Category: PTSD


What up peeps? It’s been a while. Tons has gone on my end, as I’m sure on yours. I stopped in today to take a peek at some of my favorite blogs, but also to comment on something I have been thinking of for the past few weeks: Physical illness and PTSD symptoms.

My body is currently boycotting health. I have been sick for three weeks. To be honest, I would not be exaggerating at all to say that I feel like my teensy lil body’s been hit by a mack truck. I have often in the past few weeks reflected on the plight of my future patients who are chronically ill. Clearly, I am in several ways chronically ill, however this is a new experience. I have had back problems, surgeries, pain, etc. since I was 2. I had a super-shitty immune system. I get sick when someone who’s ten miles away sneezes. My nebulizer is my best friend (sorry to my human best friends… but open my airways and we’ll talk). 😉

Obviously, my PTSD is also something that is a chronic issue for me. But, I seem to be hacking it (oy! no pun intended) pretty well with that and with the damned my-body-thinks-it’s-88-not-28 pain. I have not been using narcotic painkillers to drown out the pain. I have not been dissociating (with any real frequency ;})… I have been FEELING it.

Ew!

As I said last time, I am not a fan of feelings. I still thoroughly stand by that. At the time I was talking about emotional pain for the most part, not visceral. But, I can say, this is not my cup of tea either. I used to crave pain of any sort because at least I knew I was in fact alive (that is NOT why I self-harmed, I think my self-harm was mostly motivated by my desire to drown out my emotional pain with physical). But, right now I’d really like to just LIVE.

I have been holed up in my house for a few weeks, and at some point gave up on the pretty much bedrest crap that was going on because I wasn’t getting any better two rounds of prednisone, antibiotics, and a partridge in a pear tree later. So, I decided, screw that—I’m not going to overdo it per say, but I’m not going to lie in bed. Bed sores are not something else I want to add to my shit list. I’ve had friends visit (which has been freaking AWESOME! Yay & thanks!), gone out a bit to do things I really want to, and I’ve enjoyed myself. But, I’ve noticed something the past few weeks, particularly as my physical symptoms have exacerbated…. so have my PTSD (and its friends) symptoms.

I have found over the past decade or two, that when I’m physically ill, my mental health takes a major nose dive. The only thing I can relate this to is the fact that when I’m physically ill, it doesn’t matter if I ignore that I feel alone, or am alone, or have to talk myself out of the fact that I’m not a little, helpless girl that no one is going to take care of (again)~I feel alone. And therefore I have to consciously or unconsciously remind myself that I’m an adult and I will take care of me with appropriate help.

Being sick leaves me feeling very very small and very much alone. I become a lot more symptomatic, feel a lot more anxiety, feel desperate, and am a lot more attention seeking. I often wonder if other people with PTSD or other mental health issues feel like those things turn up a notch when they are not feeling physically well?

Since I’m both feeling physically unwell & experiencing a lil mental health kick in the ass, I, though not depressed (there really is always another side to the rainbow), I feel really professionally unmotivated. I can read my Pathology book for fun at 7am, but not reach over for the material I’m actually supposed to be reviewing. This has been REALLY frustrating to me since things have really started to look up with my academics the past few months. I was sick (and around the time of my second to last final was flashbacking EVERYWHERE in a way I hadn’t since I was raped last summer) and still trying to keep other aspects of my life in balance, but my grades were stellar. I wanted to keep that motivation going at full speed. But, I think I misplaced it somewhere. I’ve searched high and low, and I cannot find it. I have an ugly feeling this is a fake it til you make it moment–and I hate those.

I have a lot more to say, but I will save it for later (hopefully not like 2-3 months later)… I really want to talk about hoarding, cleansing (of excess tangible baggage from hoarding), flashback reapperance, rape recovery, and keeping it chill during potentially triggering patient care. I look forward to being back soon and I hope you have all been well! Wishing you peace, safety, and some sunshine especially for those cloudier of days.

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fasten your seat belts, blah blah blah. Yep, things have been tough, feel free to send chocolate. 😉

Whenever I am so silly to believe that things are on the upswing, I’ve been duped again. I feel like Murky Dismal in Rainbow Brite, the dude who tries to take all the color out of the world. And … the best part, is that’s how I describe my father. I don’t even have time for daddy issues right now.

