As much as I love bacon, this post isn’t about food. Lately I have been struggling with having nothing sufficient to do outside of my apartment. I’m talking about anything with meaning, that gets me out of the house. Occasionally I do get out of the house, like my transgender meetings but those aren’t consistent and only happen once in a while. I go weeks without very little contact with the outside world. When I do it’s just brief hello’s in the hallway of my apartment building. That’s not enough to live off of.
All last year, I didn’t want to leave my apartment because of PTSD. Now that I want to venture out occasionally I’m stuck in this inbetween world. Now you might suggest volunteering but the problem is that I’m awaiting my second SSI disability appeal court date. The judge could use it against me. The last one did because I made a sculpture and went to NYC with it. So I have to be very careful. I have been waiting since 2014 and it’s crucial that I get approved, as it will improve my quality of life. Currently I live off state disability and if I told you how little I got you’d probably wonder how I lived off so little for so long. It’s not easy and leads to a very miserable life.
I’m not saying that I don’t have purpose because I do. I have my comic book is a huge reason to live. I’m still in the early stages of the creation so that means it has very little to do with the outside world. Plus it’s difficult to create when I’m really depressed. It zaps all creative energy out of me. It becomes painful to create, as it forces me to see my talents and good inside. Even still it means staying in my apartment for long periods of time. More times than not, I don’t want to be in my apartment. I get so bored and lonely that I start to feel like I’m losing it. The alternative to dealing with the uneasiness is to sleep. You can only sleep for so long before it starts to drive you mad. A big part of me wants connection and the other part is beyond frightened from it. Sometimes even my transgender support groups (as wonderful they are for me) can become difficult for me to endure. The last one I had to leave early due to anxiety.
I’m currently have the scared rabbit syndrome, something I have made up. A rabbit’s life can be full of danger. It’s small and fragile, living in a world full of predators ready to rip it’s head off. Out of protection the rabbit lives in a hole in the ground, where it’s generally safe. Well safer than above ground. Occasionally the rabbit will have to leave the comforts of the rabbit hole for food. It doesn’t just come out of it’s home full force. It will peek out to look for dangers. When it feels like it is safe to come out it does slowly. The rabbit is constantly on guard while it scavenges for food. Even the littlest sound will send the rabbit darting back downunder the rabbit hole.
That is where I live. I have used up all my reserves and now must venture out into the real world. I get spooked very easily and have ran back into my rabbit hole more times than I can count. I can’t hide here any longer though, it’s killing me. I no longer have the mental capacity to brave the darkness anymore. So I have a sort of forced solitude.
I could take another year to a decision on my SSI case and god forbid if it doesn’t go my way. So I have to deal with this solitude somehow, some way. Making new friends is a long process. Unfortunately cultivating friendships isn’t like growing sea monkeys. It’s going to take more time than I need to endure this solitude. So I’m going to have to cope with it the best I can. I think the key is practicing self love. Following the steps that led me to where I am today. Even though I struggle greatly and suffer a lot, my quality of life has improved in the last year. I finally have a place of my own. I have a therapist and psychiatrist I adore. I have stability which is something I have never had. I just need to hold on until this storm passes and I can venture out more openly and freely. So that means dealing with constantly being bored, lonely and tired most days.
This is my apartment in its current state. Yes, it’s pretty messy. For me though it’s not as bad at it can be. I use to have great shame over how bad I let my apartment. The shame is from what others think about me. What will they say if they see my disaster zone. Many would and have judged me. They think I’m just a lazy slob. All of this just adds to the overwhelming state that takes me over when the trash can starts to fill up. My kitchen lately has been fairly clean, well at least for me. This is rather new and it’s felt nice to go into my kitchen to make something to eat.
Lately I’ve slowly noticed it get messy. I was aware it was happen but didn’t feel like taking the steps needed to stop the mess from spreading. This is usually a warning sign that my depression is creeping up on me and if I’m not careful it will knock me out. The past few days I have been very depressed but I haven’t quite put my finger on why? I don’t know if it’s left over depression from the following week, that I was feeling better from. Either way yesterday was filled full of pitch black nothingness. For me, there’s a deeper level than the typical darkness from depression. Not only does everything I see and feel emotionally, my body feels it physically. It’s like a depression cement truck runs me over. I’m lethargic and sluggish. Everything is a blur and all I can do is survive in my bed. This is usually when I sleep it away but you can only sleep so much before it hits you.
When I wake up I feel extremely disconnected. I feel no emotion just the aftermath of the depression. I have this out of body experience and when I start to return to my body it makes me feel like I’m on pins and needles. That’s where I am at now. It’s like this subdued panic attack. I’m super uncomfortable and feel every nerve in my body. I cleaned my kitchen, even the floor which I haven’t slept in ages. I took the trash out and even emptied my spoiled milk in my fridge. I tend to forget stuff like that, until it explodes. Yeah, that happened to me this past summer. Talk about gross.
Whenever I do decided to clean it takes every bit of energy I have to complete it. I get tired very easily and have to take breaks often. I have learned when I tackle the mess to not take on too much. At least in your mind. I easily get discouraged and overwhelmed when I look at my apartment as a whole. So lately I have been tackling one area at a time. Sometimes I have to break it up in even smaller chunks, like just cleaning the stuff out of the counter and putting the dirty dishes in the sink. Like I have done tonight.
