Emotional Dysregulation Whirlwind

Blogs may include sensitive or triggering content. Reader discretion is advised.

*TW: mention of mental health, substance abuse, pregnancy scare, death of a relative*

The past few weeks, I’ve been noticing a change in me.

I am more emotional, more easily triggered, more dysfunction is present in my ability to function because of the influx of emotions and the impulses therein, and I’ve been having strange dreams again.

While I’m fairly certain my Therapist will say, “This is a good thing in the long run,” I find it all taxing and frustrating, and I am internally scoffing at the proposed benefits — given that it’s making me feel like I’m freaking nuts in the meantime.

Healing sometimes/often just is taxing and frustrating, I get that. And, while the long-term benefits come from the short-term work (that becomes more second-nature and easier, or less work-like, with a little practice), being in-the-thick-of-things is enough to make me want to have a tantrum and give up. But that’s not always exactly a viable, helpful option.

I’m not much of a give-up person anymore; I used to flat-out avoid a lot out of necessity because I literally could not cope, and now I’m picking up the big pieces of the trail of avoided-things-that-inevitably-need-tending-to. 

I’ve avoided being fiscally responsible (to my detriment), I’ve avoided confrontation, I’ve avoided correspondence over important matters. All because I was too traumatized to cope with facing the situations, but I’m learning that being traumatized cannot be a forever-excuse — I need to heal and improve, which means I have to follow-through with ‘doing better.’ Now, I’m getting into the habit of maybe taking a break, and using skills to re-center myself to grab the reigns of living again, to find the tenacity to get through the difficult emotional moments and move forward with tasks.

It is in that skill-using place of trying to get a grip again that I find myself most frustrated. It’s not easy doing things you’ve just avoided altogether in the past. Stop and start, stop and consider running away, but start again… Stop and regroup. Start and stop, and try to start again.

I’m reminded of my past times spent working with horses; I can be quite a stubborn animal. As well, I’m reminded of when I was forced to take piano lessons and I refused to practice regularly between appointments with my Teacher… the awful feeling of forcing myself through a lesson where I had no clue how to play and was making no progress, and had no discipline whatsoever… or when I would try desperately through tears to practice the night-before (as if that would catch me up for a week’s lost consistency). 

My life is a bit of a bubble right now. So, stressors are minimized (which has been necessary to get to a place of mental-safety) — but thus, therefore my capacity to practice working with my stressors is reduced. And things are getting somewhat busier and more stressful in my life, and drawing attention to my skill-use consistency being lacking; I’m doing the psycho-emotional therapy equivalent of practicing the night before a piano lesson. I can barely handle it at times. It drives me nuts feeling barely capable. Being a control-freak is a big part of who I am, seemingly paradoxically with the no-can-do part of me (I’ve been a big all-or-nothing person in the past, to my detriment). Going with the flow and being capable in my best capacity (even if it’s imperfect) is the tricky part.

This is possibly a shift into me learning about what my feelings are on a regular basis, instead of dissociating away from them for the sake of keeping the peace, or dissociating from them to apply strictly logic because it’s more objective and less subject to criticism (because of the subjectivity of emotions). 

I know that the truth is, reality for humans is somewhere in the middle; feelings and emotions both have value and a place. And, learning to adjust to emotions accordingly (regulate and manage them, process them in-the-moment, instead of stuff them down and deny them) is the skill I’m needing to develop better than I can, currently.

After all, emotions are valid and real, but are not necessarily truth — heck, even much truth is subjective at the core, so really balancing the emotional scales is important to live as honestly and authentically as possible. I can’t only go by my gut, just like I cannot only go by my logic. I need to be able to evaluate both my logic and my emotions to really suss out what my truth is. I’m so used to being mostly logic-driven, numb to what I really want or feel, or able to quickly de-value those feelings/wants into submission to protect myself from vulnerability. 