I don’t know how I still go to school. It requires every ounce of effort I can scrounge up to drag my ass here. I’m not sure where the extra effort comes from for studying, and the other things an adult needs to do every day. My brain feels like it’s going to explode. I feel like I’m going to vomit. Eh, I likely will. The vomiting thing, not the head exploding thing. I have stomach ulcers. There’s a shocker.

I seem to have lost the sparkle that was me. I go about every day and survive and get through it, but I lost the zest, the (ironically) joie de vivre. I gain more attachment to the planet, less times where my mind throws up bad crap at home, in public places, other things die down, and I am swimming in a pool of pessimism. I have been severely depressed before, this is no surprise, but the pessimism is astounding.

Things were going relatively well for a while, but then I got the decision back from the administration saying they’re not going to do shit about “the incident”. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would likely spiral at least a lil out of orbit, but I seem to have become consumed with foul, angry thoughts, and very little else. A few weeks of this and my non-trauma friends are still hanging in there. I talked to a few of them today about “the crap” and by crap, I mean how I’ve been feeling and behaving. I’ve tried my darndest to not spill all over the place and make my crap become theirs. But it’s more than hard to go through this alone. Especially since I’m fortunately or unfortunately feeling so much more every freaking day for the past year or two now. I must say, I’m not a fan. Feeling SUCKS!! But, if I want to engage with the rest of the planet who does not live in my inner solar system, I better get used to it. Learning to feel is an atrocious experience. I highly recommend children and anyone younger than me learn to feel your feelings while you can. Before it’s a few decades later and they smash you like a brick. But, really, our minds did what they could to protect us at the time. And being dissociative was just as normal as some kids playing outside, having sleepovers, swinging on swings without a care in the world…

So moral of my story, feelings hurt like hell. They cause me visceral body pain. It hurts to hurt like that.

Although I’m seeing almost every aspect of the world through grey goggles recently, my friends have graciously and without prompting reminded me that, I’m not always like this. And to me, if they can even see that, that’s even more evidence that this too will pass. It just sucks hardcore right now.

My stomach is having a blast at the moment and I’m in a lot of pain elsewhere. I’m gonna go take care of my stomach, and then attempt to eventually eat and take care of myself.

I hope you’re doing well. And if today’s not such a hot day for you either, you’re not alone. And… likely tomorrow, or soon, things will start to look up. Every time I think they won’t, they do. I think it’s just to prove me wrong. 😉

Peace n safety,

Joy

It’s been a hard days… month, or two

**Trigger Warning: Re: Sexual assault and s/h**

These last 6+ weeks have been kinda hellish. Med school in itself is fairly hellish. Being raped by a fellow student, pretty awful. The legal process which offered NO justice, at LEAST as violating as the act itself. But, I’m still here. (Which reminds me of one of my favorite poems, which I’ll post a little further down)

I can’t concentrate on much of anything, nevermind schoolwork. I haven’t managed to fail out yet, and I’m not sure how. I guess I’m catching enough to keep my head above the water. But the anger at what happened, my disappointment and anger in myself for my inability to magically get it together, use my skills (most of which I feel I’ve forgotten even though they were even more routine than breathing up until it happened)… is really affecting me. I have not self-harmed in 8 months and 9 days. Yes, so if anyone was still wondering, I am still self-harm free. I don’t know how. It has taken almost every ounce of my strength on some days to not self-abuse. It sadly comes so naturally. It’s an old pattern that I brought into adulthood, because I didn’t know how else to cope with pain other than to assault myself. Logically I know this is not the way one should be treated. However, I have been really triggered lately and feel quite often that I need to be “punished”. And I don’t, I just feel and think that I do. Unfortunately there is no fairy dust that I can sprinkle on myself to get me immediately back to where I was emotionally a few months ago. Luckily, there is similarly no fairy dust to get me back to where I was a few months before then and the many moons before then… because those were a scary time. Things are still frightening, but I have made a lot of progress. Considering what happened, I know that “on paper”, I’m doing very well. But my heart aches from the many feelings I have about the incident, nevermind how I feel it’s impacting my life. Things do get better every day, but they are still really rough. I can only logically acknowledge the progress I’ve made–I don’t feel it yet. I just want to feel it SO desperately.

