Frantic Energy

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Frantic energy is just another manifestation of stress.

For me it displays as a need to fidget, an inability to sit still, twitching my toes, rubbing my fingers together, swinging my legs … some days I decide I’m just going to be completely still and force myself not to move.  Or there are days where I don’t feel like I can move as I need.  They’re the less good days.

Today I’m fidgeting.  It’s windy out, I’ve been having nightmares for the last three nights, I have been sleeping like crap … so I’m all keyed up in a not very good way.

On days like this I don’t allow myself to make any decisions, or go shopping.  I make sure I have movement and fidget outlets and just ride this crap out.  Naps also help.

So does going to sleep at a reasonable hour, which I’m definitely going to try tonight!

Farewell 2018, Hello 2019

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It’s the last day of 2018 and I’m awake early, traumatised from my PTSD flashback last night and the subsequent nighmares.  My amazing human being had innocently put on a different show (because it was light and fun) after I had said what show I wanted, and I had spiraled into a panic attack and minor meltdown.  It was one of the first instances where I’ve spoken up and asked for the input to stop, and explained that I’m having a panic attack.

My amazing human being immediately stopped the show, grabbed my hand, and guided my other hand to my cat and stood with me until I was more settled, then provided chocolate.  Unquestioning support.

For me, 2018 has been a year of self discovery, self expression, and healing.  It has been hard, it has been upsetting, in some instances it has been straight up traumatising, but I come out the other end of 2018 a calmer, more balanced, and possibly even more confident person than I began 2018.

I must absolutely credit this back to my phenomenal friends, the closest of which have also (sadly) gone through narcissistic abuse, and who have been open and loving and who have shown me how to be open and compassionate with regards to my own mental health issues.  In one of my oldest friends I have found a role model for how to live with chronic illness, how to go through life unapologetic and dignified with disability, and how to allow yourself to be how and who you are.

In my amazing human being I have unquestioning support and consideration, and unending laughter.  He enables me in all things and throws his enthusiasm behind me, regardless of what direction I take.  He is constantly thinking of ways to make life easier and better, and reminds me that yes, I can do things the easier way, I don’t have to just suck it up and do it the hard way.

Yes, this year has been a hard one, but it has been a good one.  I am still glad to see it go, and look forward to what 2019 brings.

Workplace Bullying

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Specific words and responses in the past week have led me to understand that I am currently the target of an active bullying campaign from a colleague, and have been since I joined.

From the very beginning she made it clear through her body language, dismissive attitude, word usage and tone of voice that I am Not Welcome and she Does Not Like Me.  Which is fine, I’m quite happy to leave her be and do my own thing and not unnecessarily interact with her so she doesn’t get annoyed and I don’t get snapped at.  This is a simple solution.  I know I’m not everyone’s cuppa tea and I’m happy to leave people be.

Last week she commented in a meeting to the effect of “you’re not doing your job”, a comment she never would have made had she not been confident she would be backed up.  And, unsurprisingly, she was – three of my other colleagues jumped in with very pointed comments on the topic at hand directed solely at me, in a manner that made me feel very attacked (although I didn’t quite understand until after the fact).  She was elated after that display.  Positively beaming.  It made me realise a few things.

First, that I wasn’t going to let this slide.  Passive bullying, being an ass to me directly, not a problem.  I can just avoid that person and we’ll all go on our happy way, but this was active.  She was seeking people out and telling them I wasn’t able to do my job.  She was cultivating this belief in my incompetence among other colleagues.  No, this I will not tolerate.

Secondly, just how much the stress of bullying has affected my mental and physical health!

I’ve always had a peculiar disconnect between my mind and my body.  Prior to a few years ago, I just didn’t think, I didn’t contemplate, I didn’t look within and analyse my own thoughts, feelings, or behaviours.  I just did, and bottled it all up.  Super healthy, right?

Now I take the time to figure out what my body and mind are telling me, and everything is ringing stress bells.  My gastrointestinal tract became deeply upset.  My mind couldn’t settle.  I was restless and antsy.  My heart rate was high.  I had difficulties getting to sleep, maintaining a restful sleep, and staying asleep.  I genuinely did not think I would be this affected by bullying in the workplace, and yet here I am, my anxiety still twisting in my gut.

I’ve lodged a complaint, and I’ll pursue this.  I think I’ll let the higher ups handle it – I don’t think it will be good for my health to interact with her myself in any way, especially as I am very confident she will simply gaslight me and I will end up getting nowhere.  I’m only there for a couple more months, and if I really need to, I will leave.  Although that’d have to be pretty dire for me to leave, I often have a hard time doing what’s best for myself when it comes to work.

But I’ve got to look after my health first.

I Am Allowed To Be Burnt Out

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I am allowed to be burnt out.

