The calm after the storm

My exhaustion is deep.
It’s riddled with nausea and aching,
But with a buzzing trembling from the trauma too.

It leaves resting only possible when it’s brought on by collapse.
Dozing isn’t possible,
Gentle resting and reading isn’t either.

It’s either asleep and dead to the world,
Or UP,
Feeling rough as can be, longing for sleep
Or wired and anxiety ridden.

Whatever the state though, when I’m up there’s almost always a quiet (or NOT so quiet) level of trauma trembling and anxiety rumbling going on in my body.

This is the state I struggle so much to be in. Actually, i do the rest also, but this state feels heartbreaking. You feel so almost near to calm and restful-ness, you can almost touch it, but your body’s having none of it. It feels like what I can imagine adrenal exhaustion to be like. Or something. It feels like exhaustion and overdrive to the core. Every cell in body is completely fucking knackered. Yet at the same time, each of these cells is swimming in the stored up trauma, longing to be released. And so it buzzes. Just for fun.

This pattern seems to be taking shape quite regularly the last month. I’ve had two big triggering episodes, where I’ve spent five days or so in a total haze of terrifying retraumatisation, flashbacks and heightened anxiety. As this begins to soften, and the trauma stored, plays itself out, the exhaustion comes in full force. And with it too, an edge of depression.

I know they say PTSD is often shown in ups and downs of anxiety and depression, but it is only til now that I see it so with me. Or maybe it was happening before but it hadn’t been quite as black and white. The white storm of anxiety and flashbacks, nonstop trauma ridden energy, shaking and an inability to sleep: a state that feels so uncomfortable, so painful and so terrifying. And then the black heaviness of the aftermath, of flatness, exhaustion, haziness, flulike symptoms and nausea: a state my body is crying out to recuperate and heal.

The trouble is though, there seems to be a grey area in there somewhere. And that’s the state I think I feel the most – and the one I’m in the most. It’s the one where you feel trembly, anxious, scared and blinded by a mixture of the residues of the trauma that’s just been, and then a deep exhaustion to your core, with a feeling of being run-down. Almost like your immune system has just played a ten round boxing match with your adrenals. It makes you feel like you just want to wrap yourself up in a blanket, let the sun fall on your face and treasure the moment of calm because you know it’s going to be okay. But you can’t, because there is no moment of calm – it’s more your body longing for it. Instead, there is all this energy pumping round your body you need to get rid of. So you move, you exercise and you TRY to get it out so you can rest. I feel like I have to put the feeling of exhaustion and unwellness, on the back burner for later. Because I know, that when that anxious trauma energy is running round your body, it’s there to be released and so released is what it has to be. This all comes down to the physical science of trauma and how it is stored in the body. I just worry because I don’t know how much more I can put on this back burner of mine. Will it all hit me in one big swoop of exhaustion and send me flying into bed, only to return a year or two later, like it kinda did with chronic fatigue. Or am I replacing this energy and recuperating enough when I get the chance? Do all the calms after the storm replace the crazy haze of trauma spells? I don’t know. I guess only time will show. But part of me thinks that they do. Your body knows what it’s doing, so listen to it and look after it.

Does anyone else live in this kind of inbetween state of exhaustion and anxiety simultaneously with their PTSD?

Love. β˜€

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11 thoughts on “The calm after the storm

  1. I did live with the anxiety and exhaustion, much like what you’ve described. Then I stopped doing so much physical stuff, and I worked on letting love throw fear outside, and let myself sleep much more than I used to. I now think of sleep as a normal thing that I need a lot of because it is my brain, and internal processes that are working very hard and need plenty of rest, rather than my muscles etc.

    It is normal for me to sleep 12 hours or more in a day. It sometimes comes in two six-hour blocks. Sometimes an eight-hour block, then another four later. Sometimes 10 hours, and a two hour sleep in the afternoon. It varies. I do what needs to be done in between.

    The biggest and hardest thing was to work on the traumatic memories, and really get to know and understand what went on, and how it affected me at the time, and get it into some sort of ‘place’ in my world, rather than in a hidden mess in my head. That meant dealing with the terror in dreams, and the pains in my body, and the feeling of the emotions toward the people who hurt me, and the very difficult task of reaching an acceptance (rather than denial) that there were people who betrayed my trust.

    You’re doing such courageous and hard work, summerteifi. If it gives some hope, I have completely lost the anxiety, it has gone. I also do not feel anxious about the amount I sleep. Except for when I had ignored my need to sleep for quite a while, and found I missed a whole day. Woke up at 7pm and thought it was 10 in the morning. : ) So generally, I no longer feel such absolute drop-dead exhaustion any more. I just sleep more, and do less. I no longer have a busy schedule, I lead a very quiet life. I stopped listening to others who pressured me to do more than I was able.

    Sending lots of peaceful thoughts, and soft fluffy pillows of pleasant safe sleeps your way…

    Jessie.

    • Yes….you describe so much of what I am going through right now too so well…. Keep going… easier said than done but that is what I am doing. Fucking exhausted no matter what I do but I somehow get through the seconds…. even though time warps with the exhaustion. Thank you for this post. You are not alone. I hear you and I understand a lot of what you are going through! (((hugs))))

    • Jessie, you are always such a shining star. Wow, to read that you no longer have anxiety is SO reassuring! Thank you. Wish I could sleep like you do! Inspired to read about how you have shifted your life to suit what you need right now – that feels reassuring too.We all know what we need, it’s just having the courage to give it to yourself and not worry about what others think or what the ‘shoulds’ are saying in your head. Big love X

  2. It is not something you should go through alone. Hope you have all support you need in this period of your life?! p.s Love your drawings. You definetly got humor and talent! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much for this love. And thanks for your words about the drawings! Means a lot. I do struggle feeling very isolated but I think it’s part of the process and also part of my living situation at the moment, and hopefully something that will shift as I am moving house tomorrow. I have really amazing friends there for me, without whom I don’t know what I would do! Tonnes of love to you. X

  3. i feel for you. i don’t so much have the exhaustion but i have no energy or motivation. i feel like i’m constantly in flight mode, with terrible waves of anxiety. i can mostly sleep at night but that’s becasue i take anticonvulsants for epilepsy, that make me sleepy, and i think they also make me feel draggy all day. having said that, there is a worn out feeling from dealing with constant PTSD and BDD.
    big ((hugs))

    • Sending tonnes of love your way. It is reassuring to read about the lack of motivation as it is really something I struggle with but hate that I do! And it’s not always there. It’s like I shift from ANXIETY where I have heaps of motivation but struggle to focus, to a haze of exhaustion and flatness and limited motivation. xxx

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