Healing versus Career - time priorities

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johnram

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Healing versus Career - time priorities
« on: April 09, 2019, 07:15:00 AM »
Someone recently said this / words to this affect:

"I denied my problems for my entire career, “successful but miserable”, wishing had faced them sooner. 

Everybody different, If I got a redo, I would put myself first and seek healing as my #1 life goal, regardless of the cost in the “normal” world. "

i have been working full time (50/60 hour weeks) for a few years now, and my "healing" has been a slow side project, and i am frustrated with that.  i am now going through exactly this type of dilemna, I took a few months break for my EMDR (lots of ups and downs) and some other work, and it was the right thing to do as i was in a toxic environment and stressful.  However i feel i should return to a job search, out of guilt and not being out of work for too long (i have been out for 3/4 months), but feel the need to focus on me somewhat more?

I have a reputable/professional career, but i dont personally care for it, and also ultimately want to change but that will take time too

My questions:

- do others regret putting work first and not focusing on their issues enough or in enough time
- any stories or experiences that are relatable?
- other thoughts on the quote above

thank you kindly

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SharpAndBlunt

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2019, 12:02:34 PM »
Hi johnram,

I relate to what you're saying even though my experience is kind of the opposite. For years I neglected the importance of work. I did work, but just to survive. I feel that if I had addressed my problems sooner that I could have made a better life for myself, had a profession, more security, better prospects for retirement etc etc.

It could be just another way to feel bad about myself. Maybe I am not cut out for that life, cptsd or no cptsd.

I did bring my regrets about failing to live to to potential when I got to see a psychologist. She said maybe I was too busy surviving.

I really don't know. I might be quite envious of someone who has the ability to do those kind of hours. I do about 40 hours / week in a relatively low stress and not well paid job and I feel close to my limit. I'm comfortable in it, though I do wish I earned more money. It is tempting for me to look at a change of job as a fix, but it never has been before.

I'm not sure I have written much that is helpful here, just sharing my experience. Good luck with it.

Sab

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johnram

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2019, 12:13:29 PM »
Thank you Sab, i do appreciate you sharing as it helps me put my own experience into different lenses. 

I sense most people on these forums will have had experiences more similar to yours, and i would say given cPTSD leaves many people unable to work, i think being able to do 40 hour weeks, when the normal population does that, is admirable

i think for me, the only thing i was ever able to do, was school, and work - it was always through a fear perspective though.....installed by my family.......otherwise i was depressed or addicted...i couldnt be assertive though at work, which meant i hit a ceiling and ended up more stressed...as i tried to do more myself....

if you mind me asking, do you feel you have gotten over your cPSTD or well on your way? 



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SharpAndBlunt

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2019, 01:00:52 PM »
Hi,

Thanks for your affirmation. I appreciate that.

I can understand your description of your work life. Maybe if I had not had the life experience I did in early adulthood I could've gone that way.

I was quite a high achiever at school and I was being pushed towards a university degree and a career. Things kind of fell apart at home and I was left to find my own path. Not having any skills or assertiveness or goals I kind of drifted along since then, wondering what was wrong.

I found out about cptsd about 8 months ago. Since then I have educated myself, took steps to mitigate the harm I do to myself and even have had an official diagnosis recently of complex trauma.

I felt quite vindicated in that. I had previously been diagnosed with depression. I am depressed, but I am certain that the root causes are cptsd, left to fester for far too long. At least now I am cptsd aware and that is giving me some hope for a different future.

Can I say I have gotten over it? No, absolutely not. I couldn't even say I am well on my way. It's not something that goes away easily, not for me.

I can think of cptsd as something like a limestone mountain, inside myself. Recovery is like water seeping in to the cracks. One day I long for a collapse so that a cave is formed. There I'll be able to enjoy feelings and emotions as normal, within the space that is created. Until then, I just keep a watch on the water to make sure it doesn't dry up. The water being self care, self compassion, boundary setting, not judging self etc etc.

