Back to Basics: Working through nightmares

Nightmares are terrible experiences to work through at any time.  When you have alter personalities and switch in your sleep, the lack of awareness can cause problems.  By lack of awareness I mean not realizing when I am: shouting, screaming, crying, talking, kicking, punching, thumping, and so on while I am paralyzed (locked inside my body).  Usually my noise happens when I’m having a dream that involves anger and fighting.  All that means the neighbors get annoyed.  They start making noise.  And no one in the system is sure who or when or how the issue was resolved.

And yes, I’m having nightmares.  Or maybe reliving experiences as I sleep?  Or maybe I’m asleep and my alters are awake having flashbacks?  So confusing, yet so real.

As I told the admissions council during my second interview, some part of me is always awake.  I never truly sleep.  But I do get lots of rest.  And lately, my wireless headphones have been a blessing.  I can block out the construction, the neighbors, the cars, the wind when windows are open and get some rest.

Downside is that I can’t exactly hear when my neighbors bang on the door or the wall to get me to quiet down with the headphones on.  And when the neighbors do bang and shout, I’m not sure it’s me or someone else they want to quiet down.  Or if the new neighbors are moving furniture/drunk and walking into things, etc.

But I also have new neighbors.  They happen to be younger and louder than the others.  Also chattier and with chatty guests who visit at all hours.  And some like to smoke in the building even though that’s against the rules.  So any or all of this could be happening while I’m trying to sleep.

And whoever’s in charge at the time will take care of these issues.  So far, no complaints from the property manager about noise or other issues.  But the banging and music do startle awake and make some alters tense up.  To be honest, I’m not sure if any of us actually get out of bed to talk with the neighbors at night or just stay in bed hoping it will stop.  And I am kind of afraid of what could happen if one of us does try to chat with the loud neighbor.

As for basic coping strategies, here is this week’s list:

  • Airing out the apartment – warm enough to keep windows open a few days last week
  • Feeling comfortable (not to cold or hot) in bed
  • Gratitude affirmations
  • Deep breathing and meditation
  • Self massage and use of acupressure points
  • Letting the memories flow – aka alters share memories, experiences, thoughts, and feelings with everyone else
  • Listening to music
  • Listening to favorite nature sounds
  • Re-reading old favorites and some new books
  • Staying inside
  • Sleeping when I can; resting when I can’t; eating when I feel hungry
  • Letting myself be

It’s the downside to apartment living, especially micro-apartment living.  Small spaces crowded next to each other; soundproof that isn’t truly soundproof; and a basic lack of privacy from having neighbors so close.  Too bad I can’t afford my own house on a quiet street with very few neighbors and lots of beautiful trees.

But now that my secret life isn’t so secret anymore and we aren’t expending so much energy living two lives, maybe this lack of energy and need for solitude will lessen.  I’ve actually spent more time outside my apartment and interacting with people in the last two weeks than I did for the last 3 months.  And as much as I liked it (all parts in the system really enjoyed it), spending time chatting with people and in crowds really drained my energy.  So now we’re all back to figuring out how to refill the well.

Thanks for reading

 

Body Memories: Coping with changes in my physical body continued

In other posts I’ve talked about how difficult watching my body change is for everyone in the system.  Every part of me (including my body as it is an alter personality) struggles with the sensations that signal memories, trauma, illness, or healing as body parts change in:
texture (firm/soft/squishy/hard/bumpy/smooth), size (grow/shrink/expand/contract), color (red/pale/yellow/green/blotchy/tan/normal), and shape.

Right now, my biggest concerns are related to physical pain, recovering memories that trigger changes in my body, coping with both memories and pain, and understanding how to improve my lifestyle (diet and exercise and self-care) to accommodate these changes.

  • Four months into my new home, and I’ve had to face some hard facts:
  • Internal healing means my body mass is shifting even if I’m not actually gaining or losing weight
  • I’m doing slightly more exercise than I used to and using different muscle groups because of the layout in my new apartment.
  • More and different exercise means more calories burned and clothes fitting differently
  • The weather here is milder, but still cool in autumn.  More clouds, less sun equal vitamin D supplements and maybe others too to help with fatigue and other deficiency-related issues.
  • The spinal pain, abdominal pain, persistent cold that won’t go away, bloating around my middle and other odd places, and sinus pressure are all related to my current food choices and lowered levels of activity.

How did I learn this?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including acupuncture and gua sha (type of massage) treatments with a student and supervising practitioner who have been helping me pinpoint where and how the pain manifests to find a root cause.

