So as you may imagine, the events of the last 8 months have left me a little…drained. And stressed. Not to get too heavy, but the speed and voracity of my Mom’s cancer was pretty tough to watch. You know it’s bad when your doctor says something like “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve never seen such a difficult death.” Yeah, THAT’s comforting…
So anyway, I think I’ve managed to come out of it surprisingly well, considering how close my Mom and I were and how she was in many ways my whole family for most of my life (no sibs, no kids, divorced parents). But I think I have ended up with a mild case of Post Traumatic Stress.
My post traumatic stress seems to be in the form of trouble falling asleep and flashbacks. Like, all of a sudden I’ll have a memory of an event or a situation from the last month or two of my Mom’s life. Most times, I don’t know why they come up – they just do. And the memory is not a pleasant one. Sometimes it’s a visual image, sometimes it’s just the feeling of being in that situation again.
They tell me that this will eventually go away – that at some point the memories become those of pleasant times, and that the bad memories subside. Well I sure as hell hope they’re right.
None of this is debilitating, and it is actually getting better, but it does kind of suck. Did you know that stress is bad for you? I don’t want to go to bed so I stay up too late, and then I can’t fall asleep. My brain works very hard trying to avoid thinking about certain things. I look like crap from lack of sleep. And yeah, my hair is kind of falling out. (I also lost a lot of weight, but thanks to an aggressive chocolate consumption program, I have gained most of that back).
I hope that I still have friends when I’ve gone bald and I’m totally deranged from lack of sleep…
While I wait for “things to get better with time” I have developed a list of helpful hints for the stressed-out girl. Hopefully you aren’t suffering from PTSD, but if you are stressed these handy tips might help you out.
-Physically exhaust yourself
There’s nothing like being so fucking tired that all you can do is climb into bed with your clothes still on and pass out. Obviously, this one applies to those of us who have trouble sleeping. If this isn’t your problem – actually I’d recommend it anyway because being physically active always makes you feel better. Now I know that some of these suggestions will be kind of a stretch if you’re lazy, but there are many ways that you can exhaust yourself physically. You could:
1. Have a lot of sex
2. Go hiking
3. Start a conversation about religion/politics with someone in Oklahoma
4. Start P90X (and you know, ideally, finish it)
5. Run a marathon
6. Work more than one job, including at least one retail job where you are on your feet for an extended period of time
7. Do your own yard work (until it gets too hot that you will pass out while edging – no need to make this a dangerous project)
-Go to bed too late
If you have trouble sleeping, then why not just avoid the whole situation for as long as possible?
-Clean the refrigerator
This sort of falls under “Physically exhaust yourself” but I hope your fridge is not so dirty that cleaning it is physically exhausting. This is just busywork. After X2 moved out last October, I spent 2 hours cleaning the fridge, with a movie on in the background. It killed 2 hours, my life was culturally enriched by having seen “Baby Mama” on cable, and afterwards, I felt better because I had a really nice clean fridge. Yay.
This may be difficult if you are in, say, Tulsa in August, but at least no one will see that your hair has been falling out.
Knitting is a great Zen activity (more on this later). You could meditate, but then you wouldn’t have a cool hat to show for it when you’re done.
-Eat plenty of chocolate
No explanation necessary.