(Spoiler alert: the writer is me.)
Dear Gentle Butch,
It is I, Gentle Butch, come back from an unintentional hiatus.
The thing is that I started having multiple flashbacks a day and dissociating constantly. I couldn’t function at work, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I couldn’t write. Like, at ALL.
So, I quit writing this column and I took leave from my day job (which is also writing) and went on short-term disability and now I’m in a partial hospitalization program* for those fighting PTSD.
I am in an incredible place: I earn enough that I can survive on 60% of my pay combined with my partner’s pay (I have literally never been in this position), I have an understanding employer, a kind and supportive partner, short-term disability insurance, and the Americans with Disabilities Act — which has led to laws protecting my job when I have to go on hiatus for stuff like this.
I am so, so goddamned grateful.
However, I am also struggling, and my writing (and, often, my ability to sustain a straightforward conversation, find my way out of a grocery store, and shower more than about every other week) has abruptly ended.
But lately, I’ve found myself on Quora, answering questions, because I was being too mean to people on Facebook and deleted the app.
“Why am I wasting my time when I could be engaging with Mindfulness or working on watching my exposure videos?” I thought to myself, and then I sat up straight.
I was building up my writing muscles for this column!
I have been telling myself to be professional about it and not just start writing the instant I felt a spark of life stir, but you know what? Professionalism is a tool of the kyriarchy. I’m writing when I can and not writing when I can’t.
So I might be back. I might wander off again, lost in flashbacks and panic attacks. You get to live in suspense!
A Train Wreck
Dear Train Wreck,
I’m glad you wrote. I think it’s super weird that I’m answering your letter, but I’m trying to do this ‘being gentle with yourself’ thing so I’m not going to be too bitchy about it.
* Partial hospitalization, specifically a program that uses Prolonged Exposure and Narrative Therapy, is THE SHIT. I have never gotten so much done on fixing my cranium in such a short amount of time, ever. Check out Rogers Behavioral Health if you or someone you know might benefit from some seriously intensive self work.