Dear 100 Hour Board,
I know you aren’t therapists and I am already seeing one, but ever since I have started processing my PTSD and doing EMDR, I can barely function. I’m so tired all the time and my trauma feels so heavy and I just want to set it down with someone. I just can’t find the right person and I’m so afraid I’m going to be unloveable forever because of this.
What comforts and hope can you give?
That sounds really overwhelming. Over the last almost two years, I was in a similar situation, not that I was dealing with the amount of emotional burden that you are, but that I felt very alone and at times unloved. The hardest times for me were when I didn't have the emotional energy to deal with my thoughts and spiraled into anxiety and feeling hopeless, which happened especially often as I was trying to get to bed. For me, the uncertainty and aloneness never really stopped until this January, when I reached out to my parents and was vulnerable with them and told them what was going on. Previous to that, I kind of felt they cared, but didn't ever feel understood, and a lot of times, I felt judged. It's a difficult spot to be in.
I’m also super sorry I wasn’t able to finish this answer earlier. I wanted to make sure you had a solid answer, and this semester like many previous ones has been a struggle. I’ve had this question on my mind, though, and really thought about how I could answer it.
If I were to give any comfort, it would be that you are lovable, and there are people out there who will want to help you. It may take time, but you will be connected with those people, and all of your time alone will be worth it, because you will be able to reach out to others better because of it. I know this from my own life as I’ve worked to find people who love and support me. There will be people who will come into your life and be able to offer the social and emotional support you need.
With where I’m at currently, I still haven’t super found any friends that I’m extremely close to, or that I spend a ton of time with, but I do have some good friends that offer support, and I’m able to talk a little more openly with my parents. It’s a difficult and quite lonely place to be in, but I’ve found ways to deal with the most difficult parts of it. Here are some things that have helped me:
Social support. Getting good social support can be pretty difficult, like you talked about in your question. It’s hard to find people that really “get” you and that have the ability to help (have the time, are nearby if that helps, etc.). Since my mission, it’s mostly been a slow journey of finding people and reconnecting with people who I can connect with and open up to. I have found that something helpful with this has been talking with my therapist and figuring who in my life I can open up to and how I’ll be able to connect with them. Even now, I don’t have the social support built up that I would ultimately want, but I do have people that I’m able to connect with and share a lot of the things I’m going through with. You’ll find those people in your life, and it will be a good experience. You’ll also be able to find different spaces where you belong and can express yourself openly.
Reach out to God. For me, He is the one who has kept me most on track during this time, and I have been able to gain strength and help from Him, even with small things along the way. In a lot of instances in my life, it has been hard to find people with enough time to support me and help me engage with the problems I've been facing, but He has always been there. Right at the beginning of the pandemic last year, there was a time that God felt distant, and that that part of my life wasn’t worth the energy. Scripture study was sometimes just anxious because it was hard for me to remember, and then got down on myself for forgetting.
During this time, I was able to talk to a good friend who helped me realize that scripture study isn’t everything in my faith and in my relationship with God. Yes, when I am able to study the scriptures, I can receive guidance, but God doesn’t want any kind of incorrect notion to stop us from getting His support and guidance in our lives. I realized that God’s expectations for us do change with our capacity, and God wants to help us even when the most we can do is pray. I’ve come to see better that God really does love us even when we don’t live up to the expectations we have for ourselves, and that He wants to help us where we are. He will be more patient than we are with ourselves and provide meaningful direction to help start to grow.
Music/Coping. Music has played a large role for me as one of my main ways to cope with stress, especially when things start caving in at night or when I’m just pretty stressed out during the day and need an emotional break. Music has also had the added benefit of allowing me to connect with different artists and feel out my emotions so that I can better work through them.
Mantras. I haven’t done a lot with mantras, but of what I have done in the past couple of weeks, mantras have been able to help me better my mindset and deal with negative thoughts. The mantra that I use is just a few sentences and affirms the things that I believe are true, but that are sometimes hard to feel are true. It also includes things I know can be true, but aren’t true yet in my life. This seems like it’ll be especially helpful for times when I find myself in a negative emotional spiral so that I can be mindful of how to deal with negative thoughts and talk back to them.
Therapy. Yeah, therapists are nice to have, especially good ones.
I hope that something here can help you. I empathize with you, and I really want you to be successful in the things you’re going through. If you’d like to, you can reach out to me, or any other Board writer (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d be happy to share more of my story or be able to give more personal advice, or if you just need someone to listen. It’s a difficult place to be in, and we all need more support.
I wish it was somehow possible for me to give you a hug.
I promise that you are already lovable. Lovability isn't something that is cancelled out by the weights we bear or the scope of our capabilities. You are worthy of love exactly where you are in this moment. No matter how exhausted you are, no matter if you can't even get out of bed, you can still be loved.
You are lovable forever.
I don't know if I'm the right person to talk to, or exactly what you're looking for, but if you need to vent, I'm here for you. I have no qualifications other than a willingness to listen and a promise not to judge you, but I offer the same assurance as Anathema that you are worthy and deserving of love, no matter what.
I'm not a therapist but my wife is and she specializes in EMDR. EMDR is very intense stuff, so it's okay to take it slow or hold off on doing EMDR until you work through some things. Also, don't be afraid to switch therapists if yours isn't working for you.
As far as hope goes, it will get better. My wife has worked with patients who had intense PTSD symptoms for over 50 years and seen them improve drastically. She's known people who have experienced unspeakable horrors and have been able to heal so much. Not only can good therapy heal them, but she's seen the effect it's had on their spouses and children as well. You can heal. You can be loved. It gets better. I promise.