My self-harm urges are more vibrant and intrusive than they’ve been in months. I think the stronger I fight not to, even though a huge part of me wants to feel that brief instant of relief… the stronger the thoughts and images are in my head.

I have made plenty of friends at school. And I have several really wonderful friends. But, I just don’t feel it. All I feel is loss. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life who I miss tremendously right now. The guy I was interested in is too sick (read: depressed and not making enough effort and strides to work with it and get better) for me to be in a relationship with, even a casual one, or friendship. His consistent inconsistency is entirely too painful. I do care for him, more than I ever wanted to, and you can’t help who you love and care about. I can, however, monitor my behavior and interaction with him though. We haven’t spoken in about two weeks. As deeply as it hurts, I think this was a very smart and healthy move on my part. I didn’t want to be further emotionally damaged by the people I allowed in my life, including him. It’s not his fault, I am an adult and I allow toxic people into my life. I’ve let quite a few people go in the past month and it hurts. I miss them, even the toxic parts of them. Perhaps MORE SO their toxic aspects. So while it hurts so badly that I can hardly breathe at the moment, in time, this will pass. Just like every flashback, the pain will stop and it hasn’t killed me yet.

I think some of my current pain comes from the strides I’ve made and the disappointment I feel as I am drowning in a riptide of depression. Depression at this point is totally understandable. But, I just really resent feeling so pained. I just want to live. I want to study and concentrate. I want to cook for myself and take care of my basic needs. As always I put on a really great “show” but I’m not ok. I have to be at peace with not being ok right now. And I’m not. I think it’s this resistance that is causing me so much anguish. I have so many feelings and thoughts to challenge, I feel really overwhelmed.

I don’t really know how pray tell to get my game face on and piece myself back together. I don’t think I’m supposed to. I think I’m supposed to take it day by day, and moment by moment… but that is not exactly my forte.

And the poem I promised:

Still Here by Langston Hughes

“I been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,

Looks like between ’em they done
Tried to make me

Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!”

Love, Joy

On May 20, 2007 I wrote a letter to my 8 y/o self/part/aspect/split, however you like to view different aspects of self. At that time I was unaware I had DID, however, I am pretty sure my therapist at the time (who I adore to this day) had some intimation that I was dissociative. He had recommended that I write a letter to myself at 8 years old bc that was a particularly difficult year, especially emotionally. At that point, the physical and sexual abuses, though obviously affected me/us deeply, were very dissociated. But the emotional stuff was SO raw.

At that time, I didn’t know I was dissociative, nor what that was, and was certainly not the leader of my system. I recall about a year and some months ago when I lost it for a few days bc I realized that I was most certainly not my system leader. In the last year I have (at times by just “winging it” lol) become much closer to my parts, come to understand them, worked with them, so that we work together instead of apart.

I found the above-mentioned letter to 8 in a journal this morning (it was the first journal in which I wrote as if it were MINE… and would not be the subject of invasion of privacy & scrutiny–mind you I was 24 and had been on my own for 6 years already…) and wanted to share it with you and re-emphasize what I said to her at that time. =) It was very healing to re-read what I had said at that time to my “inner child”. Writing to parts if you have DID, or writing to your inner children (everyone has them), I believe can be a very important part of healing from PTSD and/or childhood trauma. I know it has been helpful to me.

“Dear 8,

I’m sorry you were scared by Lisa. She was sweet, pretty, kind, and smart–all things you should look for in a person to love. I’m sorry Mom (step-mom) and Dad didn’t protect you from harm-both from them and others. I wish you hadn’t felt so insecure and out of place in our “family”. I wish there were some places that would have been safe, and at least one adult that knew how great of a kid you were–and TOLD you. I wish our brother hadn’t been born to the same family so you wouldn’t have been cast aside like chopped liver by “Mom” and become the scapegoat, among other things in the family. I wish your little self hadn’t been made the scapegoat for ADULT’S problems. I wish your teacher(s) had reach out to you. I wish for hugs for you and warm blankets. I wish for praise and good support. I wish someone told you that 99+% on tests was GREAT! I wish for safety and privacy. I wish someone (one of our parents) had told you that you were talented. I wish someone asked how your day was. I wish for security, generosity, and truth-telling. I wish for warm covers and night-lights.

