I’ve been writing and filming vlogs but to tired and sic from PTSD to edit or post them. I’m starting to catch up a little now. Here is the latest one edited.
More than 70% of people with PTSD have trouble sleeping. I have had trouble sleeping my whole life. Over time I have developed a self care sleep routine that helps me to get to sleep. Not having enough quality rest makes my life much more difficult in terms of coping with my PTSD symptoms. I wrote down what to do to wind down and then systematically tweaked that list.
My Bedtime Routine:
At 8pm-9pm the tv and/or computer goes off. (I still post a Gnite pic and look at animals on Instagram for a few minutes after I lay down sometimes.)
I check the alarm and the door locks.
Lights off and light a candle. Listen to music and write or listen to an audio book for about an hour.
Brush teeth and put on pj’s while listening to music or an audio book.
Hop in bed, cuddle the pups.
Turn on the fake fireplace.
Turn on an audio book with a soothing voice.
BAM! I’m usually out before the 60 minute timer on audible stops the book.
Many people do this naturally and don’t even think about it. I needed a bit more help due to being stuck in fight or flight mode most of the time. It helps me to wind down and give my brain signals that I am safe and it’s time for sleep. I used to keep this little list on an index card so I wouldn’t forget anything or if I got off track I could refer back to it. It takes some discipline to get into a routine. I also used sleeping pills for the 1st week of this routine and now I’m going to sleep on my own. Loving myself has a lot to do with making sure I do this routine every night. Even if I fail at everything else that day to take care of myself and manage my PTSD symptoms, I make sure that I do this routine. I am going to use what I learned to create this routine to create other self care and helpful routines to help myself.
If you also are having trouble getting to sleep feel free to try out the self care sleep routine above. Add in your own stuff and subtract what doesn’t work for you. For an example you might shower or take a long bath before bed, meditate, write in a journal, do some stretches or yoga. If you know someone that may benefit from a self care bed time routine, please pass this idea along!
The symptoms of my PTSD have become so intense that I started to spiral down again. Even though I am surviving I do not feel that I am improving at this point. I’ve decided to get back into therapy and had my first appointment on Monday. This was not a regular therapy session but an introduction and an intake session. Basically, I spilled my guts about the multiple traumas my life to a complete stranger in a little room. This is nerve-racking in itself but disclosure of my traumatic events is a trigger that I have to fight as well. I felt okay for the first couple hours after this intake session but that evening I started feeling more anxious and scared. I think I was subconsciously dealing with telling someone. There used to be safety in secrets.
On a positive note, I really like the new therapist and her collaborative approach to therapy. I felt respected and my symptoms that are causing the most distress taken seriously. She even took more time with me to draw up a safety plan and some popular grounding techniques to help me to self sooth. I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the work. I know I will feel better if I keep going and that helps to motivate me to keep at it. I have found that I feel worse before I feel better when stating therapy. I have some weird issues about self reliance and failing that are not healthy. I’m trying to rewrite over the damaging lessons I was taught and that society reinforces. I won’t let my pride get in the way of living a better life.
My next appointment is tomorrow. I am calming down from disclosing the abuse and some new memories. Now I’m feeling myself rev back up again in anticipation of tomorrow. I’m nervous but healing and coping through PTSD is the most important work of my life. The alternative is death so the choice is pretty clear. If I want a better life I’m going to have to have to fight for it. Good thing my mom raised a fighter!
I have these thoughts sometimes when things get rough: “Why am I sticking around just to suffer more…” NOT GOOD! This is not a fucking test. This is my alert that depression is cropping up again. That way of thinking serves nothing and no one. It is a servant of the abyss and well, that motherfucker is not the boss of me any longer.
Do you remember that little part I was telling you about that is healed? The part that doesn’t think everything sucks? Yeah, that part is rejecting the previous statement in a pretty defiant display that has me laughing to myself. I am very visual and the healed part just bare-assed mooned the abyss!
Feels kinda like that show Supernatural when Dean insults death and everyone’s, “OH SHIT, NOW WTF?” I half expect the abyss to rise up some big hand made of black water to drag me back but nothing happens. It’s like someone stopped the record with a screech. The silence was creepy like impending doom but that doom never showed up.
—-deleted paragraph that was me just being too hard on myself because fuck that shit. Nice try though!—-
Back to what I was saying. Despite what dumb fucks say in every message system I have, I do have a lot to live for. The main reason I haven’t taken some way out to end all the pain is my family. It would hurt them and I can’t abide that even if that means I will suffer more. It’s worth it to me. I also just adopted a new family member. Her name is Lilly and she is a 5 lb, 3 year old smooth coat chihuahua (pics of her coming soon!).