In TCM terminology, I have a persistent dampness and some heat causing circulation problems with my qi.  That means:

  • I’m having trouble digesting food and getting nutrition
  • I’m having trouble eliminating toxins in my body
  • This is causing sinus pressure, swelling, fatigue, lack of appetite, headaches, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, mucus/phlegm buildup and so on.
  • It’s also causing the swelling around my spine and abdominal area to increase/decrease depending on what I eat, how much, and when.
  • Acupressure (massaging points related to those problems), dietary changes, and moving around more along with my regular acupuncture treatments will help in the long term
  • The process is slow

Why this is triggering

When I started nutrition therapy, I was eating mostly vegetarian/vegan style because meat products (chicken, beef, eggs, etc.) were too difficult to digest and made me feel sick/not hungry, etc.  But I wasn’t getting enough nutrients at the time.  And I was mostly making this decision from anxiety.  Eating food my family enjoyed triggered lots of anxiety and made eating/digesting food that much harder.

Since then, I’ve become adventurous about food again.  I’ve faced and conquered many of my food-related fears and enjoy trying new foods.  My alters have also faced many food fears and learned to enjoy eating, cooking, shopping, and preparing food.  The cleaning and storage parts are still difficult, but that’s another topic for a different post.  Part of that facing fear was eating different kinds of meat and dairy products again.

Another part was recognizing my cravings and urges to eat or not eat certain foods as triggers and anxiety reactions to hurt/punish myself instead of nourish myself.  And as the memories come back, I’ve been indulging in those foods while ignoring how they make me feel – sick, tired, heavy, low energy.  But eating the food reminds me of happy  times with my uncle and father’s side of the family.

But lately, I’ve been frustrated about my food choices.  Not interested in eating anything really.  Not interested in cooking either.

So when the practitioner told me she could see and feel the physical symptoms of dampness in my body, I decided it was time to make some changes along with regular treatments.  I’m going to try eating more plant based/whole foods style.  When I get a craving for chocolate or dairy or meat, I will pay extra to buy and use one of the substitutes instead.  Instead of buying pre-made juices and hot chocolate, I will experiment with making my own from spices and herbs that are beneficial and can be easily included in those drinks with a blender.

And when I feel like eating a meat product or dairy and my body is feeling healthy again, I will eat a little bit and see what happens next.  If I feel okay still, I will continue to add small amounts.  If I feel bad, I will continue to make alternative choices.

So what do you think?  Is this a good trial?

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Coping Challenge & Alter Post: Financial triggers and flashbacks of shame

I am triggered.  Tomorrow is my father’s birthday.  It never really bothered me before.  But now, my alters are remembering past experiences in dreams.  And the critical voices – mean, rude, negative, manipulative, insulting, and scary – intrude on my waking hours and try to stop me from moving forward with this month’s tasks: get scholarship information and simplify my budgeting system.

Worrying about money always triggers flashbacks and anxiety from the times when my father controlled me by managing my money, taxes, bills, and car for me.  And when he would manipulate me into giving away expensive stuff to my brother or other family members instead of selling or repurposing the items for myself.  

How?  By making comments about how I wasted time “playing” on these machines or “money” on software or electronics that “didn’t work” right because I was stupid and paid too much.   And by telling me I was in debt and should not waste money I didn’t have.  It would make my credit score worse.  And if I had extra money, why not use it to help my mom instead?  Because I didn’t deserve new or nice things that made me happy.

Back then, I didn’t know he used my credit to buy stuff and then lapse on paying it.  Or that he stole money from me through identity theft.  I know my mom did that through our shared bank account until I moved my money out an had my name taken off of it.  But I didn’t know my dad was until I checked my credit cards and saw a much higher balance than what I put on the cards each month.  But that was after I went to a bank and had the loan officer check my credit to see if I was eligible to buy a house back when I thought I was stuck in my old home forever.

I struggled with the decision to buy a home or go back to graduate school.  My father discouraged both simply by telling me that the only way to accomplish either goal was to follow his explicit plans.  And he had everything mapped out including my budget, transportation routes for both scenarios, and monthly expenses.  He made it clear that I couldn’t do either one on my own because I wasn’t smart enough to get scholarships or have the credit score to get a decent loan.  But worse, he spread his “worry” about me to mom and the rest of the family.  Mom didn’t want me to do either one; buy a house or go back to school because that meant I was doing better than her.  She told dad everything I told her, but in such a way that I was being evil for wanting something different than the life they planned for me.  So between te two of them, I sufdsnly had tons of family discouraging me from pursuing either financial and educational goal.  And you know what, it worked.  I bowed to the pressure and did not pursue either one.

Instead, I used the money to disappear and start over.

Now, every time I spend money on something that helps me or makes me smile, I get flashbacks and anxiety.  The voices start whispering or yelling at me.  I start switching.  My body hurts.  And I wonder if I really am managing my money properly or not.  I start thinking I can’t afford what I bought or invested in.  And I get mad at myself.

Reading, music, distractions, grounding, the usual stuff is not helping.  Mantras, affitmations, maintaining connections with people are somewhat helping, but not really.  And so I find myself struggling to cope with these unexpected triggers.

Thanks for reading.