Tag Archive: flashbacks


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.

Advertisements

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

I’ve been pondering this all morning. I feel better. I don’t feel any “older” per say, but I do feel more composed and capable of dealing with things. I’m the one all the “others” consider a morose, sullen teenager who is a “hot mess”. But, I don’t have flashbacks all the time anymore when I’m out (but I don’t get to come out often because no one trusts me to hold it together[-ish]). Instead of feeling totally hysterical and pained, I do feel a little angry. I’ve also been able to hold up my part of the no more self-harm bargain. I’m also more assertive & kinda demanded that I get to come out since it was a safe environment and our best guy friend was over & he’s safe. And he knows some of us. Most people don’t know me. Our parents know me, unfortunately, though. But, I’m starting to feel less shattered into a million pieces about them and more angry that they were so cruel. I was so good. This reminds me of me (and is something I played and sang over and over again when I lived with them):

“Perfect” ~Alanis Morrisette

I did everything I could do to be “perfect” for everyone. And it was never enough. But right now, it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna kill me. It feels unjust. I know I took the brunt of the crap that happened at home (and sometimes outside) while Joy was a teenager. And she remembers what happened to me (to us)… it’s not like there’s this huge dissociative brick wall between what happened and what she knows. At least the stuff that happened in her pre-teen and teen years. So I guess, 15, kept us alive & was a tough little bitch (who kept her mouth shut though bc as many of us know, the more you fight back, the worse it gets). And, I took all the feelings? I took all the hurt? I wrote all the sordid poetry, I did all the art. I hid when Dad’s car came around the corner.

I would like to share my art with you guys one day. I never shared it with anyone. And, a lot of it was destroyed (thank you parents for destroying my belongings), but a lot of it remains. It’s in a big tote box with all of Joy’s scrapbooking stuff. And 8’s art is in there too. Her Alice in Wonderland vase (it has a hand-carved by her white rabbit stamp on it) is on our coffee table. Anyway, I just wonder if I have genuinely gotten better, or if this is all a facade (all of my healing, my skills acquisition, and Joy likes to think we don’t exist sometimes too–so maybe we’re the facade)?

I hope you have a great day. I have to get ready to peace out and have a productive day. 😉

~16 (I have a name, I just don’t feel like sharing 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)

The Black Sheep, The Sick Child

In the olden days (for me), before I got incredibly symptomatic, I was a feisty little thing. I still am, but I feel like I have diverted my own fire to learned skills, coping, self-care, etc. I hated being told that I couldn’t do something. And, as many of us have likely experienced, we were told we couldn’t, or would never make it, in whatever capacity, quite often. I plowed through hs and college because I was told I’d never make it and would flip burgers for the rest of my life. I never worked in fast food, but good G-d did my father want me to fail miserably at everything. That’s what happens with sick parents, they want to kill the light within their children, starting from an early age–so hopefully by the time it’s time for their child to “fly on their own”, their wings are too broken and they remain “the sick child”.  It diverts ever-so-much attention from the sick, dysfunctional family. I choose not to be “the sick one”. I’ve been working for several years in therapy without my abusers, two years particularly on my trauma disorder and any associated issues. My entire life isn’t going to be like this. This has just been the ugly part. The undoing of my entire psychological and some of my personality sweater only to be re-knit in a healthier way without the same disgusting messages about who I am woven in between. I’m not by any means done “re-knitting”. I’ve got a long way to go. But, I’ve come a long way. And when I’m symptomatic, I know why and at least a good portion of the time, how to cope (sometimes alone, sometimes reaching out to my awesome supports). Bad things happened, but I am not to blame for them, and patient is not all that I am. I’m terrified, but I’m desperately trying to carve a life out for myself that includes all the good things I’m doing to get better, but also includes reclaiming my life, and altering the old one I was living. I just want to live, as frightening as that may be to me.

