OK, so we moved at the end of May. The new apartments is light years better than the old place, it's less expensive, etc. I thought it would make everything settle down and put my PTSD back in its usual holding pattern...Boy Was I Wrong. Here's what ended up happening:
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.
Catastrophic Thinking is usually something that usually doesn't affect me too badly because I recognize it for what it is and adjust how I am thinking about a problem. I think that my coping skill were a little compromised after the long few weeks we had and I got caught off guard.
Something minor happened at work and my mind blows the whole 'molehill' out of proportion. Next thing I know, I am stressing about potentially losing my job and what the loss of stability would do to our family. The stress doesn't let up until I have the opportunity to talk to my manager and he assures me that I have nothing to worry about.
I am so relieved that the physical manifestation of my stress is alleviated so quickly I get a migraine and they have to send me home from work. I was not in any shape to drive and Dani was out of town visiting her parents. I had to call my folks and ask them to come get me.
Long story short, I blew it. I should have known that I was overreacting but I didn't catch on in time and the obsessiveness that it Catastrophic Thinking took hold and made my life hell for almost five days. So everything was calming down and something minor and simple at work creates this kind of havoc. Go figure. I keep on fooling myself into thinking that I can let my guard down for a minute. Invariably, that's when something will slip past my defenses and trigger a bad PTSD reaction.
Today I finally got the down time that I needed to decompress. I was so out of focus and so emotional that I didn't trust myself outside the apartment today. Dani had to work and I got some quality time with Caley as well. I didn't even realize until I spent time with Caley today that I had been a little remiss in my duties as a father and husband over the last week or so. Granted, there were extenuation circumstances like the move and Memorial Day, but it didn't make me feel any less guilty when my beautiful daughter sighed in relief that I was back to rocking her to sleep. She had been missing it terribly.
I also spent some time thinking about what I need to do moving forward. I need to make sure I stay active outside of work - I haven't been exercising. I also need to make sure that I am eating healthy. I haven't been keen on monitoring my eating habits during the last week or so. I really don't have an excuse anymore for not exercising. I have a cycling park right across the street and it would be criminal if my bike tires didn't hit the road at least three times a week.
Getting back to 'normal' has been much different this time around. It has been a little surreal to be honest. I didn't think I would be writing about this so soon. The stress of the pending move had been eating at me for over a month and I didn't realize it. My sleep was irregular, my eating was irregular. My relationship with my wife came out the other side of this a little battered and bruised but, overall, none the worse for wear. The only thing that I have been consistent about this move that has differed from all of the other ones is the fact that I never stopped or forgot to take my meds.
So when it's all said and done, tomorrow's a new day. We got through the move and we are stronger and more dedicated to each other than ever before. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.