Life is a marathon - not a sprint

Unfortunately I found this out a bit to late.

Like many people I was born into an extremely dysfunctional "family" - unlike many I made a decision when I was 8 1/2 years old to "not let my childhood effect my future". I learned a few years to late to reword that statement to "Not let it effect my future in a negative way". It's impossible to not let your childhood effect you, but my determination to not let my childhood effect my future - was my driving force - and in the end my undoing.

I was so determined to 'not let my childhood effect my future' - I lived life like one would run a 100 yard dash, as opposed to how one would run a long marathon. It served me very well. I was incredibly successful as a person - especially given the fact that I was uneducated and married to an illiterate alcoholic and a mother by age 16. I was very proud of who I was - the person I have referred to since my PTSS as "The Old Whit"

I'm writing this daylog for two reasons

1) So those who have been through PTSS (known today as PTSD) and have not been through a war do not have to feel they are alone

2) So those who may be living life on a sprint may see that it can catch up with you.

Let me say my pride makes this WU extremely tough to do. Because it's totally impossible without writing a book to list even 1/10th of the things that lead up to my PTSS and I hate for anyone to read this and think "gee is that all???" Please understand I can only reasonably list 1/10th of the things that were going on daily during the weeks leading up to it.

But first the background. I was superwoman. I really was. I was gifted in so many ways - with computers, with financial management, with my ability to help others help themselves, was a supermon and so on. I'd taken care of everyone and everything around me for 15 years - I was a total control freak basically (when it came to my own life). I slept at most twice a week for 6 hours a day because I had way to much to do and sleep was a waste of time. Living under the poverty line with an illiterate alcoholic I'd managed to start 2 businesses / buy two houses and 20 acres - help many others get on their feet and so on. I could go on for hours about the "Old Whit" - she really was one of the best people anyone could hope to meet.

I am no longer the "Old Whit" and the recovery process from my PTSS took a few years longer than it should have because of my obsession with the Old Whit. Finally semi-liking this new me, and accepting the Old Whit is gone forever, was what it took for me to finally begin a new life.

My PTSS happened because I was superwoman and I guess I thought I could handle anything. But I was burring the candle at both ends and in the middle, there was nothing left of me in the end.

I can't begin at the beginning of my PTSS because it was a year long process - but I'll start towards the end. The last few weeks. I had my own HVAC company - had signed a quarter million dollar contract to put the heating / air conditioning in 168 houses. At that same time I'd agreed to come back in and try to save an old company of mine that someone else had taken over; that was currently facing bankruptcy and an IRS audit. (I was an audit expert at the time as well) A few days after I signed that contract, the other company's owner had a massive heart attack - he and his wife both worked 8+ hours a day there and they were gone and I was the only one who had a clue how to run the business. (anyone reading my daylogs knows about him, my Uncle Bill)

So I was basically doing 3 full time jobs at this company as well as trying to hire and get the first 21 houses done in my own company. (I got this job because the original contractors had not done their job so 5 other companies...were waiting on the HVAC part to get roughed in to get their jobs going). So I was taking care of 5 bank accounts, 2 payrolls, 2 inventories, 8 crews, trying to hire like crazy. Delegate, delegate, delegate!! But delegating takes time. You have to train the people. I'd spend 12 hours at the other company, then be at my own companies jobsite till after midnight trying to get thing squared away. In my SPARE time (read 1 am to 6 am) I'd be trying to deal with the 5 bank accounts and countless mail and messages and so on)

Every day other things were happening as well - like dealing with a man's face burning up and me being the only sober person to take him to the emergency room, and having to stay strong for him. Another friend having a miscarriage. Helping a friend (and succeeding!!!) get out of a DV relationship so bad you'd never believe the story. My best friends brother shotting himself in the head and dying in her arms, she needed me. My son getting perminantly suspended from school (duh he had no mother anymore!) I had to send him to live with his dad. My new husband (and months later former husband) telling me "I married you for your money, when are you going to get a clue" (only took $37,000 in 10 months to get that clue!) Trust me I couldn't even begin to tell you all the things that were going on daily then which is why I hate to tell this story... trust me 'that's not all"

