Too many projects, not enough hands

I’ve been working really hard in a crafting sense lately, and having added it up I have eleven different WIPs on the go. Maybe this is sensible and maybe it is foolish, I veer between thoughts about my disloyalty to my projects, wondering whether what started as logic might have gone too far; one CAL, one project for on the go, on project for when I’m watching TV, one I really have to focus on with no distraction….. Can you see the sense behind the weirdness?

It’s been hard to try and stay focused on one thing lately. When my mood dips, and my PTSD spikes, my attention span is very limited. This is backed up by science, rather than me just making excuses, which I know some people understandably believe.

It’s not so much that I’m feeling awful as an entity; more that I’ve been prodding my deep thoughts, and exploring my soul, for a lack of better description. There have been thinks I need answers to, and the first answer is that they can only come from me. People search for years, by themselves or with spiritual guidance, to find internal peace, and some form of daily calm. Learning how to sit with yourself, even in you more uncomfortable state, is something I’m practicing. Forgiveness might not be my style, but acceptance would really benefit me.

I know this sounds rather like a tangent, but the mind, body and soul are all so connected and entwined, that when one part is struggling, the other parts struggle too. So as my mind works through all the pain and difficulty of trauma therapy, my crochet is feeling out of balance.

Then there is the fact that I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to make everything I’d like to, even if I was at full strength, physically and mentally. I’ve started on Christmas gifts, but there are decorations I need to do, I’m considering doing a craft stall at a Christmas fair, so I need to prepare for that. I have things to finish now, long term, and as-they-grow. Finding some form of balance with which project I’m working on, and making sure there is love going into it – because if craft doesn’t come from your heart, where is it coming from at all? – to ensure an item that needs to be made is both a ‘need’ and ‘want’ to work on.

Oh gosh this all sounds rather negative, but it’s not necessarily so. It’s just the way life works out sometimes, and I do love each and every project I make. Sometimes I just wish I had another dozen hands.

And a fortnight laying next to a pool.

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Long time, no type

It’s like words are evading me lately. In my head, I can string together something perfectly coherent. But when I sit down to write, there’s a total lack of input coming from my brain to my hands. On top of that, I’ve been feeling really awful, with the period from hell. I’ve been undergoing years of gynecology investigations with the final decision being I was too fat to investigate further. Which is always helpful. As it is, I’ve now lost over half a stone, and I’m hoping this will help me argue for things to be looked at again. However until then I can only work on the last know train of thought, which was endometriosis alongside PCOS. PCOS has been confirmed by previous surgery, ultrasound and blood tests, but of course there is no blood test or non-invasive confirmation of endometriosis, so it is a bit of guess work. Very painful (and bloody) guess work.

This period has utterly knocked me for six. I’ve almost slept for a week. It’s been so exhausting, so entwined with bone deep fatigue, along with very heavy bleeding, that being curled up with a hot water bottle (or three) is about as glamorous as it gets. I have watched a lot of trashy TV. I have done some crochet, but even that has been hard work. There has been much scrolling through facebook, Instagram and WordPress on my phone. And the amount of fruit and herbal tea I have been drinking has probably doubled my water bill.

On top of all of that I am trying to deal with Vodafone being a bunch of utter arseholes (separate blog post if they keep annoying me, which will go allllll over social media too), trauma therapy hangovers, parenting, decision making, adult responsibilities…. It just seems endless. I would very much like to go and live in the middle of the woods for six weeks. In a cabin with endless yarn and tea, obviously, but without anything I actually HAVE to do. Is that called a holiday or giving up? Not sure. It won’t be happening regardless, but a girl can dream.

My pain levels have been very high lately. I’m having to take a lot of extra pain meds which just cases more of a bother, because of course all meds come with side effects. My PTSD has been very bad since the MRI fiasco. Generally my patience with humankind is limited and I want to live in a bubble.

Dealing with PTSD is like constantly tottering on the edge of breaking point, waiting for one more thing to tip you over the edge, knowing that you can only take so much more, terrified not just of the world but of your own brain, and worrying your brain will get the better of you in the meantime. It is a horrible condition. It is like living through hell; you are reliving your hell every single day. Today I had a hideous flashback just from standing in a normal ‘standing’ position, that I’ve stood in endless times before, but for some reason my brain has decided that today it can’t cope with it. It’s a horrible thing to deal with. I do my best to find some joy and sunshine in every day where I can, but at times the clouds really do build up. I think maybe that’s why my words have disappeared; run off with the sunshine. Hopefully as we go into Autumn – my favourite season – they’ll return.

