Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What To Say?

I'm finding it difficult to decide what to write about.

I have quite a lot to catch you up on; posts have been sparse over the past year, and it's been a big year, progress-wise.

Part of the difficulty, I think, is that most of the progress I've made in the wake of the two major releases I had last winter and spring has been in the integration of those internal shifts, rather than in figuring things out.

Integration doesn't look or feel like epiphany, which is far more exciting and a lot easier to write about. It is hard to detect, a lot of the time. And much more elusive, when it comes to capturing the process in words. In fact, at this stage in my long game, I am much more aware of my work after it's happened than I am while I'm doing it.

If I look back over the last 6 months, I can see it. It's just been... a lightening. A relaxing. A gradual accumulation of confidence and purpose. Something I can only see clearly in hindsight, when I notice how long it's been since I felt anxious, or how little overwhelm I felt in a situation that at one point, not so long ago, would have left me catatonic.

That perpetual, insatiable internal engine was switched off last spring, and at the time, I'll admit, it was anti-climactic. I guess I expected everything to suddenly click when it happened. I'm not sure why, in hindsight-- mental work is rarely so sudden and drastic. The revelation is sometimes flash-boom exciting, but it is always followed by the drudgery of putting the insight into practice.

But somehow, for this, I expected it to feel more like shaking off the restraints and flying off into the sunset, or something.


It wasn't like that. In fact, if anything, things got pretty boring, right after.

It wasn't until much later that I realized: boring, in my particular circumstances, was good!

Boring meant that I no longer had a hyper-vigilant internal monitor running around in my head, creating chaos and craziness at every turn! Boring meant that my brain wasn't in constant turmoil! Boring meant that I was sleeping deeply at night, having actual dreams, waking up feeling... what was it? Something I barely had a word for: rested!

Boring, in my case, was actually very exciting indeed.

It was confusing, though. It still is. There is a detectable increase in bandwidth, but it's not like I had the skills for using it just standing by, ready to jump in when opportunity struck.

Ha. That would have been some really excellent foresight. :/

No, alas, instead: I just often find myself marveling, after the fact, that whatever just happened didn't completely freak me out or overwhelm me. The bandwidth is there to absorb what would once have been overflow into the anxiety zone, but I don't yet have the habits I need to use it proactively, if that makes sense.

I also continue to mark my progress in two other ways: my (still) ongoing Effexor ramp-down, and my neurofeedback work (see also here, here, and here).

I am now at 22mg of Effexor a day, down from 150mg. My progress has been slower than I'd hoped, because I've had a couple of setbacks along the way-- a couple of times I dropped too much at a time and had to go back up, or had to wait to bounce back before dropping again. Each of those experiences made me reluctant to drop my dosage the next time, because they were unpleasant and unpredictable and I can't afford to ride the roller coaster.

But I've felt pretty stable for a while, and have become conservative with my drops, sticking with 10% each time and waiting several weeks in between changes.

So. 22mg it is, and after Thanksgiving I'll go to 20mg.

This ramp-down is really made possible by the neurofeedback. I was just talking with Dr. Q about it this morning, and I really don't think I'd be doing this without her. The insight I get into my brain function while this is happening is invaluable to me, and feels like a real safety net.

I also think the neurofeedback is helping my brain to adjust quickly and far more thoroughly than it otherwise would have to each dosage change. It doesn't allow my brain to fly out of whack or lose efficiency as I go. Once again, neurofeeback proves itself to be the final piece to my brain-work's puzzle. I honestly don't know where I'd be without it.

Or, I do: trapped on medication, muddled and foggy, and still awaiting the breakthrough that changed the course of my PTSD recovery.

I firmly believe that.

So I look at my behavior, I look at my med levels, and I look at the changes I've felt-- and seen in digital real time-- as a result of neurofeedback, and I think: yeah. I'm doing this. I'm righting my ship and finding a way out of here.

It would be nicer if there were fireworks and banners and ticker-tape parades, sure, but in the end, out is out. I'm getting there. And just as slowly, I'm figuring out what to do with myself, now that I'm here.

As a matter of fact, I've got a few things in the works. I am lucky: I certainly don't lack for inspiration.

I will tell you about a few of my inspirations-- and a few of my plans-- in my next post.

Stay tuned!

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