Tag Archives: trauma

Realization

I realized yesterday that I have been in survival mode for much of the past 2 months. I have good reasons for this, but it isn’t all that productive!

What I do, and I’ve only just really understood what this is, is the minimum. Minimal cleaning, self-care, progress on projects, etc. It’s an emotional shutting down and awaiting the next blow. It’s pulling inward and freeing up emotional resources.

This makes sense if you’re a child dealing with the last and anticipating the next emotional/abusive attack. It doesn’t in an adult woman! And, as I said, I’ve only just realized I do this. I shut down everything that isn’t essential. Makes getting work done difficult: work for others, work for myself, or work on projects of any kind.

As a semi-healed adult, not dealing with abuse, this is probably the worst thing I can do. At the very time I need the distraction and pride of accomplishment, I stop doing the chores which would give me both.

Okay. I’ve gotten to step 2.

  • Step 1 is acknowledging there’s a problem.
  • Step 2 is understanding the nature/history of the problem.
  • Step 3 is formulating a possible solution.
  • Step 4 is implementing the solution.
  • Step 5 is giving myself credit for the change and trying to continue making the change until it’s habitualized and/or a part of my regular life responses.

Step 3 will be harder, because I don’t know what triggers this or accordingly how to either monitor for it or stop the reaction.

I’m not beating myself up about it, the 5 steps are how I’ve moved away from the abuse and my reactions to it for decades. It works. Just sometimes it’s incredibly, frustratingly

s-l-o-w !

stil-ck0i9Dnjtj0-unsplash.jpg

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Week from Hell

DH had to go away for work this past week (he’s home now). Between him being gone, which always leans on the PTSD and deciding that what I’d do while he was gone was deep clean/clear the house, it was a stress fest.

I leaned, hard on my friends this past week (Thanks for being there!) and got very little sleep. I did however, get the bathroom much cleaner and removed 80% of the large laundry pile in our bedroom (which I discovered, joyfully, was as big as it was because it had 2 layers of book boxes on the bottom, covered with a layer ‘o stuff to go into the attic, and “frosted” with clothes. If the pile had been laundry all the way down? It would have held enough clothing for a family of 6 or so!)

You can read the details of what I did at the other site: here, if you’re interested.

The most “profitable” thing I learned with this were the following: the PTSD managment I can do most of the time is more fragile than I thought. However, I managed to realize this and stop myself, mostly, from doing anything too stupid because of it. I didn’t entirely manage it, but much better than I have in the past. Also, I realized what I was doing, vastly different than previously, when I had no idea why I was being emotionally buffeted around like a leaf in the wind. I knew what was happening.

That didn’t help me manage it to the degree I’d like, but as I said, it was better than in years past.

I also learned I just can’t tackle the house in a large way without consequences. My body still remembers the trauma(s) related to the housekeeping, vividly. So I was going to bed sleep as late as 4 a.m. I had GREAT plans for the 5 days.!

I managed to actually really dig in and tackle the house 2 days: Monday and Wednesday. Both nights were nearly sleepless. The days following I was almost braindead until late afternoon when I was suddenly *awake!*.

I spent one night listening to graduation speeches trying to make myself feel better. One night listening to music. Tried playing games/reading, etc. It worked as well as it did, but mostly it didn’t.

I can do without going from a sound sleep to sitting bolt upright in bed, crying, shaking and palms sweating, thank you very much. But I guess I get to do that or be sleepless in whatever form, for a while yet.

What I’m hoping seems odd, and that is that if I keep going, eventually, I’ll remember wtf the trauma(s) are. When I remember, it’s significantly easier to cope. Battling wraiths in the dark is much harder than seeing whatever it is, and realizing it’s a movie you’ve been playing for decades. It’s just as “real” because it’s definitely present Now! in your body, but easier to manage. You can understand why event x or y leaned on it; why a smell triggered it, etc. This is one of the hardest things about having been traumatized so many ways, so young. I have two reactions to things which trigger my PTSD, I either have a full flashback and remember wtf happened, or like the knitting and cleaning, I realize there’s a trigger but don’t remember what the event(s) are.

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

 

The Thing About Stigma

I need to say this, but it really should be obvious?

I do not look down on myself because I have PTSD or security issues or sometimes react inappropriately — right? I do NOT have the stigma.

You do.

The stigma doesn’t come from me. I know why I’m here (now). I know why I react the way I do (mostly). I have spent a large part of my life learning wtf was wrong with me???

And the answer to that question? It’s simple: It’s nothing. There’s nothing wrong with me. I reacted in a normal way to an abnormal or substandard set of circumstances. All of the people with PTSD aren’t “sick,” we’re different, yes, but NOT sick.

