When the Coping Mechanisms Are Exhausted


There comes a point in my everyday life when not even a pint of carrot juice and an organic spinach and feta pocket will make everything better. I’ve been known to resort to portabella and cremini pizza on occasion, and that will take away basic rainy day blues. But then there are the times when, as my therapist says, stress adds to stress on top of stress on top of stress until there isn’t anything that I can do to escape, decrease or manage it.

I’ve just come through one of those weeks. Beginning two Thursdays ago, I juggled a series of changes in schedule with decent success. Until that second Thursday came along with no end of the schedule disruption in sight. By 10:00 on the morning of that eighth day, I was headed toward a full-tilt meltdown.

Even when my PTSD is under control, structure is extra important to me. My career choices prove it: 9.5 years working in libraries, 3 years as a proofreader, a part-time gig as an inventory specialist for a non-profit organization. When I told my wife and best friend this weekend that if I had a second chance at life I would like to be a concert violinist, my friend said, “Wow! So you want to be neurotic?” (Come on, people, what about me makes you think I’m not already fantastically neurotic even without the incessant violin practice?)

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So, yes, lack of structure is tough for me. I develop nervous tick when my DVD collection gets out of order, and you don’t even want to know how I respond to a cluttered living room or messy kitchen. But in my current reality, both my spouse and myself have chronic health issues that cause a barrage of unplanned changes in schedule. Maybe someday I’ll learn to cope better with these situations. Last Thursday, I curled up and sobbed. My inner five-year-old wanted her mommy. When I finally headed down the street to the local coffee shop–my safe place–they had closed early. As a last resort, I slumped into a booth at the local deli and bar to ruin my diet with a Coke and a turkey sandwich. That didn’t exactly make things better, but I survived. I got my second wind. I navigated the weekend (along with a relationship tsunami that seemed worse than it was through the lens of PTSD). And Monday finally dawned–magnificently gray, rainy and full of promise. I love a rainy May Day. So I went for coffee and a walk with my camera and to my counseling appointment where we discussed, among other things, Resurrection.

I don’t own a pair of rose-colored glasses. Someone stepped on mine decades ago. But with a fair amount of effort, I’ve grabbed a handful of fresh perspective. For now, that will have to do.



2 thoughts on “When the Coping Mechanisms Are Exhausted

  1. Dear E. L.

    I suspect one day your writings will be invaluable to another survivor going down the same path. But for today, thank you for sharing your journey. It helps me to understand a friend.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. I desperately hope and pray your suspicions end up coming true. That’s the best redemption I can imagine from this vantage point.

      Sorry I’ve been so absent in real life lately. Miss you. Miss me too. So I’m stocking up on the me-time and we’ll have a lunch date when I emerge from under the covers.

      Thanks so much for reading.


      Liked by 1 person

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