Another reason to stick around: Become the crazy old dog lady! See steps below!
How to become a crazy old dog Lady in 7 steps!(I’m on step 2)
Along with that beautiful memory I wrote about before that was much like warm honey I also unlocked another horrific memory yesterday that was the polar opposite. In the past this type of memory would have put me on my ass for a few weeks or even months. I call these new memories because I’m experiencing the memory for the 1st time but I’m remembering something that actually happened. Sounds fucked, I know, and it is. Again, my mind saved my life by locking this away until I was strong enough to deal with it. I don’t usually feel strong enough to handle them when they happen but I always manage to get through it.
What I remembered was worse than before. I thought I knew what happened but still, there is more I didn’t know. I have to get through these memories but really, I don’t want to know any more. More terror, more pain…and this time I…I can’t talk about it yet. I feel like I need to keep the details to myself. It is difficult to express in words an event that happened before you has a grasp on language. Have you ever learned something or see/watch/witness/read something and you were hurting from it afterward even though it didn’t happen to you? I feel like this would do that to people. I’m still trying to protect others. I guess it doesn’t help that my 1st therapist basically ran from me when I started to tell her what I was remembering. I was 10 then. I haven’t had much luck with therapists since. It seems that they don’t want to listen after a few months and push alternative therapies besides talk. I want to talk, I need to talk, to get this out.
This is the burden I carry knowing I need to talk to someone but they bail on me so I have been relying on myself, talking to my family for support without any details. I’ve come far. What I know, what I experienced, hurts other people when they learn it. It hurts so much. The choice is pretty clear. Process or die so I will process this too. I’m going to find a way to deal with this with art and dance and writing. I can’t share this memory yet. I need to dissect this and mourn for myself. It really is awful to not remember and it is really awful to remember what happened.
The picture is becoming more clear now and it is flaying me emotionally. I’m going to be ok. This is actually progress even though it hurts just as much as the 1st time I remembered that I was raped. I’m an adult now and I have experience with remembering trauma. So much pain, so much sadness, so much! Why am I not dead yet? Because I chose to live in spite of this suffering every fucking day. I will not give up.
I’m resistant and pissy about it but maybe it is about time for some more therapy and guidance. I might try some online therapy options I saw. I do not want to slip back into getting super depressed and this is one of those memories where I’m not sure if I’m more healed and being a badass or it hasn’t fully sunk in. I’m definitely disassociating more often and my anxiety is more frequent since the new memory. I’m waiting to fall apart again or the other shoe to drop. I’m pretty raw right now. My head hurts and I’m going to bed to relax with some music my facebook and twitter friends suggested.
Due to PTSD I have memory issues. My mind protected me by locking away memories so that child me could survive. I’m processing a little at a time as new memories of more trauma come through. The bad thing is that there are some days when I can’t remember much of anything about my childhood, good, bad, or otherwise. The whole damn things gets locked up and inaccessible. I can remember different things on different days. It is very frustrating and it could be part of my dissociation making me feel so disconnected to myself. Anxiety does not help this at all. Some days I just have to let myself fall apart over and over again and then pick up the pieces. It’s exhausting!
A couple days ago I was loopy(ok, I’m still loopy) from my PTSD meds combined with Dayquil and I drifted into this lovely warm memory and it was really weird. It was definitely a memory but it was BEFORE the sexual abuse. It was be before I was hurt. It was PRE-Trauma me. I have had no recollection of pre-trauma me until that memory. I checked my journals. I used to feel really sad about my 1st memory being of pain and terror. I accepted it, did the work, and then this memory hits me like a giant fluffy comforter that is fresh out of the dryer! I sat in the comfort of this warm memory coming into focus.
My new 1st Memory
I am very young(maybe 2) and I’m at my grandmother’s house. She is smiling as she is looking down at me. I can’t really make out what she is saying but the tone is pure love. It has a sweetness that makes me feel all warm and I grin more as she continues to speak. I can’t understand her because I don’t speak English yet. I’m still a baby. I’m loved and safe and….
I’m crying now as I write this. The massive feeling of love and being grateful just hit me again. My grandmother passed away about 6 years ago so I am sad but I am so grateful because what a gift to be loved like that! This brought back a tumble of other wonderful memories of my family. I sat with the good memories for the 1st time in a very long time.
