help the anxiety….

Getting Out Isn’t Always the Answer

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Many, many times, when I have been severely depressed or anxious, I have heard the repeated suggestion that I just “get out and do something”. I think this is a common misunderstanding that people have about depression and anxiety, that the cure is always just going out and finding something to do.

Personally, I can say that if I am mildly or moderately depressed or anxious, getting out can indeed be a huge help. It is a good way to distract myself and can make my life feel less empty and more meaningful.

However, if I am severely depressed or anxious, “getting out” is absolutely NOT the answer, and I know this from experience. Whenever I have been severely depressed and I somehow managed to make myself leave the house, I have just been a teary, numb mess who ends up feeling worse for being unable to stop the tears in public. During these times, I am unable to join in with anything going on around me and will just sit there and cry and feel embarrassed, wishing desperately I had never left home.

As for times of severe anxiety, I often also deal with severe irritability and a tendency to snap at others, even when I don’t mean to do so. “Going out” when in this state can actually damage relationships because people wonder why you are taking it out on them, even if you absolutely don’t intend to do so. Not to mention the fact that severe anxiety often comes with intense panic attacks, which are something that is horrible to experience in public. Panic attacks suck no matter where you are when you have them, but given the choice I would always choose to be in the comfort of my own home dealing with one rather than out in an unpredictable public environment.

Family Issues and Ex-Pastor’s Wife Resentment

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So I am going through a couple things right now. For one, my already strained relationship with my mother seems to be going farther downhill. To get a bit of the backstory on our relationship, you can check out this post. Anyhow, ever since I confronted my mother about the past, I could feel her slowly backing away. She now lives in another state and at first she would call me once or twice a week and would call back within a day if I called her. Now she doesn’t return my calls for a week at a time and it has been three weeks since she last called me, even though she said she would call me in a few days the last time we talked.

I can’t help but feel a little snubbed and like I am slowly being phased out of her life, which doesn’t surprise me now that she has remarried and doesn’t need me so much anymore. This has always pretty much been the pattern when she gets a man in her life. I stop mattering as much. Honestly, there have been times I’ve considered going “no contact” because the little bit of contact we have now only tends to make me sadder, and the more I feel put aside and ignored, the more I hurt.

I’ve also been dealing with some pent up resentment I didn’t even realize I had about the years I spent as a pastor’s wife. For the first 11 years or so of our 15 year marriage, my husband was a pastor. In the past few years we have kind of drifted from the faith and become agnostic, which is a huge change from what our lives used to be. However, I just realized when having a conversation with my husband the other night, how much being a pastor’s wife for so many years deeply bothered me.

For one thing, I constantly felt judged by the congregation and compared to previous or other pastors’ wives that the congregation knew. I was not old-fashioned. I was not meek and submissive. I did not want to teach, play piano, or lead anything. It just isn’t my personality. My social anxiety makes leading anything a horrifying thought for me, but yet, I found myself almost forced to sometimes be in these roles I hated. I was pretty much forced to teach at times, and while I loved the kids, I felt panic at the responsibility. No one helped or trained me, I was just thrown right in. At one point, I had a panic attack and burst into tears about my fear of teaching in front of the head pastor, his wife, and my husband and yet none of them seemed to take it seriously and pretty much just patted me on the shoulder and said I would be all right. But I wasn’t. Even when I found out I had autism and tried to explain to the head pastor why that made social things so hard for me, his response was that everyone has those problems. But no – everyone does not!!!

My husband now realizes how many mistakes he made by pushing me. He is sorry and has genuinely apologized for putting pressure on me and making me feel like I had to do things that made me anxious to the point of sickness. He realizes now that he learned that behavior from his own parents who pressured him constantly about being involved in church and often tended to ignore his feelings if he didn’t want to do something. Like most people, he was acting out the unhealthy patterns of his family as an adult and unfortunately, I got the brunt of it.

Good Therapy Session Update, and Books for Emotional Healing

I had a really good therapy session today. We talked more about the symptoms I am currently experiencing which might be related to a mood disorder vs what might be related to PTSD and my past. On the mood disorder (or Bipolar) front, I think I have made some progress, especially when it comes to sleeping and making hasty decisions I later regret during hypomanic phases. Unfortunately, not much seems to help the depression side of it, whether it be cognitive therapy techniques or medicine.

As I told my therapist today, I feel like my personal “normal” emotional state starts at -1 (mildly to moderately depressed), so I only really have down to go from there if the depression worsens, which it often does. According to my mood charting so far, I have about the same number of mildly to moderately depressed days as I have moderately to severely depressed days. And then I have a day here or there where it goes even lower and those are the dangerously depressed days. It actually makes me feel a little better though to know some of it is probably the mood disorder and not just me “refusing to get well”, which I have sometimes accused myself of in the past. After all, if I really WANT to be well, why aren’t I yet? That is the way I used to think about it, but with a mood disorder it doesn’t work that way.

We also talked about the affirmations I have been doing, which I have actually been doing a good job of keeping up with! I even do some mirror work (where you say positive affirmations to yourself while looking into your eyes in the mirror). It really does help! Below I have attached a photo of two inspirational books I am currently reading regarding affirmations:

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The first, “The Body Heals Itself” by Emily A. Francis is a fascinating look at the emotional connection to our muscular system and chronic pain conditions. I know for sure that my physical problems DEFINITELY flare up when emotional issues surface, so there is no doubt a strong mind-body connection. The book includes research, affirmations, stretches, and other practical modalities to try for relief, each separated into specific sections about each body part. I am most interested in the back pain and foot pain sections myself, as I suffer greatly from chronic back pain and plantar fasciitis.

The second book is Jack Canfield’s “Success Affirmations”, which I haven’t been as impressed with, but am giving a chance. For me the affirmations in this book are a bit too long and drawn out. I tend to like simple and to-the-point things better overall.

Support Group and Social Exhaustion

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Today hasn’t been the best day mental-health wise. I just woke up around an hour ago and it took me until now to drag myself out of bed because I honestly just didn’t want to move, let alone get up and face the day.

Yesterday wasn’t a good day either. I’m not sure what was going on, but I felt sick and exhausted the whole day. I did make myself go to a group meeting yesterday (a recovery from religion support group). My husband is helping to lead the group and it is fascinating to hear everyone’s personal stories about religion and how specific forms of indoctrination affected each of them differently. Some of those who come truly have experienced abuse at the hands of religious leaders and organizations, much like I have in my past (mostly due to my messed up family).

The meeting lasted almost three hours, which socially exhausted me. Maybe some of you don’t experience social exhaustion, but when you are autistic, being social takes so much focus and attention to do it “right”, that it always leaves me burned out and just wanting to go home and nap. Add to that, the social anxiety I had about going to the group in the first place, and I guess it is no wonder that I felt like crap both physically and mentally most of the day.

I think today I’m just going to try to take it easy and recover from the exhaustion as much as I can. I need to have my precious time alone and indulge in some distractions to take my mind off real life. I definitely welcome hearing from you guys though!