Survival Mode: When everything just feels wrong

Yesterday was the first day all week that I left my apartment and the building.

Sometimes life is too overwhelming.  Thoughts stick in my head; refuse to leave.  Everything tastes funny.  My body feels off, but I”m not sure how or why.  My mind is foggy.  So tired, yet unable to sleep.  Everything feels wrong.

But then, it is March.  My mind tells me I”m supposed to feel sick and lethargic.  My body is trying to recapture those sensations through body memories.  Runny nose, allergies, blocked sinuses, colds, infections, and a swollen face are my spring norm.

Instead, the opposite is happening.  The herbs are working; all of the clogged up spaces around my eyes, nose, ears, and jaw are opening up.  Sure, it feels like a major head cold.  The sensations of stuff moving inside surprise and distract me sometimes, but they don’t hurt like in the past.

For the first time since childhood (maybe), the red, puffy, stuffy, tender places around my nose and cheeks are normal colored, smooth, and comfortable to touch.  As those areas drain and heal, so do other parts of my body – including the muscles that usually tighten and prevent me from being active.

Why does that feel so wrong?

something-wrong-eagle
From Google search of “Feels Wrong” images

Probably because I shouldn’t be feeling this healthy, happy, and good, not according to the rules the monsters drummed into my head.  I’m supposed to feel miserable and sick.  To gross out my peers and teachers with my constantly runny, dripping nose and sneezing.  To have to stay inside because of my colds.

How did I get that way?  Still can’t remember.  But the dreams share fragments of stories.

Between this and what I learned among family, my mind has been blown.  Literally.

Survival Mode

Next week, I go back to therapy and counseling.  IT can’t get here soon enough.

Until then, I’m coping as best as possible with the conflicting feelings and sensations inside me.

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If you’ve read past posts, you’ve seen this quote before.  But it’s a good reminder for me right now.

Do as much as I can.  Remember to feel everything and let go of what doesn’t belong.  Keep on moving; there is an end even if I can’t see it.  Finally, backlash is OKAY; it mean’s I’m doing something right.  I survived backlash before.  I’ll survive it again.

Thanks for reading.

Self Care: Sleepy Day & Short Post

I planned to write a follow up post about coping strategies for air travel when everything goes wrong.  That ways my Thursday/Friday experience traveling home.

But I’m too tired.  My body and brain ned to decompress before the work week starts up on Monday.  After crossing 3 time zones in 1 day and being awake for about 40 hours straight (including airplane naps), every part of me just wants to rest.  Our sleep deficit has not been this bad since before moving here.

Happy Sunday to anyone in the Northern Hemisphere.  Happy Monday to anyone in the Southern Hemisphere.

May you all take time for sleep& self care today also.

Thanks for reading.

Back to Basics: Building Small Successes

In terms of life, this week sucked.  Flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, more spider bites, and unexpected costs of flight/hotel to go visit family just made me miserable.  On top of  that, I’m still mostly unpacked, feeling low energy, and having noise/heat issues again.  Still, these heat and noise issues are nowhere near as bad as as the last place.

Did I mention the smoker who breaks the rules and smokes pot in the building?  No?  All I can say is that I can’t wait to start blending and diffusing essential oils in my place again.

But all the small stuff adds up, accumulates until my mind is overwhelmed and unable to cope with normal stuff.

So, back to basics.  Stay home.  Sleep as much as possible.  Set small goals.  Ask for help.  Act on the help.  Use every known coping strategy or technique available.  Then use them again.  Set a goal.  Conserve energy.  Accomplish the goal.

This week’s goal: set up my new bed frame and sleep on it.

With Ikea bed frames, it helps to also be creative, resilient, and resourceful – all characteristics trauma survivors learn in order to cope with the craziness.  Here’s an example of my resourcefulness:

Headboard to frame...
Cushions prop up the frame so one person can attach the headboard without help

Now, it’s Sunday night in the US, possibly edging into Monday morning depending on your time zone.  And in spite of some misgivings and one wobbly bit, I now have a bed frame put together.  Yay!  A real bed to sleep on.  With my new peanuts blanket and favorites sheets.  Fresh pillow cases to lie on too.

And here is the finished bed:

New bed
Bed first, the rest comes later 🙂

Hope the spiders don’t follow me in there.

And for anyone else struggling for whatever reasons, please remember that you got through it once before.  It was hard then; it’s hard now.  But you’ll get through this time too.

Thanks for reading!

Resources: Another Author Round-up with a Twist

In the past, I’ve shared some of my favorite contemporary authors who write romance, science fiction, and/or fantasy – mostly skewed towards female or male/female partnership authors – or self-help books.  But I never shared many of my favorite male authors or other types of books – books that taught me many valuable life lessons.

That comes from the scared parts of me who fear sharing such an important cornerstone even with close friends and family.  I am an absolute nerd when it comes to books and have a love affair with ancient/classic stories (before and during the time of Shakespeare) along with early American authors.

And so, many of my favorite male authors come from these categories.  A lot of them still carry memories, so I listen for free on Podcasts or borrow from the library.

If you are interested, here is a short list:

Classic Greek/Roman

  • Euripedes – comedies and tragedies
  • Aristophanes – comedies and tragedies
  • Homer – Oddessy & Iliad
  • Aesop – book of fables

British across many periods

  • Bede – Anglo/Saxon mythology or creation stories
  • Chaucer – A Knight’s tale and other poems
  • John Donne – beautiful sonnets and poetry
  • George Bernard Shaw – not usually a fan of politics or plays, but his are short, interesting.  I actually did my senior thesis paper on his take of Antony & Cleopatra.

