The complexity of Change and how it affects my new normal. I was inspired to write about this for several reasons. I may totally suck at expressing what is in my head here on paper or this screen, but here goes….
It is not all inclusive of every situation in my life, how I see people outside of me in general, how I exist inside myself, or how I handle stress overall in every situation….but it comes pretty darn close to kind of manifesting a picture of an inner struggle that is life as I know it now and my desire to overcome, understand myself, and help others who might experience this after trauma not feel so alone.
I don’t handle “change” as gracefully as I used to. Change in general I have gotten pretty okay with, as a genral rule, if done in advance with plenty of warning or notice (unless it is something time sensitive and important then it is instant anxiety). However I have come to notice that the little stuff…stuff that probably shouldnt even bother me, or wouldnt have before the wreck…does now. Though that can be inconsistent too.
I know…I am consistently inconsistent. Imagine how horrible this inconsistency is for the person going through it who now thrives better with lists, strategies, consistency….or order.
Sometimes last minute changes leave me feeling just gloomy, depressed, and sad. Sad is not my normal emotion with this. Mostly it is being irritated …okay…highly irritable….when things change. Following through the plan has become very important to my daily feeling of a successful day.
I feel I cannot leave the house and feel calm without my to do list (this can be mental or written…though more often it is written). This list will be in a specific order too. If things are done out of order, I get irritated or frustrated and the chance I forget something increases.
Small things/changes that should truly be insignificant in the day that involves me personally, just are not that small to me…they can be monstrously huge in my perception at that time…in that instant.
I cannot explain the sheer anxiety that those little changes cause me now. I used to not mind them so much before the wreck…I would definitely adjust quicker or maybe I just wasn’t aware of them at all…things that just cause hiccoughs throughout a normal day (whether they are small or large). Things that wouldnt slow me down…but now can seemingly paralyze me.
Now though…it is so important to stick to the plan.
If I analyze something afterwards…sometimes I realize it shouldn’t bother me or that I am being ridiculous..or how I should have handled it differently….yet I plan my day based on lists and when those lists change it messes up my day….it throws me off course.
I get that morose feeling when I forget things….it is usually appointments I forget and conversations…important things I am sure I will remember…it is humiliating. I make lots of lists. It kills the mood if I forget them. I am still working on adjusting to that part.
I have come to somewhat have a sense of humor about all this (this depends on what kind of brain day I am having for sure). Some days are better than others.
I recently had someone express it sounded like OCD or impulsivity.
I guess I never recognized it as an OCD thing or being impulsive. I have never had OCD in my life or been diagnosed with that ….maybe it is OCD or not OCD at all. I just know it is inconvenient.
Sometimes if I get all worked up about something (positive or negative), get prepared for it, have all my notes ready, have all the pieces in place and it gets cancelled, or I am late and it gets cancelled, or it ran over and I am late to othet things….that is a real problem for me.
If I am depending on a certain schedule that day and then realize too late that I have looked at the wrong day on the calendar….I sink into embarrassment and self-defeat and dark places inside myself. This can also manifest itself as a sheer and utter sadness, or complete internal rage. I cannot tell you the times I have missed an appointment because I forgot about it (even if I looked at the planner 2-3 hours before that), or the opposite… shown up to an appointment early, proud of myself, to be told I dont have one that day. I have gotten better about checking my planner and my phone to compare dates and times, before arguing with the receptionist. Dealing with the feelings after are another story. Those emotions can very from feeling relief (if I was running late anyway and now get a second chance) to feeling confused and crazy ( if I am really quite sure about the day, the facts, and was feeling confident).
My husband will often accuse me of micromanaging his driving and trying to control his driving and what we do with the day. I assure him that is not it at all or what is going through my head. It is not about HIM. It is about ME. For example, there is a certain way I go to specific places. If he goes a different way it throws me off and then I get anxiety about being late. (I DESPISE being late to anything), or I feel a twinge of irritability that I have to silently or not so silently quell. Also if I gasp or make any sounds at all he is like…”knock it off I’m a good driver Caren when have I ever been in an accident?” I tell him I am and was a good driver too yet accidents still happen. I tell him if something is scary to me. I tell him if something is freaking me out….when things seem enhanced around me and magnified…sometimes just taking an exit ramp can feel like we are tipping over on our side and the wheels have left the ground and enormous fear overwhelms me and I have a deathgrip on whatever I can hold onto and beg him to slow down (even though the wheels dont leave the ground). Even if I look at the speedometer and can “see” we are going an appropriate speed….it feels so different. He doesnt understand that about me now and it has created opportunities for even the kids to get in on comments to mom about whatever is going on or join in on making jokes about it. Other days he can take the same exit faster and it doesnt bother me a bit.
I go one of two ways with anxiety. It is also depending on what kind of a “brain” moment I am in. What I call “enhanced” or “tunnel vision” with my anxiety. Enhanced means that suddenly colors are brighter, lights are brighter, sounds are louder, I notice every movement around us, its intensity in minute ways. This can last moments to all day. Tunnel vision is like when a car is sliding towards me and all I can see is that car and all the peripheral stuff disappears until the car stops sliding. The sliding (whether it is continued or stopped), even if a slight shift in the lane or a flat out across the intersection slide by that car appears greater and larger….it triggers these deep emotions that are just automatic and overwhelming, and often debilitating emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically. (That is when I feel overstimulated or burst into tears, and it’s time to go home NOW, or an unavoidable nap ensues, .or a meltdown…depending on how intense the situation is).
I then get annoyed or irritable because I am genuinely upset or scared in that moment in the vehicle. I literally feel like something horrific is about to happen or has happened. He tries to joke with me to make me laugh…I have learned to try to go along with that….but sometimes I just start crying instead and not even mean to…then I am mad at myself. It’s not his fault I feel this way. So being mad at him in those moments is not helpful. So I am always analyzing my feelings, my reactions, my words. Sometimes not until after the fact….which can cause some tense moments.
Another example is I am getting ready to leave the house. I have to do things in a certain way now. Okay I think Bag, notebook, pen, planner, phone, charger, wallet, cane, and keys. Sometimes keys comes first but that is the order . Now if one of the kids, or my husband, or anyone, or a phone call interupt that mental walkthrough of the list, and I don’t start the list over…. then I ALWAYS forget something and if its the planner or the phone I am really screwed and it ruins everything about the day if I end up out there without them. I really depend on all those things. Even if I dont use them all on my outing just KNOWING they are with me and functional matters.
Change sometimes comes with complex anxiety. Sometimes it does not. Little things can appear like big things and big things either matter or they don’t. Functioning despite all those nuances is the key. Sometimes finding the right key to all those “locks” is the challenge. I cannot explain it beyond that.