Hey There Live Out Louders. Happy Saturday!
You’re probably wondering about the angry wolf and the three seemingly eager characters at which the fox is yelling. Well, that annoyed-fox is me and if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to introduce you to those three people: Patty, Andrea, and Deanna. I just met these ladies three years ago. Actually, instead of met I will say, they abruptly made me aware of their presence in my life three years ago.
And while I ignored them initially, I have really started getting to know them and accept them for who they are this year.
But who are these women you ask? And why are you envisioning yourself yelling at them, La’Nita? Well, let me tell you, because they deserve a good chewing out.
Patty is my PTSD. Andrea is my anxiety. And Deanna is my depression.
And YES – I named them.
At first, it was a coping mechanism. As a way to disassociate my mental illness from me, because I couldn’t possibly have been diagnosed with these things.
But, I was. I have PTSD, depression and anxiety. And, once I finally accepted the fact that my brain was having pretty normal reactions to the trauma of almost being murdered, I sort of kept the names around for comedic effect. Ya’ know, when you want to reflect on a bad day and attempt to give third-party names to the culprits of your stress.
But in reality, the culprit is really just my brain and the process that is healing.
So, the “ladies” represent the mental illnesses and their “personalities” reflect symptoms that I cope with in managing my mental health.
But enough of the introductions. Let me give you guys the real tea about these ladies.
These three women have their own unique qualities. All of them terribly annoying in their own respective rights.
I’ll introduce you to Patty first. But make sure to not saying anything like “enchanté,” because she’s the reason I’m writing this post to begin with.
Patty is alert. I mean quite literally, she’s just like Motel 6, because that lady’s lights are always on – figuratively speaking. Patty doesn’t take a break. If Patty sees someone making a rapid hand movement out of their pocket on the train, Patty’s planning her escape from the train car. A small noise? Patty’s on it – obsessively scoping it out and freaking me (La’Nita’s body) tf out while she’s doing it.
“Oh my God! Did you hear that noise, La’Nita? It was really loud. Was it construction? I know you might think that noise was a garbage truck but it sounds a lot like the tanks you heard in that terrorist attack you were in. Umm, hello! Hi! La’Nita, I really think you should listen to me. I think that noise means that there’s imminent danger ahead. You’re probably about to have to fight for your life in like 3-2-1…”
You see what I’m saying? For the love of God Patty, calm down and let my eyes evaluate the situation.
Oh, and Patty refuses to go to sleep or stay asleep. Patty loves a good murderous nightmare. She loves penning these elaborately grim and macabre tales that she eventually brings to life as I attempt to muddle my way through 4-5 hours of sleep.
If we’re being honest, Patty is my least favorite person. She forced her way into my life, legitimately without an invite. But she’s here. She does annoying things. And she’s going to be here until I process all of my trauma. So for now, I just manage Patty in the best way that I can – through therapy and mindfulness exercises.
Now Andrea, Andrea’s not the worst. But if I could guess, I would probably tell you that all of my friends hate her.
She’s a worry wart. Andrea represents every synonym for the word anxious. Apprehensive, nervous, antsy, paranoid, irritable, distressed, among a litany of other adjectives.
She needs everything in order. She needs to be in control. She needs people to be on time. She needs things to make sense. She’s worried about what she says and does. She’s worried about how she’s perceived. She questions herself. She’s an over-thinker. She’s thinking too far ahead. She’s worried about things that haven’t happened. And she’s just generally wound too tight.
If you want to compare Andrea to anyone, I would encourage you to think of that annoying teacher you had who was just anal because she had nothing better to do. In your mind, you probably made up a story about this teacher having no friends, living with 17 cats and actively planned all of the ways to torture you through a thorough slide projector presentation like it’s the 80s.
I mean Andrea needs a boo, some ice cream and a massage. She’s stiff honey.
Andrea also has a pristine memory. Now while you might think that that’s helpful, let me be the first to tell you that it’s not.
She remembers everything, whether it happened an hour ago or a month ago in order to criticize your every action.
“Um, La’Nita, do you remember what you said two weeks ago in that meeting. Yeah, actually, I don’t think you should have said that. You know, you’ve really gotta watch what you say. Everything you say has meaning. I mean, don’t you know that people are watching you. You’ve gotta represent yourself well? I mean you really should know that by now.”
Andrea is very annoying, as you could probably imagine. But since trauma takes away your control, I recognize that Andrea wants to be friends to try to help give me that control back. I sometimes believe Andrea wants the best for me; however, her methods are just incredibly exhausting.
However, she’s mildly manageable through breath work and bullet journaling. By doing cycles of timed breathing, mindfulness exercises or journaling, I can sometimes ask Andrea to table her self-doubting shenanigans and bring her back to present day in which nothing is normally going on.
And lastly, there’s Deanna. Deanna is legitimately Daria re-incarnated. She’s a shady lady. She’s serving you bad vibes. She’s dishing shade. She’s not here to help you get out of bed. She’s giving you zero motivation or creativity. She’s telling you to be down in the dumps about yourself and she’s whispering, “it’s okay” while she does it.
But then the shady lady also makes you feel stupid for feeling that way. She’s a real downer.
“Ooh girl. You’re energy’s a little low. Are you really sure you can go to work? I mean, I know you just started a new job, but you didn’t sleep last night. You don’t have to get up. Just lay here and go back to sleep. I mean, everything’s kind of hard anyway. Things are just so much better in your bed.”
Quite honestly, Deanna just wants to be left alone and sleep. And while rest is good, she is also an expert in self-exclusion.
She sits on the couch. She mindlessly binges Netflix. She doesn’t tend to her blog. She forgets she has hobbies. She doesn’t take Chino on very long walks. She says no to hanging out even when she misses thought-provoking conversation. She’s short. She doesn’t want to talk on the phone. She feels a general sense of oblivion. But she actively misses all of the things that make her smile.
But two things help Deanna: Chino and thoughtfully planned travel by Andrea. Chino helps Deanna. Chino helps her get out of the house and smell fresh air. Chino tries to get her to interact with humans at the dog park. Chino helps her remember that there’s joy in her body.
Travel makes her remember the happiness she experiences in cultural immersion. Travel allows her to use her language skills. Travel allows her to be a photographer. Travel also gives her the opportunity to tell Patty she’s not leading the show all the time. Travel is empowering.
And quite truthfully, it’d gotten to the point where Patty, Andrea and Deanna could take a nap every once in a while. For a blip of time after graduation, they seemed to be hanging out amongst each other almost full-time and keeping themselves on the down-low in my life. No flashbacks, I spent my free time with other humans, mostly good days. Especially this summer, when I was working at my beloved AU and soaking up the summer vibes with a European cruise, travel to Seattle and weekend barbecues and pool days. If only for a short time, it was beautiful all the same.
But I started going back to work full-time for the first time in two and a half years this past September. And that literally woke everyone up because with change comes paranoid Patty, anxiety-ridden Andrea and dispirited Deanna.
And for La’Nita, Patty, Andrea and Deanna, the return to work has been difficult. Outside of having to wake up early after nightmare-ridden sleep and leaving my support buddy Chino at home, my new commute on DC’s stress-inducing metro system has taken the cake for the hardest aspect of my transition back. While, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly about the metro was causing me stress, I just knew that my body was rejecting the “city scuffle” and rendering me on-edge and susceptible to Patty’s piddling.
And Patty is exactly who led me here to share one particular misadventure on the way to the train. But like any good author, I’m supposed to leave you wanting more!
See you guys next week! Make sure you subscribe to PTSD Out Loud! to stay up-to-date with all new posts.