Trying not to beat myself with guilt over a meltdown...

SeekingAfrica

MyPTSD Pro
So for those that don't know- I recently had to start looking for work again(with no savings and lots of debt). While I am doing so any project coming along is important because it provides the income I need to keep paying my living needs and rent. Especially this first deadline this week because it will be enough to cover rent, utilities and leave something for all the other stuff needed.
So today I had a total meltdown and panic/anxiety attack over it. My stomach was hurting, my sciatica was worse than it had been in 2 weeks, and I had this deadline pressing. I've been more reasonable and grounded for a while, but this one, sent me back. Suddenly it seemed it ALL has to get done and it all has to get done today and if not I would... yeah I know. Catastrophizing or all-or-nothing thinking, I confuse the 2 sometimes... But I ended up panicking, literally rushed outside in the rain to take a walk, hyperventilated and cried for a while.
Spend like an hour in bed eating chocolate and thinking the day is ruined, I'll never finish, I'm a terrible human being...

Yeah. Wasn't good. Currently I am back to working again, to not end the day on the panic point, to do at least something more today.
I just wonder if there is a way to stop my thoughts from spiraling like that? I know theoretically, with CBT, but how exactly?

Because I have debt, I have current work project, I'm trying to apply for work and my financials with need a whole lot of work to start with. I know there will be many steps to continue my recovery (though it's MUCH better than last year) so, I can't be freaking out every time I know I'm not 'there' yet. I might not be 'there' for a while. And not all workdays will go perfectly, especially if I start a new job but keep doing projects too (my finances can use it). So I can't have that all or nothing thinking or... I almost wrote 'or I'll never get there' than realized this is part of that thinking. How do I practically work on my thoughts? * (*until I can afford therapy- the free center is closed, thank you 2020...:/)

note: just want to say that although this contains a lot of frustration I am not giving up and I want that to be clear.
Also, any CBT books to recommend? Or other books related to thinking patterns?
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I think the first thing to acknowledge would be that a panic attack at a time like that is 2 things:
(1) inconvenient, but as overwhelming as they feel, not much more than that. Sounds really invalidating, and if it's an unhelpful thought for you, toss it aside.

But I did quite a lot of "worst case scenario" work with a psychologist early on in my treatment (which for me means wetting myself and passing out in a really public place) - and actually, I survived that. My worst case scenario with panic attacks is embarrassing and inconvenient, but...not much more. To the contrary, they force me to slow down, which is what both my mind and body need in that moment. Inconvenient and embarrassing and annoying are things I can handle.

I'm heading to an unknown shopping centre to resit my Assistance Dog's Public Access Test today. That's about as stressful as it gets for me. Not just because I have panic attacks at shopping centres that I am familiar with, but also because if doggo fails for any reason? I lose my biggest and most important psychological support (and will promptly have to make a whole series of major changes to my daily life, including how the hell I'm going to ever go anywhere public for any reason ever again), and a tonne of financial support that I can't really do without.

That's stressful. That's panic attack territory. Worst case scenario? I have a panic attack, and it's embarrassing, inconvenient and...not much else. Okay - if I can survive CSA as a 4 year old? I can survive embarrassing and annoying as an adult.

(2) something that makes perfect sense.

The scenario you've just described? Would push anyone's anxiety limits. So, with ptsd on board, it makes perfect sense that if you're going to have a panic attack? That's gonna be the day it hits, right?

Which means you can absolutely forgive your body for letting you down in those moments. Your body was behaving in a way that was really inconvenient and distressing, but it was behaving in a way that makes perfect sense in the circumstances. Our bodies can cop a lot, but ultimately, if we push them too far? They stop working. Panic attack. It means you're pushing harder than your body could handle in those moments.

Moving forward, it sounds like this level of stress is going to hang around for a while. Regular panic attacks take a whole heap of valuable productive work time away from us, so how to manage that?

Monitoring your SUDS regularly (hourly, every 2 hours maybe) throughout the day would probably be where I'd start. How distressed am I, on a scale of 1 to 10, right now?

You know yourself better than anyone. Try and reflect on where the turning point is for you. Your SUDS measure is subjective - so if you know that when you hit about a 7, you're in danger of things quickly getting out of control? That's when you intervene.

A panic attack takes more time out of your day than the kinds of things you can do when you hit 7 out of 10 to bring those anxiety levels back to a manageable level. And panic attacks, being a very physiological experience, respond best to physiological management skills. Deep breathing or going for a walk for 20 minutes when you hit 7 is far less inconvenient than having a panic attack. So that's what I do.

Hope something in there is helpful:)
 

SeekingAfrica

MyPTSD Pro
@Sideways Thank you so much! All you explained made perfect sense and it's the first time I thought of panic attack as something that made sense. When I didn't know how to cope with PTSD and flashbacks at some point I had then some point I was misdiagnosed with panic attack disorder( I was also still not at a place to be able to share with the doctors the reason). So I always thought of them as inconvenient symptom to deal with.

I managed to follow your advice yesterday.Had panic attack because I was doing cleaning gig( one of my side jobs I still do as insurance for food money in case I don't get other work. With the sciatica I was afraid I won't be able to do the full gig and had panic attack, but still managed to breathe and then somehow finish.