One thing I have realized lately is that isolating triggers something deep inside of me from the start of the trauma. Growing up the isolation was forced. A way to protect myself from the other parts of the house. Early on, I learned I could escape the monsters by hiding under my covers, leading to a lifetime of isolation. So I hid underneath my covers, waiting for the bad things to go away but they never did. This was especially true when I came out of the closet at the age of 18 in 1995. That next year was hell. I had no one. I was stuck in rural America, surrounded by cornfields. Prior to coming out, I got a computer from the money I got from graduating. This was wonderful for me as I finally found a link to the outside world. I was able to talk to other sexual abuse survivors and other queer people. I finally had found the light at the end of this dark isolating tunnel.
Well that was until I came out and had it all taken from me. It was the back in the day of dial up. When my parents found out that I was an abomination they took away the only communication I had to the outside world. It was probably the darkest year of my life. The damage that was done I have fought my adult life to overcome and I’m not even close to unearthing the harm done. After about a year the dust settled and my family stopped talking about me going to hell. It was like my parents had amnesia. It was like it never happened. I tried my best to move forward but my growth was stunted, and I have struggled ever since.
It’s my biggest coping mechanism now. It’s how I deal with everything. So now when I get triggered I go into my cave because that’s all I have known. Eventually my safety cave turns into a prison. No matter how often I hide in that dark place the danger never went away. It followed me across the country. I have hide so long that it’s become a way of life. Since 2012, I have spent most of my time in seclusion.
This last year was no different. Honestly it’s probably the deepest I have been in that cave in ages. This time the triggers were unlike anything I had experienced my life. Each painful moment showed up on my doorstep last July. In the past, the door was locked and all it could do was sit on my porch and taunt me from the sidelines. Occasionally it would find a crack and seep in but usually it was one trigger at a time. In 2004, I had my first major PTSD episode. This lead to multiple hospitalizations and treatments. I never got over it. I just put a bandaid on the pain (like I learned to do) and ran back home. To the only place I have known. During those two years, living in Chicago, it was some of the best times in my life. It was a strange time. I had some of my most painful experiences and most memorable ones as well. Eventually the pain overtook the good and I self destructed. I gave up a great job (that I was going places in) with the best manager that I had ever had. Every job I have ever had has taken advantage that I will work my ass off. My manager at that job valued me and I was rewarded for it. I had great insurance which allowed me to get the help I needed. In addition, I had more friends that I had ever known. I was very social and went out often. My favorite thing to do was to go the gay club for country nights. The dance floor has always been my escape. I two stepped my way into the galaxy. I was alive and free but not for every long. The darkness wasn’t going to let me go. Deep inside I didn’t deserve anything good, especially not like this.
Since them I have been living in between triggers and isolation. Like a scared rabbit, I will occasionally venture out into the light. That is until something spokes me and I tumble back down the rabbit hole. I wish I had the life of Alice. The queen of hearts has been taken over by something even more scarier. It doesn’t want want heads, it feeds off souls. The white rabbit is dead, so is tweedle dee and tweedle dum. The mad hatter is locked away in the cells of his insanity. Everything is covered in this thick, gooey muck.
After my recent hospitalization I have started to venture out into the real world. It’s the first time in a long while that I wanted to leave my apartment but I have been trapped. Again in a forced isolation. It was after a few weeks of feeling absolutely horrible, close to what I was before I was hospitalized. It dawned on me why I was feeling so low. Isolation triggers the original trauma. The root of all my problems. So when I isolate in the present I flashback to 1995 and am forced to relive that year. The longer I isolate the more the past takes me over. Until I’m frozen in time and can only feel the damage and pain. The most scary moments of my life, I’m forced to endure again. The difference is that don’t realize that I’m out of that bad place. I lose all sense of time and reality. In my mind, my abusers are in the other room… waiting for me to go asleep. My apartment is once again surrounded by cornfields where the skeletons my family tried to erase.
When I get startled I just stay in the doorway of the rabbit hole. The longer I stay there the deeper I go. It starts by being triggered. For example, having a PTSD nightmare. Which is my nightly tradition. Lately this has been a gigantic trigger and I Think that’s what happened this week. My natural response is to not move or make a sound. If you’re not quiet the predator will devour you as their midnight snack. Until recently I haven’t been able to distinguish the difference between a real and false threat. They are all the same to me, and something I can wait to find out. Isolation has been come second nature and the only way I have lived for over twenty years.
This time is different for a couple different reasons. First I’m at the core of the trauma, which is why I’m getting triggered by every single traumatic event that caused the PTSD. From the sexual and emotional abuse, and the loss of my Mom. There are five big traumas that have followed me into adulthood. I no longer can hide from the trauma as it’s killing me. Each one is out to finish what they started. Out for the kill. Another difference is that I’m fighting for my life, finally. This PTSD is much more intense because I no longer have the luxury of anesthetics or pain killers. I’m forced to lay on the operating table as my insides are torn open and left to heal naturally. I can feel and see everything that happened. There isn’t anything more horrific or torturous than that.
The pain has gotten so intense that it’s found the back door into my subconscious. So I can’t get away from it. I’m awake every day of the week. That’s one form of isolation that I am having to deal with not by choice. There is no way I can wake up. I just have to dream the bad events away and deal with the aftermath when I wake up. One thing that I’m struggling with currently is that part of my isolation is due to my environment. I don’t have anyone to spend time with really, so I spend most of my time. I’m working on making new friends but that takes time. Right now I’m not in anyone’s radar aka someone’s inner circle. I know people love and care about me but right now I’m just an occasional thought in a busy person’s life. No one is at fault, it’s just part of life. Most people aren’t in my shoes. They have families and close friends to spend time with.