I do have a new pattern to share shortly, and another yarn cake arriving to test out and review, so do stay around!

When a medical professional has a traumatizing name

It’s not their fault. They can’t help what they are called, not what you are able to deal with. The world, sadly enough, is very often like walking through a tunnel of triggers smothering the walls. The process of protecting yourself is long and gradual, slowly becoming desensitized to it all. But in the meantime… What the hell do you do when face to face with a massive trigger is unavoidable?

Yesterday I had an MRI scan on my abdomen. This involved having a cannula fitted, being on the table with a flat board camera strapping me down over the area, and moving through a tube for what was definitely not the five minutes I was assured it’d be. 

What happened in my case though is a few things that just meant the day was a nightmare. I’m claustrophobic as it is, and struggle with sensory overload, so the noise and size of the machine is a struggle. It was also partially unknown, as whilst I’ve had MRI scans before, all of them have been neck a and head related. 

Oh,and I’m dealing with a period sent from hell itself, which means that with all my fine issues, I do not want to be anywhere except my bed with oramorph and hot water bottle.

It took twenty minutes and two people to fit the cannula. My veins like to move around, like typical EDS patients, but I think the stress of the veins and the delay caused made everyone a bit on edge. I felt very much like I was being blamed for it happening, and found my already anxious self stuttering apologies and attempting humour, which wasn’t well received. 

When the cannula was finally secure in the back of my hand (after inserted, it needed four flushes of saline to help push it in, that was DELIGHTFUL) I was ready for my scan. I walked from my chair to the room, still trying g to chat but feeling shaky after being poked and prodded for as I long. Marks on my skin stay for ages, so they were all spotted and messy. Excellent. 

Into the scan room and I felt genuinely sick. I managed to get onto the trolley okay, but it was at this point things all went downhill. Another man came into the room, put his hand on my shoulder gently to help me lay down, and said as strapping the camera pad over me, “Hello, I’m X, I’m just here to help”. 

Except, the name he said was my rapists name.

So here I am, laying down with something holding me down, with two men in the room, a cannula in my hand, utterly vulnerable, having just heard my rapists name as one of the people in control of the situation. And it was at this point my PTSD decided to go into full flow. I couldn’t run away. I couldn’t crochet. I couldn’t do anything except let the scan begin, try not to cry, count to ten and try to keep my breathing regular. Requests to hold my breath kept coming through, and I did everything I could to do what I needed to, but honestly 24 hours later I am not sure my breathing was regular enough to do what they needed. 

It felt like I was in there for hours. Each time the recorded voice came over -“breathe in, breathe out, now hold your breath” – I felt myself getting more hysterical. Every time the trolley moved I was desperate to get out. Yet I couldn’t press there button to escape because it would mean starting all over again and I knew I wouldn’t get back in the machine. 

It could be argued that I handled and fought to get through it. But it felt far more that I froze, was overwhelmed and didn’t have an option. I’m still feeling beyond words for how I’m feeling. Maybe I could have managed it better if he had had a different name. I don’t know. But I do know I don’t want another MRI for a long, long time. 

The sanctuary of tea

Not all problems can be solved, but a cup of tea can improve things tenfold. 

I remember first learning about tea, realizing there was a world of tea at my fingertips. Fruit tea, herbal tea, white tea, black tea…. Everything in between. Before then all I connected with ‘tea’ was milk,one sugar please. 

I do still love a good English Breakfast tea, am a huge fan of Earl Grey, but most of what I drink now is a variation of wonderful flavours that dance in my mouth. Cinnamon, acai, blueberry, chamomile, vanilla, rosehip, spiced apple…. I could list the joys for hours. Maybe it’s a bit odd to be so passionate about tea, but I find so much comfort in the ritual of making tea as well as drinking it. 

Right now I’m drinking one of my favourites, chamomile, vanilla and honey, and feeling more relaxed than I have done all day with a cup full of joy. I love coffee too (obviously) but I am very much in need of these tastes right now. They make me feel safe and happy and comforted, ready to try and deal with everything, even if I can’t completely face the world today.

The extra wonder of tea is giving an almost medicinal impact through a really horrendous period, and the awful pain I’ve been dealing with. What better to do than make a cup of tea when making a hot water bottle? 

Nightmares

There is an association with nightmares and young children, as if your brain suddenly stops creating these scenes when you are over the age of ten. God I wish that was true. Nightmares in adults are completely normal, and common, happening more when a person is stressed or trying to process whatever is going on in their lives.

So add into that the constant state of stress, fear and ‘alert’ that goes with PTSD, and it’s no surprise that we have them frequently.

