I am back in therapy
So much has happened in the last few years as I've tried to rebuild my life and plan for my retirement. After the A I stayed in IC for 5 years, paying out of pocket $100 a week. I invested over $20k in my mental health, much of the time I was unemployed or very underemployed, barely able to get by, and at one point I was completely out of money, living in an RV on the streets. I really struggled with PTSD, and being triggered, depressed, and stuck. But I started getting better as I continued my self-improvement project.
I started a part time job at a nonprofit organization in 2014, worked my way up the ranks to full time program management, and eventually got promoted to Executive Director in 2017. I built and grew the organization with a warm partnership with the president of the board. Then he moved away and resigned, and the new president turned out to be a nasty mean-girl bitch and I started having a LOT of trouble with anxiety and depression again.
I really hated working for her, but I was able to launch a major initiative that had a huge impact, and after 2 years of battling with her and having terrible anxiety (which was really different from my prior struggles with depression where anxiety was more in the background). I started looking for other work. I applied to two different nonprofits in the same sector, one in the next county over and one at the statewide level. I ended up getting a job offer to be the Executive Director of the statewide org and started working there in February this year.
And I have a new mean-girl bitch for a president of the board. I swear my picker is broken. And I'm back to being chronically triggered, my heart is racing and pounding in my chest, I feel super insecure and inadequate even though I know I'm on the right track. I feel like I'm at risk of losing my job all the time and it feels like the days when my XH was dismantling my life, emotionally abusing me and pushing me out of my job, home, and community.
I restarted therapy in April. My therapist has been helping me cope but it's not really enough and I'm thinking I need to go see my psychiatrist again after 5 years and get back on meds.
I thought I had my depression under control, but I don't. I have gained a bunch of weight and the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest is slightly terrifying.
I find myself afraid of being fired (there's really no grounds for it, I'm just catastrophizing in my head) and wondering if I should quit so I can stop feeling the constant dread. The work we do is really important and I'm proud of where I've taken my career, but the anxiety is awful.
PTSD from the trauma of infidelity and emotional abuse is real. It's hard to feel like life is good when you are constantly feeling under attack. I'm not really under attack, but my body doesn't believe that and the adrenaline flooding is a real bummer.
Has anybody else who got a PTSD diagnosis ever felt like they got over it?
Thanks for reading. I have mostly been posting in the JFO forum the last couple of years, trying to pay back the care and concern and good advice this community gave to me a decade ago. Most of my cohort is gone from the forums but I see a few old timers here now and again. Cheers to all you survivors!
[This message edited by heartbroken_kk at 2:29 AM, July 26th (Sunday)]
7 comments posted: Saturday, June 27th, 2020
Hi SI friends, just wanted to post something, I guess I have a need to process all that's going on right now and thought I'd share where I'm at.
XWHPANPDFTG has cancer, NC is firmly in place, but I found out from a former employee at our business we owned together, who called me to share the news thinking somehow I needed to know this. Don't know what cell type or where it originated but the location involves tumors in his neck, throat and tongue and supposedly treatment will include chemo, radiation, and surgical removal of a portion of his tongue. And maybe more. I told former employee I would never say "It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy" and that I don't believe in Karma. I'm still very much in meh and haven't really thought much about it, other than his AP now wife, who is a nurse, will have to care for him, not me. And "I wouldn't wish that on anyone" but whatever.
Healing from the craptastic divorce was pretty much complete years ago, but with any kind of PTSD it's more a truce than a victory. The above news really triggered no particular emotional response. So I call that battle a win.
But I have been struggling with getting triggered a lot lately as I'm under huge stress for different reasons I'll explain below, and I'm either having loud verbal outbursts or more panic attack type heart racing adrenaline flushes. It's not about the D, more about being someone who has generally well managed PTSD but who is sometimes emotionally fragile and is dealing with a ton of heavy shit.