For me, this is a radical idea.  The admitting and acceptance of the state of being burnt out, and actually giving myself permission to be burnt out.  To be honest, I think I’ve been burnt out for years, and it finally caught up with me last year.

I am autistic.  From a very early age I was conditioned against expressing that and pressured into appearing neurotypical.  I have, up until this year, put on a facade of a successful, bubbly, vivacious and sociable business woman.  Mostly this appearance was abused into me by It, but it was also expected of me from all of my previous roles.

I have overworked and over performed in every single role I have undertaken.  I would typically arrive at 8am and leave anywhere between 6 and 8pm, having worked through all of my breaks and most of my lunch, always at break-neck speed, because there was so much work to do.  I worked myself ragged, and I went back in and did it all again the next day, because that’s just what you do.  I’ve done this in every role until I moved to my current city, so that’s a good decade or so.

Throughout most of that decade, I was also with It.  The narcissist.  The ending came about because It was becoming desperate, and eventually manipulated Itself into the position of ‘either you come with me or I go alone’.  I was in a position where I was actively pursuing the career I wanted, and I wasn’t prepared to jeopardize the career I had been working for years to be able to pursue, and I was angry that he would ask that of me while putting his own career first (always first).  So I said no.

Then I went straight back to work the next day.  And continued working, and overworking, and not thinking about anything, and putting on the facade of being a lively, successful young businesswoman.

It’s all caught up with me and there is no escaping the exhaustion that I have denied for so long.  I ignored my body at every turn.  When it screamed ‘rest’ I said ‘harden up’ and went to work.  When it said ‘no more, go home’ I said ‘nope, we’ve still got to finish this document pack’ and kept going.  And when I say I worked fast, I mean I worked bloody fast.  I put out more work in one day than most would in three.  My brain was constantly on the go planning my next move, identifying the path to take to complete the required tasks in the shortest amount of time, and in the right priority order.

Oh, and through most of that I was working a second job on weekends and doing one paper a semester at university.

So yeah, I’m allowed to be burnt out now.  I sound defensive, and that’s because I am, because I expect to be told ‘no, you’re not allowed to be burnt out, harden up and keep on going’, because that’s what I’ve basically been told my entire life in various ways.  Stiff upper lip.  Carry on.  That kind of claptrap.  Telling myself I’m allowed to be burnt out is one thing, but taking a stand and saying ‘I AM ALLOWED TO BE BURNT OUT’ to the world is an entirely different kettle of fish.

Because despite the abuse I’ve been through, despite feeling as though I’m brittle and nothing but bone and sinew, despite almost falling asleep at work on numerous occasions because I am so exhausted, I … I gaslight myself.  It’s so ingrained in me, I gaslight myself.  It has been reinforced so thoroughly in my life that I am not important, what I feel is not important, what I want to do is not important, what I don’t want to do is not important, that I can’t possibly imagine that what I’ve been through is … something.  That it’s actually not good, that I’ve been impacted by it and that feeling is valid and true and reasonable.

It’s a horrific mindset, but I’m battling it.  Slowly but surely.  Because I deserve to not be burnt out.

PTSD – Re-experiencing The Trauma

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Yesterday, when I got back from my evening rounds, I saw a video still on my amazing human’s PC screen.  It was a paused youtube video, perfectly innocuous.  It was of two men.

One of them looked like It.

My stomach clenched and my mind went numb.  I avoided my gaze.  But it was like a trainwreck, my eyes were drawn back to It over and over again – the image was so horrifically like It that I went into full shut down (which looks like nothing more than I’m a bit more dazed than usual).  My mind blanked it.

I distracted myself and eventually fell asleep on the couch.  Later on, when my amazing human was ready to go to bed, he woke me and we went.  All was well.  We tucked in  and fell asleep.

Then the nightmares started.  It was there, in them, in my old home.  I was dealing with Its old cars.  The exacts of the dream are hazy now, I just remember keeping my amazing human hidden from It, It must never know, never meet my amazing human.  Play nice, play polite, simper, do all the things I used to do.  Scrape and bow, scrape and bow, do everything he asks, do everything he says, everything is okay, hide it all, hide my new life, don’t let him know…

It’s a mixture of reliving the abuse he visited on me and the fear of him … not ‘coming back’ but being near me, encroaching on my life that I have struggled and worked so fucking hard to build, and the positive and deep relationships I’ve built with my friends and family, and my amazing human being.

I’ve been feeling … not quite right all day.  The nightmare has been on my mind a lot.  I’ve been running it around my head, trying to make sense of it all, but all it seems to be doing is making me more out of sorts.  I’m hoping this is enough to get it out, and I can now rest, relax, and sleep a bit better tonight.  Ideally without It and the nightmares.