Soooo… It’s been exactly a week since my due date for starting on my healing journey. Where am I at so far?
Well, up until today, I didn’t really know. I’ll admit it–I hadn’t gotten very far, at least not yet.
I’m a map person. I rely on them a lot. This includes road trips, and it includes healing journeys, too. I had drawn out a proverbial healing journey map in my head, but I had left out the details. Details like proverbial potholes and virtual valleys.
My first step had been to go ahead and start on the three Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbal formulas. Baby steps, right?
My proverbial report card for my first week is hit-and-miss; some days, I nailed all three doses of all three formulas, while on other days, I missed everything. And there were a few days where I got one or two of the doses taken.
But I had made no other changes–I hadn’t started on the big ones, the ones that are the most pivotal.
There are a few reasons for this. One is that I needed supplies that I didn’t already have, ones that it’s simply not wise to purchase under the spell of a Mercury retrograde, which, until yesterday, it was. Another reason was that I hadn’t worked out all the logistics involved in taking such steps yet.
In order to take more steps, I needed to make a more detailed map.
I did that this morning. (Yay!)
I keep a lot of information on my mobile. It’s home to my to-do lists, appointment calendars, email, internet, social media, even WordPress. It’s kind of my lifeline.
So, I opened up the Notes app (I have an iPhone) and started typing a new note.
The first step is the biggest, and also the hardest. It involves lifestyle changes. This alone can be difficult for many; now factor in the pesky detail that I’m an Aspie. Being an Aspie in this situation translates to: I’m super-entrenched in my routine. So breaking routines that are unhealthy (like kretek indulgence and the tendency to be sedentary) poses quite the challenge. If I have any hope at all of doing this successfully, then I must replace those routines with new, healthier ones.
And then I have to prepare my brain for the upcoming changes–a stubborn brain that is otherwise quite content with my current way of doing things. Bother.
Some of these lifestyle changes involve swimming against a powerful tide–by contradicting disordered physiology. I have had PTSD for seven years now, the primary effects of which include the unpredictability of my sleep-wake cycles and sleep schedule.
This currently presents an obstacle, because I know that to achieve the effects that I desire, there are certain steps I must take first. It works kind of like prerequisites in college or university: you might know that you really want to, say, master calculus, but in order to do that, you need to master algebra first. And in order to do that, you have to be well-versed in your multiplication tables.
Heh. Where am I in that analogy? Hell, I’m just learning how to add and subtract.
I know that I can only accomplish this by taking my situation in similar stages. Learn to add and subtract. Move on to multiplication and division. Progress to algebra, and from there, trigonometry. Then (and only then), I can get to the material I really want to swim in.
It’s going to be that long of a road. And it’s a road full of plenty of obstacles. I have to break it down piece by piece. Once I do that, I can plug each piece into my daily to-do list, accomplish goals one at a time, one or a few each day, and eventually meet my more advanced goals.
This morning, I outlined the first stage, and I also knew that I had to brainstorm for practical ideas on exactly how I want to put this into place. I had to think to myself: what can I do to leave my bad habits behind and replace them with healthier ones? And how can I convince my quite-complacent brain to agree to this?
The first step to healing, a prerequisite if you will, is to minimize/manage stress.
OK, how do I do that? I’m self-employed, which is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I have a lot of control over my schedule, my job duties, my environment, my hours, my policies and procedures, and so on. Yay! And I also work with my partner, who is of slightly-above-neutral support.
But I also shoulder a lot of responsibility. I have to make tough decisions. I have to keep an eye on things. I am a primary driver of the business. I don’t get to punch out at the end of the day and go home. I don’t have a defined set of consistent tasks; my to-do list and my priorities are always changing–with changes in technology, law, workload, and many other factors, many of which I don’t have much control over. And being an Aspie, time management and executive function can pose serious issues; if I’m the boss of myself and our assistant, it’s up to me to make things happen. Ha.
Win some, lose some.
So, stress is an issue. I can deal with it in two ways:
- Minimize the stress coming in (more of a preventive measure)
- Manage (effectively) the stress I endure (more of an elimination measure)
I can only minimize the incoming stress so much; I can do this by delegating the tasks that are more stressful for me, saying “no” to avoid taking on too much, and setting boundaries, both in personal life and professional career.
But there will always be situations that pop up unexpectedly, that cause stress, that I have to deal with.
The stress that I can’t avoid altogether, I must manage, process, burn off, eliminate.
I can do this by engaging in physical activity, meditation, acupuncture, creativity (including blogging), listening to music, singing along, and so on.
So in the morning, instead of taking my mobile outside with me to check in on social media during a kretek, I can take a portable music player with me outside and go for a power walk instead. I can also do this when I get to work, over lunch at work, and when I get home from work.
Sleep is another crucial stress-buster. Except that sleep and I are estranged lovers. I never know when I’m going to get great sleep, or when I’ll be awake until the wee hours of the night. That’s a longtime holdover from the PTSD.
I can manage that by sleeping in bed (which I haven’t done in over four years) (which involves first cleaning off the clothes from my side of the bed) (two major obstacles), and replacing my current nighttime routine with one that promotes healthy sleep hygiene.
My rough draft of healthy sleep hygiene can be broken down into Plans A, B, and C.
Plan A involves reading out loud to my partner and hopefully getting tired enough to fall asleep.
Plan B comes into play when my partner drops off to sleep before I do, and I stay in bed, pull out my Kindle, and keep reading until I pass out, too.
Plan C would be a last resort: in the event that the first two options didn’t work and I’m still awake, I could do what I do now, which is to go out into the living room, hang out on the couch, and cuddle up with my laptop and probably a cat or two, and watch TV.
I can see where Aspie-competent counseling and nutritional/herbal supplements are probably going to be necessary here. I might also start doing Qigong, in the morning and/or at night.
Obstacles to all this:
- Money is tight, so counseling may be hit-and-miss.
- I don’t yet have a music player, and since technology hates me, loading music onto it might prove challenging.
- Supplements can get pricey, too, but I know I need them, because these issues don’t correct themselves.
- I’m no longer familiar with my Kindle. I do think I know where it is (!)
- Making my side of the bed sleep-able involves cleaning, which is a frequent trigger of stress, anxiety, and irritability.
- I’m going to need my partner’s help (in multiple ways, for multiple steps listed here) but he’s often inert, too. Executive function is also an issue for him.
- Our assistant is new and learns more slowly, so I can’t delegate much work to her yet.
- Did I mention that I’m really likely to adhere to (an already-in-place) routine?
Hell, I’m not even quite ready to learn addition and subtraction–I need to learn how to count, first! 😉