About 12 days prior to my PTSS - I wrote a single spaced typed to-do list it was 5 pages long - this was not things that needed to be done next week or next month. These were things that had to be done right now. Every 3 or 4 days I'd try to go to sleep - I'd lay there and try to sleep for a few hours but I couldn't - if my guys and the other companies employees were to get paid, I had to do the invoices and the inventory and the payrolls and and and and.... so I'd give up after a few hours of trying to sleep. I honestly do not know when the last time I had slept was, I just know I had not slept the last 12 days. My bed was covered with the IRS paperwork for the prior 3 years for the other company, as well as it's payroll, inventory, bank accounts and invoices. My floor was covered with my own companies paperwork.

My bestfriend (who's brother had killed himself) came over the day prior to 'me stopping life' - she said "Don't take on anything new!!!!" Not even the tiniest thing. I know this sounds crazy but that thought, had not crossed my mind. I thought - that would help!!! So we wrote

"Don't take on anything new!!!" on several pieces of paper and posted them all over my house.

Shortly after she left I wrote up the invoices for 18 of the houses we'd roughed in (never sent that $18,000 bill). As I said I had not slept in 12 days. I went to my bedroom to get a change of cloths (to take a shower) I decided to forgo the shower - I was living and breathing this 'Don't take on anything new!!!" thing. I decided to sit down on a couch in the corner of my living room for a little while. I did.

After I sat down on that couch that day, my life basically ended. I never answered my telephone again for a few years (i've never owned a phone since actually) . I never answered my mail. I never answered my door. I stopped eating, sleeping, bathing. For the first month or so I'd get up every few hours to go get a change of cloths to go bathe - I'd have an anxiety attack just thinking about going to my room (it was covered, literally, with paperwork) I'd have an anxiety attack just thinking about finding a pair of socks. I'd have anxiety attacks just thinking about having an anxiety attack. My former roommate had a key to my house, she had always seen me as superwoman so she could not understand what was wrong with me, she handed me an AOL disk when she let herself in. I got on AOL that day - and I never left - I spent 24 hours a day (no kidding) in my secret little world there but I was starving to death - I'd have an anxiety attack just thinking about finding something to eat. I was totally imobilized by the fact that I had by then hundreds of things to do to get my life in order, and I had no energy to know where to begin, so I never began.

At some point a month or so into this - I had had a half a can of corn in a week to eat. A friend online - a doc - and the only person who knew any of this.... persuaded me to make a call to the mental health place. I had a half dozen anxiety attacks just thinking about calling but I did make the call.

I made the call. I thought - I'd get better in a few weeks.

My inability to accept the fact that I was not going to get better in a few weeks - was my downfall. First the put me on drugs to help me sleep - which was not a good thing. In my sleep I was still ok - and then I'd wake up. The first few hours after waking up I spent desperately wanting to be dead and hating the fact that I had to live (for my son and for my best friend - who's brother had died in her arms) Every time I'd sleep - I'd wake up and spend the first few hours trying to come up with a plan to not have to live that would not hurt anyone or make anyone feel guilty etc... and then I'd get online and hide in my little fantasy world.

It took over a month for me to even make a first step in recovery because I wasn't willing to accept that I needed to take 'basic steps' like 1) eat 2) bathe - I'd tell the doc - no I have to do 'this and that and this and that' because if I don't I'm going to go bankrupt (I had had perfect - perfect credit prior to this)

Well the recovery process itself is a very long story so I'd just like to say that if you ever find someone you know in this situation - there are some things they need to understand (if they can comprehend anything)

1) They will not get better overnight - and unless they accept this and start taking baby-steps - the process will take a few years longer

2) Chances are the "old you" is gone for good - if your forced to keep on living - at least try and make life worth living

3) You know your going to have anxiety attacks no matter what - might as well have them doing something that can help your recovery than have them sitting their thinking about doing those things.

If there's interest in this story I may share more about the recovery process and the new Whit - but this has already been very verbose