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Behind the Smiling Mask

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For years my brain locked away years of memories of abuse and rape. At 10 some of these memories came back to me. Luckily, my brain waited until I was older to tell me the rest of the story. I have suffered ever since. Nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, fear, pain, living with a broken heart of a child. Reality crashed down upon me the thousand bricks and now I crawl out from underneath each brick each day.

The greatest mystery of life is who we truly are. Now as I can remember the repeated rapes I also remember the resilient little girl behind the smiling mask. I was a chameleon who knew the world would not understand my pain. The burden of child abuse and survival is not something that anyone should suffer alone. I kept their secrets and did what was expected of me to survive the world that treats survivors as perpetrators. I was a chameleon to survive and to live again. I hid my PTSD, the abuse I suffered from countless people and from the world  behind my smile. I smiled to say that I’m okay, that I’m one of you, but I’m not. I no longer hope for acceptance nor do I want to be accepted by people who would minimize or excuse rape and abuse. I do not want to be counted among those who are ignorant or ignore it.

My mind is slowly revealing to me who I truly am. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse and partner rape. I will no longer remain silent or hide behind the mask of a smile for anyone’s comfort. I am a survivor and I was a resilient child that grew up to still love deeply and be kind. They could not take that from me and they cannot have it now. Each memory is like suffering all over again my body is racked with pain but I still live.

I no longer hide, I no longer wish to be accepted or to act accordingly. I no longer care to fit in. I know the world is cruel and I will live anyway. Now I take off the mask and reveal my true self, not just a survivor but a warrior, still alive, scars and all. My story does not end here but my true life and purpose begins here.

 

See my PTSD Video Diaries: https://www.youtube.com/user/sarahblakeinc

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Insomnia My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd Uncategorized

Self Care Sleep Routine – PTSD Toolbox

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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!

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Effects of Child Abuse My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

Unlocking Memories of Trauma- PTSD

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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.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

Low Stress Lifestyle 2016? Healing Out Loud

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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.

My Promise:

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

-Say no

-Be silly

-Keep healing

-Create

-Be weirder

-Be grateful

-Offer compassion

-Be a handful

-Live

 

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!

 

 

 

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Effects of Child Abuse Insomnia My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

New Hope in Healing from Child Abuse

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I have made a lot of progress with my healing and I feel myself continuing to heal. No matter the stresses in life, I’m learning to cope in healthier ways. I feel a new hope as I put myself out there more instead of being a hermit and just keeping to myself. I’m not able to go and do ALL THE THINGS I want to. Sometimes, I feel I’m missing out on adventures and experiences but taking care of me means knowing my limits. With increased stress, even good stress, my symptoms of PTSD flare up.

My last flare up was so scary I didn’t even know what to do. I was around all these beautiful strong women. I was so excited to get back out into the world and be apart of things again! Unfortunately, that’s when one of the scariest things in my life happened. I started to hallucinate. Out of the right side of my vision, I kept seeing someone. A flicker, a sense there was a person. It is not a real person that is physically there. I saw someone looking in the window as I was sitting at the table with my friends. I felt like I was losing it. It continued into the next day. I was caring for my Mom because she was sick with a stomach bug and my brain didn’t let up. It wasn’t that someone was there, it was the feeling that that someone was coming to get me, hurt me. Talk about fucking paranoia!

Every few minutes I felt compelled to look to the right. I sat by her bedside and watched TV with her all the while feeling like someone was there when no one was. No one was going to come around the corner from the bathroom. I knew I couldn’t go back to spend time with my friends like that. I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself. I realized then I was pretty ashamed of this new development. I texted my friend the next day telling her that I was having a hard time and apologized for not being up to going out. I braced for her to be angry but she wasn’t at all. She sent me LOVE, not apathy for my situation like many have in my past. I’ll always remember that.

What I didn’t realize at the time was this started not long after moving into my new place. I couldn’t reflect when I was being startled so much with the perceived threat in my peripheral vision. I often don’t want to get others involved in my pain. It started with the bedroom door. I kept feeling like someone was there. I kept looking at it, open or closed, I kept checking. No one is there but the fear is real, the terror was all but unbearable. It was physically painful but not as much as the mental anguish. I even started looking into a PTSD facility that maybe I could go stay in for some help.

On Sunday I watch ones of my favorite shows and it was the episode where we all learn why Hodar says Hodar instead of talking. He was really saying HOLD THE DOOR. I watched it and was finally able to cry. He held that fucking door. That night I tried to sleep in my bed but I just couldn’t. I joked to myself that I needed a Hodar. Someone to hold the door for me to keep me safe or just sit in front of it so the door couldn’t be moved. I wished my room had no doors or windows, no way to get to me. I’m thankful for this wonderful scene in the show. I had a breakthrough. I also slept on the couch for a few nights before I was able to sleep in my bedroom again.

The door in my bedroom as a child was also in the same orientation as it is now. The door was on the right. I would stare at the door for hours in terror, listening to every little noise, watching for the shadows to move under the door to let me know if it was going to happen again. A huge amount of time in my life at that time has been devoted to paying extreme close attention to every little detail to let me know if I was safe or not. I barely slept. It is exhausting.

