To Go or Not To Go

I have a strange situation, I guess, that I've been dealing with trying to make a decision today. I need input, please....

I am supposed to go to a meeting in the morning. I go every week, and am met by my support system, one of whom I sit with. She's out of town this weekend...

I don't feel safe or comfortable there without her, and my other cheerleader, who is also there, is very busy. I don't want to intrude by asking to sit with him and his large family. I don't feel comfortable sitting alone.... I don't feel cared about or safe, and had decided not to attend. But I need to be there.....

Oh, this sounds so simple! Such a petty thing!!! But what do I do? Once I'm there, I'm stuck for a couple of hours with no way to leave..... do go I and take my chances? It could be very, very unpleasant for me.... or do I just give up and stay home? It's a large gathering, so I really feel like the lone ship on the sea. Help?????

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  • Hi Anyaclaus,

    Sounds like a simple decision, but these can be big and frustrating to sort out.

    I usually ask myself in situations like this, what feels better for me? If my support is not available, and I would tie up several hours feeling not safe, is that where I really need to be? What positive would I take away from going? It might be worth my time to wait until next week, when my support returns, before I attend the group. Just the way I think out decisions like yours.

  • Thank you, Dan. Normally, before PTSD, there was no question about going - it was every week and we all just went. There are some benefits, but with the other issues I have with this particular group, I'm not sure they would outweigh the safety of staying home. Part of me says I need to be there, that's where I belong. The PTSD side of me says no way, stay home, you can't trust any of them. And sooooo..... :) Part of me says I'll be just fine, I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. The PTSD side says but it IS a mountain!!!

    Thanks for your input!

  • You're very welcome, AnyaClaus! Sometimes I just need to bounce it off another person, and it helps me see where things really stand. I can't tell if you've decided to go or not, but let me know which way you decide and how it all works out. :)

  • I'm still torn.... feeling chicken. I'll probably decide in the morning. I'll let you know. :)

  • Sounds good! It's like my sponsor in the 12 step program Adult Children of Alcoholics said when I asked him if I should date a particular woman. "If you do, you'll learn something. If you don't, you'll learn something else." So in essence, you're in a win win situation. :)

  • I have found that being without triggers is better for me, although I may never be able to be completely trigger free...

    Is it pretty sure you'll not be triggered?

    It is important to get out and see the friends, but no one needs to be stuck in a situation where your being triggered and not able to remove yourself from it.

    I have done something like this and if a trigger happens, just go to the bathroom and wait awhile...or outside, or arrange something with a friend to get you somewhere you won't trigger?

    Sometimes I find there is no way of being there without being triggered... I don't go when it gets like that!

  • Thanks, Palomineo. I ended up not going. Without my support system, I just couldn't bring myself to chance it. When my triggers fire, they are so severe I can't stay in the same place. I have to run.... it's hard to get trapped somewhere not knowing if I'll be safe. You know, that's the thing with triggers - they fire when you least expect them!

  • Sounds like you took the helm of your "ship" and kept it in familiar waters. Anyone who's ever been out in wilder waters and had to put their life in the hands of a vessel like a boat or ship would agree that without sufficient tools for navigating challenging bodies of water, the wisest choice is usually to wait it out and make sure you're well prepared. Some consequences just aren't worth the gamble, and it seems perfectly logical to me that a seasoned captain's perspective would differ from one who is new to the experience.

    One thing I find about my own lifelong wrestle with cPTSD is the capacity it has to humble me. One moment (or in one environment) feeling like a seasoned captain, and yet...in another, flipping things around on me. Suddenly it seems like I'm right back to childlike learning - at the start again, the basics, feeling unequipped or ill prepared and often intensely frustrated or rather than humbled, ...humiliated...at times deeply shamed.

    Something that has started to take shape in the past year or so, is this whole new skill - to inch my way on toward dignifying it. It's the shame and humiliation, the beating myself up, etc, that keep me bound inside the cycle.