I just wanted to share that because it really felt like a big breakthrough for me. I also have to scoff a little of the irony that I had to fully accept not remembering for the memory to come through. Also, go DayQuil or the fever or whatever. I’m grateful. I think it is because I’m talking about it all again and without hesitation or shame, too. Hack my brain with love and sass? Seems to be my answer so far.
Here’s some silly! I think I need to end with some silly on my posts because I cover some heavy stuff and laughter is good for us!
The idea of trying to have a low stress lifestyle in 2016 seems a bit silly now with everything that has happened. I’d name them all but I’d rather not think about all that right now. It might send me back into that silence again. I made myself a promise the other day and I’m keeping it. The promise was to stop being silent. My silence was an attempt at more peace. The result was even more hate mail and bullshit than before. The death threats from idiot men deciding I owed them my time started back up. So out of the healing cocoon I come but instead of being healed I’m on fire! You can see some of what I’m talking about on facebook but twitter is where I really let it all hangout…for about 4 days.
I won’t be silent anymore. Silence is death. Silence enables abusers and continues the cycle. It protects the abusive ones(FUCK THAT SHIT)! This doesn’t mean I have to respond either but I don’t need to hold back or internalize it. Gotta just blow up when I need too. Express my pain, frustration, sadness, and joy. I’m not interested in protecting others from my pain anymore. Here it is. I know it hurts. This is me HEALING OUT LOUD. I won’t let anyone or anything(EVEN ME) silence me ever again.
Now is the time to boldly exist. Stop trying to blend in and not be noticed. If they come for you, so be it. Make it a good death! It is ok to fall apart and reform again. Do it a million times. I’m going to be loud for me. I’m going to be loud for everyone that is still silent. I speak only for me but let my loud mouth encourage others to find their strength and their voice. Be loud about love, hate, and everything in between.
Also in 2017:
-Take no shit
-Be a handful
I’m sorry that I was so quiet. I apologize to myself and to you out there that follow along if you were worried. I promise not to do that again. It really didn’t serve anyone. I feel like it was a mistake but one I learned from. I forgive myself and move forward from here, continuing to heal. I’m not able to be very consistent but I’m trying hard to get there. I hope you will come along with me on my healing journey. It will be easier if I don’t go it alone and I could really use your help. Thank you for reading and being here for me. Many things have saved my life continually and your support is definitely one of them.
If you are receiving death threats online know that it is illegal. You can contact your local authorities as well as the FBI. Federal crime (18 U.S. Code § 2261A – Stalking) (fbi.gov/contact-us). Document everything!
First, thank you for reading my blog and all the positive responses to my blog post: Healing from PTSD Toolbox pt1 Here is part 2!
Low Stress Lifestyle– I used to be a workaholic and I still love being productive but I had to step off the hamster wheel. I also moved to a much quieter and safer neighborhood, closer to family. I moved twice which is really stressful but in a good, moving forward sort of way. I work from home and support myself completely from my endeavors online. I don’t have a boss looming over me and can work at my own pace. Since my symptoms have really only allowed for barely part time hours for working, I’ve found creative ways to work smarter and not harder. I’m furthering my low stress lifestyle in more ways that I will elaborate in future blog posts.
Isolation– I could also call it alone time. I call it isolation because at a certain point alone time can be a bad thing. Spending too much time along can de-socialize you and increase anxiety when around people. I use isolation to focus on myself and my healing. I tend to worry about the needs and wants of others over my own. I forget that I have needs too. This is not good and not how to take care of myself. To start learning to focus on myself I have been spending a lot of time alone.
“Fuck It”- This is what I say when I’m being resistant to things that are actually good for me. I also say it when trying something new. I have a lot of self doubt and fear that I deal with. I say “Fuck it” and do it anyway. It is more of an adventurous mentality than a tool. It allows me to step out of my comfort zone. I have found most of the things I was really resistant to are very helpful! This is also how I have gotten out of really horrible unhealthy relationships(FUCK THIS!).
Compassion– This one was and is still difficult for me. I used to be very hard on myself about pretty much anything. I also had very high expectations and also extreme harsh punishments if I failed or stumbled. Compassion allows me to see myself as a human and not some super machine that doesn’t need any creature comforts, rest, food, love ect. Compassion for myself sometimes requires that I dissociate a bit to take a step back. It helps my analytical side to see me as someone who has been through a lot and ANYONE going through this has a hard time of it. When I see myself as a suffering human and not what “they” told me I was. Expressing compassion for others is also part of this tool. When I’m feeling really low and hopeless I reach out and try to be there for someone else. Not forgetting myself but offering compassion and support can be a healing experience. I show myself by example the kind of people I need in my life.