I apologise if I sound melodramatic. I like to use visualisations to explain things. Depression with cptsd is kind of a brutal mix. I expect it will be a long journey.

SaB


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johnram

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2019, 01:54:46 PM »
thanks Sab, that makes sense, although i havent heard of a "limestone mountain" before, i googled it but i couldnt find it in terms of a metaphor etc?

I managed to be quite split away from my trauma till my late 20s, i had buried it deep and kept plowing ahead but had a lot of anger and a lot of addictions.  Then an event happened, and it sank me....and slowly since, i have been finding a way out of it...

however, like you, i have been treating depression, treating addiction, treating symptoms of specific things, and the learning of cPTSD has been the best discovery, its something i can relate to and it makes so mcuh sense, like when a pigeon suddenly flies and i have a flight/fight response, or how much i have been shutting out my emotional landscape

its hence my original question, now realising its cPTSD, is so welcome, and wish i had it earlier - only through my most recent therapists has it been acknowledged that i had developmental and multiple traumatic instances upto only 3/4 years back

its been quite motivating though, as i was slowly tiring of the facade ... and tiring of the battle ... but this context helps
really wish i had known it earlier though but its ok
glad you have also found out this diagnosis and can relate

how are you managing things now? what is helping?

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SharpAndBlunt

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2019, 03:20:39 PM »
Hi,

Don't worry too much about the limestone analogy because it's just something I made up on the spot. It doesn't mean anything more than it says just there.

Learning to look after myself has been a bit of a challenge.

I still have issues with anxiety and depression and avoidance.

What helps for me. Well, giving up alcohol, trying to eat well, getting some exercise, sleeping as well as I can. All these physical things help.

Mentally I still have shutdowns and efs.

The emotional and mental parts are the hardest.

A couple of websites I can recommend

https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself

https://www.pods-online.org.uk/

Trying not to judge myself when I'm down.

Having the awareness of cptsd definitely does help. But for me with awareness comes responsibility. I can no longer dismiss it or push it to the side. I have to acknowledge and process these feelings so that is a challenge too.

A lot of things surface and I have made some realisations that on the face of it should have been obvious. But, denial and dissociation can do that. Learning to take it slow and not rush things is quite important I think.

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SharpAndBlunt

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2019, 03:22:29 PM »
Also just to add to that you will find loads of links to books and resources on this site. Pete Walker's book for example, and there are a few others. You can check around the forums for links and descriptions.

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johnram

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2019, 04:04:49 PM »
Just bought both of Peters books, how did you find them?

i have been doing EMDR for a few months and that has been up and down but think its working, but the processing takes time in the background

i can relate re your issues - i dont have shutdowns, i just have avoidance, likely same thing, but i zone out in front of the TV for many many hours, or porn (but that i am working on), or food addictions also....binge eating....its hard, its gotten better but still hard,

best thing for me is exercise, feel i really respond to it, but when i am in the thick of a spiral, its bloody hard to get going, even some walking

however its all improving, not at my pace, but at the pace it needs

i watched this video recently - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otxAuHG9hKo&t=1s

really helped put things also into perspective

thanks for the links

agree re not rushing, as hard as i find that, i want things to be better .... i believe they can be

i sense you are in a similar place, understanding and some acceptance but with some drive....

really appreciate the back and forth, its good getting your perspective

i find being on these forums is a way for me to accept my trauma, and the magnitude, but on top just seeing others also battling, makes it easier but also gives me a sense of sadness that these things happen in such volume.....

however, feeling hope through these forums how we can share, and the future of neuroscience etc,

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woodsgnome

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2019, 07:24:26 PM »
I find this topic touching on career while in the midst of internal struggle to be intriguing, so I'll just offer this perspective from my own trail.

Early on, I fell into a semi-career (semi in that it was poverty level on the income scale but rich and creative on the artistic side). I didn't know it at the time (who would?) but in that career I felt like 'myself' for the first time in life. It held up for a good chunk of adulthood, and in retrospect it was a form of unrealized therapy in the sense of finding my inner voice via the outer career.