“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

Wishing I was fearless, but at least I have courage (and a red cape… but that’s a whole ‘nother story). Have a great day if you so choose! =)

Love,

Joy… and some others 😉

All I want is for some semblance of normalcy, to be well enough to get through the day, not have my symptoms follow me incessantly, and to return to and do well in school. I worked so hard with the facade going on for decades and now I feel very stuck. It’s like I made it out, but I want to be more than what I made it out from. I want to live the life I crafted for myself, the one I have the intellect and many other qualities for and yet it seems so evasive. And to be quite honest, it pisses me the hell off. That’s it! It makes me very angry. I feel a lot of other things, but the root is anger. Especially today I just wanna be like, screw you (past, symptoms, old patterns of behavior, I could go all day), I want to LIVE my life!

**This is a portion of a comment I left on Hope’s blog. It so clearly defined how I feel, I really wanted to share it here. I have more to say, but I want to gather my thoughts, and cope with my anger in a healthy way before I share any more.**

Wishing you an awesome day,

Joy

I’m not sure if I’ve shared with you the concept I learned about two years ago; that getting better doesn’t necessarily mean feeling better. Either way, while I’d love to comment on that and will elaborate at some point, I have found that sometimes it actually does lead to feeling better. I’ve been able to feel a lot more feelings in a healthy way, some lovely feelings, some less than pleasant. I am grateful for this hellish journey. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to survive just life, in general, if I hadn’t been on the PTSD recovery war path for the past two years. Every time I think I’ve got something down, got things in a decent place (notice I didn’t say “under control”–the only thing I can control in life is my behavior and actions); a huge curveball is thrown at me. I think this happens to everyone. But, when I’m working so hard to get “better”, whatever that is for me (mostly coping [and NOW learning how to actually contain flashbacks until I can have them in the safe environment of my tx’ists office] safely, not further abusing myself physically, emotionally, etc., and maintaining a somewhat normal-ish adult life)… I don’t take the curveballs very well. At least not the huge one that hit me at 90 mph yesterday.

Yesterday I went to two meetings in NYC. The first was a DID meeting, which was fabulous. I then spent the day with my best friend until my next meeting. Even better! And then, upon the THIRD parking spot, all chaos descends. I return from celebrating my 90 days self-harm free (no keychain lol—some of you know how ardently I want a keychain for my 90 days lol), to find my car is not where I parked it. I wonder, okay, before I panic, let’s search the dissociative rolodex and make sure I didn’t park it elsewhere. I end up having to call 911 to find out if my car has been stolen or towed (the latter I believe the more likely suspect, even though I was parked legally). Apparently during a random plate check, the NYPD decided that I owed $624 in parking tickets from 2007 (um what?) and it would need to be paid Monday through Friday during typical business hours before I could even pay the $185 to have my car returned from the tow service. Now mind you, of course my albuterol nebulizer for my asthma, my computer, and everything under the sun is in my car. My phone is dying, no one is picking up their phone. I NEEDED to get my car, or I was literally going to die. I was in the hospital for my asthma last week and am still not doing well.

Wheezing, and hacking I call the tow service (open 24 hrs!) 4 times to no avail as I am walking halfway across the City to get to my car. I get there and am permitted into my car. Then, I’m told that according to their system my license and registration are suspended and expired (which is not true, I know because of an incident from very recently). Unfortunately I can’t verify this on a Saturday night, or fix any of it. The tow guy was going to let me have my car provided there were no complications, likely because I was polite and/or he felt so badly for me because it was very evident that I was incredibly sick. Of course, there were complications… so I plug in my nebulizer so I can breathe while an angel in my life does come to my aid. She drove me home, since there was nothing I could do at that point. I got sick in her car right by my parents’ house, on our way to my house. I threw up in front of my parents’ house three times more 😉 and then knocked on the door so I could use the restroom. Then we proceeded home.