At work, where I'm the CEO of a nonprofit organization, I have a new board chair that I trust as far as I can throw them, and I'm feeling under constant criticism and and stupid, pointless micromanagement. There are a lot of triggers there that have to do with me not trusting, observing gaslighting behavior, and feeling caught in a power dynamic a lot like my M, and wondering if I need to get back into counseling because I recruited this person, and I wonder why my picker is so badly broken.
There is a job open at a sister agency. Different geography, same mission. It would be a backwards step into the program manager role I was in at my org two years ago, a slight pay decrease, but a whole new set of leaders, partners, and coworkers. Lots of opportunity for growth as I've done at my existing org. Updating my resume and plan to submit it. I really don't care about dropping off the pinnacle I'm on at my current org and actually hope I'll get this "demotion".
Meanwhile my org, under my leadership, is taking on the largest project we've ever done, a safety/hazard preparedness effort very visible in the public eye, and so far we are accomplishing amazing work under really difficult conditions and receiving great compliments from our partners outside our org. The work is hugely stressful as we are creating a framework for the project while we start the project, and there are so many moving parts. I've doubled our staff in the last 3 months and brought on 3 highly paid specialists. BOD chair wants to be in the middle of it and I'm struggling with keeping boundaries and BOD in their lane of governance rather than in operations.
AND meanwhile, my father's health has tanked, at 84 years old he has bladder cancer and has had several strokes. While hospitalized he picked up an antibiotic resistant bug, and had a bad case of sepsis that nearly killed him. Next the bladder cancer blocked the tubes from the kidneys and that nearly killed him until surgery put in stents. Now he is in a rapid decline that my sisters don't want or can't recognize and I've taken the lead on getting him out of the clinical misery of hospitals and nursing homes and into a pretty little cottage and hospice. I really didn't want him to die in an institutional setting and I know it's coming up fast. Volunteers from hospice are like angels. Friends are coming to visit. I've summoned my sister from afar and said come now.
On the housing front my tiny house project has been on hold. I've been saving money for my Dad's care, rather than buying materials or contractor services. I haven't had time to do the work myself. Even though I live in this little cabin on wheels out in the woods, so much remains to be done before I can call it home. I'm thinking if I change jobs I'm going to try to take a few weeks of leave in between to work on some projects to get it wrapped up before winter peaks.
Hugs and cheers to all of you, life moves on and the A becomes but a distant memory. I'm not seeking romance and am OK without it right now. Maybe next year I'll have the bandwidth to try dating.
1 comment posted: Thursday, October 31st, 2019
Newbies: Mind movies and dark thoughts - how to stop them
Are you absolutely miserable and suffering horribly with random bouts of crying, wanting to curl up in a little ball and never get out of bed, prone to extreme angry outbursts, etc. and all because of the thought or memory that just popped up in your head, unrequested, unwelcome, uncontrolled? And now you can't stop thinking about it? Over and over?
I want to tell you about something I learned to do while I was in those terrible deep dark days after D-day 1, after D-day 3, after D-day 6, after separation, when I desperately wanted to feel better but my situation was imploding all around me.
Change your thoughts.
If what your WS is doing or has done is tormenting you and you can't get it out of your head, here is some practical step-by-step advice for finding peace.
First notice your thoughts.
This is also called mindfulness. You have an inner world that is separate and distinct from what goes on outside your head. Your emotions can be triggered by both your inner world and your outer world. Getting control over what is going on in your head will help you FEEL BETTER emotionally because you will have fewer triggers that make you feel sad, angry, or afraid.
Try to name what TYPE of thing it is that's going on in your head.
A MEMORY of something that REALLY happened, like reading an email or picking up a phone and seeing a text, or seeing a receipt, or a hickey, or whatever. You are recalling something that actually happened and replaying it like pushing rewind on a movie. Mind movies.
A THOUGHT such as wondering if that "meeting" your WS has to go to is really for work or is really a hookup. Your brain is puzzling, having a question or idea in mind. You think it could be A but it also could be B. You're pretty sure it's A. How would you test if it's A? Investigation mode.