It felt good, to the point of altering my stance towards tackling my huge psychological troubles left over from a very abusive life start. Indeed, the mini-career was satisfying enough at one point that I was reading books criticizing the effectiveness of psychotherapy as more a part of the problem than leading to any solution.

So I rambled on in the rather unique career (a form of improv acting, solo as well as in small theatrical settings), while the inner almost hidden turmoil continued roiling. Finally I ran, while in this career, smack into a person who was a master covert narcissist. Partially because of my idealism and enthusiasm for how my career had gone to that point, I fell under his sway to the point of disaster. It was like all the early abuses had resurfaced and would destroy me if I didn't watch out (at which I didn't do very well).

This negative experience sent me straight into seeking live therapy as my mental state deteriorated into collapse. Although that live therapy kind of limped along until a few years ago when I found a capable therapist, in the meantime via extensive reading I began to at least get a handle on the interior troubles which had lain in reserve even while the mini-career developed. As I've hinted at, that mini-career effectively provided a bit of a cover for other forms of therapy. My takeaway from that is that therapy can wear different costumes (apropos for an actor, eh?).

While the specifics shifted, it was obvious my problems stayed (and stay) with me, so perhaps my point is that the remnants of cptsd are strong, often hidden, and almost have a life of their own. Even for someone like I once thought myself to be -- a person who'd overcome my early troubles via the career.

I'm not offering any advice via this recollection, just an example of how one journey tied to a career outlook took on twists both during and after the said career path. That once solid career path has faded  :disappear: out of the picture, but I still find it interesting, how that the vocation was in fact my own form of therapy, and I didn't even know it. Just lived it, or ...  :Idunno:   
« Last Edit: April 09, 2019, 07:33:54 PM by woodsgnome »

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johnram

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2019, 08:05:00 AM »
Thank you, i find that perspective quite interesting, and find it interesting you got involved in the arts

I say that as i have often thought how hard being an actor would be for someone like me who was not in touch with his feelings, i guess we all grow up differently

if you mind me asking, in what way was it therapy?  and what do you do now?

I am happy for you that you found a passion, to be honest a bit jealous, i think thats what i am also seeking


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woodsgnome

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2019, 09:27:12 AM »
I was extremely withdrawn and awkward in public, so the acting wasn't a natural fit at all. It came about by accident when I was asked to speak about a history topic I did have some expertise with. I actually started in a narrative style ("this is how this came about"), then found myself switching to a first-person role play style ("this is how we live"), almost unconsciously. It was totally unplanned but it turns out I had a knack for it, so I altered my initial plans to perhaps be a history prof to these role playing gigs (history without the classroom). And in the mix found myself, for a while, able to find some way to project past the hurt little kid I still was, and am, inside.

By activating that inner 'character' I was actually, it seems, letting my trapped inner child out for the first time. Part of the abuse I'd suffered involved being  ignored and made to feel I should never speak about anything; that I was useless, etc. That's what I mean by referring to the acting as an unconventional therapy of sorts. For 30 years or so, this mostly solo unscripted gig was performed at venues as diverse as schools, libraries, universities, conferences, and more. The acting role incorporated lots of history and for a number of years it was sponsored by a museum so it was considered educational/entertaining, was humourous and included some of my  renditions of tunes from the era I was portraying via the character.

I hesitated bringing this up on this forum as it is a little unusual, but as I've indicated the role play effectively covered my need to fully deal with my abusive origins, and your topic renewed my recollections about how those years affected my lingering cptsd. I thought that finding my inner voice that way would somehow shrink the ache left in my heart, but it never has.

This isn't that unusual among actors, I've found; especially humourists. A well-known comedienne in the US even incorporates her troubled background into some of her material. She's very open about this, and how different her personality seems on stage, which she also finds, as I did, oddly therapeutic.