    It's really hard work, I won't lie, kind of like learning to ride a bike again. I can't tell you how tough that was for me. I still remember scraping the side of my face and body as a kid trying to figure out how to ride without training wheels. I was probably 8yrs old. Most kids get it before then. Oh wow my eyes are welling up just thinking about how that felt. You know, I have had the most thrilling rewards from cycling in my life. I'm proud of that little kid for hanging in there, grateful too.

    So yes, it's taxing to learn some things, but it means that the hard feelings which will strike either way, can get redirected. They're already taxing my inner resources indiscriminately anyway. And since the experience happens whether I want it to or not, if I can manage to find even the tiniest glimmer of good in there, that's the path that offers some hope and what starts the redirecting of - how - I experience it.

    I'll give you a more concrete example of mine, which might help. After being off work for reasons of stress and a relapse of depression, this past spring things finally started to take shape. I found a doctor that accepted not to simply pass me along into the system, but to follow up with me with the medication he was prescribing. After years of trying various approaches and prescription combinations, I had started to feel like a lab animal only no one individual was there from start to finish, or in charge of the lab experiments, if you will.

    This one agreed, and my combined symptoms are at least manageable. My learning disabilities will always be a part of my overall challenge, but I want so much to be more than the sum of my illnesses and struggles! I determined to try aiming where my most truth Me really wanted to aim, toward the opportunity to participate in ...the laboratory, haha, or in the world's progress in furthering the quest to help and heal brain related injuries, illnesses, and various disorders.

    So I applied to a university. I'm taking two classes to prove to myself and the university that accepting my application to their program will be in Their best interest as well as Mine.

    Well, it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it's monumentally HARD!! I pour over this stuff every day, and well into the wee hours, and yet I'm still behind schedule. My first tests for each course came back, 82% in Cognitive Science, (phew!) and ...12/30 or 40% in Neurobiology.

    It hit me SOOO hard that I could hardly maintain my composure, or keep my tears from turning me into a public spectacle. I could barely think after that test. I wandered for hours almost out of body-like. I had put so many hours of into trying to make sense of the course material that I didn't even get to finish it all. I had put every ounce I had into trying to understand and retain it all, between the two courses, but it wasn't enough! And this was so little compared to a full work load!

    I had invested what my children and I couldn't afford on such a big gamble, raised their hopes in me, and my own. I had dared what seemed so over ambitious now, and downright folly to others, who knew the importance of me addressing basic responsibilities, like finding a job, paying bills, and getting the simple things in life back in order.

    What if I couldn't measure up to my own hopes for myself? It's not an exaggeration to say that my dream has become my life glimmer, so to speak. I couldn't ...can't, go back to what it was like before, without my dream, to the grinding away of my sense of hope for myself. I have children to provide for, properly, and to lead into their own lives. There is so much riding on this.. ambitious experiment of mine.

    People look at me and think they see someone like them, and expect me to be capable of the same things as them. And why wouldn't they? I get confused as well just looking in the mirror and Not seeing evidence of what can so easily dis-able my efforts. Except, my performance through life is evidence enough to dispel any doubts. While some things about me work brilliantly, others - malfunction in significant, debilitating ways.

    So, to go back to the example, here I was, walking around the campus in a confounded, devastated daze, agonizing over these parts of my brain that just might not be enough to handle the life it was capable of desiring and dreaming up. I was on my way home, not far from campus, waiting near the train station for my bus, when a something occurred to me, no greater or more lasting than if my eyes had picked up the flash of a firefly from the corner of my eye. Just little glimmer... of thought, a little good admits all those "shipwrecked" ones. (Yes I'm borrowing your ship analogy here. :)

    I thought of people I'd observed with visible trials. Thoughts are briefer than our descriptions of them. It was just a blip, amidst a swarm of distressing, discouraging nearly paralyzing fears. But there it was.

    Much like someone would turn to check for the firefly, almost without thinking, my mind turned for just a moment longer.

    What if people could see my "handicaps", see the parts of my brain that make life this challenging for me? There would be little difference between me and the fellow I saw riding the train a week before, another student attending the same university, mind you. What if people could see mine just like we are capable of seeing this fellow student? And I happen to look at him with sincere admiration.

