Tag Archive: Hope


So, my life has been kinda sucky lately. I’ve been very PTSD symptomatic. Not among my favorite things. I’ve been more dissociative and had more intrusive thoughts than in months past… but I still have mad skills–one of which is to appreciate the many great things I have in life… from the tiniest, most precious detail, to tremendous blessings. I will be updating my gratitude journal on here as much as possible… I have had one for the better part of two years, however, I have let it fall by the way-side lately… maybe this is some way to help me through my daily life again, as well as the difficult times.

9/19/10 I am grateful for…

My Mom, she’s a lil whacky, but she’s very supportive and loving.

My best friend in the whole world, Hope. I haven’t spoken to her in almost a WHOLE week ;)… and I’m in total withdrawal lol.

I have a beautiful home to live in. It is safe, and pretty, and I am doing a damned good job of keeping it clean (compared to past precendent)

I have a safe ride… I got 4 new tires last week. Yeah, so it was expensive–but my safety and peace of mind are so worth it… plus I KNOW I got an amazing deal on top-0f-the line tires.

I know how to bargain (see above).

My roommates and I haven’t killed each other yet. Living with other people is a challenge… especially when you yourself have .. other people. 😉

I have not dissociated as much unwillingly as before. I miss switching bc it was the way we operated for so many years, but they’re all still there and haven’t left me… they help me get through and make me stronger because they are part of me.

I have not self-harmed in 8 months and 9 days. That’s long enough to have a baby. (I’m tiny and as it would be my first pregnancy, I would probably go early).

I am letting go of less healthy people. I miss them, but they need to go. This is a new page in my life. Every freaking day is a new page.

I miss DLS sooo badly. Those aren’t his real initials. DLS actually stands for dirty little secret… and while I miss my non-boyfriend and do appreciate the good times we had, as few of them as there were… I deserve so much more than that.

I am a medical student. Some crazy bitches think I’m smart enough and well enough to be a doctor. So, even though this is a bumpy ride in many ways, especially with how the school year started… I’m going to be a doctor. I’m going to help people. I am intelligent and I can share my intelligence with people in a way that is incredibly meaningful to me and helpful for others. Every time I look in my patients’ eyes, I can see that even this early in my career, I am making an impact–one person at a time.

Peace out,

Joy (and 15)

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*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)

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

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

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

Hope from Hope

I am going through an incredibly difficult time right now. I am suffering from a lot of flashbacks, intrusive thoughts of self-harm, suicidal ideations, and a lovely letter from Social Services that says that they will no longer be helping me with my rent as of 12/17/09 (for an unspecified reason). I thought I was hospital-bound before I got that letter, but I kinda lost it (though remained safe) after I opened it. I’ve been proactive and called my housing worker and since she’s not in today, her supervisor. No one has gotten back to me as of yet. If it gets to the point that I become impulsive, or feel that I really cannot maintain my own safety, I will go to the hospital. However, at this current moment, I am safe. I try to practice good self-care daily, and when in major distress, recognize when I am no longer able to keep myself safe. In spite of all these challenges, I am blessed to have some wonderful friends who are very supportive. My best friend, Hope, (see Hopefortrauma in my blogroll) sent this video to me. It is very sweet, and uplifting. So I wanted to share it with you.

Keep on keeping on, I think that’s all I and others can do in difficult times. Wishing you peace and safety, Joy

**You’re invited to be part of a photo shoot this Friday in NYC.**

As per the TWLOHA twitter account: Due to weather, NYC photo shoot has been moved to Friday (11/13). The plan is 1:30pm at Washington Square Park. Meet at the Arch!! You must contact TWLOHA in order to get the release form (nyc@twloha.com).

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Photo courtesy of TWLOHA Day 2009 via Facebook

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

To Write Love On Her Arms Day (a week from today, Friday, November 13, 2009)  is a day where anyone can write the words love on their arms, to support those who are fighting against depression and those who are trying to recovering. I participated in this movement last year and it had some phenomenal results. Please join in the fight, whether it’s for your own life, or a loved one’s. As for me, I do it for both.
Jamie Talks Woodie Awards from To Write Love on Her Arms. on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

 

ForeverLove

I would like to share that my best friend, Hope (see blogroll: Hopefortrauma), was featured in the October 2009 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. I’m not that internet savvy yet that I can just put a link in, but I’m learning. Edit: 11/1/09, I learned how to link. Hope, congratulations on being selected to be featured in the Blog Carnival! I think it is a tremendous accomplishment, and I am so proud of you (all of you!)!!! Thank you for sharing your story and being an inspiration to so many others! You rock my socks!!