Also it’s been a very brutal winter, so that’s where the forced isolation comes into. If it weren’t for my medical appointments I probably wouldn’t leave my apartment. I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to be in my apartment. I got that way when I was in the hospital. I did everything I could to not stay in that empty sterile room. This past Monday I went to my nephew’s basketball game and it was one of the better nights I have had in a long while. I was able to see some people I loved. I was also able to be my true self, a trans woman. I got home that night and I felt free. As I was walking down my hallway I was so relieved. I felt at home. The next day I was back to square one. Isolation. That’s the problem right now and something I have always struggled with in isolation. The connection isn’t consistent. It comes and goes much like the seasons. Even a month can feel like a lifetime of not spending quality time with a person. I’m not talking about seeing people in passing or at meetings like my trans support group. Those moments are great and how you make deeper connections but I long for the days where I can go to movies with people. Spend a night playing board games. Laughing and having fun. Sadly this will take longer than I need it to.
Another forced isolation is that I’m poor and don’t have a car. I’m limited to where I go, especially in the winter. When I get really depressed just brushing my teeth is tough, let alone getting on the bus and traveling to somewhere. Even still you can only go to so many places alone before you get extremely lonely. I think that’s what triggers me most is realizing that no one will come save me, much like when I was a teenager. My current isolation reminds me of that dark, scary, lonely time. In many ways, I’m still in that house. The difference is that I am adult and have a lot more resources. Even growing up that room wasn’t mine. It was eventually taken from me and I was thrown out onto the streets. This time my room is my own. As long as I pay my rent and do what I need to do, I won’t lose my housing. I finally have stability, something I have never had.
So now I just have to endure this time of my life, where I am forced to relive the past… in order to move forward. I’m learning how quickly my triggers can possess me. Here is one prime example. After therapy I went to the grocery store to get food for dinner. Rarely do I make an actual meal. There is a crock pot recipe that I love. It’s a tater tot casserole with chicken, cheese, bacon and of course tater tots. It’s rather experience so I can usually only make it once a month. My kitchen was fairly clean but the rest of my apartment wasn’t. My bathroom was still messy from getting ready on Monday and the clutter was started to pile up in my living room. That’s something I realized lately, how quickly my apartment can get dirty. It only takes a few days, especially if you make a big meal.
When the dish was I done I had two days of deliciousness but I didn’t have the energy to clean up. So I left it. It wasn’t super messy but it looked like it. I had stuff all over and it didn’t make me feel good. One big issue that I’m having is my bed. There are times I love being in bed. It’s the most refreshing moment for me when I have a good meal and a soft place to watch tv, or play games. This meal gives me two days full of delicious food which is a rarity for me. I loved the feeling I gave me. At some point the good feelings were replaced by darkness. I have never lived my life in moderations. It’s always been all or nothing. As I haven’t always had the comforts of my own place I try to soak up anytime I can take refuge in the soft appeal that comfort gives. I never know when that comfort will be take from me, like it always has been before. So I hold onto dear life. The fear builds and I will protect the comfort I have found, any way I can. It’s a mix of everything good, bad and indifferent.
Since Thursday night I have spent most of my time in bed, like I usually do but this time I was sleeping a lot and not eating very well. Sometimes I get triggered I overeat. When I went to the grocery store they still had paczki left from last week. I absolutely love them. I got a box and it hit the right tune. It was soothing the trigger. Most the food I eat isn’t very appealing. It doesn’t taste that well. Anytime I find something I love I will only eat that. Like Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese. I will only eat those items until I get sick of them. With sweets I take it a step further. They taste so sweet and good, that I will only eat that for a period of time. Yesterday I returned to the store and bought three more boxes. They were gone by this morning. As I eat each one I feel sadness that soon I will not have anymore, as the custard tastes so delicious. Especially knowing that it will be another year before I can have more. So now I’m only left with my depression and food that I don’t like. I have the Stouffer’s Mac and cheese but even those I’m getting tired of. One trigger for a deep depression is not eating well or at all. When I get this depressed the only lights I turn on is the tv. After sleeping almost 24 hours I woke up at 8pm feeling so very disconnected. I wanted to sleep more because I didn’t want to deal with the isolation. That wasn’t an option because I was too annoyed and feeling awful. All I could feel and see was the mess. My living room floor was filled full of pop bottles and trash. That’s probably why I keep the lights off. I could smell the raw chicken in the trash can. I couldn’t take it anymore and got up to clean the kitchen. I couldn’t stand that fowl odor so I took that out first. I cleaned the floors and the counter. I put food away and put the few dirty dishes I had into the sinks. It felt good and it’s back to looking cleanish.
Recently I have putting turning on dance music to help get me out of a bad place. When I was a bundle of nerves Monday night, I turned on the music and it helped me get ready. So right away I turned the music on tonight and cleaned my kitchen. Afterwards I went into my living room to start cleaning and got overwhelmed. Typically when I get overwhelmed like this I will go inward and feel even worse. I’m learning to be okay with the imperfection. I did what I could, when I could do it. That’s what I’m telling myself during this PTSD cycle. Eventually it will go away and I must do whatever it takes to survive. So if that means leaving part of my apartment messy that’s okay. One positive step will lead to another. Now I will pick up the trash near my bed, that can’t leave. It’s mostly the clutter stuff like laundry and boxes.