How sad is it that a bedroom itself is scary? The place you are supposed to feel safe, in your own home, in your own bed. Not for me. This is what they mean when they say normal everyday things can be a trigger. I had no sense of safety. I almost re-arranged my bedroom but decided against it. I decided that I wasn’t going to change anything and that instead of fearing the door I would tell the door that I was an adult now and nothing that could be behind it would be as scary as ME.

When I started therapy and decided I wasn’t going to take my own life, I dragged a foam mattress into the living room. I slept there for a year until I moved into an apartment. When I moved into my current home, I bought a beautiful new bedroom outfit as a reward to myself. I made the bedroom my sacred space for rest. I try my best to adhere to a strict routine. For the past 2 weeks when the alarm at 8pm goes off, I take sleeping pills. So far, this is working great and I’m sleeping better than I have in my whole life. I still look at the door but it is not as scary now. I feel hope now that I will continue to get better.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Art Therapy Child Abuse Survivors Free Writing Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

My PTSD is Trying to Kill Me Again

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“I will take your sleep which in turn robs you of your patience, your energy, and your ability to heal your physical body.

I will take your peace of mind and replace it with daily terror and fear. I will fuck with your memory, some days you will be not be able to put 2 sentences together, or remember to take care of yourself. You will question everyone around you and wonder if you can trust them but I won’t stop there. I will slowly grind away at your ability to trust yourself.

I will erode away at your self-confidence that you could be out in the world and survive. I will make you question your ability to survive by wrecking you with panic attacks, emotional flashbacks, and linking things in your normal life to your past so that it’s always right there in your face.

I will steal your peace away with flashbacks, hallucinations, and intrusive thoughts. I will make you feel crazy. I will pull you into a pit of despair as you struggle to smile and climb out.

Finally, I will steal your will to live. As you struggle to take it one day to time, hour to hour, and minute to minute, I will steal days, months, and years from you as you wait it out, wait to feel better, and wait for me to stop but I won’t. You will watch your life go by and everyone around you while you are at the state of paralyzing anxiety and stuck with me. My claws dig deep into your physiological flesh. I try to rip it.

I am such a mind fuck that I will not kill you myself but I will convince you to do it yourself or to be destructive enough in your urges that someone else might. I will convince you that it’s your only option and the only path to peace.

Death is the only peace-“

I SAY-FUCK THAT!

**This is the part where the superhero me, “self-care and love”  me comes in and kicks PTSD’s ass!

She ties up PTSD, and throws the fucker in the trunk.

“Enjoy the ride, ASSBUTT, you don’t need to be the front seat anymore!”

Superhero gets into the passenger seat and smiles at the driver which is me. In the backseat are my other selves the 3 year old child me, the twenty-something me, the teenager me, the villain me, the big angry guerrilla me, and all the others that occupy space in my mind that are all parts of me.

We listen to some music on the radio that we all like we jam out as we drive down the road to a happier life with PTSD securely in the trunk.

That’s how I see it in my head anyway. 28 people diagnosed with PTSD take their life every day. That is more than 1 per hour. Today, I am not one of them. This illness is trying to kill me and I will not let it. Not only with I live through this, just surviving, I will thrive and to my best to help lift other people up that are also suffering.

I’d really like to create videos of these scenarios as art therapy.  Hopefully, I can some day. I’m working on getting some special effects skills under my belt.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Books Child Abuse Stories Child Abuse Survivors Effects of Child Abuse Overcoming Sexual Abuse Physical Child Abuse ptsd

Living and Coping with PTSD

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I just finished reading this book about PTSD called, “What’s Your Superpower?: Living and Coping with PTSD” by Bob Wagner. Usually I fly through a book, devouring all its bits much like I eat french fries but this was more like a fine steak dinner that you savor each part.  I had a lot of emotional reactions and cried a lot while reading.  I was triggered a couple times but I really loved how the author did not mince his words and got right down to the heart of what it is like to live with PTSD on a daily basis. He describes it perfectly and in a way I just want to shout it to the rooftops that is you have PTSD this book is VERY validating and if you love someone with PTSD, it is a book for you too. I’ll be directing people to this book a lot like I do the other resources that have helped me in my ongoing journey.

It really helps me to read books by people with the actual disease instead of some educated person’s theory on it. Its comforting and heartbreaking that I am not alone in what I go through every day. I’m very thankful that he was able to open up like he did. I also learned that 28 people that have been diagnosed with PTSD commit suicide EVERY DAY! That’s a horribly large number and to think that is just the ones with a diagnosis and just the ones that are classified a suicide. I understand why though. PTSD tried to kill me and continues to through its bitch-ass hat in the ring every few months.

This book also helped me to see the behavior caused by PTSD and what is actually part of my personality. There are assignments in the book for PTSD sufferers and I enjoyed them although some are still in progress in my mind as well as my journals. I had already started working further defining my symptoms vs what is just me and my dorky weirdoness. Reading Bob Wagner’s book further helped to bring that home that my identity is not my disease and visa versa.