A FANTASY where you IMAGINE something that you didn't directly experience. You imagine your WS in a hotel room with another affair partner. You imagine their sex acts without you in them. You start with an idea or thought but take it down a speculative path, playing out possible scenarios.
CATASTROPHIZING which is a kind of imagination but more about you playing out your fears. You imagine you will have to move out and you'll be living in your car. You imagine going to pick up your kids at school but they've been taken and abducted by WS.
You FEEL an emotion, like despair, or helplessness. It takes over your body, pulling tears from your eyes, making you sink into your chair. Anger makes you get up and pace about the house, fists clenched, teeth grinding.
Many of these kinds of mental processes are not really helpful, particularly if you get stuck in a loop RUMINATING and playing over the same memories, fantasies or catastrophes again and again, or you get so stuck in your emotional state that you can't break out of it.
So how do you break out of ruminating and get your brain back in control so you feel better?
Actively choose an alternate thought.
You need to come up with about 3 different alternate thoughts that you practice thinking about. It helps if you can work out these thoughts into a "standard" or "go to" thought by repeating them to yourself when you are not stressed, as an exercise. My IC gave this to me as a homework exercise and I believe it was one of the most important things I ever got out of therapy. I have a VERY active brain and my ruminating was making me miserable.
Here are some of my go to alternate thoughts. I still use them on occasion.
Making salad. I like salads with a lot of ingredients.
OK. What do I have in the fridge? I imagine pulling the door open and sliding out the crisper and I try to remember what I last saw in there. I try to remember which salad dressings I have. I think about other ingredients in the cupboard, like croutons, raisins, pine nuts, anchovies. How about the fruit bowl? Do I have an apple or pear? Cheese? Do I have a chunk of blue, or parmesan? Meat, how about that leftover grilled chicken breast? I pick a type of salad to make. If I need ingredients I imagine going to the store to buy them and walking through the produce department to pick them out. I play that movie in my mind's eye. I select the bowl I will put the salad in when I get home. Is this a whole meal salad for one, or a family meal where the salad will be shared? Next I watch myself put the ingredients on the counter and start chopping and adding things to the salad bowl. I choose the order of processing the ingredients and I play the movie of me making my salad. Next I imagine me sitting at the table and looking at the salad and being grateful for having nutritious food. I imagine a moment of deep breathing and relaxation before I eat.
Going for a hike with my dog.
I have a favorite bench in a big park a short drive from my house. I imagine getting ready. I put my boots on and find my water bottle. I put my hair up in a ponytail and get a ball cap. Sunscreen or rain coat? I get the leash. I try to calm the dog down because she's so ecstatic we are going for a walk. I imagine opening the car door so she can jump in. I put my day pack in the back. I visualize driving the route to the park trailhead, following the roads and making the turns I need to do. At the trailhead I get out and try to get the leash on the dog before she bolts out the door. I put on my pack and lock the car. I stop at the kiosk and look at the trail map and I grab a poo bag. I walk out the 50 yards my dog needs before doing her business, then I pick it up and walk back to the trash can and drop the bag there. Then I start my hike. I choose the left loop or the right loop to the bench. I visualize walking past that huge oak tree and then the steep climb up the hill to the junction. Next I imagine myself stopping to catch my breath at the top. I practice "sit" with my pup in the next stretch and work on her manners not pulling on the leash. We get to the meadow and I let her off leash and throw the stick for a while. We walk out through the berry patches. Then we turn left and hike out through the pines to the vista point where the bench is. I have her sit in front of me and I sit on the bench and take in the view, noticing the city to the left, the ridgeline to the right. I center myself over my seatbones and take ten deep breaths. I feel gratitude that someone had the vision to protect this land and make it into a park. I listen for the sound of the chickadees and play their calls in my head while I breath in the fresh air.
Working on my backlog of car maintenance.
