When my brain is revving in circles, there IS a way to stop it.
(Defining the problem FIRST. THEN asking the obvious question.)
Once I have the problem laid out, I then feel like I can attack it like I would any other problem, business or personal. If I just can get sanity long enough to ask the right questions, I can create a plan to REMOVE this ONE particular straw from the Camel’s back.
So even if I can’t solve EVERY problem, or solve this PARTICULAR problem this instant, I can stop the over-reaction and take even ONE STEP forward to lighten the load of problems in my brain.
THE PROBLEM: We need to add some more money to the household immediately so my partner’s stress is down.
THE QUESTION: How exactly can I help add more money to the household immediately?
Now I know how ridiculously rudimentary that sounds. OF COURSE that’s a problem! How overly simplistic can I get? Why state the obvious?
Well for me, and I think for PTSD generally, my brain jumps so quickly from the SIMPLE problem, to the OVERWHELMING HIGHLY COMPLEX SEEMINGLY UNSOLVABLE PROBLEM of the array of problems in my head that it has available to pick from, that it defeats itself the second it sees one more problem some up. Really, for now, this is the ONLY problem that matters.
To answer just a tiny fraction of the other problems my brain jumped to the instant money came up before going on vacation:
- Yes, we are going away tomorrow and that’s a day I feel I should be working, and I should not be vacationing when we need money.
- Yes, I already feel I will be behind by taking a day off, so now adding this worry is really likely to put a bummer on the day.
- Yes, we are likely to spend money we don’t have tomorrow, but my partner’s rest break is so important that it’s really imperative to get out of town and check out for at least one day.
- Yes, I feel extremely guilty that I can’t handle every single $1 of our expenses myself, since that’s been my role for most of my life, but there’s nothing I can do about that today.
- Yes, the PTSD is delaying the recovery of my finances in a HUGE WAY, but I also am finally making PROGRESS, which is something that wasn’t happening for months… in fact years, apparently.
- I could go ON AND ON AND ON.
All those “objections” my brain uses that draw attention away from focusing on the problem at hand, absolutely contribute not ONE THING to helping my partner, and helping our finances, which is really THE ONLY PROBLEM AT HAND RIGHT NOW, TODAY. The rest is all self-indulgent, time-wasting, self-pitying, worrying BS! It’s valid, it’s true, it can even be justified… but it isn’t helpful.
Do I want to be helpful? YES.
Do I know how I can be helpful? YES.
OK, well then just get on it. OK.
Reading that over to myself seems even MORE ridiculous, but that is exactly how my messed up BRAIN takes me down all manner of useless paths, making the problem worse if I don’t catch it. And therein lies the insanity. It’s exactly WHY I can’t put myself in situations of high stress and fast decision-making anymore. Well, not now anyway.
And the overload of that particular crisis-management way of FIRST responding to trauma, then LIFESTYLE, and WORK LIFE, is what got me here to begin with.
Well, I’m pretty big on control and I am absolutely NOT going to settle for my brain controlling ME. If I can figure it out, I will DO IT.
So, my solution to this one? (I’m picking 3 most important things I can do to help us.)
- A budget. We need a budget. That’s a simple concrete thing I can contribute.
- Craigslist projects. I need to get a little help listing some furniture and misc stuff on Craigslist so we can make a little extra money that way.
- I need to monetize the website I just busted ass on for 10 days, ie. Start with Adsense and add from there.
OK. That’s 3 things to be put into the schedule, some of which can be done today. That’s enough. I don’t want to freak my SCHEDULE out too!