It is normal – within the realms of trauma – to have flashbacks or nightmares related to the traumatic incident(s) you are dealing with. These can change in dynamic, but the essentials will be the same. It is also normal for an average dream to morph into a flash back, because hey, we can’t go feeling safe now can we. But what is also normal is unrelated nightmares. And they’re common too, far more common that the ‘average’ adult. Along with this, they tend to be very vivid, so you wake up feeling incredibly panicked, as if you have just witnessed something traumatic.

I’ve just woken up from two in a row where I was unable to  use my lucid dreaming technique, which I’ve touched on before. One was a flashback, the other a ‘normal’ nightmare, involving in this case a traumatic scenario that I haven’t experienced. That’s another thing PTSD likes to do; it acts like a spounge and will take on everything it can about traumatic incidents to throw them out at you when most inappropriate. Because you can’t feel safe at any cost.

Tonight – or rather this morning – I had to get up. I couldn’t stay laying in bed after what I witnessed in my mind. And so I’m up, awake in my craft room, trying to keep my eyes open, because goodness knows I could do with sleeping some more. Or at least six pints of coffee. I don’t feel okay. I’m on edge, jumpy, waiting for something awful to happen; that feeling of impending doom that goes with having been traumatized, no matter how hard you work to shake it off.

The other side of having a PTSD nightmare is that feeling of being abnormal. I feel odd, weird. It’s hard to trust anyone to come near me, physically or emotionally. It starts off the same reaction as being exposed to a trigger does. I’m hoping, as it gets brighter, I can venture back to bed, though of course this depends on my brain.

One of the awful things about flashbacks in your sleep and having some details changed, is it sparks off the mind wave of “am I a fake?” and similar. Am I remembering it correctly after all?

In the time I’ve written this, the sky has lightened. It now looks like early morning rather than the middle of the night. It’s a relief, to have made it through one night mare, but hell I wish it could have been proved without witnessing any thing,

This has no title

There is so much in my head, but trying to segment it off into little tidy boxes with pretty name labels feels impossible. And so this is Untitled, Unnamed, Unformed. I feel the need to write however and this leads us to where you are reading.

There is so much going on in my life and in my head , it’s like being unable to catch your breath properly, no matter how hard you try. Every time I just start to sit calmly, something else pops up to keep me in alert mode, so I have to start from the beginning all over again. It is and endless cycle, and is so tiring to keep up with. I know I have mentioned this before, but I suppose it needs repeating if my goal is to increase understanding of PTSD in very way possible. 

I managed a little crochet yesterday, filled with the love I wanted in it, but found myself happy to walk away from it when I had finished the small project I had on my hook. Today I’m hoping I can find some of my fire for what I do; get that passion flowing. I think, having sat with it for a day, that it is steaming from how busy my brain is at the moment. With being so on edge, there just isn’t time for peace to flow, and you need some degree of peace to happen, even when using it as a relaxation tool. Crochet has such a major role in my life, that trying to locate the energy and love to devote to it is a sad place to find myself in. And yet I am stubborn as hell. I know this is fleeting and I will be back, hook in hand, soon.

There has been such a bombardment of triggers lately, with trauma therapy hanging over my head. And despite knowing it is positive and I will work through it, and I can cope with it, it feels like two steps forward, six miles back. I really had to fight to be able to access trauma therapy, so I will fight like hell to take e everything I can from it to improve my life. 

One of the problems with the complexity of multiple traumas is that there are so many opportunities to be thrown by life. So many ‘normal’ life things trigger me. Certain patterns, having a yummy bug/ IBS flare, words, looks, men in general, being touched on my legs, going to sleep…. I have two full A4 pages of triggers. That makes just functioning a challenging thing, and every day is a success of I make it to the end of the day. 

There is a cheesy, motivational quite that someone once said to me, and has stayed with me; “you have made it through 100% of your bad days, and that’s not bad going”. This is something I remind myself of when I need a boost to keep myself moving. Moving forward is the only direction worth going in, and I know I can do it. 

Crafting Block

Just like writing block, crafting block is a thing, and unfortunately as I do both, they like to hang around as a couple. Yesterday everything I tried to crochet was going wrong; yarn was splitting, the pattern wasn’t working, I couldn’t find my stitch markers… You name it. Today, I can’t find the motivation to crochet at all.

This is highly unusual for me, but it is infuriating. I tried fighting against it and crocheting anyway, and found myself so despondent towards what I was making, I hastily put it away again; those are not the emotions to have on a crochet project.