Some might see the picture above and think, why is she posting this? Judgements are something I’m use to. I use to hold a great amount of shame and guilt with how I have lived my life. I have beaten myself to a pulp over it. While I still struggle with shame, overall I don’t live wallow in that shame. This year I let a good friend see my apartment at the worst. It was a big step for me and it wasn’t easy. A few weeks later she came over to help me clean up the apartment. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever did for me. It make me realize that it wasn’t something to be ashamed for.
So I’m learning that these situations are symptoms of my mental illness. I’m not lazy whatsoever. I just have moments where I have absolutely no energy. I’m not like those without have a mental illness. So of course I’m going to have a different life than them. Realizing that things like neglecting chores is a symptom takes away a lot of the shame and guilt. It’s the missing puzzle piece that’s been long gone. Now I treat my mental illness like someone with diabetes. I take medicine and go to my necessary doctors to treat my disease. I’m no longer in denial. Being aware is half the battle. I have conquered that conflict and now it’s time to do the hard work. Which means walking through hell again so that I can put that time of my life in the chapter of my life. It’s time to say goodbye.
Everyone has negative thoughts. I would imagine it’s a pretty common occurrence for many. Sometimes the negative thought or feeling is small. A floating thought like I can’t do this. It comes and goes. Often time that thought turns into a feeling followed by beliefs we have about ourselves. For me, sometimes the negative thought or feeling can be easily dealt with right away. I am able to use my positive self talk to wash away the doubt and bad feelings. The deeper the negativity (or pain) the harder that becomes. The biggest question is how do you stop the negative from snowballing. What starts out as a snowflake turns into an avalanche. There are times the process may seem quick but if I look deeper there are usually factors that are not obvious. I have realized that my self care is at the root of the snowball. I have never taken care of myself. I bend over backwards for other people which leaves me with very little and these days nothing. I’m completely out of orbit and any amount of turbulence sends me flying into the sun. The more self care and love I practice the better I feel. It’s all connected.
This is what I worked on in therapy today. Spiraling out of control and how to manage the snowball so that it doesn’t turn into an avalanche. What I struggle with most is that it’s not always a negative thought, it’s a feeling. A lot of time my thoughts are so buried deep that I don’t experience them until it turns into a feeling. These moments can be triggered by anything, including a positive interaction. It’s much easier to push away a random thought, than a feeling. This is difficult because you don’t always know what the trigger was. That’s been my experience in the past. I have gotten better with identifying the problem but that’s rarely.
One aspect of the snowball effect is that it goes both ways. Positivity can also snowball but the effects are more therapeutic, unless you go into mania. As quick as the negative snowball can spiral the positive snowball rolls much slower, at a snail’s pace it seems. I get so easily discouraged because I’m desperate for relief. For most of my life I have been a zombie, asleep at a wheel. So the chaos of my life hasn’t bothered me as much it does today. I was okay living in a constant blizzard. I got used to the fridgedness and snow. Now that I’m awake and aware I realize it’s much worse. It’s an avalanche. I just want to cut out the depression and pain out of my life but sadly it doesn’t work that way. Medicine and therapy can only go so far. The reality is that I will have to deal with the ups and downs for the rest of my life.
The key to happiness will be in how I prepare for the winter. That is one consistent part of my life. The storm!!!! I won’t be able to get rid of the storm entirely but if I continue to practice self love those storms won’t be as frequent or severe. Instead of tornadoes they will be your typical thunderstorms. Occasionally that storm can become severe. I am learning that if I have a protocol in cause of an emergency I will handle the event better. For example, having a safety place in place. Knowing the options when you have to take shelter from the storm instead of running around like a chicken with your head cut off in the middle of a tornado. I’m tired of seeing cows orbit me. The witch needs to stay home.
The positive and negative snowball are both connected. The less I take care of myself the easier for the negative snowball to take form. One way that happens for me is my apartment and how clean/dirty it is. One hurdle leads to another. One example is my kitchen. When I’m really depressed I don’t feel like making anything to eat. I go into scavenger hunt, like I’m a mouse on the run. I will eat anything that’s right in front of me, which usually means eating cold soup. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! If the storm has hit my kitchen I’m less likely to step foot into my kitchen as I become a pig wallowing in the mud, at least that’s what it feels like. Being aware my negativity takes form physically. I can see it clearly now and it’s not pretty. It’s the most uncomfortable and annoying feeling ever.
When my kitchen is clean-ish I’m more likely to make something substantial. Like a microwave dish. If I have energy I might even cook. Which is a complete treat for me because I usually always eat frozen or canned food. Again, yuck! My eating habits also come into play with the snowballing. Eating canned soup isn’t fulfilling. It doesn’t make you feel good, it’s just gross. Now that I have identified that there are influencers to the snowball I can start to investigate better, that’s progress right there.
This is what I have learned about my kitchen research. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink is a snowball. The more dishes I pill on the bigger that snowball becomes. Eventually the mess with spill out onto the counter and before I know it I have a mini blizzard in my living room. When it gets this severe I don’t even like walking by my kitchen. Nobody wants to look at a disaster zone. So what can I do:
When I use dishes clean them right away. Don’t leave them in the sink. This can be tough when making a big meal. Often times after I cook a big meal I don’t feel like cleaning. It takes all my energy out of me. One thing that helps me is to minimize the use of kitchen utensils. My crockpot is one example. All I need to do is throw in the ingredients and let them sit for hours. When it’s done all I have to clean up is the crock pot thingy and the dish I used to store leftovers in.