Monitoring My Self Talk– This goes along with compassion but it is all focused on that little voice in my head. The stream of conscious thought. Early on, I had adopted the voice and extreme criticism of those who had abused me. I mentally abused myself for decades before I realized that that voice in my head wasn’t me. It was a lingering shadow of what had happened, like a broken record of bullshit! I still catch myself doing it sometimes but I’m doing much better at not talking to myself like “they” did. I painstakingly go through my head and work out what is the bullshit left over from abuse and what is actually me. I’m still sorting it out daily. Here’s a useful tip, the YOU part doesn’t think you suck.
Anger– Yes, ANGER! Anger is good, it means I am alive and still fighting. It is a powerful driving force and I used to be terrified of it. I was afraid to allow myself to be angry. I thought I would lose control and hurt someone. I used to get punished for being angry and there were times when I was on the receiving end of violence for even mentioning it. Now I am better at accepting it and even using its boundless energy to refocus on constructive activities. And really, with the things that have happened, why wouldn’t I be angry? Anger is a vital part of healing from PTSD.
Writing– Writing down my feelings, plans, and lists all help me to organize my thoughts and sort things out. Writing also helps me to express things that I may not be able to say out loud yet. I use writing to talk to myself. I write to the little girl that was hurt and let myself write back to my adult self as her. I was resistant to this at first but it has greatly helped me in getting in touch with feelings and memories that are still locked away. Writing has a weird thrilling sensation when I talk about the abuse I have suffered. The act of expressing myself and talking about the abuse feels like I am going to get hurt at 1st. My mind has connected talking about abuse with danger. That’s where the “fuck it” tool comes back into play. Yes, it is scary, do it anyway.
But wait, there’s more! There is actually more in my toolbox to help me with healing from PTSD and I am adding new things all the time. I am very passionate about surviving and sharing what helps me. The way I see it is every person is unique in what will be helpful. Somethings are only helpful some of the time. It can be very confusing to know what to do. This blog has become a resource for myself when I am suffering to refer back to. Thank you for reading and I hope that some of the tools I use can be useful to you. Again, please feel fee to comment below and add any tools that you use to helped you.
In the past few years I’ve dedicated my life to healing from PTSD. I’m doing my best to survive through the healing process. I’ve learned a TON in this time and have built my own “toolbox” for helping myself through this tedious, frustrating, depressing process. I can feel a little part of myself that is healed. Now I want MORE because this little part of me that is healed and it is fucking beautiful. Loving myself and the love of others plus the hard work I’ve done has healed that little part….and it took years.
Below are some of the things in my arsenal/toolbox(sometimes resources are limited and I only have a belt!)
Breathe- Sometimes the simplest things can bring me relief. You know that thing you do when you are on fire, Right? Stop, drop, and roll. My breathing rule is: Breathe, accept, self-care. When I’m anxious, my frontal lobe goes offline and it is more difficult to remember how to take care of myself. Controlling my breathing is my starting point to combating panic attacks, being calmer, and helps me to walk back an anxiety attack. I build off the act of taking care of myself with slower breathing.
Self-care- Love myself has been one of the most difficult things for me to learn. I still struggle with it. I re-learn a lot of things as different phases of healing come over me. I get cranky about the woo-woo stuff but dammit, sometimes the woo-woo works. I could write for literally hours about self-care and I plan too with a book I’m currently writing about healing from PTSD. Self-care can be simple too, like doing things for yourself that you like but it is bigger than that for me. Many times I have to disassociate a bit to think of my body like an animal that needs proper nutrition, exercise, and care. Self-care is vital to my survival. Examples of self-care are meditation, long baths, and stress management activities.
Music- I have a weird relationship with music. I love music but it can also trigger me. I used to tend to avoid it since it triggered emotions I wasn’t ready to deal with. It has also helped to heal me by bringing on those emotions. Lately, I have been listening to a lot more music instead of being on social media or watching TV. This has greatly improved my mood as well as my productivity throughout the day.
Family/Friends- The support from my family and friends make healing so much more tolerable. Having someone in my corner reminds me to be in my own damn corner too. They are shining examples of how to be there for someone else. My circle is small but that’s really all I can manage right now. It is difficult for me to give a lot right now but they understand that and still love me anyway.