While that mini-career helped me find a side of my being that was usually invisible, it didn't change or cure the reality of the hurt and damaged inner child, which is so cruelly persistent. As to the acting gigs themselves, I did burn out and have quit that endeavour, due in part though to some nastiness which I can now see were probably due to my cptsd background, and how I never came to grips with many aspects of it. 

« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:37:46 AM by woodsgnome »

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johnram

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2019, 12:58:48 PM »
that is really interesting, its kind of the whole "fake it, till you make it" process, but through acting, i understand it somewhat now - thank you for taking the time / effort to explain

its interesting also how you havent returned to it, as i do think with my current decision making, changing careers may be about shaking off an old costume i wore, a mask i needed to get through the worst parts of my depression, addiction and the associated shame and needs to fit in ....

Still not landed, just trying to heal and move forward...its scary though

However, i do feel i can overcome but i know the negative ways i have lived are still always there.....this hope keeps driving me,....but its hard and tiring....anyway

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Oscen

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2019, 09:39:34 AM »
Hi guys, this is a fascinating topic and one I've been thinking of lately, so I'm going to give my two cents.
I have definitely fallen on the "no professional career" side of things in my recovery.

I've fallen into various jobs along the way, including office work, but anything that is full-time hours (40pw) has always turned out to be too much for me, and I get burnout and severe depression after about 1 year, though I struggle well before then. Part of it is, I just don't care enough about what I'm doing. The other, bigger part is that I do not manage my time, energy, and thoughts effectively.

I've dabbled in creative pursuits at times, but been limited by my less than functional time management. I just struggle to get anything done, and things that I don't absolutely have to do just... won't happen. I feel apprehensive setting new goals, as I need to start so small, it doesn't even feel worth it. I'm working on this.

It's interesting that you wonder what acting would be like for someone who is not in touch with their feelings. I can say for myself, I've tried acting and was really not good at it, precisely for that reason. I've been ok at some other performing arts such as dancing, as the physicality helps me to be more expressive.

At times, I do feel angry that I was so let down by my parents. Not only did they not help and prepare me for an adult working life, but they have pushed me away from learning lots of important skills, like self-management, goal-setting, etc. I think they are both threatened by the idea of their children being successful.

However, I am making progress, and that is helping me reduce anger at them and myself. I would like to emphasise that in my opinion, allowing myself to be angry is part of the healing process. Grief is not pretty but necessary. I wish I had known about C-PTSD years ago. At least I know about it now.

My current job is the best I've ever had; freelance, so I can control the hours; one-to-one, so I am not overwhelmed; and in a field I enjoy and am good at. It seems to be exactly what I need right now and is building my confidence in various ways. I still long for more, but it's allowing me to heal a lot emotionally.

I used to feel red-raw and full of shame, insecurity and self-hatred that could be triggered by just about anything. Now those responses have almost evaporated, due to therapy, reading, and reprogramming my thoughts as they arise. However, I've still not got to the next step of healing - changing my behaviours from avoidance-based to approach-based.

So, focusing on healing vs career is helping me to survive, but I'm not yet at the stage where I can thrive. I do believe I'm on the best route for me to get there.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 09:41:09 AM by Oscen »

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SharpAndBlunt

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2019, 11:54:14 AM »
Hi Oscen, it's really great to hear this. I feel a lot of positivity in your post. The stuff about shame and grief is very relateable to me, and I'm trying not to be bitter about the skills I don't know about that seem essential in adult life.

Great to hear you are on your right road  :)

SaB

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Oscen

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Re: Healing versus Career - time priorities
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2019, 10:11:27 AM »
SharpAndBlunt - thanks for the support; I'm on the right track and that feels good.

woodsgnome - I forgot to mention, thanks for the info about your improv career, that sounds amazing. I can imagine it would be a really great outlet for processing your emotions - how lucky you found it.
I've done improv once or twice and really enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity. I'd love to give acting another try, just to see what the experience is like now I have improved my emotional literacy skills.