Archives for the month of: September, 2016

What does a person do when stuck in a car with a stranger and triggered?  How does one cope with the pain that comes from a panic attack waiting to happen while taking a Uber home?  When is the right time to call for assistance without having the driver listen in?  Where does the person go to feel safe and still be present enough to pay attention to the ride?

Since moving, I’ve taken advantage of Uber and its safe driver policy a lot.  Taking a Uber allows me to participate in activities across town that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend.  The driver safely gets me to and from doctor’s offices and new-to-me neighborhoods with low levels of anxiety.  We sometimes have interesting chats during the drive.  Other times, we’re both quiet and focused on other things.

I’m still coping with my worst trigger yet.  A doctor’s appointment that didn’t happen and brought me back to my childhood.  In another post, I might analyze what automatic strategies kicked in and how I got home safely, but not today.

All I can tell you is that getting home safely without causing anyone harm during the coping to not have a panic attack or lash out at others is possible.  Maintaining safety after that is possible too.

For me, I put a safety plan into place – one that I never had to use before:

  • Acknowledge the feelings
  • If possible (aka feel safe with the driver), inform the driver that I am feeling upset and not to take my words/actions personally if I lash out by accident
  • Quietly focus on who can be contacted via email or text for a distraction (I texted two therapists and emailed another one)
  • Focus on maintaining internal calm so that the anxiety does not become a panic attack
  • Get home safely
  • Use any coping strategies that make sense and can be remembered

Thanks for reading

After 2 sessions with this person, I feel like she and I will work well together for the long term.  There is another person who I might try to see for specialized help, but not continued care.

This helps relieve some of my stress a lot.  I have someone to depend on and contact here on a regular basis.  That means weekly or bi-weekly check-ins, progress, and assistance in gettinf my tool box reorganized.

In other news, my acupuncture visits have been extremely helpful, espscially with the body memories.  They still appear and cause lots of emotional or physical discomfort, but not in the same way as before.  My energy is better, and I can sleep with more ease too.

Yesterday, when I described the source of the pain along my spine, the acupuncturist actually felt the tension and tightness in the muscles and skin along my spine.  The tightness and tension caused pain to radiate along my back and around to my shoulders, chest, abdomen, etc.

She tried a massage technique after the needling that helped a lot.  So much in fact that I slept extra today and was able to release some of the body memories.  With that release came other memories from childhood – some good and others not – that helped me and my child alters make sense of some confusing fragments.

Tai chi starts up next weekend.  And I hope for that to help with the muscle and joint problems cause by everything not being in proper alignment.  The exercise will also fill a need for activity in my life.

For the first time in weeks, I am feeling hopeful and in less pain. 

Thanks for reading

My focus is on safety, self-care, and comfort or self-soothing to help with the body memories and pain.

Many of the coping strategies I use for pain management are not available right now because the food options here are different from where I used to live.  There is not much of a Chinese community with authentic foods through restaurants.  What is available is hard to get to without a car and tends to be very salty.  Cooking has been interesting with community kitchens and lack of pantry space for utensils, etc.

And cooking or food is a major coping strategy for me: provides sensory and physical grounding, soothing smells, nourishment, a connection to loved ones who passed on years ago, etc.  A microwave is useful, but cooking grains and pasta or meat is trial and error right now.  Soon, I will have an electric kettle, rice cooker/steamer, and slow cooker to make cooking easier.  But they are low priority right now.

The same is t rue for real dishes, cooking utensils, silverware, etc.  I have chopsticks, plastic bowls, and soup spoons thanks to my aunt.  That plus a Chinese cleaver (like a butcher knife), a paring knife, and disposable utensils are all I want for now.  Buying dishes and silverware is personal, so I am willing to wait until I find exactly what I want – be they new or new to me via thrift stores.

I’ve been remembering again.  And the last few days have taught me that sometimes I have to relive the pain and scary sensations in my body in order to remember.  Then the pain will lessen instead of increase.  And the other symptoms will change too.  But remembering why my spine hurts so much in certain places and causes problems with alignment, joints, and muscles from head to toe is not easy.  Neither is remembering that my parents caused the pain as punishment and a way to keep me in place when other stuff was happening.

Yes, I am being vague.  I am still processing and putting together the memories.  Still working on what tools I have available that can help the most.  And working through the realization that many of the tools I depend on most are not accessible right now.  As I put the pieces together and experience less pain, I will write about why experiencing the physical symptoms of pain, shaking, headaches, etc. is a necessary part of retrieving my memories and then making sense of them.

Thanks for reading.

I had to work over time and also am struggling with recovered memories.  No post until Wednesday.

Thanks for understanding.  Leave you with this instead:

IMG_7594

IMG_7594

I met with another potential counselor yesterday.  The session went well, but we both have concerns about travel and consistency for continued care.  So I am thinking and still working with my other therapist over the phone.

Later, I met with people who run a non-profit tai chi organization.  Their building is across the street from this counselor’s current office.  The people were nice and welcoming.  The class was low-key; the cost for joining fit within my budget even with extra for transportation.  The organization’s values are consistent with my personal ones.

Everyone in the system wants to join.  And we all want to run away and pretend we never sat and observed, never drank tea and conversed with compassionate, caring people; never swayed and moved in the chair along with the practitioners; never remembered watching and following our uncle practice during childhood.  The shame of remembering joy and peace from practicing tai chi with my uncle and other people who practiced in Chinatown when I visited my grandparents almost made me cry in front of these people.

I want to sign up.  I want to practice again.  I want to learn and be part of this compassionate, caring community.  But I’m scared.  I feel like by doing this I am running back into the experiences that broke me the first time.  And the second.  And the third.  Can I separate the abuse from the act of practicing tai chi?

And earlier today, I had training at work.  One of the participants is the person who caused me so much trouble over the Christmas holiday.  He heard my name and got really silent.  The tension was palpable over the phone conference.  And then I heard him yelling in the background.  But after that, things calmed down and became professional again.

But I was left triggered, trying to pay attention and participate, then leave and go back to work without crying and passing out from the headache.  A short break and lunch helped.  So did playing mahjong on my tablet.

The fear and shame came back again when I answered a call from the dentist’s office.   I am afraid of dentists.  I hate my mouth, my teeth, and everything associated with them.  It’s one part of my body that I have not been able to separate from my trauma or care for consistently.  But I’m going to a dentist in 1 week for the first evaluation in almost 10 years.

Now, the headache is still with me.  I have tears in my eyes.  The shame is overwhelming.  The internal conflict makes me dizzy.  Do this or that?  Go this way or that way?  Use this strategy or that one?  Eat or not eat?

I wish I could be positive right now.  I wish I could tell you that my tools will work, and I will be ok.  But I am not sure if the tools will work.  And lying is not part of my lifestyle anymore.

I will tell you  that I am going to be ok.  Because I am.  And so are my alters.  We are resilient, flexible, patient, and strong.  And persistent or stubborn.  So yes, the depression and shame and sadness are overwhelming.  The pain is at level 9+ right now.  And everything feels like too much.

But, one moment at a time.  That’s all I have to get through.  One.  Moment.  At. A. Time.

Thanks for reading.

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