Birthdays and Bad Memories and *Hope*, damn you!

Today is my 29th birthday (Happy Birthday, yaaaaay…).

I must have been anxious about it (or something) because I could not for the life of me find sleep last night until about 1:30am. I employed all the techniques I could think of that you’re supposed to to get to sleep. I focused on my heart beats, and on the sensations in my chest.

I did some deep breathing. In, and out. In, and out. Nothing. My mind was racing about “the future”, that vague, somewhere-off-in-the-distance-but-not-here-and-not-now place where your worst fears are realised, all from the comfort of your living room or, in this case, from my bed, and from the quiet but frantic place that is my fantastical mind.

I would have counted sheep gleefully jumping over white picket fences, one after the other, but I lived in New Zealand for three years. And, knowing this, I suppose thinking of sheep in a semi-conscious state in the wee-hours of the morning in a dimly lit room seems a little suspicious.

“That’s assault, brotha”.

Plus the very thought of sheep-counting conjures for me memories of  receiving flack from my teachers and peers about my accent. Well, the word “flack” is a bit of a euphemism. And if a theme of this blog is going to be honesty (it is! It’s official.) then I can’t very well be using euphemisms about my past. Actually, I was bullied by my teachers and peers for being different.

And that’s a lot harder to admit to myself (and to others) because I suppose it implies that I didn’t get the respect or treatment that I deserved from the people that I should have been able to receive it from.

So, in celebration of my 29th Name Day, I will be especially gentle with myself today, and especially compassionate. Because you don’t get good recovery without these things – ask anyone who is ‘stable’ and relatively content in their life. And I think that part of my experience of having PTSD is about fretting about the future (“Will I be OK in the future?”)  because in the past, the present moment was too unbearable to bear.

Recovery for me thus is about being present to the unpleasantness of my feelings in the moment, but also about acknowledging that things weren’t always (or even some of the time) manageable for me. Sometimes, things are still unmanageable (Well hey, I didn’t say I was cured!). My incredible ability to project in to the future is a something of a gift – I have a fantastic imagination – that I am learning to wield more appropriately and to my advantage.

Here’s to good health on the significant (and not so significant!) days!

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