PTSD is like having your stress bucket almost full before you start your day. Adding a big event such as a wedding or friends party or a movie or any other event with good stress or bad stress I am making trade offs. How long will it take me to recover from that 3 hour event?
I read the spoon theory awhile back that accurately describes the experience I have with PTSD and my energy levels. http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/
Christine Miserandino does a masterful job explaining how with some illnesses, and for me PTSD, we have a limited amount of energy. I try to explain this and I get frustrated. I told a friend that after teaching school I would get home and just sit on the couch. I would turn on the TV to stop me from being completely bored. My friend commented, “I wish I could do that.” I stared at her and said nothing. I wanted to shout, “Really? You talk as if I have a choice. You don’t understand. If the house was burning down I would wave the world good-bye because I don’t have enough energy to get off the couch and no more adrenaline to give me a kick start.” Sometimes you are out of energy and out of choices.
Today my daughter posted a link to an article on spending energy. http://themighty.com/2016/07/advice-for-spending-energy-with-fibromyalgia-or-chronic-fatigue/ Some of it I agree with but some I would add a bit of information.
Do you have a choice? I complained to my counselor what things I had to do and he pointed out without a gun to my head, I had choices. You may not like the consequences but you have a choice. Sometimes my choice is I can go to the event and pass out there or stay home and pass out. The passing out part was no longer optional. This is one of the reasons some people with PTSD stay home, a lot. It is easier to protect myself from triggers at home than when I am out and about.
Can you plan for extra rest in advance? Sometimes, usually I plan for extra rest afterwards. Usually the stress of anticipating the activity will cut out any hope for extra rest before and event.
Do you have time for recovery after? This is not optional for me. I plan for this or pick myself up off the ground where ever I am. I don’t plan to accomplish anything between Christmas and New Year, I know the emotional drain from Christmas will leave me wiped out. Christmas is a trigger.
Do you have exit plans? I loved learning about this one. Giving myself permission to leave when I decided I was ready was awesome. I plan for an exit plan and rejoice if I don’t have to use it. Deciding where I sit at an event, choosing where I stand at a party are all part of my exit plan and preparing myself to leave.
What are your coping strategies? I have my coping list of things I can do in different situations. I practice them when I am calm. I give myself permission to take care of myself how I need to be taken care of and not worry about what other people think. Other people are not in my body and don’t have to listen to my thoughts.
Savor the memories. My warm fuzzy box, pictures, and little mementos are a few of the things that help me to savor and revisit the joyful part of an event. Too often I work so hard to be at an advent that it can’t meet my elevated expectations. (Warm Fuzzy box http://www.creativity-portal.com/howto/a/violette/warm-fuzzy-box.html)
For me, almost everything has a trade off. Summer time I enjoy the luxury of staying home and not needing to push myself pass any of my limits. I also tend to not want to go out more and more. So going back to work when school starts motivates me to keep going beyond the limits my mind and body try to place on me. I am functioning much better now. One more week then back to school. I can do this.