I am sad to report that I just gave in to a minor binge. I had been pretty tired and beat all day for having stayed up late last night and not getting sleep for more than roughly four hours. When I woke up this morning from my landlady walking around at 7.30ish, I had meant to go back to sleep for another two hours, but never managed to as my body seems to have produced a full fight-or-flight response even upon waking up. So I decided to get up and use the extra time. I was glad about the extra hours, but dragged through the day, not really up and motivated for anything. I forced myself, though, did some paperwork, emails, the blog and other online stuff, then practiced the guitar for about 1.5 hours. In the early afternoon, I had a light lunch and took a nap for about an hour later on, ran errands by car, came back, played on the computer for another hour and a half, then went for my walk of about 60-90 minutes. I felt fatigued, though not cranky (the sun helps). I am also still feeling weak from the aftereffects of the medication at the hospital (the antibiotics, I guess). Maybe yesterday’s program was a little too much: Seeing the hypnotherapist in the afternoon after yet another fairly short night and productive morning, then having a pretty heavy session with him to be followed by helping his partner in life with some computer work for compensation at their home (he agrees on treating me on that basis, we’ve become friends over the years, which I’m very grateful for as I hold him and his knowledge and skills in high regard. I have also built a modest, simple website for his practice in return for treating me – I had insisted on the latter, i.e. doing some compensatory work). I took a walk afterwards for about an hour, then went to see a beautiful concert and spent an excellent evening in an intimate setting at a nearby music venue. I was welcomed in a very warm, joyful manner and felt great interacting with the people who know me there. I even made new friends with the performing artists, who were totally accessible and likeable in addition to delivering a really fine, entertaining performance of the highest musical quality. I was almost my old self prior to the big break in my bio in 2007 – and I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I felt great and I returned home all worked up and being in a positive, encouraged mood, although tired and beat. But I was too excited to go to bed, so I stayed up until around 3 am and went to sleep only then.
I woke up from steps on the wooden stairwell in the building, which connects my bedroom in the basement to the open main area of the house. I mean, don’t get me wrong: It’s a beautiful house and if I lived here with someone of my own choosing – like a partner-, I’d probably love the open space with lots of light coming in from all sides. My own appartment is separate from the main wing and separated by two doors, located one floor down from the upstairs living room and kitchen (her area, I have my own small living room and tiny kitchen). Although my landlady is a nice, cultivated and mostly quiet lady, I hear her walking around when she’s here and sometimes her being on the phone. I don’t mind that as much as her appearing in front of the window next to where my desk and computer are as well as in the garden in front of the French windows of the main part of the flat. She had mentioned her being present in the garden a few times before I moved in and I thought I would be able to handle this. And I did for the most part. But for some reason, this week she’s here every day and all day. And I get triggered in very bad ways. I feel intruded on, monitored, in short: Not safe (she doesn’t really monitor me and respects my space, only knocks on the connecting door or the window, if she has a message for me. When she does, which happens only once in a while, my body goes into “anxiety mode”. The fight-and-flight response also sets in every time I notice a movement next to the window left from my computer desk or in front of the other window. I feel like a caged animal with the warden approaching the cage. I am aware of how insane this will sound, but the physical response is substantial. I can’t slip into the “flow” of getting lost in whatever it is that I’m doing. And I have come to love that feeling of being lost in whatever current activity I’m going about on the computer or when playing the guitar or whatever. I have identified monotasking and “getting lost” in concentration as one of the very, very beneficial alterations to my prior modus operandi on the jobs and projects I had been working on as a way of reducing stress levels substantially. In other words: One thing at a time and ideally at a pace I get to set instead of someone else pushing and pressing. The latter – I can simply not tolerate any longer as this equals getting triggered in the above described way. But – I have barely ever managed to be in this place of sweet oblivion to the world around me while being totally consumed by writing, reading and composing music some time ago. I call it the visiting muse when this mode of being in the current activity fully kicks in and I seem to have identified this as a need of mine in order to get the work done in a way where I feel I not only full control, but also full access to my emotional self prior to the trauma – almost as if there had never been such a thing like trauma. I consider this way of “getting lost” a huge step forward towards healing in my personal journey and it had been working nicely for a while after I had found this to be important for me. But it only works in a place where I can feel perfectly safe and safe meaning zero potential to get triggered. Sadly, this has never been the case all too often after some time