Now, the intensity of the emotions, how real they feel, the impulsivity to react from an emotional state of mind… It’s newer to me, and a learning curve that takes me by storm at times. It’s of course not entirely new; I wasn’t a total robot before, but things are just different enough now that there’s new challenges.

On the one hand, it’s great to have a more vast emotional range. But now, it’s another thing I have to take responsibility for and manage non-stop as I navigate life. More physical pain/discomfort. More mental strife. I know it’ll get easier. For now, though…

My emotional maturity is being tried and tested, and it seems I have much room for growth. And growing pains are real.

I am having to make peace with my dislike of things being hard/difficult/triggering/dysregulating, but necessary, good, worthwhile persevering through, and important. 

I may dislike my living arrangements, but it’s the best I can have so far right now in my fiscal situation, so I have to make peace with it for the foreseeable future; two opposing things can be true at the same time, and I can’t let that fact drive me nuts all the time.

It’s difficult being a “Highly Sensitive Person,” plus having to wrangle an already wonky traumatized nervous system that flip-flops between extremes, while living in a triggering environment, and living a disingenuous lifestyle. 

I guess that’s why it’s such a mission these days. It’s a lot of factors all at once.

Not to mention, I’ve been missing using cannabis. It’s legal where I am, and the THC was good for so many of my CPTSD symptoms. But, I became addicted. Not in a terribly bad way; it was caught at the right time. However, the addiction tests me at times; I didn’t have things bad enough to scare me off of reconsidering use. So, some of this might be Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, and just cravings. Using really let me process emotions more easily, brought me some peace. And it helped with physical symptoms beyond the psychological ones, in ways my regular medications just don’t or cannot. 

It’s not that things are intolerable, it’s that tolerating them nonstop and being in a constant state of struggle itself gets intolerable — with no end in sight, I crave even a brief reprieve. Other people talk about being able to go for a walk, connect with nature, get out amongst people for a sport for their reprieve — I struggle to leave the house due to constant issues regarding anxiety and phobia. The house itself and my dad are triggering. And there’s little to snuff the spark of anxiety out compared to how many (presumably) less-traumatized folk can cope and manage their issues. So yeah, sometimes I want to use again, for a little break.

I also had a tiny pregnancy scare, so there’s some residual tension and apprehension projecting outwards. I already know that I in no way can “be” a mother, nor do I want to be. So that week of fretting has left me emotionally charged with a lack of appropriate outlet. Though I have more “to do” around the house, so hopefully that amount of activity lets me burn off some energy.

As well, the 2nd anniversary of my mom’s death is approaching. It’s difficult that I mostly have only negative memories or flashbacks of her — granted there’s good reason for that. But deep down, I do know I miss my mom, too, and it’s difficult to reconcile both loving some aspects and hating other aspects of her — again, those Dialectics of two opposing things being true simultaneously; it’s not as easy as things being one or the other. I feel guilty for not getting past the trauma of her substance abuse, mental health issues and abuses towards us. I cannot pretend none of it ever happened, though I wonder if I have fully been able to let go and forgive her shortcomings… Can I, should I? Look what it’s done to me. Is that just a victim-mindset, though, or is it being sensitive to my current reality? I’m forever flip-flopping on that, trying to be fair to my traumatized self while also trying to maintain a growth-mindset regarding trauma-processing and healing. 

Can both be true at the same time? Yes, probably. Is it what I want, or where I want to be? No. But the first step is recognizing there’s a problem.

Lastly, a friend’s wedding is upcoming (the 19th), and my +1 is someone I’m quasi-romantically-curious about. Longtime friend, former FWB. So there’s feels and dreams happening regarding that. I don’t feel too worried about if he’s not interested. I can live with that, easily. It’s just a lot of extra emotional volatility to swirl into the mix. 

In hindsight of all this rambling, I suppose things have become a lot more dynamic in my life lately, and so it makes sense that I’m struggling with more dynamic moods/feelings/emotions/symptoms. 

As I navigate, I am not perfect — but I can reflect and be open to learning, growing, trying to change, heal and progress.

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