I woke up this morning with horrific self-harm urges and felt terribly depressed and hopeless because I really didn’t see how I could think or pray myself out of this debacle. I managed to calm myself down to a safe point, and then not long after totally lost it again. Now, since I’m so allergic to everything that is outside, I couldn’t lock myself out until my urges were manageable, nor could I flee in my car (um, since it’s impounded at the moment). So I flipped out for a little bit trying to figure out how to keep myself safe. I decided to lock myself in my room, perhaps lock my utensil drawer on my porch. I figured maybe some more sleep would do me some good, and decided maybe I’ll take a Benadryl to help with the allergies and help knock me out. Sadly and luckily, I ended up crying myself to sleep, and was therefore stable enough to leave my room when I woke up a little bit ago. I’m not saying things are great right now. I don’t have fairy godmothers, or a magic wand–but I’m still here and I’m SAFE! It’s day 91 and I’m still self-harm free. Some days it doesn’t seem I am going to be able to make it 9 seconds, and yet by the grace of God, or who/whatever you believe in… I’m still safe. There’s tangible evidence right there, I am getting better. And, yes, I’m pretty sick at the moment, and am having a hell of a time, but I’m feeling pretty ok considering. I had two great friends tell me some really wise and beautiful things earlier today, and it was really hard to hear considering the place I was in. But, I am so grateful for them. And for my rescuing angel. The situations still is pretty sucky, and I haven’t gotten it all figured out, but: Everything is gonna be alright. I leave you with this:

“When life gives you lemons, make grape juice, then sit back, relax, and let the whole world wonder how the hell you did it.” -Who knows

Three Little Birds -Bob Marley
‘”Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin’: “Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

Rise up this mornin’,
Smiled with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, (“This is my message to you-ou-ou:”)

Singin’: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singin’: “Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!…”‘

Wishing you a peaceful, safe, and beautiful day,

Joy

**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

Today is Self Injury Awareness Day. Therefore, I’m using today as an impetus to share with you my own experience with self-injury (aka self-harm=s/h). Please do not read this if it will trigger you. Also, I want to make it explicitly clear that I do not condone self-harm as a coping skill, however do not judge myself or others for resorting to it when we feel as though nothing else will assuage our pain (or whatever other things trigger an urge to self-harm).

My first incident of s/h was when I was 7. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. All I recall is that I explained (and lied) to my step-mother and told her I was trying to shave just like she did. Needless to say, when it did come time to shave in my early adolescence I was not permitted to do so. I have no idea why. Especially since I was apparently very convincing when I told her it wasn’t on purpose.

I then began sneaking hard liquor (and refilling what I had consumed in the most brilliant way an elementary-aged child could) from the liquor cabinet until my parents gave up drinking quite as much. Then, since their liquor required less space, they relocated it to a cabinet that was well out of my reach (then and almost now).

As I look back on these experiences I can recognize that they were ways for me to drown out something, what? At the time I had NO idea.

I achieved my first degree black belt when I was 16. I used these skills to s/h in a way that I was pretty sure no one would know about and no one would question. I continued this from middle school through college. I was in an incredible amount of emotional pain; that I couldn’t get rid of. All I knew is that my parents didn’t love me and it made me feel like my heart was slowly dying. Nothing I did won their approval. No amount of good deeds at home, the meticulous attention to my chores (which included EVERYTHING while my brother, of course, had none), my excellent grades, my involvement in the community in various ways… nothing. So my Catholic school girl self abused herself in the only way I knew how without getting caught. I had such enormous pain, and severely repressed anger, hostility, shame; I could go all day with what I had stuffed in my “little box”. I was a breakdown waiting to happen. I believed I had to be perfect in every aspect of my life, stuff all the pain away, and put on my (apparently slightly scary) fake-smile.

The year before I started medical school I had an extremely abusive relationship with my first girlfriend. I had previously been treated like gold by my boyfriend of 5 years. We had some major PTSD-related issues in our relationship now that I can look at it in hindsight, but he was the least abusive partner I’ve dated.