I’m struggling with writers block as well. There is a long term project I am working on, with the (now not so) secret hope of having it self published in the very distant future. There we go, I said that out loud, so now you are all held accountable for kicking my arse if I lose hope in it. Okay? Okay.

It’s weird, as I love both the crochet projects I’m working on, and my writing project, yet I guess that sometimes the mind can get so full of other things, there is no space for creativity. I’ll keep on trying, because I’m missing crochet as much as I don’t have the will to do it at the moment. Odd dynamic within my brain.

Even working out what I was going to write this blog post about was a struggle! I felt the desire to write, and interact with all you lovely people, and yet my mind was struggling to locate anything worth saying. Maybe that issue, and my opinion of my work, is at the heart of these blocks. God we’re getting very philosophical here.

So this afternoon finds me sitting here, in my yoga gear, writing this on my lovely craft room desk, with a cup of my favourite fruit tea, and the ghosts of my projects hovering around me whispering “work on me! Work on me!” whilst my brain responds “nahhhhhh”. It’s a bit like that teenage – or depressive – apathy, having an impact on the love I have for all I do. And I say that not in a woe-is-me style, but more an observation of my own brain, trying to unpick where it is at, so I can turn it all around.

As part of my recovery with PTSD, I am trying to fall as in touch with myself as I can. I admit to considering this a load of hippie rubbish when the concept was first discussed, and yet knowing myself as well as I do now helps hugely with the lacking of sense of self that PTSD brings. Which is why I know I still love both writing and crocheting, that I will get back to them, that I need to be patient and kind with myself, and wait for things to fall back into place. There will be a moment where my brain breathes a sigh of relief and says “okay, let’s go”, and I can begin again. I’m working on forgiving what feels like these failures as mere moments in my creative timeline. Maybe writing this will be enough. I’ll do this, do some yoga, finish my tea, and the creativity fairy can wave.

It’s annoying me but not making me miserable, as it has in the past, which I think shows the progress over the last few years, and even months. Despite it nagging away at my heart a little, I still feel capable to return when I’m ready, whereas previously it has started the all-or-nothing, black and white thinking, declaring myself a failure. I am not a failure, simply someone who needs some time off from my own brain.

Rest and Relaxation

My goodness, I have been feeling like utter crap the last two days. Combination of glare up and bug I think, but regardless of cause, I have just been so wiped out! I’ve hardly been functioning, just sleeping at every moment available. It’s always very frustrating when I’m feeling like that, as it would be for anyone, but I do my best to try and put a positive spin on things; what better time to relax, rest, and reset. 

So as I’m typing this, I am snuggled on the sofa with good coffee – very good coffee – and others happy things; fluffy blanket, yarn, slippers, cat. NotMyCat always seems to know when cuddling would make the world a better place, although I’m sure from his perspective, it’s the option of a different lap and different fluffy blanket. I’m so tired that every time I blink my eyes want to stay closed. LittleCrafter is finishing off the little bit of homework he has left – a book repott, so it had to wait until he had finished the book! – and chatting to me intermittently. The birds in the trees just outside are making such beautiful noise, and whilst that sounds terribly stereotypical, it is so peaceful listening to it. 

I decided the other day to treat myself to Pact delivery once a month. I used to have it, but cut it out to save money. I am a self confessed coffee snob, and am not ashamed to admit it, so good coffee is something I am prepared to budget for  Upon weighing it up lately though, the price of coffee beans in shops, verses Pact delivery, AND weighing up the quality of said beans…. I decided Pact was something I needed in my life. 

I know to some that coffee is just a mug with brown liquid in it, but to me it is a relaxation me this unto itself. I drink my coffee black and without sugar, so I need the coffee itself to be lovely. And yes, thank you very much, I am aware I sound a tad pretentious. However, the ritual of making and drinking a good cup of coffee is soothing, and is sometimes exactly what I need when my head is spinning. 

It’s not the only thing I do to chill out, of course. In a recent conversation with the psychologist I’m doing my trauma therapy with, we discussed the relaxing things I had in place, and the others that could be possibly used in addition. Chamomile tea, music, trashy TV, yoga, and of course crochet were just some of the things we came up withj.