If you can not tell, I highly recommend this book and it is work owning digitally to refer back to again and again. It is a story of strength and understanding. The author still struggles with PTSD and overcomes it every day to live his life. This book made me realize that I do the same and inspired me to keep going. My disease has been trying to kill me again as I go into this new phase of healing. It is lying to me and taking things from me like sleep and time. It makes me feel crazy but what is really happening is that I’m fighting.

This book also addresses the stigma that comes along with mental illness as well as the many stupid things that people say to you if you do happen to have a mental illness and they find out. Reading this I began to realize what a fucking underdog that I really am: sex worker, female, abuse survivor, mentally ill. This doesn’t make me feel bad anymore though. I don’t hold near the amount of shame that I used to about anything I listed above.  I hope to one day write a book from my perspective as well. There are some big plans that I decided not to wait to do when I feel better. Here’s the thing: I might not feel better, my disease might kill me, I might get hit by a bus tomorrow. I have started to progress toward my dreams if only one small step per day. This book is one more tool in my arsenal against PTSD and living my life. As it says in the book though: Living another day is one for the win column.

Abuse Survivors Child Abuse Survivors Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse ptsd

Hormones and PTSD

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Hormone fluctuations can wreak havoc on someone who has PTSD. PMS plus PTSD is a combination of acronyms that are sure to make life miserable. In fact the last two weeks I have been having a really difficult time in dealing with life in general has the symptoms of my PTSD get amplified as well as my moodiness. I am kind of moody anyway I that I am one of those sassy kind of gals but this was not how I wanted to spend the two first two weeks of February. From now on I’m in a be a better person to myself from now on I’m but I do better and make sure that I put this on my calendar so I have so little bit of advance notice before all that shit goes down again as I am still in the blasted breeding age.

Ever since I got back from visiting my brother in New York I have not been feeling so great. The trip was wonderful and I really enjoyed visiting with my older brother. I wasn’t able to bring my medication with me because I’m not allowed to transport over state lines. So for five days I was unmedicated and just had to deal with everything PTSD does to me without my medication. Luckily this was made a lot easier because I feel very safe with my older brother and I didn’t have a lot of things triggering me that week. I had a few hyper mornings where I talked his head off but then I was able to calm myself down through breathing techniques and distraction.

After I got home I just seem to be in a funk that I cannot really pull myself out of more than about half a day. This went on for the last two weeks thinking that something must’ve triggered me. Something did, I just wasn’t paying attention. It was PMS. The hormone fluctuations triggered depression, anxiety, paranoia, nightmares, flashbacks, negative thoughts and all kinds of things that I thought I’d put away for a while. This really freaked me out because I thought I was getting depressed again but instead of being suicidal this time I was kind homicidal in my more darker thoughts. I made sure to write it down for future use in me weird expressive project.

So, it turns out that I’m not crazy after all, I’m just a hormonal wreck right now. The relief of knowing just the hormone fluctuation has given me a different perspective on what is going on with me. I was so scared that I was going downhill again, that I might not be okay again. I pretty much fought it with everything I had all the self-love techniques that I could muster but the shenanigans that hormones bring came to life in the past two weeks really pissed me the fuck off. I was so frustrated thinking that I was sick again. Now that I have a plan and know what is going on, it is a great opportunity to treat myself with lots of self-care and power through for just a few more days until you get the hormones straightened out again.

One thing I found it did help me was to learn this new graphics software that I downloaded. I’m usually not very good with graphics but for some reason this seems to go a little better. I created lots of cover photos for products and projects that I plan to flesh out in the future. A lot of people been asking me to write some kind of memoir and I thought hey why not go ahead and start sharing some of that stuff. The graphic on this blog post is one of the cover photos that I created. I told you I was a very good graphics and this is would help. Lol

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Sexual Abuse and PTSD

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I was diagnosed with PTSD at 11 years old. I wasn’t told much about it at the time other than its what the soldiers have. To my 11 year old brain, this meant I was a soldier and then I thought I was a BADASS(if only for a brief moment). Remembering this makes me smile. I didn’t realise until later how true that was. Living with PTSD is very difficult. The anxiety I feel that comes along with it can be paralysing.

I filmed the above video to show others what a rough day for me looks like. Its a full on bought with my PTSD and I’m able to keep it together for most of the video. I still have issues with expressing myself. I have always felt I needed to hold that back, to protect others, to not inconvenience them with my pain.

I’m also going to medicate myself with french fries which I have heard that medicating oneself with food is a bad idea but its a basic comfort to me and sometimes..it works. I have to do what is working for me to cope with PTSD and if french fried does it, at least I am eating.

I could bore you with a bunch of facts about PTSD but that will be in a later post. Lots of websites have all these fact sheets but the numbers aren’t emotion and doesn’t show you what really happens. The video does. I can tell you that the rate of PTSD is higher amongst women and higher amongst survivors of sexual abuse. I don’t know why this is but I do plan on reading more to find out. I will be updating with things I learn as I go through my journey.