    What would I hope he would do on a really discouraging day like I was having? Simple: I'd genuinely hope that he wouldn't give up! I'd understand how tough it might be, start to finish, just to accomplish one day of being a university student, but I wouldn't want him to let it go if there was a chance for him to accomplish his goals or dreams. It would take fortitude to face those times. Then I thought of other individuals I've known and admired with various challenges like his, some just through their stories, others personally, and I realized something very valuable. That long before I had ever become conscious that I had any sort of "handicap," I felt a strong affection for individuals who had evident differences from my own abilities. I often hoped to know them. I identified with their stories for some reason, and longed to befriend people I saw almost as beautiful giants of soul, who had such enormous challenges to face. They had always elicited my sincerest compassion and affectionate curiosity, from as little as four years old.

    And then my thoughts took yet another path, it struck me like a burst of light in my mind, what if I had read my own story then? I'd be rooting for me!! I know I would! I'd have compassion for the one whose trials don't show, just as much as for the one whose trials did. And I'd know just what I would hope could happen next - that they'd find the courage inside them..to try again, try one more possibility to overcome the odds.

    So I let my mind follow that bit of light to one that got even brighter, and found my own courage to dig in and try again, try one more possibility, that I just might be like them, these Heros of my girlhood.

    As much as I may have hoped for great things for them, it was the strength of soul required of them, the character their impairments had required, that made them my Heroes, in little things, just moments really, and not the measure of their "accomplishments".

    Now I know I've taken a great liberty in writing this much. I hope that's okay for those who discover it. I truly didn't expect to have this much to share. Hahaha I simply wanted to pass the idea along, that it only takes a tiny little bit of light to redirect the process that you and I both, and so many like us, have to cope with. I'm hoping that maybe it can be a glimmer for you, to catch hold of, as you see your experience and choices from where Dan H. and others like myself happen to see your experience and the wisdom you showed in seeking advice, trying to do your own best, and in the end choosing to be kind with yourself, rather than fighting yourself. Doing battle with the elements is a normal part of life, and learning, but waging self-war can never do us much good, (until we stop I suppose), not even with the logical intent to take on those elements. Going to your meetings is good for you, but what if you cause yourself all sorts of bruises and battle scars for one of them? The point of "doing you good" seems to be to do valuable good, not something that reduces you in any way. Now you're very aware (or mindful) of what it could cost you. You also know the possibility of not having one of the two individuals you mentioned as support in the future. So keep going "captain." ;) The next time you're there and you're feeling safe enough, look for something that could help in the future. It's like building a map for yourself, checking for where the rocks are, where the buoys that help or the calm waters may be, for you. You may forget, so keep track of them, just like on a map. Those make excellent navigation tools.

    Oh...and I just realized...that it's okay for me to be passing the idea along for myself too, as a little glimmer for me in my quiet moments to come, maybe even during my day today, that I've hopefully done one good thing, somehow, with my own difficult experiences.

    As Dan H. wisely predicted, you learned something with the choice you made, which counts as a highly valuable lesson in my own book of little maps. Hahaha Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves on this site. I've been observing, on and off, for months now, unable to speak up. So thank you, if you happen to overlook my having written a bit too much. ;)

  • Thank you so much, Dreamer! :) I will go again next week to the meeting, but always with an eye out for my support system or escape route. I've dealt with this stuff so long now, and been there without my special cheerleaders. It's not been pleasant. One week found me running from the room in tears. Others have proved to me that there are those there I can't trust, I can't depend on, and I feel very vulnerable and alone. I wish I were braver and stronger, but accept that I'm not. Oh, there are times I'm fine, capable of taking on the world, but the other times I'm a whimpering child looking for Mama.

    I have just finished a rework of my meds, and it's wonderful, so far. My doctor is great about keeping track of me and making sure I'm o.k. with things, and willing to take on the challenge to help me find the right combination. I was unhappy with 18-20 hrs a day sleeping, and the weight gain, so have found a new med that has already let me lose 10 lbs! I'm tickled! And I'm awake more often, so I'm capable of at least doing things I need to do. It's just the two of us - my kids are grown - so I have more freedom to listen to my body and mind and make those choices.