Good night lil one, Love,

Joy” 5/20/07 (Almost exactly a year before I began intensive trauma therapy)

I know it’s been quite a while since I last blogged. I hope you are all well and are moving along your recovery path at a pace that suits you. ❤

Wishing you peace and safety,

Joy

Ps-Five more days until our 6 month no self-harm anniversary (July 10, 2010)! Yay! It hasn’t been easy (and has def. required a lot of internal communication, commitment to safety, and the love and support of friends and select family!). Looking forward to it!

*May trigger: Inpatient discussion, as well as mention of suicidality.*

I view inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations as mental health vacations (on the best of days) and holding cells for safety (when I’m not in such a pleasant mood). For some people, going “inpatient” is a whole different experience and is really therapeutic. But, with me, they never really know what to do with a suicidal trauma patient, so on gen. psych., they tend not to bother. I actually, at this point, prefer it that way.

“Don’t want your hand this time. I’ll save myself.” ~Evanescence

I’m not viewing an inpatient hospitalization as a poor experience for me. I go when I need to maintain safety and can’t do it with my skills and outside supports. I’d rather do that than be dead (as much pain as I’m in at that time & as much as I see that as the ONLY option, logically, somewhere–I know it’s not). By doing so, I have committed to safety, removed myself from my triggering environment, and have given myself a few days to figure out why I was downward spiraling. I do know why now, and it has mostly to do with fear of failure (aka going back to school, maintaining a real life, etc.) and interpersonal hurts. I had been downward spiraling for about 8 weeks and in a pit for about 3 weeks. At some point in time, I was going to have to do what was in my best interest, and continue with self-care. Now the fears to me felt like absolute terror, suffocation, and the hurts felt like the size of Texas because G-d forbid I have a feeling that isn’t at least as big as the county (this after reality checks, radical acceptance, mindfulness, and everything else up the wazoo). My flashbacks had increased, and they hurt like hell. I wasn’t able to contain them as well as usual, my skills were not working as well as they had been. I know why now, but at the time I couldn’t figure out why I was in some aspects doing very well, and in others falling apart (several times a day). My symptoms were huge, my flashbacks were huge, my urges were huge, and my progress was huge. It was oxymoronic to me.

Regardless, I am glad to have gotten a better grip on things. Self-care means more to me than do the old patterns of self-harm that are dying a slow painful death.

I’d like to thank the people closest to me for supporting me through another bump in the road. I’d especially like to thank my Mom, for stepping up to the plate now that I’m an adult (hey–better late than never!!!) and need her even more than when I was a kid now that I’m healing. And I’d like to say an exceptionally huge thank you to my best friend, Hope, for driving a 100 miles just to spend a little bit of time with me, and being my unbiological sister.

I hope you are all doing well and look forward to catching up on what I’ve missed while I was inpatient (and um, the week after I got out lol).

Peace and serenity to you,

Joy (and another who really wanted to put her 2 10 cents in lol)

**Although I’m pretty sure this is a pretty non-triggering post, it does mention trauma, parts, flashbacks and eating issues. So if you are particularly sensitive at this time, please do not read this until you are safe and supported enough to. Ty.**

Upon returning from my Mom’s a few weeks ago (no NEW triggers there, same old, dealt w them well, etc.)… I seem to have fallen off my recovery path a bit, or maybe found a new direction. I’m not sure. All I know is that since I’ve come home, I’ve gone to my psychiatric rehabilitation program increasingly as the two weeks have gone by, gone to every DBT session, and stayed s/h free. It has not been easy. Outside of PTSD stuff, there’s been a LOT going on for me in my personal life, be they interpersonal problems, financial difficulties, pending homelessness, and eating issues.

