- Dani and I pushed ourselves to get everything set and put away in the first week we were there. I finally reached critical mass and had to tell Dani that I couldn't keep going this way. Dani gets stressed out by everything not being in its proper place, just like I do. What we didn't count on was the stress and strain of the move followed by working Memorial Day Weekend in retail sending me into a deep PTSD depression. I had to make a choice - did having everything in its place stress me out less than not getting any down time? The answer was no. I talked to Dani and she agreed to put everything on hold indefinitely until I had a chance to decompress.
- We thought that getting a few days to decompress would make everything more bearable. Somehow, it just ended up making everything snowball. I tried sitting down at the computer on multiple occasions to write about it in my blog and share my struggle, but I couldn't bring myself to write anything or talk to the folks in my support group on Facebook. This made me feel really guilty. I had created the support group to help people cope with PTSD and when the rubber met the road, I couldn't motivate myself to use the resources that I had created.
- This past weekend, I finally took some vacation time. I was concerned that if the downward spiral continued, that I wouldn't stay functional at work, let alone at home where I was already worthless to my wife and daughter. It took a lot of introspection and meditation, but I was able to pinpoint what was stressing me out so much and causing the destabilizing effects I have experienced over the last month.
On the surface, everything was better about the move. We didn't have to worry about leaking foundations, clogged and ancient plumbing, mold and mildew problems, lack of A/C, in absentia landlords, etc. All of those stressors were gone. It should have meant smoother sailing. I wracked my brain trying to find out what environmental factor was different that could possibly mean more stress than all of the now absent stressors of the old place. Was it a perceived lack of privacy because we are sharing walls again? No. Our neighbors are great and everyone respects everyone else's space. Was it the gun club next door? No. I know the sound of a shotgun being fired and it is part of the background noise here. It doesn't stress me out. It sounds nothing like rifles firing. Was I bringing stress home from work? No. I was loving my job and looked forward to the challenges I faced there every day. And then it hit me.
I was dealing with sensory overload. The one factor that had changed from the old place to the new was the elimination of a physical location for my PTSD 'Fallout Shelter'. I no longer had a man-cave. I didn't realize how significant the effects of losing it would be until I thought about what I gained from it. Whenever I needed to get away from sensory overload, I went down into the basement and simplified things. I would use gaming as my focal point for cutting out all of the chatter. Now, as much as I love the new place, I don't have that. The place I try to get away from everything is right in the middle of the apartment. It doesn't allow me to get away from anything for even a millisecond. THAT's what was causing all of this stress. Finally recognizing this is a good thing, but now I need to find a way to shut out all of the chatter without having a physical location to do so. I will talk to Dani about this issue and see what we can come up with.