PTSD Post: Balancing Self Care with a full life

One of my biggest fears about going back to school is not being able to “act normal” around other people for extended periods of time and still learn.

Turns out, that is not my biggest obstacle to going back to school.  Balancing self care with work and school is my biggest obstacle.

Right now, I’m in a positive healing space.  My body is responding to current treatment and improving – slow and steady progress.  I have more energy and less instances of panic attacks.  My mind is more clear-headed.  Basic chores and tasks like laundry, house-cleaning, and cooking are easier and more enjoyable too.  My sleeping and appetite are better.  The muscle and joint pain are easing too.  And I am knitting again.

All positive improvements and personal milestones.

Working full time and going back to school for the last two weeks and this week has brought home how little time I will have for self care.  My personal time decreased by 50%, and my stress increased about the same amount.  I worried about transportation, being available to people at work, meeting my deadlines, paying attention in class, getting proper nutrition, coping with the new people (at school) and responsibilities (at work), and getting enough sleep.

Instead of taking time off, I worked extra on the weekend to make up missed weekday hours.  I did extra loads of laundry; spent more time packing my backpack and snacks for class time; and pushed myself to wake up early so I could eat breakfast before leaving in  the morning.  Or pushed myself to eat 1 – 2 decent meals before the afternoon classes.

Then, on Monday, class discussed a part of diagnosis and treatment related to genitalia.  And the instructor demonstrated how to identify location points on the body while also being sensitive to the patient’s boundaries about physical contact.  It was the first class where I was so anxious that I dissociated a couple times during the demonstration.  Later that night, I had trouble sleeping.

This is when I realized how vital my current self care routine is to managing the PTSD and moving forward with recovery.  My health is important to me.  It’s part of my I moved and started fresh.  Being here has helped me realize that my emotional and mental self is much improved and in better shape than my physical self.

The current treatment of Traditional Chinese Medicine + trauma counseling/therapy + massage is working.  And I don’t want that to stop.  My worry is that adding school to a high-stress full time job at this point will take away the time and energy for self care.  And if that happens, I will spiral downward and relapse.

The learning part won’t be a problem.  The memorizing part will be a challenge, but not as bad as I thought it could be.  The communication and socializing part is a lot less scary and will be manageable with the right set of coping strategies in place.  But I feel like I will struggle with time management and transportation anxiety.  Managing work, school, homework/study, apartment maintenance, self-care, and my finances will be a big challenge.

Thanks for reading.