As crazy as it sounds I never realized how hard I worked or how difficult it was to “be me” until I was incapable of keeping that pace anymore. Post-trauma I would find myself working twice as hard to get half as much and ultimately exhausting myself into about two anxiety attacks and multiple tearful breakdowns per week.
I suppose when you look at me on paper and you see that I teach a graduate level course, am writing a dissertation, work for my university, and countless other volunteer involvements each week it seems like I do a fair amount. Before, it all seemed easy. I got my work done with ease. Writing was my greatest pleasure even when it was a struggle to get in all the right words in just the right way, and I was always happy to take on more so long as there wasn’t a schedule conflict. This is not to mention a bustling social life.
Now? I haven’t been out to eat in two weeks. Hell, I haven’t even wanted to eat in two weeks. I’ve hung out with friends but only at home because social situations cause my anxiety to rise. It takes me a really long time to focus on anything long enough to make it good which wrecks havoc on someone trying to write a potentially publishable manuscript. In other words, I feel the weight of every task I used to do with such ease. So much so that in all my greatest effort I’m really only managing “average” at best.
After talking to The Good Doctor last night she suggested I take a pause. For my mental well being. She said “I’m afraid of what the wall is going to look like when you hit it if you keep pushing yourself.” That’s strong sentiment from a friend who pushed herself through medical school, residency, and is now a ER pediatrician all before 30. Somewhere deep inside of me I knew she was right. Concluding our phone call I wrote to my boss letting her know I would be taking the week off. No work no writing no nothing. This was going to be my time to dedicate to healing. Giving myself what I needed each day.
I’m not yet sure exactly what that means and to be honest I’m nervous about such open ended possibility. I enjoy certainty to some extent and I like feeling productive. Being tasked with il dolce far niente (the sweet art of doing nothing) is overwhelming. But I get to wake up and ask myself each day what I need and then I get to give it to myself.
I’m not going to heal in a week. These seven days are just to give my body time to reset. To stop operating from straight up survival mode and communicate to myself that I am okay and I am safe. I’ve been going ever since it happened. Literally the day of the assault I taught class that night. And I’ve been at work and working (albeit poorly) ever since. I need the pause.
All I can foresee is dedicated time for meditation. Some journaling and maybe working on getting my appetite back.
Working on getting through this “healthily” as Jennie says has been so extremely difficult. It’s so much more tempting to fold into yourself and cry or pretend it didn’t happen and push through…but I guess I’ve seen enough of both outcomes to know I want something different for myself. So while it’s difficult and I hate it right now, I am hoping one day I can look back and be thankful I took these steps. Fingers crossed.