• jess

LIVE: Back in my childhood home. Losing routine & losing my goddamn mind

This post wasn't supposed to happen. But I'm so anxious, distracted, and cusp-of-tipping-into-madness that something needs to be said. Looks like I've got an "oh shit, I'm slipping" series coming up.


And I don't think I'm alone.


Everything feels chaotic right now, and our "new" ways of life are getting stirred up again. I don't know about you, but I'm not pleased about the rapid transition away from all the helpful routines I started during the COVID outbreak.


This week, in the midst of the world getting even more unpredictable and heartbreaking than ever, I packed up and drove home to Northern Illinois for some unemployed bidness (doctor appointments before my insurance runs out).


As Complex Trauma sufferers know, coming home is always challenging.


It's where I grew up and where I experienced all my early nonsense. The place where my mental illness was born. The climate and scenery remind me of bad times. The sky is too big, the light is different, and it's desolate up here at my mom's little farm, far away from a major city.


Just being in the house with my mom can be very triggering and emotional. We bicker, we lose our tempers, and I feel trapped but wanted all at once. There's a lot of historical tension, coupled with the stress of being a guest and trying to stay out of the way in someone else's home routine.


Generally speaking, home is a place where I regularly struggle to maintain a good mindset. For the past ten years, it has been my trauma recovery kryptonite. No matter how well I'm doing before I arrive, my mental health is kicked down a few notches when I'm back in my old haunts.


To make things more interesting, it's also where NOTHING is supportive of the trauma-recovery lifestyle I've thrived with in Atlanta.


My routines are shaken, just like a lot of other folks right now. I'm not being dragged kicking and screaming back into an office (because I QUIT a fucked up work situation), but I am experiencing a massive upset of the way I was living.


And I'm losing it a little.








Routines, dismantled


You know, I've been doing shockingly well during the pandemic in Atlanta.


I was leaning into my alone time, morning exercise, and old hobbies. Finding great success in living balanced, low-stress days without human expectations creeping in. I quit drinking and smoking, I got into great shape, and I was more creatively productive than I've been in 15 years. I guess I personally haven't struggled much with the isolation because it allowed me to be ultra focused on my work, my mental health management, and my trauma recovery progress.


But is any of that progress realistic? Or just based on rigid routine?


I've been in the comfort of my locked bedroom, surrounded by everything I could possibly need for comfort and running my schedule like a boss, without worrying about another soul.

Plus, when I've needed to organize my brain better, put anxiety in its place, or collect my intentions for the day... I could walk out my door and be surrounded by isolated nature scenes in a matter of 10 minutes. None of those factors are exactly reminiscent of "real, normal living."


Still, I had a good thing going. A great streak of productivity and passions. I was one of the few folks loving the mandatory break from life.


Then, I put some shit in bags and drove 12 hours to my mom's house where everything is different and most things are triggering....


UGH.


For the past three days while I was driving across several states and settling into guest-living, I've been totally off-schedule. All my regimented activities that keep me feeling calm and content have been disturbed. My environment is all wrong.


I'm not so secluded from humans and in control of my schedule. Other people want to see me and interact (why?) and that requires flexibility. I can't lock myself away and work until I fall asleep. Plus, I can't escape into the familiar woods when my psyche needs to unload.


In short, everything here is different from the ideal circumstances I've slowly created in Atlanta to keep my shit in order over the past year(s).


And I'm feeling it, hard.


Motherfucker, I don't think I've been this anxious in months.


Almost immediately upon arriving at my mom's house, shit is getting wacky. My body is tense. My thoughts are scattered. I want to work but can't focus. All day I've been pacing around, migrating to the fridge for snacks, and staring at the computer while getting nothing done. My body is activated and packed with restlessness, but my head is tired and attention split in too many directions.


My body is tense. My thoughts are scattered. I want to work but can't focus. All day I've been pacing around, migrating to the fridge for snacks, and staring at the computer while getting nothing done. My body is activated and packed with restlessness, but my head is tired and attention split in too many directions.

Meanwhile, what's practically going on in my environment? Not too much. Hanging in a home that's not my own, taking care of animals, and feeling myself dip a toe into insanity for no particularly good reason...


EXCEPT, I'm surrounded by triggers and I'm not pursuing my usual daily practices for trauma management.


Here's are the broken routines that I think are most seriously fucking me up. Plus... hopefully, what I need to do to get back on track before I'm set back 5 years on my trauma journey.





Being alone and 100% in control of my time


Is there such a thing as too much alone time? Definitely. But when I'm focused on myself and my goals, it's honestly pretty hard for me to reach that threshold.


In the current state of the world, it's been easy to have ultimate control over my days. I don't need to see anyone, and I can't anyways. Outside of my roomies, I don't have anyone to worry about. And they're fine, because they have each other.


Once I'm done with my morning hiking routine, I can easily sit in my room all day long, writing, drawing, and working. I've had no one else to think about. No potential plans to schedule around. No complications from mixing my quirks with others. No reason to be "waiting" all day for an answer or an arrival.


It has been wonderful for my focus and sense of autonomy.


In contrast, right now... I'm with my mother in her home. And back in my home-area where people I've known for 10-30 years want to say hey from a distance.