PTSD IS NORMAL — in certain circumstances. Mental health issues ARE normal, in certain circumstances. Get over your superiority people! The only reason you aren’t where I and others are is that you haven’t been tested this much, yet.

How well do you think you would you do???

 

 

I May Hex Myself

But I have to say this: the PTSD hasn’t gotten up in arms about what I’ve been doing. I’m amazed, really I am. For DECADES I couldn’t do this, make a list of 5 things and then do them without feeling vulnerable, targeted, panicked, and weepy.

Not there this time!

As I said, the tacit acknowledgement of what I’m doing may be the thing which ends this, Gawd knows it has 100s of times before. But, it doesn’t feel that way this time.

Maybe that’s why I’ve felt compelled to write this post? It’s a sort of emotional running your tongue over the hole where your tooth used to be.

We’ll see!

J

Lapful of Warm, v 2.0

I had a second skein of the yarn I used to make the muffler. I’ve been using the muffler, but it’s a bit narrow. I started playing with that second skein and had a slightly bigger pair of needles and wondered how that would change it? Well, after a few days of knitting, I have the following to report:

  • It’s wider
  • My knitting is better
  • and, because I quit deliberately when I did, it’s a bit shorter.

I intend to use this one rather than the other. It’s better made and slightly more practical. I may (or may not) rip the other one apart and make a pillow cover from it. I haven’t decided.

No shaking, cold, etc. until this morning when I was casting off. Of course, I kept myself distracted while I was knitting. This time I’ve been watching episodes of the original Ironside on youtube. Whatever the trauma related to knitting is/was, it definitely is its worst during casting off!

The frustrating part is that without an actual memory of what occurred, I can’t do more than I have to combat it. For me to “erase” a trauma, I need to know/understand wtf happened so I can rewrite the scenario, filtered by my adult understanding. It’s the same process I talked about with cleaning the house, here . The “easy” traumas, the obvious and clearly remembered ones, have been dealt with as much as I can. Otherwise, it’s shadow boxing, you guess and try — lather, rinse, repeat — hoping to narrow down what the issue is/was.

The second lapful of warm is a deliberate repetition and a better variation, if I say so myself. Happy holidays to me!

Happy holidays to all of you too, whatever midwinter festival, holiday, or break you practice.

Lapfull of Warm

Over the past week+ you would think I was a youtube addict. I’ve watched Nero Wolfe TV shows, music videos from Burlesque (the movie) and a lot of the “blind auditions” at The Voice.

Why? Well, especially with those auditions, what I got was distracted, just enough that I could knit.

On occasion, I’ve noticed what I was doing and the fact that the muffler I was knitting had gotten longer and longer and the ball of yarn correspondingly smaller. When I did, my hands would shake, I’d make mistakes, and  I’d fix them. My back would get cold and when I wanted to cry I’d look at the video, whatever it was — and keep knitting.

Of course I do have a life that doesn’t include sitting at my desk, knitting and listening to music or half-watching video. But. . .I tied the piece off about an hour ago. I  have 2 strings one on each end to weave in. There is one more ball of this yarn here. I may (or may not) make fringe for this. I don’t know. But it’s done. I intend to use it.

My heart is pounding a little. My palms were sweating as I did the last few decreases.

Somewhere, there’s a little girl, sobbing curled up in her bed because she doesn’t know what’s “wrong”with her, crying on the top of the cliff she was too “cowardly” to jump from, in a hospital because she doesn’t know how to cope with the world, and, and — there’s a thousand slides of the wounded child/youngster/woman I was, defeated and dragging herself  — plodding to her next probable failure, somewhere. . . .

There was usually just enough hope and whatever the F it is that always made me a fighter, from my first breath.

I got a man who stands at my back. I started winning sometimes. There are friends who “get” it. I got diagnosed. I won a lot more.

Then there was knitting: the fact that knitting was traumatic was not just laughable on the face of it, but it seemed absurd. Last year, I found someone and took a lesson. I knit and I knit and I knit — until I knew it was possible for me to do so without a total meltdown. Then I quit.

Last year, my husband’s holiday gift was a gift card at a local high-end yarn shop. I bought this beautiful yarn. For a long time I thought I’d just hang the skein on the living room wall. The skein got misplaced in the rearrangement for painting the living room. That didn’t matter as I’d stopped knitting.

I found the skein about 2 weeks ago and couldn’t keep my hands out of it. Eventually I rolled it into a ball. I started pieces and ripped them out and started something else. Nothing got finished, of course. Then I started a 20 stitch thing not all that hard, but not boring either.

I finished it tonight. I’m shaky, scared, wanting to cry — and fighting a smile. Because I won.The muffler is over 5′ long and it certainly has mistakes. I don’t care. I have a lap of warm stuff which will keep my neck warm,  imperfections and all, I’m proud of it.

Take that Abuser!!!