Tag Archives: fixing problems

Two Types of Flashbacks

The last time I was cleaning 5 days a week (my goal) except for dishes/food clean up was last month. On the 15th, I wrote this blog saying, “I’m doing it!” and started waking up in full panic: heart pounding, palms sweating, shaking, the whole thing. When I have a full, emotional flashback, it’s a two-week readjustment, but not a cleaning flashback. Those take longer, about 4 weeks.

What I’ve done successfully, is to make the routines, at least a minimum of them just habit. So, for the past 4 weeks, I’ve done some laundry, but haven’t put it away consistently. Done some dishes every day, but rarely are all of them done, etc. There aren’t 4 weeks of accumulated laundry and dishes to do. I haven’t gotten much sleep and my stress levels are up, but I’ve dealt with it.

My challenge is to either 1)Try and add to what I can do in the “bad times.” or 2)Lengthen the period when I can clean. The problem with either and this challenge is that if I notice what I’m doing — the panic starts.

I’m really sick of fighting this stuff! I’m in my 60s — I am honestly, truly tired of being affected by things which happened in my childhood. But they gave me PTSD and all of it, the mess to hide in and the other events or adaptations I made to protect myself, are all wrapped together as my flashback. Push on any piece too hard and there I go down the flashback rabbit hole.

The only difference is that when I’m pushed emotionally, I have a successful route I forged back. From something like the movie thing, it takes a day or two. If someone attacks me? It takes two full weeks.

I don’t have such a mechanism for the panic attacks/cleaning flashbacks. What I originally did with the emotional ones was to recreate my growth, one step at a time away from the painful place I used to live. I haven’t managed anything except the very first steps away from the panic/stress.

  1. I understand the root of the panic.
  2. I also understand that the reason it was and is so hard to fight is that when it occurs, I’m in full fight/flight panic mode.
  3. I have realized that the only way I know which might work is to habitualize the cleaning.

That’s worked to some extent or the other.

What hasn’t worked? Finding a way to notice that I’m cleaning and not go into a full-blown panic attack/flashback.


There’s hope. Until I typed what’s above and remembered what I’d done for the emotional attacks, I’d forgotten that I ritualized the steps away from the bad old days. I did that for years until my therapist said, “Do you really have to recreate each step, one after the other these days? Next time, see if you can’t condense some of it.” And I could!

So, hope exists. But it took me 20 years or so to heal enough that I could conceive of  recreating the healing route. Twenty months longer on the cleaning/panic is about 18 months more than I want to spend….

But, of course, the being dictating the rate I can go isn’t my conscious, adult brain, but that wounded little girl, whose body remembers all the trauma. She and the body run the roadways and determine how much I can do and how fast. train image from target

My adult self just has to sit back, be patient, and wait. It sometimes feels as if I’m a passenger on an electric train. I got on, the doors closed and locked. All I can do is patiently wait until it stops!

trolley

 

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What You Do, If You’re Me

Remember the knitting posts? (I had links in here and they worked for me, but never when I wasn’t signed in?)

It took me several months to get my dander up and find a teacher. I went into yarn shops here and there with mixed results when I started to look for a teacher.

I had determined after knitting all those squares that I had the most problem casting on and off. Found a dish cloth I wanted to make. Asked a yarn shop owner about private lessons. She only wanted to teach people using a muffler pattern she had as it, “…uses all the casting on and casting off techniques in one item.”

When I said, “I really want to make this dish cloth, would you consider –?”

“No. I only teach beginners using the muffler. In all my years as a teacher . . . .”

So that shop was out.

Went into another shop, explained that I had PTSD, and had some trauma related to knitting I wanted to work through. . . .

The woman backed up 2 steps behind her counter from me (!) said, “You’ll have to talk to our teacher. I don’t know if she’d take you on or not.”

Well, if I scare you so much, I won’t impose myself on you or your teacher — that shop was out!

Lather, rinse, repeat. I went into at least 2 other shops, with mixed results, but no success.

I went into a hand-craft shop and told the woman behind the counter about my experience. She was supportive, helpful, and positive. What a pleasant change! It ends up her husband has PTSD, so she knows and understands that not everyone with PTSD is a lunatic frothing at the mouth who needs to be heavily drugged or they’re dangerous.

The teacher they had for me and I exchanged a few emails. I sent her the knitting lesson post. She asked, reasonably, “Why would you want to tackle that?”

My answer required next to no thought, “Well, I don’t. Why would any sane person willingly pursue something that negative? But I refuse to give my abuser any more of my life!”

We met at a Dunkin’ Donuts in October. I’ve been knitting, compulsively, ever since. About the 4th stitch of every row my hands still shake, I’ll drop a stitch or two, etc. I say “F. U. Abuser!” and keep going. After about 2 months of this, it has lessened, but not gone away entirely. If I think about the fact that I’m knitting, I still shake, palms sweat, etc. If I concentrate on something else and try to go on autopilot, I mess up, drop stitches, etc. all of which just makes me more determined I’m not going to let my abuser keep me from knitting.

I don’t know what the trauma is, it doesn’t matter. My body remembers. Until my body-mind decides that knitting isn’t dangerous/scarey/painful or worthy of adrenaline, I’ll keep knitting