I'm trying to keep myself productive and directed towards my lofty goals, but it's a lot harder when there's chatter and personal pressures in the background. I have to interact with my mom throughout the day. I need to work my schedule around various appointments and visits with old comrades. I can't shut out the world and retreat to my own.


Socializing is a relief, at times. But it's also a shallow distraction when my head isn't in it.


With trauma, it's a lot harder to manage being a functionally social human with being functional. Especially when your version of "functional" is constant productivity.





Working to death


I talk about it a lot; I'm the worst boss.


I'm not the sort of person who needs a manager or oversight, because I'm too hypervigilent to stop working, let alone watch something slip through the cracks.


It's a gift and a curse.


I love working, and I can easily lose myself in it. I enjoy being 10 steps ahead and feeling secure in the face of any potential problems. I earn a great deal of my personal satisfaction from accomplishing.


For the past 3 months, I've possibly worked harder than ever. From dawn to dusk I've been plugging away at my projects, and feeling like it came from a place of intention rather than mania. It's been extremely beneficial to finally work in the areas that are my natural skill sets. I've enjoyed nearly every moment of it.


Right now... working is not so easy.


Between physical and personal distractions, I'm having a rough time being so absorbed in my duties. It doesn't help that I'm completely in charge of my duties - without a boss, you have to manage your own expectations.


My expectations can become perfectionistic and defeating quite easily when this mind is struggling. And, without my miles of mental health management each day, I am struggling.





Hiking meditation


It's not news - I really rely on my hiking and outdoor time to keep my trauma under control.


It's everything I've been warning/bitching about in my last 4 posts - the necessity of getting regular, lone exercise in nature for trauma management AND the ease of falling of the tracks to screw yourself.


It's everything I've been warning/bitching about in my last 4 posts - the necessity of getting regular, lone exercise in nature for trauma management AND the ease of falling of the tracks to screw yourself.

Yo, the tension buildup is happening. Just like I said it would.


My head feels like a total mess. I can also attribute some of that to driving 1000 miles by myself and sleeping in not-my-bed for 2 nights so far, but I know there's more to it.


I feel like my thoughts aren't well integrated. I'm having trouble processing things as efficiently as usual. I'm doing a lackluster job of keeping my mindset positive. My focus has been slipping to the "future Jess worries" about funding this project and finding a new job. My to-do list has felt taller than Everest.


And I know, it's primarily because I'm not getting the time, space, and conditions I need for keeping my trauma brain under control. There are unwanted thoughts stacking up. I feel closer to my "old self" than I enjoy.


I'm not getting the time, space, and conditions I need for keeping my trauma brain under control. There are unwanted thoughts stacking up. I feel closer to my "old self" than I enjoy.

All day, I've felt demotivated, defeated, and frankly, anxious about getting anxious. I haven't felt like the person I've come to know and enjoy.





Trying and failing, so far...


Now, I'm doing my best not to be a total hypocrite. I'm trying to take care of my shit before it becomes everyone else's shit. I'm just... running into obstacles. The conditions aren't quite right, and therefore, neither are my usual tactics.


I AM going outdoors and moving when I can (again, the long car ride makes that a no-go some days). But I feel like my efforts are ineffective because it's not the same quality environment that I have spoiled myself with. Namely, I've been stuck in a residential space rather than fleeing to a large woodsy area. Like I just detailed in my Master Post for this series (My key to trauma management), trying to get the benefit of hiking in a semi-populated place really isn't as effective. And it catches up, fast.


I am trying to take things slow and readjust my work schedule for a completely different environment. But, my workaholic nature is causing dissenting anxiety. I'm having a hard time believing that I have the next 4 posts completed and scheduled out. I'm not integrating the knowledge that my SEO writing job is handled for the next week. I'm failing to feel okay with hitting the pause button on podcast development, instagram posting, and getting further ahead.


I'm attempting to be calm and patient with humans - even the particularly challenging ones. I want to believe that I have time to see folks and I want to enjoy our conversations. I don't want to let my tensions explode or turn me into an agitated monster. I'm working on sending out love with every interaction... but there are times when my brain is not aware.


Because of all the restless pressures, I've been really tempted to collapse back into my bad habits - drinking and eating to pass time without having to think. Buying a pack of cigarettes would be enjoyable. Staring at my phone would be easy.


I've been really tempted to collapse back into my bad habits - drinking and eating to pass time without having to think. Buying a pack of cigarettes would be enjoyable. Staring at my phone would be easy.

Instead, I'm recognizing these fucked up impulses and working eight times as hard to keep my shit together.





Struggling, but not dead yet


I'm going to keep doubling down on all the practices that keep my trauma brain in order and trauma recovery moving forward. I'm going to be intentional with my actions as much as possible. I'm going to take some personal pressures off of myself. I'm going to be more kind and patient despite my massively assholish inner critic. I know that I'm in a difficult place; I would tell other people to chill out and be nicer to themselves.


And I'm going to keep narrating this experience - cuz who doesn't want to watch a live implosion OR raggedy underdog victory? Either way, there will be some entertaining lessons.


What's next on this real-time dive into re-traumatized thinking? Follow along with this Impromptu Series LIVE From my Childhood Hell. Let's see if my trauma recovery progress lasts or sinks back to self-sabotaging places.





Ever struggle with your home visits? What do you experience? How do you cope?



Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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