    I admire your desire to go back to university!!! That's wonderful! I went to community college a few years ago, after my kids were grown and not long after the last major trauma in my life. As an older student, I decided to concentrate on the subjects I wanted to take. I wasn't in it to get a degree, just brush up on some writing skills I needed for a book I was writing. I knew I wouldn't do well with sciences and maths, so didn't do much with those. And I really enjoyed it! Even that soon after the trauma, I was safe in the classrooms with most of the instructors and students, and my youngest son and husband were taking classes at the same time, so I always had my safety net. It's such a brave act to take on classes where you may fail - I wasn't that brave. Keep going! You may surprise yourself with the hidden abilities you will find.

    Hang in there, and we'll both find those bright spots that will keep us going in the midst of the darkness. There are definitely bright twinkles we can discover on this journey. :D

  • Sorry it's taken me a bit of time to get back to you. I wanted to have everything else aside, so I could "sit" with you a while. ;)

    Anyaclaus, you describe things you experience that I identify with, having experienced very similar things, finding yourself running from the room in tears, or discovering that not everyone in that place intended to be one of refuge, is deserving of your implicit trust, some not at all. That one hurts and disappoints so much. And that there are times you feel you can take on the world and others when you feel like a little child in need.

    My dear I feel as though we have walked many miles in eachother's shoes. I know how monumentally brave you have to be when those high stakes experiences strike. My own transparency in those moments can be so frustrating they become humiliating.

    And yet...you try! That is what I hope you know means a lot to someone like me, reading part of a chapter from your story, and realizing there was someone else, so much like me in the one thing that seems so incredibly different from most everyone I meet. I know the price you're having to pay in those moments, just for trying to move forward with "normal" living.

    It's the trying, on the inside, that means so much, or the heart it takes to consider something that can and does at times produce such an intense experience. It doesn't matter that most don't know, if at least some one does. What's lovely about being here, is just how many others there are who also understand us.

    I have some rough waters to face as well. (Yuck)

    I'll let you know how it goes, or what happens. I've already missed three times now! :( I mean to go every time - and then - I just don't. On the bright side I've worked very hard and more effectively in the meantime. My hope is that I'll walk in and the new efforts I've made will help me to hold my head up with dignity again. The class is tomorrow, late afternoon.

    I'll try to write with an update tomorrow night. Hanging in there right along with you! ;)

    PS: You wrote a book?

  • Yes, I wrote a book about my middle son, Aaron. He was one of those problem children, diagnosed at the age of 18 as a sociopath. The technical term is Antisocial Personality Disorder. You can imagine, I'm sure, the difficulty of raising a child who was so sweet and charming and talented and intelligent, but at the same time, in the privacy of our home, a monster to his family. These are the serial killers/rapists, mass murderers, etc.

    When we got the diagnosis, we were told he could be another Ted Bundy, that there was no treatment or cure, and the best we could expect was life in prison - he would kill someone or be killed. Five years later, almost to the day, he was murdered. It was a relief, but also a deep grief. He couldn't hurt anyone else, but there would be no cure to return my son to me.

    I realized, as we were finishing the judicial system of trials and plea bargains for his murder, that there were many other mothers out there living with the monster, in silence and shame, feeling that no one else understood or cared. So I wrote my story, or rather Aaron's story. The title is "Surviving Aaron". I've heard from so many mothers who have read the book, who have shared the courage and appreciation from my writings, so as hard as it was to write, it was definitely worthwhile.

    It was his life and death that caused my last great trauma, driving me into PTSD. After his death, they found plans he had made to come back and kill us. No place is safe, including home. I mean, my home is safe now, but there is still the fear of the boogyman returning. My eldest son is probably a sociopath, too, and is out there somewhere....

    Be kind to yourself tomorrow. If you are not strong enough, there's always another day. I'm learning to allow myself to be weak if I need to be, to protect myself. It's o.k. when we aren't up to the challenge. That's the thing with PTSD - there will be good times when we're all together and ready to take on the world, and other times when things hit us hard and we go into hiding. I'd rather have the good times, but survive the other times, too.

