Squeaking it in: Still June, still Post-Traumatic-Stress awareness month

...and I'm even later than last year in posting something about it.  Why?  Well, in part, because I still think last year's post already says what I have to say about it.  I'm not sure I have much to add, other than I'm in a much better head space than I was even a year ago, and it does get better.

But also because self-care is (finally) becoming an important part of my life and... I just didn't feel like writing anything.  So I didn't.  Because I'm the boss of me.  😀

Then I had a coffee date this morning with someone I know from the musical world, which turned into a lunch date, because we apparently have a whole lot more in common than either of us realized.  She'd been asking a bit about the Katie Project, and I burbled and stammered with a bunch of non-answers about why it was on hold.  And then I remembered I don't have to hide shit any more (my scared little girl has been running riot on my brain a bit recently, which is not helped when my angry teenager gets ahold of the corkscrew, so my addled adult self has been having a bit of difficulty reminding them who's in charge the last couple of weeks...).  So I finally blurted out "I have post traumatic stress injuries and had a relapse and felt too overwhelmed" and was all prepared to go into an extended explanation of it all, when she laughed and said "me too!" and the tension was lifted.  And we talked freely (and perhaps loudly – sorry neighbours!) with each other about our silly brain tricks and some of the stuff that created them, and did a lot of laughing and nodding.

Did I mention we've known each other for THREE YEARS?!?!?

Meanwhile, I've just been featured on People of Barrie saying you should let your freak flag fly, because that's how you find your tribe.  WAS I NOT LISTENING?!?!?  Shaking my damned head...

Do as I say, not as I do, people of Barrie (or anywhere).

So I've hidden the corkscrew and promised my kid a cuddle, but HERE'S MY FREAK FLAG.  If you've got one too, wave it with me.  Nobody should feel alone with this shit.  (Although, as my coffee-date friend noted, sometimes we really WANT to be alone!)

I've got complex post traumatic stress injuries, stemming from an incestuous and abusive childhood, compounded by some mighty abusive adult relationships which helped to cement all the bad lessons (I'm not worthy of good treatment, I'm not loveable, my role is to meet everyone else's needs and deny my own, etc., ad nauseam) I'd learned before.  This clusterfuck (questionable wording? whatever...) of early bad experiences was rewiring my brain as it grew, and I'm in the process of trying to right-wire it – but damn it, that's an awfully tangled pile of cables.  (And it's not exactly helped when certain individuals keep trying to rip out the good connections and tangle them back into the mess they started from.)

These faulty connections have me occasionally spacing out in the middle of a conversation, demonstrating an astounding startle reflex, adding "brain explosion" to the common "flight, fight or freeze" scenario, having to run as ringleader around all the injured bits that feel the need to take control in stressful times, nightmares, insomnia, fear of telephones (because you can't read body language over the phone), hypervigilance, hyperarousal (and not in the fun way, naughty-minded friends), regular "brainclouds", flashbacks, nasty body memories, anxiety, depression, hiding in the bathroom at parties...  LOTS of fun stuff.  Not 24-7, but enough that it's REALLY ANNOYING.  (And I wonder how on earth I managed to survive when it was 24-7...)

But it's no longer 24-7.  THANK DOG.  With treatment, it does get easier.  (And by treatment, I mean Trauma Therapy – make sure you're working with a CERTIFIED Trauma Therapist, not a fly-by-night-calls-herself-a-therapist-because-she-has-a-bachelor-of-psychology.  One of those nearly killed my husband, and was one of the causes of my relapse two years ago.  Certified and Accredited and Affiliated and Licensed Trauma Therapist – OR WALK.)  The research into traumatic injuries – and how to repair the brain – has been and is still growing exponentially, and what they once thought was permanently hard-wired is not as permanent as previously believed.  My first EMDR session (maybe 20 minutes long?) produced more tangible effect than the seven-year stint I had with a psychiatrist in my 20s.  They're figuring this out – if my brain that's had over 4 decades of bad wiring can be rewired to not "go walkabout" all the time, anything is possible.

So yeah, I'm still struggling, and it's a lot of hard work, and sometimes I get really pissed off that *I'm* the one having to fix the shit that *they* did to me, but... I'm doing it.  (Because "they" ain't stepping to the plate, and I deserve better.)

Pulling myself out of my mis-wired brain and bringing myself back into my body.  Trusting my gut (hmm, isn't that another piece of advice of mine I used to ignore?), and my heart, AND my middle finger, and my feet – learning to let all these override the bad brain programming.  Taking care of myself (gasp!), and considering my own needs and desires (double gasp!) – sometimes (gasp!) even before taking care of others (faint!).  Speaking my truth (eventually).

Yoga, meditation, eating well, exercising (exer-whaaa?), making sure I get out of the house every once in a while, socializing (I actually managed 4 social events in 48 hours last week, people, and not only did I not go postal, I actually enjoyed myself!), brushing my teeth and buying myself new underwear BEFORE the old ones fall completely apart (seriously, why is self-care so freaking difficult?), listening to my body, being mindful, questioning assumptions.

Oh yes, and occasionally hiding the corkscrew ("Bu- bu- buut, nooooo, I neeeed them to seeeeeee how much paaaaiiiiiiiiiinnnn they're causing mmmmmeeeeeee!!!!!" – "Forget it kid, they didn't give a crap about that then, they aren't about to notice now.  Plus your head will hurt tomorrow and we'll hate ourselves.  Suck it up and have some water.  And maybe eat some fruit and brush your teeth every once in a while.")

So if this sounds familiar, know that you are not alone.  That there is help.  That this can get better.

If this is all new to you, then: HAPPY PTS AWARENESS MONTH!  These injuries are often well-hidden, and there are far more of us walking around (or hiding out) in the world than you probably know.  It's not just soldiers.  It's not just adults.  It's not restricted to any gender or race or socio-economic profile.  It's everywhere.  

Be aware.  Be compassionate.  Speak up.

And enjoy the last few hours of June.   😀

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