I have made a lot of mistakes the past few weeks, but nothing too detrimental. I may have said the wrong thing, even though I meant it to be so gentle, yet not so subtle that someone didn’t get the boundaries I asserted, I may have shared too much or too little at times… but, I am doing my best. I have also embarked on a little bit of late teenager silliness… and then the following does not include any mistakes I’ve made: but I’ve let my parts play. It’s been phenomenal for all of us, including me, as the host. However, what I’ve come to know for myself is, as I’ve learned how to better communicate w my internal system, and become more stable… now the traumatized parts are coming out more. And if I’m not going to care for them, they’ll be in the same boat they were when they fragmented off. So, I choose to be a good parts mom & nurture, love them, and keep them safe. I don’t have a DID nor a trauma therapist. I am essentially winging it, and doing what I know works in other situations, other safe skills, and I am riding the wave and seeing it through to the end of the pain. I am also consulting w two trauma tx’ists soon bc this is becoming much too much for me to manage on my own. I know when to reach out for help. And I’m pleased that my clinician at my program, though she is a very emotionally boundaried person, and truly barely knows me–knows that I REACH out (even from the pits in the past) when I need more help than what I can currently do by myself and with my current supports.

I also called Renfrew yesterday bc the not-eating thing was not something I was managing well. I have no idea why this is going on. I am a little chubby, but I am a curvy, cute lil thing according to most–so I am a teensy weensy bit insecure. And some of my more protective parts have eating issues (namely 15, she was ballsy and would eat in the middle of the night, not caring if she got caught bc we needed nourishment), but nothing like this. And it’s not just lack of appetite. I refuse to eat. I will eat socially. And not in a disordered manner w lots of rules, but I can only will myself to eat socially. I am a very strong-willed individual. I figured going to the supermarket and getting Carnation Instant Breakfasts, baby food in flavors I’d consider, and other similar things I could will myself to consume those. But, I couldn’t. All week. So I called Renfrew. But, I have decided, I don’t want to go back to the hospital. I WILL manage this on my own. And if it does become so incredibly unmanageable, I will go. But–I am willing to work my tush off so I don’t have to go back inpatient for any reason right now. I am safe, I am not suicidal, I am dealing w my symptoms as best as I can. And that’s THAT.

So that’s where I’ve been hiding these last two weeks. I even let my fb games peter off. I have been working on me. And experiencing the absolute joy and serenity, when I’ve gotten through the pain. It’s so oxymoronic. It has been such an ugly and yet beautiful, self-actualization, phenomenal time for me. And if you have any suggestions on the nurturing and keeping the traumatized, little (and sometimes a little older) ones safe and protected, please by ALL means share. I would be forever indebted to you bc I have no idea what I’m doing. I hope you are all doing well. ❤

Wishing you peace, safety, and serenity,

Joy

Plate SMASHING

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. When I last wrote, I had been out of the hospital for a few weeks and had been doing extremely well. I am happy to say I am still doing just as well! I will update you on how I’ve made my life a little bit better place for me to live these past few months later on today.

However, I want to comment on a great idea that a twitter friend had mentioned yesterday; PLATE SMASHING. She shared an article by a fellow survivor about how therapeutic this had/has been in her recovery.

I had watched “Starting Over”, a tv show that follows the journey of women struggling with their lives for a plethora of reasons; and who want to (and do) make changes with the assistance of life coaches and other professionals. Mind you I had been watching this show before I even had gotten my first accurate diagnosis. I could NOT for the life of me figure out what was “wrong” with me, why I was in so much pain every single day, why I felt I was going to spill all over the place at any given moment. I kept the “everything is fine, I swear!!” mask on through about two years ago. It was actually a scary, fake-smile fascade. My friend, Joe, recently told me that he knew I was incredibly depressed by the time we hit 11 years old. I asked him how he knew, and he replied that even as young as we were then, he could clearly see I was trying too hard to keep it together. Back to my experiences watching “Starting Over”. I would watch this show hoping with all of my being that somehow they (who they is, I still couldn’t tell you, producers, maybe?) would subliminally know something was dreadfully wrong, and knock on the door of my single room in my dorm. I wanted to start over as each of these other women had. I wanted to find out why I hurt so incredibly badly, why my life on paper (resume) was so “perfect” and yet I was about to totally snap.

On one of the “Starting Over” episodes one of the women is given the task of writing down all the negative statements fed to her as a child. So I took my tush to the nearest place where I could get blank CDs and wrote every single negative, incongruent, falsehood I was fed about myself as a child. I still have every single one of them. I treasure this first step of me intuitively acknowledging where some of my pain was coming from. Acknowledging then led to challenging and “trashing” all these obscene and false ideas I held about myself several years later in therapy.