    Hoping that the meeting tomorrow goes well! <3

  • I've been coping with a wave of tender, highly affected emotions that express themselves readily, almost instantly, through tears. So I'm having greater difficulty steering myself as I would prefer to do, and can do when the symptoms shift into the background. (Big sigh...)

    So, as you might imagine, I didn't attend. I did my best to view it with a positive mindset, though I was admittedly disappointed, but not more than a loving parent would be. I gave value to the work I was doing during the time I would have been in class, comprehending the very information that is soon to be tested on the midterm. In fact, I placed so much value in making up for not being there, that I studied, no kidding, until 5am. Just to lend some insight here, on how days like that feel, I'll share a tidbit from mine yesterday.

    A friend that was over had come to sit in the living room with me for a bit. He wasn't feeling well and ended up dozing off. I had been studying intently, taking notes, making flash cards, and so forth, and looked up because he was waking in daze, wanting to know how long he'd been sleeping. To my shrug that I didn't know his words were: "if you had to guess, how long would you say I've been asleep?" My guess, in my head, a few mins, maybe 15. Then I remembered texts on my phone that had come in just after I had noted that he was snoring. Haha

    Over an hour and a half, nearly two hours after thinking it over carefully, had gone by without my having noted more than what had felt like a few mins. So what have my days been like? Fifteen or more hours vanish in what can feel like just one of those class times.

    This morning was actually lunch our when I woke up, to discover that my phone had lost it's charge, so the alarm didn't go off and I had slept through an appointment I had rescheduled twice already. And it was for the purpose of seeking the specialized service at the university, which I clearly need!

    All I could think was, "not again!"

    Your kindness and advice to be kind to myself come at a valuable time.

    Thank you for sharing about your son and the book that you wrote. I'll definitely look it up when the weather in my head and heart manage to clear.

    Hanging in there with you Anya. ;)

  • It amazes me how quickly time flies! I increased the dose for my new med last night and laid down this morning.... I'm now sure how many hours later it is, but I'm still drowsy!

    You are definitely putting the work into that class, so if it's something you can grasp (some of us just have things that don't make any sense to our minds - math is one of mine), you'll do just fine. Keep up the good work!

    :D

  • Big smile!! Thank you! Already starting to note things that are lighting my thoughts back up again. :) (phew!)

    Hope your medication works out. :)

  • :D Glad I can help!

  • I wanted to say hello to you again, Anya, and Equis-Canine, and Dan, and anyone else who may have been with us in spirit in this thread. The bit of friendship experienced here has meant a lot to me, since I haven't made new friends in such a long time and rarely hear from the ones I've known over the years.

    I didn't attend any classes. Couldn't seem to do it - but - I did haul myself out there for the mid-term at least. ;) I worked incessantly, right up to the very last few minutes before walking in to write it.

    I learned a lot, but I drove my body and mind relentlessly in the process and there's a price to pay for doing things like that, and I've been paying it.

    Yesterday I read Michele Rosenthal's article about how caffeine and lack of sleep actually make PTSD symptoms worsen! :s I can attest to that by experience now. My mind suffered so much. It felt as though it had been reduced, drastically. By that I mean my intellectual capacity or ability to make sense of information, were directly impacted, as well as the rate at which I was processing information. Everything worked so slowly, no matter what I did. Imagine remembering a skill or natural ability you were once capable of but no longer having that available to you. It might be similar to losing your eyesight, maybe temporarily, maybe not, or the full range of use of your own limbs, and yet they're right there to be used but won't do what you know they once could.

    I gained so much empathy and compassion for others. It made me take a much closer look at what others actually go through. I developed so much respect for the vast mountains of difficulty others have to climb in this life.

    It was a very humbling experience! As if PTSD wasn't humbling enough, right? hahaha In the future, I'm going to need to remember to stop underestimating just how much more there always is to be learned from life!

    I can say with dignity that getting through it has taught me about the whole, "digging deep" which Michele always talks about. I realize now how important it will be to do more than dig with my eyes shut, though, because I want more than trying to live life again, instead of the passive existence I've known for so long. I want to enjoy that process!

