Listening to symptoms: ptsd, chronic fatigue

Lately I notice when things are too much. I notice when I’m dropping down, drifting back to, or stepping into, the past too much. Into my trauma. I notice when I am unravelling and uncovering things too quickly. When I am swimming before I can swim. Something I have normally always done before, but this is different now…I am different. I paddle and I learn to splash in the little, baby, waves. I don’t dive head first into the white watered ocean minus a surfboard, grabbing onto my life and loving the adrenaline that comes with it, anymore. I don’t do adrenaline.

Instead, I think I am moving from the all or nothing, from the black or white, to the little bit of grey or the inbetween-the-all-or-nothing that I have gotten sights of lately. Inside myself, how I treat myself, and also how I do things in my life too.

In this journey of finding, and learning to live on, middle ground, I notice how my symptoms are here to tell me stuff, and I am beginning to learn that this language is solely for myself…it’s a language noone else will ever know. It’s a language just for me and my ears and my body, and my mind. There’s the physical symptoms in all their glory, their colours, their intensity. And then there’s the emotional, mind, symptoms in all their complexity, and intensity. God it’s intense. And it’s one motherfucking journey. But it’s one I’m on and it’s mine, and it’s one I’ve been given and in many ways, I’ve given to myself because I’ve chosen to not start snorting vodka or smoking crack to get me through the days. I think that was just about the only thing I had left in my self destructive repertoire. I ticked off the other boxes.

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I remember reading a piece a while back by Rebelle Society – best piece of writing EVER – that describes your journey with ‘symptoms’ (in my case ptsd), as learning to hear what they have to tell you. Learning to hear what they are here to say. I have learnt that so much with my body in the case of chronic fatigue – and continue to – but ptsd was a new fucking venture and until the last five or six months I feel like I have been more surviving and riding the confusing and wacky and seemingly un-fucking-predictable and intense (obvs) rollercoaster of it. But then something began to happen.

I noticed that even my mind could be telling me something. Not just my body. I felt like I had gotten really good at listening to what the ptsd symptoms in my body were telling me – when I was doing too much pushing myself, when I was scared, when I needed to stop, when it wasn’t safe to share, when it wasn’t safe to go out at night and when it was. I am meaning safe in myself. Like, when I was retraumatising myself and when I wasn’t, rather than just shoving myself out there anyways.

But as for the mind, I just thought the symptoms were a given and they would subside over time. I never thought they were here to help me. Fuck that. It has always felt like they do the opposite, except obviously being here to be healed…which is motherfucking helpful. But that aside, I never thought I would need to listen to those too…but it turns out I do.

Like, when I’m experiencing a racing mind, looping thoughts, it is when I am doing too much. Too much therapy. Too much sharing, too much attachment, too much bringing up of old wounds that aren’t ready yet. When I am experiencing terror and trauma, flashbacks and a feeling of freshly traumatised (god this state is heartbreakingly horrible) it is when I have been digging too deep too. It is when I’ve been taking myself ‘out there’ too much and not letting myself nurture me. It’s when I’ve been asking for support too much. It’s when the grief inside of me is right up here on the surface and it motherfucking hurts. And it’s the grief that needs support from me first, before it is safe for others to nurture and hold me too.

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I am very much learning, I am very much at the beginning of trying to figure it all out, but it is starting to make a bit of sense. And the most important thing I am also learning is that I don’t have to try and figure it all out…I can let it be what it is. Maybe that is what I am trying to figure out.


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