I slowly descended into madness during and after this relationship. I ended it, I simply couldn’t take the tumultuousness of our relationship anymore–I knew I was about to snap. And I did. But, I apparently was still able to put on a fascade that I was “just fine”. I did well in medical school while the symptoms of complex-PTSD continued to ravage my life. I was finally diagnosed with C-PTSD in medical school after a litany of misdiagnoses. I continued in the s/h behaviors I had long used, and introduced more. These new ones I was terrified by, these new ones had to be so minor that no one could see them or “everyone would know”. Que dira de la gente… what will people say? That was my only concern and the only reason why I kept my s/h superficial.

I took three weeks after the summer of my first year to seek out trauma-specific treatment. Every summer since I was a sophomore in college I had spent doing research to bolster my resume. I took a little bit of time from this for my treatment. I figured three weeks was plenty of time to figure out what the hell was really wrong and how to quickly fix it. I was adept at most everything else I did, therefore I approached intensive trauma tx with the same tenacity.

Apparently, my PTSD didn’t give a crap about my timeframe. Beginning trauma tx was like ripping off a bandaid on my fullbodied wound. My flashbacks got worse, my s/h urges became totally unmanageable. I tried using some of the skills I had learned and they were ineffective. I resorted to the only thing I knew would help alleviate some of my pain.

I used to (and still do) restrict access to certain rooms in my apartment in order to avoid s/h and to see if I could tolerate the pain until it ended. Sometimes, some days I was successful. Others I was not. Going to the ER with a self-inflicted wound got me nowhere. I did a good enough job tending to my wound that it was not necessary for the ER to intervene medically. And since I was no longer suicidal, my psychiatrist who happened to be on call that night, told me to “step up the individual tx and step up the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)”; and I was sent home. That was the first time I had actually scared myself by what I had done to my body.

After almost two years of therapy programs, I have come to realize that I no longer need to physically abuse myself. However, that did not stop my s/h. I would do it in the same place so that no one would question it should they see. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t rock my skills which I knew and practiced like it was my job. As I explained to my mother yesterday, the pain of my flashbacks or other PTSD-related pain is about a million times worse than any physical pain I’ve ever had. The other day she saw me, and I was barely able to walk because of undiagnosed rheumatological problems (I have been to the doctor several times to try to pin down why one day I can run a mile and others I have to army crawl to the bathroom).

I have used s/h when I saw no other options to reduce my pain/suicidality, or when after going through the most effective coping skills (for me), several times, I was still in intolerable pain. I am in no way glorifying my s/h behaviors, but as I said before, nor do I judge them. It was all I had at times when I was emotionally grasping at straws and knew that I didn’t want to permanently terminate my existence (even if it hurt so bad that I obsessed about it). Everyone who s/h’s does it for their own personal reason. This was mine.

I have not purposely taken any action against my body in 50 days as of today. It has not been easy or pretty as I have said several times elsewhere today. Am I proud? Yes. Has it been hell not resorting to self-abusive behaviors? Absolutely. I will gladly share some of my favorite coping skills in the next few days. But for today, I wanted to share a part of my journey to recovering from child abuse. And I also want a keychain, coin, or gold star to recognize my efforts to end my addiction to s/h. 😉 I cannot for certain say I will be able to continue to abstain from s/h as I continue in my recovery. But, I never thought I’d be able to abstain for a significant amount of time any time in the near future, and the 50 day mark is a pretty damned promising start.

Wishing you peace and safety this evening,

Joy

Hello my loves

I just got out of inpatient gen. psych a few days ago. I couldn’t stand the lack of safety post flashbacks anymore. I waited 8 weeks. I don’t know how I maintained safety those weeks, sometimes. I made it through Christmas and then decided my health and safety was worth way more than New Year’s Eve. I’ve also had a rough couple of days following my ip stay. I did really well the first day, and then descended. I start the acute partial hospitalization program tomorrow. I have a lot to share with you (updated safety triangles, new plans for tx and life, in general) right now, but I wanted you to know I’m thinking of you, and will have to share later. Yesterday was also a trauma anniversary for me. And I made it through safely and feel very empowered. I will touch on that when I get a chance (I can’t really go there right now). Distraction and spending time with friends are my safety tools this evening. Gotta jet! But as always, wishing you safety and peace, Joy