    Hope each of you are well and still following those lovely glimmers. I think of you often while reflecting and when I think of what it means to each of us to experience those and stay with them. :)

  • It's good to hear from you, Dreaming! It is amazing, isn't it, how things have a way of waking us up to the experiences of life, whether ours' or others. It is hard sometimes to see things through others' eyes, to see how hard they are struggling, when we are struggling so hard ourselves. I think it helps us take our eyes off of ourselves if we can see a glimpse of others. I know it helps me. :)

    And I completely understand about the mind struggles. I was on meds that caused me to forget things.... things I'd been asking clients for 20+ years - name, address, city, etc, I'd forget to ask! I'd get one or two, but it was like I'd never asked the others. It was nuts! It wasn't real noticeable until Santa and I ended up at an engagement - in the wrong town! My sweetheart looked at me so frustrated and confused, and asked what the problem was. I had to admit I'd been struggling with my memory for a couple of years by then. I've since changed the meds - memory is much better! :)

    It's been a rough couple of weeks.... lots of serious triggers, coupled with depression. The triggers are still there, still firing, but the depression is gone. YAY!!! It's nice to feel like a human being again. :)

    Still searching for those little glimmers..... :D

  • I wanted to say hello to you again, Anya, and Equis-Canine, and Dan, and anyone else who may have been with us in spirit in this thread. The bit of friendship experienced here has meant a lot to me, since I haven't made new friends in such a long time and rarely hear from the ones I've known over the years.

    I didn't attend any classes. Couldn't seem to do it - but - I did haul myself out there for the mid-term at least. ;) I worked incessantly, right up to the very last few minutes before walking in to write it.

    I learned a lot, but I drove my body and mind relentlessly in the process and there's a price to pay for doing things like that, and I've been paying it.

    Yesterday I read Michele Rosenthal's article about how caffeine and lack of sleep actually make PTSD symptoms worsen! :s I can attest to that by experience now. My mind suffered so much. It felt as though it had been reduced, drastically. By that I mean my intellectual capacity or ability to make sense of information, were directly impacted, as well as the rate at which I was processing information. Everything worked so slowly, no matter what I did. Imagine remembering a skill or natural ability you were once capable of but no longer having that available to you. It might be similar to losing your eyesight, maybe temporarily, maybe not, or the full range of use of your own limbs, and yet they're right there to be used but won't do what you know they once could.

    I gained so much empathy and compassion for others. It made me take a much closer look at what others actually go through. I developed so much respect for the vast mountains of difficulty others have to climb in this life.

    It was a very humbling experience! As if PTSD wasn't humbling enough, right? hahaha In the future, I'm going to need to remember to stop underestimating just how much more there always is to be learned from life!

    I can say with dignity that getting through it has taught me about the whole, "digging deep" which Michele always talks about. I realize now how important it will be to do more than dig with my eyes shut, though, because I want more than trying to live life again, instead of the passive existence I've known for so long. I want to enjoy that process!

    Hope each of you are well and still following those lovely glimmers. I think of you often while reflecting and when I think of what it means to each of us to experience those and stay with them. :)

  • You write beautifully. Thank you for the firefly, which will now become my favorite insect.

  • How wonderful, for you and the firefly! (Haha) And thank you, very much, for taking the time to hear me out. It felt like hard work, to open up at all, but I wanted so much to share the good I couldn't see before. So I suppose in the sharing as well as hearing, we each received a gift. I'll be sure to think of you the next time I'm fortunate enough to see one of those lovely little creatures! ☺️✨

  • I've learned the importance of being open, even when it's hard. You never know who needs to hear what you have to say, the lessons you've learned, the glimpses of hope, or the experiences. I know many who hear the depth of my latest trauma (12 years ago) who have gained courage and comfort and strength from it. It makes it worthwhile, no matter how painful it is in the telling. Thank you for your encouragement! And you do write very well, painting pictures with your words. :)

  • Oh I replied above and hadn't seen this. There really is an awful to be gained from sharing. And I love the compliment - wow! "Painting pictures with your words." I'm saving that! ;) Thanks!!

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