My goal this year for this blog was to “make it personal” and let you all into my world. I wrote my last post about stress and it’s effect on your weight… and again, I escaped sharing. Let me tell you about my challenge with stress and weight.I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it’s horrible. I’ve had almost three decades of therapy and I’m certain it’s the reason I’ve avoided some of the more destructive parts of the disorder and managed to sustain a marriage without taking a daily medication–which is remarkable. I didn’t have formal trauma therapy until almost four years ago–and it definitely made a monumental difference. Mostly for the better.
But just today I found myself crying to my husband that “this can’t possibly be better”. Our household is dealing with an ENORMOUSLY stressful situation that is dragging on for a good three weeks at this point. The situation is a huge trauma trigger for me and is compounded by another (unavoidable) situation in my home that’s another huge trauma trigger for me. I spend most days lately trying to avoid reality–distracting myself as much as possible.
And it makes for a grumpy mommy.
And seeing that makes mommy grumpier because she hates that it’s making her a grumpy mommy.
Are you seeing how this spirals downward? Welcome to my world.
Still, my husband insists that this is better. That I am better and easier to deal with than I have ever been. With rare exception, people outside of my immediate family have never seen the beast. As I have come further into recovery–I have allowed one or two people see me when I’m having a particularly difficult time and I feel like that was a mistake. Thankfully, these incidents are pretty rare anymore.
PTSD is not like having a bad history. It’s a literal rewiring of your brain to react even when you fully and cognitively know there is nothing to react to. The inability to control that reaction is enough to make a person insane. The constant barrage of helpful tacts and comments from people that don’t understand (and often think you “just don’t want to get better” or you “just don’t want help”) is maddening.
So let’s add that.
The only medication options are addictive. I come from a family full of addicts.
Let’s now add that.
There is SO. MUCH. that needs to get done in my household and my house that is not getting done and I feel like I should be able to do them… and not being able to do them is making things worse.
Toss that on the pile.
All of this is driven by biochemistry. Chemicals. Chemicals I can’t get under control because of the rewiring of my brain to react to things it doesn’t need to react to. I have come SO. FAR. I can feel it. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was a miracle for me when I finally found a great EMDR therapist (the first three were horrible). I have had things happen that I know would have driven me through the roof “before”–things that would have sent me driving off and leaving my family behind in my overwhelming upset and sometimes rage. It was that crazy. It hasn’t been that way in a long time, but that is how crazy it could get.
But for as far as I have recovered, I will never be fully recovered. And I will always struggle because my triggers are tied to daily family life. I will always have a higher level of stress than the typical person no matter how much I do to try to control it.
So life becomes a gentle balance of knowing that I have this condition that will fight with me on being healthy, and not allowing that to deter me from trying to be healthy despite it. I still need to find every way I can to manage the stress. I need to exercise. I need to meditate. I need to practice radical acts of self-care (I totally need to get better at that last one). I need to spend more time with my tribe–laughing and dancing and being happy. I need to spend a lot more time near salt water and in nature. I need to get back to the things that I did when I felt my best… hiking, being near the ocean, being in the sunshine, laughing with people who “get” me.
I still need to eat as well as I possibly can. Not for the weight, but for the health. For my liver enzymes and cholesterol levels and blood sugar regulation. Not to mention what the wrong foods do to our mental health. I need to eat well even if my waistline never changes because food isn’t just about weight–it’s about giving your body clear information. For those of us battling conditions that may keep us heavy, eating well becomes bigger than ever: our bodies can’t afford to get any more screwed up.
And I need to know that it’s possible that I may never fit into some of my best-loved outfits again–or at least not for a while. At least not during this phase of excessive stress in my family (which would be stressful for any family, but double-whammies my household) and which might have fallout for months to come. It means that my face may never have clear, glowing skin again, although my Chinese herbalist has helped that tremendously by helping my “angry liver”–part of this whole mess.
But it doesn’t mean simply throwing my hands in the air and giving up. Because everything I do–while it may not help my weight–helps my overall health and well-being. My weight is not the be-all-end-all indicator of my health; but being large enough to have a concerning Body Mass Index means that I need to be diligent in checking my lab work and other health indicators to make sure that my overall health profile is being managed no matter what I look like in a swim suit. And it means buying some clothes that I love that fit me so that I feel good about myself. It means dressing myself for the person I am instead of the person I think the world sees. They will see what I show them.
I have identified the source of my issue and I have done my best to address the root cause. I won’t stop doing that. When you think there is nothing left to do and you’re still overweight or have some other trait that makes you feel like you’re not healthy or maybe even have some health condition–that is your charge: figure out the root cause, understand that, and do what you can to help it. But if it’s something like my situation where you might not be able to ever put it fully to bed, make peace with your limitations. Run right to the limit. Do all you can; but make peace with the reality of it and have grace with your humanity.
There is a difference between fighting it and accommodating it. I accommodate my disability. I don’t give in to it and I don’t hate it or fight it anymore. Because hating and fighting will create more of a chemical storm in my body that will make me unhealthy and ultimately kill me. That is every bit creating the stress chemicals that the PTSD creates.
Don’t let it kill you. My goal is to be #foxyby50 and I still have a few years left to get there. I want to be one of those 50 year old women people see and have hope that it can be better even as we age… no matter where we are at 35, 40 or 45. Every day a new, clean slate is waiting for you to write your story. And there will be a new one there again tomorrow.
Much love to you, mamas. #jointhejourney