Whenever you buy meat, clean it right when you get home. Prepare it however you normally would and freeze them individually. I buy chicken in the family packs because it’s considerably cheaper. If I leave it in the fridge it will sit in there and I will forget about it. There is nothing more upsetting than expensive food going back. I can only afford so much meat a month. Lately when I get home. I clean and cut the meat right away. I will go as far as cut up the chicken into small pieces. I use to just freeze the whole package but that doesn’t help me down the road when I have no energy. So I seperate the chicken by meals. So when I want to make a dish all I need to do is unthaw the meat and I’m done. All I need to do is throw away the plastic bag. This can be done with any meat, especially hamburger. If you can afford it, you can even by meat that’s already prepared.
Buy paper plates, bowls and plastic silverware. This will reduce the dirty dishes big time. Yeah, I know the major downfall is environmental but you can’t fix everything at once. This is just temporary until you can function better. Now I’m more likely to make food and it’s much easier to clean up. I have also learned how quickly the mess and clutter starts to pile up. Now when the dirty dishes pile up (and they do) I can just toss them in a trash bag.
Trash bags are your friends. I keep a makeshift trash can using an old vacuum box. I keep that in my living room. So when I don’t have much energy to clean I can quickly toss everything in the trash.
I have made a makeshift shower seat using a plastic shower curtain and a folding like chair. Taking a shower takes a lot of my energy and I’m lucky if I wash more than once a week. A big struggle with my energy is my weight. I am 6 feet tall and weigh 360 pounds. Now that I have made it easier to get clean I’m more likely to use my shower. I keep a cup in there and can take my time. Be careful with your shower curtain. Make sure that water doesn’t leak out from it onto the floor. You will have a flooded bathroom if you use the shower head. If I’m not as winded coming out of the shower I’m more likely to brush my teeth and style my hair. Monday was one of those days. I took a long hot shower and got really clean. This gave me the energy to brush my teeth, blow dry and style my hair, and shave with a razor. I had a full beard too. I would never had done that if I didn’t have the seat. Practicing self care led to one positive step to another. The better I feel about myself the less depressed I become. Not taking care of my chores and personal grooming only increases my depression. I’m learning it can trigger me as well. I can feel decent and look at my mess. I will want to clean it up and feel overwhelmed. My feel good mood can quickly turn sour just by looking at my mess or feeling dirty. Eventually the mess gets so severe I have to do something about it. Whenever I do a deep clean I always feel better and the results are pretty dramatic.
Managing my medicine times (which improves my sleep schedule) is one way I can manage my depression. I have started to set reminders on my phone to take my medicine at set times. My sleep schedule is all over the place, which means inconsistent medicine times which will make my depression worse. No matter what I make sure to take my meds. If I’m sleeping I take the meds and go back to bed. If I’m awake and don’t want to sleep, I take my night time meds…. which include meds that help me to sleep. Eventually the meds will kick in, helping me stay on a schedule. If I go to sleep anytime after 6am more than likely my mood will be affected. I hate waking up in the evening. Having an off sleep schedule also affects my mood. The early I can get to bed the better. So for me, it’s by 4am. I usually sleep 12 hours so that would mean waking up at 4pm. While that’s probably crazy sleeping hours for most it works for me. I have never been a morning person. I’ve set my alarm for 3 am/pm. At night by 5am I start to get sleepy. In the afternoon by 3pm I’m more awake and more likely to stay up when I’m awoken by the alarm. See how one thing leads to another positive change. There is freedom in knowing that the pendulum turns both ways.
Another medicine related self care step is having your medicine put in pill packs. If you are like me you take a lot of meds and at different times. This can lead to missed doses by either forgetting or not feeling like getting each pill out the bottles. Now my pills are separated by time of day. I also have my medicine delivered so that I don’t forget to get my medicine refilled. At my old pharmacy if my depression was really bad I wouldn’t go to get my prescription. If I miss one day of psych meds the mood decreases pretty dramatically. They will also follow up with my doctors if I don’t have a refill or with me if I need to go in to see the doctor. Now I rarely miss a dose.
Being proactive with anything related to scheduling and keeping appointments. I make sure to enter an appointment right away into my google calendar and I set numerous reminders so I don’t forget. If it’s an appointment to for med refills it’s extremely important to make those appointments. One pebble leads to another until my vase is full of stones and I can’t get out.
Transportation is one barrier for me. I don’t have a car and often times my depression keeps me from taking the city bus. Especially if my anxiety is high. Going to various medical appointments becomes problematic because there are a lot of steps. One that has helped me big time is having a caseworker. I know this might not be possible for many but it wouldn’t hurt checking with your mental health department for your county to seeing if you qualify for one. Even if you can’t or don’t want one there are steps that can be taken to make going to appointments easier. Asking a friend to take you is one way. In the past I would cancel appointments because I wouldn’t leave the house. If I have someone come to my apartment complex I will definitely go. It helps to keep me accountable. Some areas even have local buses that are curbside. I know my city does but it doesn’t go outside my city and all my appointments are in Lansing, which is the bigger city near me. My city bus company offers service to people with disabilities too that go outside of the city but the requirements are a lot more difficult to get approved but if you can get a doctor to fill it out and get approved then that will be one barrier lifted for you. I’m looking into it for myself but I would be limited because it’s $5 round trip. So I couldn’t afford it always. Having multiple options is always a good thing. Planning also helps me take the city bus. Knowing when the bus times are and coordinating my trip around those times will make me more likely to use the bus. Limiting my time on city buses will alleviate the anxiety and make my trips less stressful.
