Just using the poem for the number, for that’s how many sessions I’ve gone through with the guy I still think of as my “new” psychologist. (The last one was three years, stagnating for two and a half of them.). It’s not been that many months, and December is going to push the mental health budget out a lot. It already has.
In previous years I’ve tried to simply stamp through the holidays with as little help as possible. Those of you who’ve been reading along know why the holidays are so bad for me—everything, from Thanksgiving on, triggers at best bad memories, and at almost worst, deeply emotional flashbacks. I haven’t suffered the absolute worst, a full flashback, for only just four years. That’s not very long, especially compared to “never” for the general population.
Actually, let me digress briefly to describe what a full flashback is like for me, since ’tis the season for me to apparently teeter at the edge of sanity. This is what it’s like: it’s not realistic, it’s not at all like an actual replay of past events. Instead, it’s like reality has been replaced by the horrible plasticity of a nightmare, and your perception and logic is about as good as it is in dreams, which is to say, not very. And you remember the time about as completely as you might remember a nightmare, which is also not very. Really, “waking nightmare” is, to me, a better term than “flashback.”
Getting back on topic, vaguely….
My new bartender is a good one. He sussed out the horror of the holidays for me, and gave one of the symptoms an actual name: anxiety.
I don’t think of my general state as one of anxiety. Other people may think so, and they’re probably right; for me, this is just normal. Even when I feel empty, apparently I still feel anxious, and I can’t tell because anxious is a ground state to me. It’s why the Xanax isn’t effective: not because it doesn’t have an effect, because it most definitely does, but because one’s supposed to take it upon noticing one is anxious, and as I can’t tell, I never know when to take it. Usually by the time I’m, oh, gibbering madly on Twitter, it’s a bit late.
This is also normal for someone with PTSD, chronic or not. You end up with a state of continuous awareness, your subconscious always keeping your guard up, consuming precious and not easily renewable energy and resources, like sanity. And that state, for me, translates as a constant level of anxiety.
To me, the oddest thing is that even though I’m constantly anxious (or so it seems), I’m still affected by it. Okay, that sounds trite, but I kind of expected that I would have gotten used to it, like one gets used to a smell and doesn’t smell it anymore, but apparently it does not work that way for emotions, or psychology, or whatever. I guess the fact that I can’t recognize if I’m gibbering madly or not should have been a big clue, but I kept missing it for some reason.
So, a second appointment in the week with the candy man—er, psychiatrist—was also useful, because now I’m getting this like more constant anti-anxiety medicine. It’s gentle—it has to be, because I’m sensitive to new medication, possibly because I already have to take a very high dose of one already ((For the bipolar. It’s not severe… okay, it’s kind of severe but not near as bad as it can get for some people. It really doesn’t help the PTSD when it gets out of hand, as you can imagine. Multiple bartenders and the candy man theorize that it probably runs on my father’s side, but who knows for sure? All the medical records are gone, I couldn’t access them now anyways even if they did exist, and the entire paternal side of the family is dead save for my father. Wars do that.))—so it’ll take a while to take effect. If it does. But the plus is that I can take it regularly, rather than on a touch-and-go basis.
This has been an uncommonly productive week, mentally. Sort of. In some respects. The, ah, nervous breakdown today, somewhat less so.
No wonder I didn’t know what to do. No wonder that, as the holidays arrive at fever pitch, nothing seems to work. The anxiety in the background is doing this to me, or at least it’s not helping, and I can’t see it. This knowledge feels like a breakthrough, and even if there’s no direct strategy apart from medication and talk right now, I know what it is. Or part of it. Or something.