Crochet is a major part of my life, and yet working with yarn came in at a really low point. After my breakdown, a friend taught me to knit, which quickly became something hugely important to me. I taught myself to crochet a while later, and there years on, I hook every day for some length of time. It really is a huge part of maintaining my wellbeing. I never thought it would or could be (a friend initially tried to teach me, poor sod – I wasn’t a quick learner), as whilst I am very creative, I had both my lack of artistic ability and my perfectionism working against me. I’ve said before how I have an unfortunate habit to tend towards giving up if things don’t make sense immediately, because I have a fear of failure. But crochet was something I really wanted to do, and I also really wanted to challenge that perfectionism. Crochet in general has been a huge learning curve, both about what you can make with metal and wool, but also about myself, teaching myself and learning about myself. I believe as human beings, we are ever growing and ever learning; there is never a point at which you cannot choose to be better than you are, and crochet has made me a better person. 

Resting and relaxing can come in so many formats. It can feel utterly terrifying, the thought of relaxing, when you have PTSD, so finding a way to tap into this essential need is a real victory. 

Heart Echo

As part of some ongoing health investigations, I had a heart echo today. It was the first time I’d ever had one, and I was quite apprehensive on my way there this morning. I bought a coffee on my way in, my theory being I’d either be waiting a while, giving me time to drink it, or I wouldn’t wait at all, and my coffee would be the perfect temperature once I was finished. The letter had told me it would take about half an hour, but because this was to be my first one, I didn’t know whether this was an accurate estimate or ‘safe’ estimate.

When my name was called, I found myself facing a man. This had been a real panic in the build up, being due to go into a room alone with a man. PTSD causes issues with all sorts of everyday issues. I gritted my teeth and decided to be brave. I knew that I could ask for a female, to offer to wait as long as needed, under the reason of my PTSD causes, but I’d already sterned myself for this, and I knew also I had the power to stop the test at any time if it got too much.

We went into the test room, and I was asked to strip to the waist, put the gown on like a jacket, and sit on the bed to wait. This I did, feeling my anxiety rise but determined not to let it get the better of me. The professional I was dealing with could not have been more polite but, just as with a lot of PTSD triggers, it had nothing to do with him.

First I had to lay on my left side, my back to him and the machine, whilst he pressed the scanner very ‘firmly’ into the middle of my chest. I’ve never felt so conscious of the size of my breasts before! Then in the same position, he used the scanner to look up at my heart. Then from right under my left boob. This was probably the most triggering part as he obviously had to lean right across me to achieve this. Add to that the pain and I was reduced to mentally counting things so I didn’t lose it.

I had to ask for a minute before the next part.

Then I had to lay flat on my back with the scanner at the bottom of my neck. This was incredibly hard for me; my neck having pressure applied, laying flat on my back, the gown exposing my boobs. It felt quite humiliating, and whilst I knew it was needed for medical reasons, it was only repeating this fact in my head that stopped me from running from the room.

My PTSD is severe. I struggle with a lot of things – A LOT OF THINGS – and I wasn’t surprised this was hard, but I was surprised by just how hard I found it. Next time I think Diazepam would be needed. Hopefully there won’t be a next time needed!

Crafting for Christmas

That’s right – Christmas!

With September being just days away, I can now actually talk about Christmas without looking too weird. The reality is, when you’re planning on making some of the festivity yourself, be it presents or decorations, you have to start what some may consider a little… Early.

I’m a big fan of Christmas anyway; my OH is such a festive person. Last year there were over 2,000 twinkling lights in our living room, and there has already been talk about ‘needing’ more. There are decorations I have made going alongside these, and if I have time this year I am planning on doing a full size wreath to go alongside the mini wreaths I’ve made over the last few years. There are also some snowmen to look cheery on the main bookshelf, and I may or may not have made a bauble hat last year. This year the challenge is a Christmas tree. Or maybe Santa. Or maybe both.

This year I’m really aiming to make quite a few presents myself. I haven’t put a set number on it because I know that will just become stressful, but “quite a few” is what I’m sticking with as an aim. I’ve already made three, am just about to finish another, and have another potential five planned.

I’m trying very hard to balance these plans out with the fact I’ve deliberately kept the last few months as ‘selfish craft time’; working on things either for me, or things I’ve wanted to make for no reason other than wanting to make them. This is a decision that I’m really happy I made as sometimes I get so sucked into making things because I ‘have’ to, that it was almost a bit of a craft brain reset. Crafting is such a happy, wonderful thing, but it can end up feeling like an obligation, if you don’t find a way to keep the joy in it.

So for Christmas this year I’m happy with how things are progressing so far, with how quickly some things are making up, and already thinking happily of giving them as gifts in what is actually only a few weeks away. Crafting for Christmas is one of the most exciting parts of the year as someone who makes things, in my humble opinion, and I can’t wait to see just how things work out in time for Christmas. There is going to be lots of excitement in between then and now, and it’s also a sneaky little way of creeping into Christmas mood early, with a very reasonable excuse!