Making grocery shopping easier. Going to the grocery store is one source of anxiety for me. It can be very overwhelming to me, which leads to me not going. If I don’t have food I like and can make easily, then I will go hungry and the snowball is formed. I try to make lists now and keep my visits as brief as I can. In the past, I would only go to the grocery store once or twice a month. Which makes for a lot of work. Only limiting myself to so many items helps to decrease my anxiety. I don’t worry about spending so much money, nor does it take me that long to check out. In addition, when I get home it doesn’t take a lot of energy to put away everything. I also keep a list. This will keep me on track. A lot of time is spent not knowing what to get or ever spending, then getting overwhelmed because I have too much. See how quickly that snowball forms. Having a list also decreases the time you spend in the grocery store. This is really helpful if you don’t like crowds. If I want to get some larger items that I can’t carry from the bus stop I can either take my local bus or use the shopping bus that my complex has once a week. Even then I still only make small lists. I’m trying to increase my fiber so getting gallons of water are heavy. Another source of stress is bagging my own groceries now that most places have mostly self check out. I get so stressed out because I feel like I have to rush or people will get angry. So I kill myself to get out of there quickly. Now my grocery store has shop and scan. Now I use my smart phone to scan and bag items one at a time. This helps me keep on budget too. If I spend too much I can easily remove something rather than have a worker manually void it at the register. I can take my time and am not rushed. Which makes a huge difference. If I can’t do this then I will use a lane with a cashier. My embarrassment for using food stamps only gets in the way in terms of my depression. Another tip to making get groceries easier is getting reusable grocery bags. Not only is it environmentally good but you can also carry more. They are sturdy and won’t spill. There is nothing worse than groceries gushing out of a broken bag.
So these are the steps I’m taking to manage the snow in my life. The better I take care of myself, the less depressed I feel or at the very least if I get triggered it will lesson the severity of the episode. Now these steps might not all work for you and that’s okay. It’s a trial and error process. Do what works for you. It’s taken me over twenty years to have the experience and know how to not only come up with this list but follow through on the steps. It’s so easy to only see what you’re not doing or feel the affects from the inaction. A lot of times it only takes a crumble of doubt to cover up a mountain of good. In the past six months I have come a long ways. I have fallen into the trap of not being able to seperate the good from the bad. Now I’m able to see my successes. One is that I have been in therapy since 2013 and rarely do I miss an appointment. I have never stuck out therapy. The only other time was when I lived in Chicago. I was in therapy for a year and a half, until I self destructed and ran away from my problems. I haven’t done that this time. This last year I have not wanted to go to therapy at all both due to physically leaving my apartment and not wanting to talk about my pain. I pushed myself to go every single time. I only was able to do that because I put a plan into place. Like having a regular scheduled appointment and having a ride each week take me there.
The hardest part of healing for me is not giving myself such a hard time. Being so critical just get’s in my way. So I look at this current PTSD episode (that I have been since Jul of last year) as a do what I have to do, when I have to do it. Meaning I allow for imperfections. I expect change to happen overnight. Again the positive snowball starts off with one snowflake at a time. I have so much in my life that I need to work on. Focusing on the big picture only leads to me giving up. So breaking that up in small segments will help me living a more healthy and happy lifestyle. Now I try to not beat myself up when I drink a lot of pepsi or let my kitchen get messy. Pepsi is one prime example. Honestly I don’t need to be drinking Pepsi because of my weight but it’s a big crutch for me. I have so much else going on that I have to work on that I have allowed myself to have pepsi when I want to. I still push myself but I no longer try to stop drinking pepsi. I think what good is not drinking pepsi if I push my mental health the point of ending my life. I have such a perfect idea of what my life should be, usually based off what society says I need to be. Right now my apartment is pretty messy, outside my kitchen and that’s okay. The one good thing lately is that the clutter is starting to get on my nerves. So I can only avoid it so long before it makes me mad. Just working at one step at a time has helped me dramatically during this PTSD episode. Like I said it’s all connected.
The more I work on self care/love, the more relief I get from depression. I just need to practice it to make permanent. Well those are my thoughts for the night. Does anyone else have some mental health life hacks that help manage their depression, anxiety, etc. I always love hearing new ideas. I get amnesia with the obvious stuff. So let me know what tips you have.
*****Trigger Warning. I talk about mental illness, sexual abuse and suicide.*****
I have been in this current PTSD episode since July of last year. Anyone who has PTSD will probably say that living with PTSD is much like living in a war zone, especially when you are in trigger mode. Often times you can’t control the flooding of emotion from your traumatic experiences. One example are flashbacks. I have had moments where I’m back to the root of my pain. For example, the cabin where I was molested. When I flashback I lose all sense of time and I time travel back to the past. I’m back to that cabin. The imagery is so vivid that I could probably paint and exact replica of the way the cabin looked. Everything from the musty smell that comes from old cabins to the band playing at the club house. I can hear and sense the wind sweeping through the window in the bedroom where it all happened. A lot of times I relive some of the aftermath of the trauma. Like going to the shower to wash off the filth or walking up to my parents door to tell them what happened and never did. Finally to the couch that I slept in each night after you know happened and he went to bed. Someone once told me that PTSD is like opening a door to escape from the danger and each door you open leads you back to the danger. There is no escaping it. I live in that world constantly.
