I spent the summer just trying to stay busy. Work was slow. Summer can be slow at times, but I was also not doing a lot to get more work. I was still feeling overwhelmed very easily and I was having a lot of trouble focusing and getting things done. I had days at a time that I would cry at very random times for what seemed like no reason. I went to a concert and had an anxiety attack that hit as soon as the crowd started yelling all around me. It lasted for the entire concert and I ended up in a bathroom stall crying at one point. But, I stayed. It was hard and exhausting (physically and mentally), but I stayed. I refuse to let this experience ruin the things I love. I even went to another concert a few weeks later that was easier. I was more prepared for when the anxiety would hit (the roar of the crowd combined with having only one person there who understood and knew what I have been going through) and was surrounded by people I trusted and who are supportive. I had some anxiety, but actually enjoyed the concert, never had to leave my seat, and stayed until the end.
I actually look at this event as having some positive points. Every Spring, I say that i'm going to take time to really enjoy summer. I say I'm going to take a lot of days off and actually go to the beach, go away, and just have fun. It doesn't happen nearly as much as i'd like. But, this year, it did. I went to the beach at least 10 times which is way more than I would have. I went away for a few weekends, I spent time walking around our great city and enjoying what it has to offer. There's something about a life changing event that reminds you that as much as you think you're living life to the fullest, there's more you can do. In general, I travel overseas and in the U.S., I enjoy time with friends and family, and I stay connected in the community. However, I still do let work take over and responsibilities consume me at times. I always try to stay balanced, but it doesn't always happen. If anything, the marathon has reminded me how crucial that balance is. It's also reminded me how short life is, how important enjoying life is, and how a lot of things just don't matter in the long run. We can have as many "things" and go on as many trips as we want, but if we do not have close relationships, enjoy the little things around us, and love, what's the point? Love is important in every aspect of life. Love what you do to enjoy life, love the people in your life (and remove those who are toxic), and love your work.
This new feeling started to happen throughout the summer. There were little things that started to bother me. Usually, I don’t get offended by what others say. I know that when people say things, that its’ a reflection on how they feel and not me. Similarly, when people have said certain things in the past when I did all of my fabulous traveling or other fun adventures, it never bothered me. I have gotten a lot of “wow, it must be nice to be you” and “What a life you lead, must be nice.” My response is usually “Yes, I do have a nice life. I make it this way.” or “It IS nice to be me.” I figure people who have to say things like that are upset they aren’t out doing things I’m doing , so it doesn’t phase me. I just acknowledge that I do love my life. But, the past few months has been more difficult when it comes to things people say. I went away for literally 24 hours one weekend to sit on the beach and spend time with friends. I got a few of those comments like above and it frustrated me. It frustrated me because these people had no idea that the reason I went away was because I had spent days crying and having anxiety attacks and going away was a way for me to break that and feel better than I had in a week.
So, that “It’s nice to be you” phrase changed. These people wouldn’t want to be me for the past 5 months. They would absolutely not have wanted to be me or anyone else who was there that day and I wouldn’t wish it on ANYONE. It will be nice to just be me again, but at times, it's still hard. I have refused since the beginning to let this define me or consume me. Unfortunately, I don’t always have complete control over that, though it gets easier to control over time. I can go have a great time with friends and I am still myself, just a modified version for a while. Some days, I can’t just smile all day like I used to. Some days, I feel overwhelmed by it all and can’t have small talk conversations. I have really narrowed the number of people I really spend time with and talk to.
I’ve started to recognize many things, not only about myself but about others. I know who is there for me, whether that is to talk, to just have fun with and not pressure me. I do have amazing friends and some amazing family and they don’t put pressure on me to be better. In fact, they constantly remind me that this was a big deal and I need to be a lot more patient with myself. This is helpful because they get it. They may not be able to really understand PTSD or what I experienced that day, but they know it can’t be easy and they are openly allowing me to take the proper time to heal while still seeing I’m going to come out of this like myself again. I’ve also come to establish closer relationships with some people who have been some of the best people to talk to when I need it. They are people who were acquaintances who have become friends. They listen without giving me answers/advice because they know they don’t have the answers and I know they don’t either. I don’t expect them to give advice on working through it, even though some of them give some great advice that has been helpful. That is what I go to a marathon support group for. That is where I find people who 100% know what's been happening. That is where I find that people are struggling the same as or more than I am. I am hoping to share some of their stories and we are working on bringing more awareness to this. More about that in my next post!
Thank you for reading!