It was about the same time that I began to trash all the crap I was fed as a child about who I was as a person, my role in life, my potential, etc. that I began plate smashing. This idea was inspired by putting together some of the tx modules I had seen on the “Starting Over” show.

My first plate smashing session occurred with a set of plates given to me my one of my abusers, my step-mother. I felt this was the perfect place to start for obvious reasons, but gave myself permission to do so because there were so many plates, bowls, and mugs missing from the set. So I tossed these plates with all my might into an open dumpster when most of my neighbors were at work. I pre-sorted all of the plate collection so that I had an even set for four which I donated to the domestic violence center I was involved with at the time. The other plates, etc., were fair game for me getting out some of my enormous, hidden rage. It was a safe way of getting that brimming anger out on something inanimate, and not myself. I have journaled, spent hours in individual & group tx, exercised, among about 50 other things to safely get my feelings out. But nothing has ever compared to plate smashing.

Wishing you a wonderful day of feeling your feelings in a safe way,

Joy

Provocation of PTSD and Suicidality?

**Possible trigger: If you are not in a safe place emotionally, please do not read this at the moment.**

I ardently work like it’s my job to maintain safety, find hope in the hopeless moments, use coping skills to drag me out of my pit. I utilize my DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) as needed (often). If I’m not mistaken my TRUE personality is pleasant, compassionate, sweet, thoughtful, humorous, sarcastic, etc. I know who I AM now. I am not just a post-trauma personality.

However, there is a very angry aspect of me. Of course there is a very pained aspect of me, as well, several of my DID parts are traumatized parts. But, some of my parts are extremely angry, as does quite a bit of moi, the host self that has a lot of repressed anger. I’ve had several beautiful, lovely days in a row. However, some of my parts are suicidal despite that because the pain is absolutely unbearable. Some are so angry, and as my day program tx (not my primary tx) said on Friday, provocative. I was incredibly disconcerted that she believed I was provoking my suicidality. However, apparently her witnessing my “dissociative trance” as she mentioned when I was discussing my true feelings (and the many plans I have made for my demise) for once… was cause for her to say I was being provocative. I was highly insulted. I hate being shoved into a borderline personality disorder corner before someone even gets to know me clinically. I told her I was not manipulating her, not screaming for attention to assuage my emptiness. I don’t self-harm to gain attention. It is my addiction, just like alcoholism, that reduces the incredibly high threshold of pain (esp. following a long flashback). She essentially said I was feeding my suicidality. I cannot, in words, describe how angry that made me. I finally tell her how I feel, and she says I’m arousing my own suicidality, as though that is supposed to somehow help me therapeutically. I am medication compliant, I am not treatment resistant nor difficult. I am so very active in my recovery. I have just hit a really ugly bump in the road, and she continually invalidates me. I’m too clinically difficult for her and the psychiatrist in the program to handle because I won’t be recovered in the 3 weeks of their program. I want a different clinician. I have never requested a different clinician in any program I’ve been in. I want respect of my pain, my anger, my incredible strides towards recovery. I get none from her.

How is it that I’m getting invalidated by my own therapist? The program director has witnessed the behavior and spoke with me about it twice on Friday. I told him I was willing to give her a few more days chance, because he wanted to know if I immediately wanted to switch therapists. If she were simply challenging me, I’d welcome that. Challenge the hell out of me if it will help me get to a safer place in my feelings and thoughts. But, do NOT invalidate me.

And today she’s correct in saying I’m provoking certain feelings. I’m listening to very choleric music to see if I can stay on the healthy anger spectrum and direct it where it belongs and not at myself. Do I think I’m provoking my suicidality? No.

To anyone who is concerned, I am blessed (and cursed?) to have the self-awareness of knowing when I need to be hospitalized. If you are having a difficult time, please see the widget on the left side of my blog, call that hotline, or a hotline, call Psychiatric Emergency Services at your nearest hospital, or 911. Do anything to maintain your safety. We work too hard to let our pain rob us of our life.

Wishing you peace and safety, Joy