So you can imagine how troubling that all is when you experience it. The last six months have been hell. I’m finally at the root of the fallout. A nuclear bomb tore my being apart and I tried to deal with the best way I could as a kid. That meant putting the horrible feelings into a box. Locking it and hiding it so good that I didn’t even remember there was even a box in the first place. Much like in Wreck it Ralph when King Candy/Turbo hides Vanellope’s code so that he can take over and erase her memory. That’s essentially what an abuser does. Which meant hiding the fallout behind a candyland of my own. So much sugary sweet that it would rot your mouth out. Eventually the Cy-Bugs will start to eat away at the candy facade to hunt you down. Since my Mom died in 2012, the veil between the two worlds has been lifted and I have been on the run ever since.
During this last year, I have worked hard to cope with the aftermath. I’m learning to not let the trauma swallow me whole like it’s done in the past. Which means not pushing away the horrible events and the feelings that result of the bad events. In order to heal, you must relive these horrible moments as an adult. Now when I flashback to events like the abuse I allow myself to feel the pain and let me tell you there isn’t anymore gut punching that that. Especially when it’s related to my Mom dying or anything related to the emotional abuse from my father. Every bad feeling finds its way to the surface like the Cy-Bugs and I must blast each one away. This episode is different than any in the past because I’m triggered by every trauma in my life. So you are talking about four big traumas in my life. In the past, an episode was related to only one trigger. The last big PTSD breakdown was in 2004-2005 and that was related to the childhood sexual abuse. Now it’s everything. No longer can I run from the trauma and there are a million Cy-Bugs ready to kill me.
If you don’t have PTSD it might be difficult to understand what it’s like. I describe it like constantly feeling in danger. Like the predator is stalking you and waiting for the right moment to rip your jugular apart. It’s a war zone from which you can’t escape. At any moment the opposition could throw a bomb your way. Friends and family become strangers, and strangers become enemies. You can’t trust anyone, including yourself. Your primary goal in these situations is to stay alive, which means hiding any way you can. One way I do this is to isolate in my home. Many times the predator is at my back door, determined to track me down. Even the faint sound from my breath could tip him off, so I have to stay frozen. There is nothing more scary than having to live in those life threatening moments again. Many of these situations I don’t realize that I’m in the past. It’s only been the last few years that I have started to sense them earlier on. In the past, I would get triggered and not realize that I was triggered. I would get very depressed and weeks later I start to realize something happened. Then I realize that I have been triggered. Most the time I don’t even know what has triggered me.
That’s is different from this current PTSD episode. I know exactly when I’m triggered because they are played out like I’m watching a movie at the theater. So I spend my waking hours trying to battle all the Cy-Bugs. I have use my coping techniques to destroy each predator, one bug at a time. I have to remind me that I’m no longer in danger and I have escaped that traumatic place. I tell myself that it’s not my fault at all. That I’m lovable and the reason the person hurt me is because of something they are lacking. I use to think it was my fault. That because my child self couldn’t find a reason why someone would hurt me (that was supposed to love and protect me), it meant that inside something was wrong. That meant believing that I was unlovable. Too emotional. Too much. My light was used against me and I was brainwashed into believing that my light was too blinding. So I extinguished it and grew up in darkness. The darkness has ate away my soul and poisoned my veins, and now it’s a do or die situation. I have been the closest to the trauma killing me than ever before. In January, I wrote a suicide note and had a plan. So I am in “Danger, Will Robinson” mode. The fire alarms are blaring and I can’t find out a way to put out the fires but I’m trying.
This all goes out the window, when my trauma spill out into my dreams. The Cy-Bugs have burrowed so deep that they have reached my subconscious. They are trying to kill me from the inside out, which is another Disney movie. We can only have one metaphor at a time. So I’m not going down that road. Anyways I have started to have PTSD nightmares. There not your typical boogie man nightmares either. I re-enact the trauma, like it’s Unsolved Mysteries, but in new ways. For example, I will have nightmares where my Mom dies in new ways. She never dies in the hospital. One night I dreamed that both my parents died when we went to Disney World, which is one of the few wonderful moments from my childhood. I loved our trip to Orlando, as it was a dream of mine to go to Disney. So to have my wonderful memories turned into nightmare is just cruel. Hiding trauma, pain and insecurity is much like putting air into a balloon. That balloon can only take so much before it finds relief any way it can. So it will either explode or it will go flying across the room, like a chick with its head cut off. The Cy-Bugs have found the trap door to my soul and now are torturing me through my dreams, which you absolutely can’t control. My dreams are so vivid and real, that it feels like I’m awake when I’m enduring the dreams. It’s like I have an out of body experience. I’m awake watching the dream on the big screen. It reminds me of shows like Grey’s Anatomy when they have viewing windows into surgery rooms so students can watch surgeries. I get to watch my guts being ripped apart, every single time.