Routines/Checklists- I have notes and checklists to remind me to do things like eat. This is especially useful on days where my anxiety is less manageable. I also have a lot of memory issues due to PTSD so the lists help keep me on track so I don’t forget. There have been days where I can’t help myself from dissociating away from the pain. On those days, it helps to have reminders on what to do next while getting through my brain trying to process the latest bit of uncovered hell. The 7 hells! (ok, I’m getting carried away,lol) I also use reminder on my phone to help if I forget to look at the damn list. My bedtime routine is designed to set myself up for a successful night’s sleep.
Therapy- Therapy is a great tool to help guide you if you are having trouble. It is also comforting to speak to someone. I’m a talking and verbalizing my feeling and memories helps me to process them. A good therapist can help add to the toolbox of useful things to help cope with the symptoms of PTSD. There are many thing I still do not talk about with anyone but a therapist and myself.
Entertainment- With all the tools, entertainment can be an escape, if only for a short time. Many people love to bash entertainers but I love them. They are the givers of welcome distraction. Without them, billions would be more depressed. Since I wasn’t allowed to cry, I laugh more. Laughing does similar things to the brain as crying. Entertainment is how many relief stress. I have created entertainment that has helped to relief my stress too. It works in all kinds of wonderful ways.
There is more! Wow, I just realized that I have a pretty extensive toolbox of things to help me. Since this blog post is such a long one already, I’ll save some more tools for another post. If you want to share what has helped you to heal, please do!
PTSD with anxiety is what I’m dealing with now. It has happened before and I’m sure it will many times as I cycle through the phases of healing. I really wish with all my heart that this process was faster. It takes as long as it takes. In the meantime, my heart races several times a day in the form of anxiety attacks. I’m doing my best to cope in healthy ways.
I haven’t written on this blog for awhile. I think I needed some alone time. Some quiet. It’s been a really rough year. Certain stages of healing make me mourn for my denial bubble. Knowledge is power, sure, but some of it hurts like hell. Sometimes it pisses me off. PTSD with anxiety is really painful emotionally and physically. I feel exhausted constantly.
Lots of things can help with anxiety: music, breathing, changing your immediate environment, ect. As recommended in the book, Courage to Heal, I am working on a list to refer to when I get desperate. Anxiety makes it difficult to think straight or remember things. Desperate feelings are one of the least pleasant things about it. I’m also resistant to things that are actually helpful and tend to rebel against them. Go figure! The right thing to do for myself is not always the easiest or 1st thing I think about.
Here’s my list below. Feel free to swipe it for yourself and add too it, make your own list. Print it out or write a copy, I’m printing mine out to tape up and see in a couple rooms. May we all find peace.
2. Wiggle your toes. Feel the ground under your feet. Feel the temperature of the room
3. Chew some gum.
4. Listen to some uplifting music
5. Let yourself cry
6. Find something to laugh at. Be silly but don’t criticize yourself
7. Play with my dog
8. Work on an art project
9. Dance to some funky beats
10. Yell into a pillow
11. Hit the pillow
12. Throw that fucker! (safely, lol, I’m laughing already)
13. Tell someone how much you appreciate them
14. Write a diary entry about what I’m grateful for
15. Remind myself that it is ok if I’m still anxious even after trying 14 things. Practice compassion.
16. Write a letter to my child self
17. Talk to myself in sign language in front of the mirror
18. Write in my journal
19. Call a family member
20. Help someone else
21. Listen to the soothing audio and video files from this program or other soothing guided relaxation
22. Record my own guided relaxation audio
23. Go for a walk or exercise/yoga/stretching
24. Verbalize out loud how I’m feeling
There are probably a lot more things to do that could help someone else. I haven’t included those due to my own personal triggers. It is also not in order. I skip around a lot. That is how my brain works though. Do what works for you! Some of them are: take a bath/shower, Wrapping yourself in a blanket and hugging yourself, meditate, ect. There are tons more that you can use to care for yourself when you are experiencing anxiety.
Thank you for reading my blog. It has really helped me to have a place to write and share. It feels so amazing to not have to carry this secret anymore. It released so much shame to just come out and tell people. Secrets perpetuate abuse so fuck that. I would promise to write more but I just don’t know if I will be able too. I’m living day to day, hour to hour, sometimes even minute to minute. PTSD with anxiety or whatever shitty symptom pops up to haunt me can fuck off. I’m living through this. I don’t mean to ruin the ending for you but SPOILER ALERT: PTSD doesn’t kill me.