Today however the day I need to invoice for the project I need to rent, and I have a lot of work. But then few things happened and had to deal with other things in the morning. And now I'm all panicky and off the rails. Will need to work till 10pm to finish(if I work well) and I took tomorrow off any meetings I had because this week has just been so hard that it feels like the moment I have free time(tomorrow) all I'll want is to melt into the floor.
Also insurance policy in case today doesn't work perfectly.
And I know, I know that things will be easier if I batch all the work and just sit down and work 5-8h without stopping. But with my back I need the occasional laying down break and my mind has reached hypervigilance/anxiety state where I feel I'm panicking all the time and it's hard to work on laptop when my vision gets blurry from anxiety and my thoughts are racing. I have feeling like this. I think it may be one of those moments where I need to break work into chunks of half hour and make breaks (doing dishes etc.) and compertmentalising, not at all thinking of the whole work day but thinking only of the next chunk because I am so anxious I feel like I'll blow up and the slightest touch. If I get through today I need to increase my income fast so I don't have any more such moments.
 

ms spock

Sponsor
You been doing lots of problem solving and reaching out for advice and interacting online, so you have been most proactive. That's something to note.

Also, any CBT books to recommend?

Feeling Great – The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety by David Burns. I am reading it. It's really resonating with me.

You can search the issues here - it's all the podcasts on CBT and it's a rich resource that I have found. List of Feeling Good Podcasts | Feeling Good I have listened to about 40 of them now.

I hope that this is of use.

 
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SeekingAfrica

MyPTSD Pro
I hope that this is of use
I'm having one of those days that I feel on the worst end of depressed just because of how much I need to still do to change my life. Like when you get to that stubborn, what if I just gave up on life kind of thing. The I just need change feeling.

And... I still have a long way to go so this is coming at great time, especially the podcasts. Thank you!
 

woodsy1

Confident
So for those that don't know- I recently had to start looking for work again(with no savings and lots of debt).
Hi @SeekingAfrica,

I didn't know you were seeking work again. I'm sorry you have no savings and a lot of debt. You know the saying, been there...I'm sorry we have to experience such things.
While I am doing so any project coming along is important because it provides the income I need to keep paying my living needs and rent. Especially this first deadline this week because it will be enough to cover rent, utilities and leave something for all the other stuff needed.
I remember when I was clawing tooth and nail through each day. I didn't understand about C-PTSD back then. I only knew I was surviving.

Something will work out.

That's one of the tools that helps me cope. Just trusting that I am ok now. The rest will be what it will be. I'm ok right now.

Something really will work out.

So today I had a total meltdown and panic/anxiety attack over it. My stomach was hurting, my sciatica was worse than it had been in 2 weeks, and I had this deadline pressing. I've been more reasonable and grounded for a while, but this one, sent me back. Suddenly it seemed it ALL has to get done and it all has to get done today and if not I would... yeah I know. Catastrophizing or all-or-nothing thinking, I confuse the 2 sometimes...
It's hard not to confuse the two. Heck, sometimes we're just confused. And that's ok. We need time to work things out. Trauma has slowed us down a bit. Heck, it's literally made me disabled.

But I ended up panicking, literally rushed outside in the rain to take a walk, hyperventilated and cried for a while.
I'm sorry. I've been there. Recently.
Spend like an hour in bed eating chocolate and thinking the day is ruined, I'll never finish, I'm a terrible human being...
Maybe I should get some chocolate 🍫
Yeah. Wasn't good. Currently I am back to working again, to not end the day on the panic point, to do at least something more today.
I just wonder if there is a way to stop my thoughts from spiraling like that? I know theoretically, with CBT, but how exactly?
Let me know if you find out. I think I'm learning to live WITH my thoughts. Some I can handle better than others. I hide from some of them at times... because I have PTSD. I was abused by people who should have nurturred me. It strikes at the core of who we are. And my thoughts are running off as I type.

Kinda what you are talking about, right?

I think we learn to live with our own thoughts. We get comfortable with who we are now. That takes a while. We are not who we were before PTSD.


Because I have debt, I have current work project, I'm trying to apply for work and my financials with need a whole lot of work to start with. I know there will be many steps to continue my recovery (though it's MUCH better than last year) so, I can't be freaking out every time I know I'm not 'there' yet. I might not be 'there' for a while.
We may not ever be "there" yet. But it's ok. We can be HERE right now. Sometimes it's here online. Sometimes (my favorite) it's in person. Either way, we all connect. And there's strength and comfort in that.

(Thanks to everyone of you in this forum)
And not all workdays will go perfectly, especially if I start a new job but keep doing projects too (my finances can use it). So I can't have that all or nothing thinking or... I almost wrote 'or I'll never get there' than realized this is part of that thinking. How do I practically work on my thoughts? * (*until I can afford therapy- the free center is closed, thank you 2020...:/)
It may sound weird, but sometimes you gotta just keep working through your thoughts until you're kinda done with working through them.
note: just want to say that although this contains a lot of frustration I am not giving up and I want that to be clear.
Don't you dare give up!
Also, any CBT books to recommend? Or other books related to thinking patterns?
Because I came out of 18 years in an abusive faith group, I've got a couple books related to researching, and escaping the influence of mind control. These books are very insightful to the working of the mind in abusive or traumatized situations. Helped me a lot in understanding what was going on with me. Let me know if you would like the titles.
 
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