I run through the list of things my car needs. I have a stain on my passenger side door mat where my coffee mug rolled over and leaked. I need to pull that out and hose it off. My windows have pup nose smears on them. I need windex. The rear wiper blade is cracked and leaves a streak. I need to find a place that carries that size. I have a slow leak in my right front tire. I need to find the paperwork where I got the tires, which store was it? I need to take it in to have them fix the leak and rotate the tires. I should do ask about an alignment while I'm at it, there's a shimmy in the steering wheel at 75mph. I should pull out all the towels that have dog hair and trail dirt on them and wash and replace. It might be time for an oil change, I need to look at the odometer, it might be pushing 3500 since last service. Oh, and that damn S belt squeals when I start it up in the cold. Probably needs an adjustment on the pulley. I visualize doing the things I can at home and then making an appointment on the phone with my service guy at the independent shop I like. I visualize him taking my call and the dirty overalls he wears and that nasty oily appointment book he writes in to schedule my work. I visualize driving there on Tuesday and then walking to the cafe two blocks away and sitting with my latte and being appreciative of my reliable affordable car and just taking a few moments to relax and do nothing at that little black steel and wire table under the magnolia tree in the back patio. I listen to the water in the fountain and taste my coffee.
If you scroll up you will realize these are long, complex, visually stimulating, memory intensive STRINGS of thoughts. I can "go to" one of these thoughts and start at the beginning and work my way through and it will be a little different each time. And it takes several minutes to do it. Try it. Go read them again. You will see that these are personal to me, related to my real life, contain no medications, and do not require a co-pay.
Practicing "go-to thoughts" is super effective in killing whatever thought was in my head before. Ruminating about that hotel room? GONE, gone gone. I can't even remember sometimes what I was thinking about before. And each of these thoughts ends with a moment of meditation and finding something to be grateful for.
Try to think of a couple different scenarios that would work for you that are based on your life and your environment. They need to be thoughts that don't take you to triggery places. For example, I don't worry about running into the AP in the grocery when I'm shopping for salad, so that works for me. If your WS is into playing out sexual fetishes with vegetables that might not work for you so much, so work through your thought ideas and see if they have triggers in them. If that thought keeps hitting on a trigger, find a different one.
Practice all three thoughts for three days. Alternate between them. Work on developing the pathway, the story line in your head. Reproduce these thoughts DELIBERATELY.
Changing your thoughts is VERY possible with this method. It is a great way to get yourself calmed down, to break your rumination, to kick out that AP that is living rent free in your brain.
This is an awful process to have to go through after discovering infidelity. Your situation and your mind take you to terrible places and you need to be able to extricate yourself when it is unbearable. Take control of your thoughts and you will be on the way to getting control of how you FEEL. Sometimes we feel so helpless and victimized and like everything is falling apart and we have no control over anything. But we can OWN our own thoughts. Nobody can take away going to your happy place in your head. Happiness is out there for you, you can get back to a place of contentment and peace, no matter WHAT happens.
May you all find a moment of peace and contentment when you need it.
[This message edited by heartbroken_kk at 10:45 AM, December 2nd, 2015 (Wednesday)]
172 comments posted: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
landline call logger
I'm no longer hunting down evidence of WH's affairs because we are divorced and I'm living my awesome new single life without him.
I've got a great new job and I need to prepare an invoice every month with my calls being billable hours. Sometimes I use my cell, in which case my cell phone records my calls in and out with time stamps and sometimes even the name from my address book.
But when I use my landline I have no such record. I can use the caller ID log on the phone to look at who called me and I get a single time stamp. That's all I get. No duration, no record of calls that I placed.
Is there a device I can put between my phone and the wall that will capture caller ID, numbers dialed out, start and end times or start and duration? I don't need to record the calls themselves just the same info my cell phone log makes.
[This message edited by heartbroken_kk at 9:41 PM, November 22nd, 2015 (Sunday)]
2 comments posted: Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
cakewrecks childbirth edition
I have to admit that I don't often click on George Takei's links.... but oh. my. dog.
I laughed so hard.
Maybe that's because I've never given birth?
<warning some gross content>
30 Baby Shower Cakes To Remind You That Childbirth Is Actually Horrifying
2 comments posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2015