in 2007 and after the new neighbour in my previous appartment had moved in (which is why I haven’t really resumed writing and recording new music). Not only would he break my focus by returning from his nearby job for lunch and slamming the doors as hard as possible, but his routine would involve venting loudly and violently by playing on his computer playstation all the while screaming abusive names at whatever game character he was playing against. Yes. Don’t ask… Of course, I approached him about that and since we had a sort of friendly interaction at first, I did my best to work the “understanding string” in him, explaining my getting triggered and doing my best to convey it in terms someone not suffering from the condition might at least get some idea about. To no avail. Let’s just say that things got to a point, when it became a question of time that one of us would have become physical. In short: There was no way in staying there, although I tried and didn’t really want to move away. But my former landlord wasn’t backing me on this, so I had to give in. It had become full blown torture and I had never been closer to losing grip of myself and losing control over my impulses. If I had… well… I’m sure, it would have likely amounted to full blown brawling and seriously hurting each other, I’m afraid. By the way, this situation had been going on for about 4 years. It wasn’t until then that I found this appartment and got to move in. I had been looking for a suitable place for all that time and realtors or landlords would flat out deny me even looking at the places on account of my material situation (depending on welfare and being prematurely retired). In retrospect, this was the first time that I really, seriously contemplated on ways of ending my life. I’m not talking about suicidal ideations, I’m talking about looking at dependable, safe options to conk out and be done with it.
I seem back to this “mode” of insomnia, fatigue and despair throughout the day as well as being petrified from getting triggered often (so much for the duration of the emotional boost of having overcome my fear of hospital… *ugh*). I’m also pretty sure that last year’s episode of major depression, which lasted almost all year, happened on account of it: I don’t get to express myself in other ways here than in writing (at least writing works fairly well, the triggers don’t limit me that much from it). I can’t seem to enjoy playing my instruments, because for being in the moment with all my attention, I need to feel safe. Physically safe. Sudden unexpected movements or noises, while I’m in this mode of oblivion, trigger the fear-based chemicals and physical response in my body (ironically, a defined stage above the audience is a safe place by that definition; some club settings like last night – errm… that’s a different story altogether…). Luckily, around here that response is not as hard and as lasting as in the other building, where I wouldn’t have a chance of coming back to some peace for hours on end. In other words: Whenever I got disturbed, whatever it was I had been working on, I might as well have dropped right away. There simply was no point in trying to carry on. It’s not as bad here, but when disturbance happens… the feeling and focus are gone. I know, it’s crazy – at least to the unassuming reader/visitor. And I can’t seem to get any control over this. I am trying. I speak my mantra in the mornings, at night and in the situation or right after a trigger happened. But so far – to no immediate avail of quickly reducing the stress level so I get to carry on. In all honesty: This is a devastating experience. This way, I can’t access my talents, let alone hone my skills (which I’d otherwise resume, passion or not). If not that – I don’t have anything meaningful left. I live alone and don’t expect to share my life with a significant other again. But just be without purpose? Sounds like there’s no point to that, although I have been enjoying myself whenever and as often as I could in the previous years – but in solitude. The solitude… I can’t seem to endure any longer. In well defined settings, where I have some idea of what to expect, like e.g. last night, I am relaxed and in the moment, at least as audience so far. Being on stage… well, I have mentioned that a couple of times.
Any ideas? Moving elsewhere seems inevitable given this. However, there is no telling, whether I’ll get into a situation like in my old appartment – or worse. In which case – even the most modest of helpful routines would cease to work for me. Technically, there can’t be anything else but a single, small house for me. However, the limitations of subsidized living make it very unlikely to find something within those limitations. Plus, even if I do – which has happened a select few times and again quite recently so -, it is very likely I won’t get to actually move in. After all, I’m not exactly “landlord material”. I was very lucky with this place and landlady here. I feel terrible about my situation and condition being this way and I need to remind myself not to start beating myself up for it like I used to do earlier in life.
It’s a brutal curse to be locked into a constantly overcharged, stressed out, thus easily exhausted and fatigued body. This is what I had hoped to obtain medication for: To be more relaxed on a more constant basis, even if at the expense of some additional fatigue or other side effects in the beginning. If I ever wanted to reconnect with my musical abilities and enjoy them – which is must, for simple mechanical movements don’t really work here-, I need to find a solution for this. But I have run out of ideas as to how to solve or alleviate this. I appreciate your thoughts on this, if you happen across some. Thanks.