American across many periods

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Mark Twain
  • Walt Whitman
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Robert Frost

Youth (mostly within the last 4 decades)

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Donald J. Sobol
  • Sid Fleishman
  • Rick Riordan

As you can see, these books range from fiction to non-fiction, children to adult, and poetry.

What do you think this says about me?  And does it bring up any secret parts in you that might want to be heard?

For me, I’m starting to read these books and enjoy them again – this time without the past shading my experience.

Thanks for reading

Back to Basics: Gratitude – Meditation, Affirmations, Positive Self-Talk, Prayer, etc. – Practices

The Past

There was a time in my life when expressing gratitude was difficult.  Fear, shame, anger, disbelief in the positive made believing in anything good too much to handle.  I felt grateful for being alive, relatively safe, and able to recover.  I thought about the blessings almost as much as the curses and reflected on both in and out of therapy.  But I couldn’t say or think or share the words/expressions/behaviors with my conscious self and others in the outside world.  That made me feel too vulnerable.

Round 1 of Therapy

My first official therapist was a clinical psychologist who had previously treated a first cousin so was familiar with some family dynamics.  We focused more on rebuilding my internal foundations – repairing cracks, identifying & “disabling” automatic defense mechanisms, keeping me in the present while minimizing “psychotic” symptoms – and coping strategies for anxiety & anorexia.  Her favorite strategies involved Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and challenging the beliefs in my mind.  We touched on gratitude, but not much.  Some words here are in quotes because this therapist did not believe in trauma or DID.  All signs of trauma-related symptoms were deemed “psychosis” or “psychotic” in nature and required medication.

Round 2 of Therapy

My second therapist did not work with trauma – she told me that up front – but she helped me with anxiety and anorexia until the trauma symptoms took over; then I had to find someone else.  But this therapist started teaching me about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and gratitude affirmations or prayers.  She also talked to me about the different 12-step programs and how they are designed around spirituality and connecting to a higher power more than a specific religion.  We practiced creating and saying gratitude prayers (aka affirmations) together in session.  The ones I liked, I wrote down or memorized to use later.

Round 1 of Partial In-Patient programs

Here I learned more about DBT, Positive Affirmations (previously discussed with a doctor-sponsored life coach and touched on in past therapy sessions), and the power of spirituality in healing.  There was also some talk about meditation and deep breathing, but not much.  Mostly centered on mindfulness or visualizations and how to combine affirmations with deep breathing & meditation practices.  But this was a big turning point in my life.  For the first time, I wasn’t alone.  And I wasn’t different from anyone else.  These people cared a lot.  And they tried hard to help us in many ways (including by example) learn the lessons in our groups – especially about boundaries.  I soaked up the information like a sponge and came out with a newer, more positive perspective on everything.

Round 3 of Therapy

I was working with this therapist, a trauma specialist, when I started this website and blog.  She taught me about self-acceptance, the power of gratitude in all of its forms, and how to safely express gratitude so that I welcome the positive energy, influences, and opportunities available just by “saying thank you” and “asking for guidance” by example too.  While this therapist uses all of the strategies and techniques listed above, she also uses EMDR, Hypnosis, other trauma-specific types of strategies, and meditation.  But her meditation styles and practices are rooted in Buddhism, and she was able to share resources like Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Han, and the Dalai Lama for me to explore on my own time.  Through her, I discovered compassion meditation, gratitude meditation, ways to breathe so that I can make friends with my fear and be objective as I reflect on my past.  This is when my alters and I acknowledged each other; and we opened ourselves up to the world together for the first time.

Round 2 of Partial In-patient programs

Let’s just say that the break from work gave me the time and space I needed to make some important decisions about family relationships and my personal life.  The people running the program this time were new and completely different.  Their approach was more clinical and detached; they didn’t care the same way as the last group of people who ran the program.  I didn’t learn as much or find their lessons or mentoring as useful as last time.  But then, I was also a different person and my alter personalities were emerging and causing all kinds of interesting experiences in the outside world then too.  But I am grateful for the experience because being there, around so many different women with similar challenges and alternative approaches, gave me the strength and resolve to break from my toxic family situation.

Present Time

I practice gratitude multiple times a day – always in the morning and before bed – because the reminders and affirmations help me stay grounded in the present.  Sometimes I pray, sometimes I use an affirmation, sometimes a compassion meditation, sometimes positive self-talk as I breathe deep for a few minutes.  Either way, it connects me to the life energy found in nature and the universe; and then I feel less alone, less scared, and less stuck in one place.

***I might have mentioned this before, but I will mention it again because this is important***

I do not believe in organized religion – that comes from being raised in a cult – but I do believe in God in all of his/her/their/its many forms.  Each of my alters and have an inclusive attitude towards religion and spirituality.

It’s hard not to when some of the most positive and life sustaining influences were and are: Jewish, Christian (Protestant, Methodist, etc.), Catholic, or agnostic.

Also when some of the most negative influences were and are: Jewish, Christian (see above), Catholic, agnostic, Mormon, Pagan, Satanic, or Greek Orthodox.

So while I do believe in God, I do not assign a specific gender, religion, or form to this higher, universal power.  And I separate my gratitude practices from religion and focus on spiritual connections with nature.  All of us in the system believe that nature in all of its forms are God’s every day miracles.  By connecting with them and sharing thankfulness, compassion, acceptance, and respect we open ourselves to so an amazing support network.  And find answers to questions or directions at a crossroads.

Thanks for reading.