Each time I wake up, I feel like I’m dying. I haven’t felt a more horrible feeling than that. I can’t even begin to describe it. It’s like someone has put me in a giant can and shaked me about. I’m dizzy and disoriented. Time comes to a screeching halt. I can feel the insides being ripped apart one piece of flesh at a time. I spend the nights having my guts punched repeatedly. It’s like I have amnesia when I wake up and I forget all my coping mechanisms. The world that we no is gone and I forget all my coping skills. I lose all sense of reality. So the first few hours are hell, as I slowly wake up from the trauma. So the dreams where my Mom dies I relive the true feelings I felt the morning she died. I have had so many PTSD nightmares related to my Mom’s death that I could write a book. Of all the traumas, that was the most horrific. It almost destroyed me. Since 2012, I haven’t been able to bounce back from a nervous breakdown.
The dreams are non-stop. There isn’t a night that I go without a PTSD nightmare. They stopped momentarily when my psychiatrist put me on Prazosin, which is for PTSD dreams. That didn’t last long and the nightmares returned. I’m at a fairly high dose too. This morning I awoke to another PTSD dream. During the night I woke up, like I usually do and I was relieved to that regular, non-scary dreams. Finally some relief, or so I thought. I laid back down and the Cy-Bugs returned. This nightmare was related to the rejection from the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally. They all came together to confront me on how embarrassing it was for them that I have been living this way. I’m supposed to hid my pain and pretend like nothing happened. Which means being like everyone else and hold down a job. I haven’t had too many positive people in my life. There was one person who always loved and supported me, no matter what. Everytime we’d have a family function I would always gravitate to my lesbian aunt. She could see me for who I was and never judged me. She was my safety net. Prior to this hospitalization I have only had one person ever visit me and that was during my first hospitalization in 2000 when I first started to deal with the childhood sexual abuse. I can remember that moment very clearly today. After that visit, I never had any friends or family visit me during my other hospitalizations. My hospization in January I finally had a friend come visit me, who surprised me. I had always dreamed of having a visitor. Each time I would watch friends and family come visit their loved ones, and no one would ever come for me. This time someone did and I was pure joy and happiness.
Even though my relationship with my Mom was complicated, she loved me deeply. In the end, she was only one of the few who stuck it out. When she died I lost that resource and the world became a dark, dangerous place. I no longer had my superhero to come rescue me. She was murdered in front of me, like Bruce Wayne in Batman. Last year I lost one of the remaining people in my life who was light. My aunt gave up on me and rejected me finally. It broke my heart as I love her deeply. This time the person chose to leave me, unlike my Mom dying. I was too broken for my Aunt and she could no longer deal with my damager. I should point out that I rarely reached out to her for help and when I did it was just sending her a message asking her opinion on something. I never cried on her shoulders and she didn’t really have to live around my trauma but she was judging me from the sidelines and she wasn’t ever at the games. I was deleted off facebook and blocked. She ignored my messages wondering what I did to deserve this. I was erased and it destroyed me. So this dream was related to that and my heart was broke last night, all over again.
I’m alone with my pain, grief and sorrow. There isn’t a more horrible feeling than that. It’s like floating away into outer space. Eventually you float so far that all you can see is darkness. The black hole finally swallows you whole. The only thing surrounding you are all the angry, evil voices inside your head.
I just want relief. I live in pain during the days and that only intensifies when I sleep. Many nights I have multiple ptsd dreams about different traumas. One night I had the worst PTSD dreams ever. One dream was related to my Mom dying and the other was the sexual abuse. The two main traumas in my life. I woke up dying. If I didn’t have therapy in a couple hours it probably would have killed me. That’s how intense the dreams were.
I’m getting to the point where I’m just lost. I’m desperate for them to go away and it doesn’t appear that they will anytime soon. I can’t take a higher dose of the PTSD med because of my blood pressure dropping to dangerous levels. Which means I’m stuck with my dreams. The only thing I can control is the aftermath and I’m doing the best I can. In some ways I have mastered them but not really. I have just gotten better on coping with them. They still hurt like hell, that hasn’t changed, but the time period isn’t as long usually. They are intense enough that I’m exhausted. This morning I woke up feeling so tired. Not again, I thought. I had jinxed myself by thinking I was going to have a night just living with Freddy Krueger. Nope, the devil was there instead.
What worries me is that eventually I will get to a point where they nightmares will eat away at my conscious and finally kill me. I’m fighting so hard to keep the Cy-Bugs at bay but my defenses are low and my army is now just me. Right now my coping skills are whispers and I’m holding onto them for dear life. I will say that the hours I’m awake have started to get a bit better. I have started to enjoy some of my days and I have started to blossom a little bit. I’ve become less scared and have started to want to leave the house. I have more energy than I have in a long while. Which means keeping up with chores better, though right now I’m rather behind. I can only take it so long before I have to start cleaning. I know that these are good signs.
I feel myself slipping and that scares the hell out of me. One of the PTSD dreams last week was related to my Father hurting me. I spiralled into a deep depression. Probably the worst in years. I wasn’t suicidal. I was just in complete darkness weighed down by the pain. I was sluggish and lethargic. Up to my neck in muck, with poisonous fog all around. This time I knew what had caused the spiral and was able to process it with my therapist. I have been able to recover mostly and that’s progress. I guess what troubles me about these spirals is that they will eventually hit the bottom like I did in January. This was very close. I know the next time I might not be as fortunate and might be successful at ending my life. I feel like I’m racing for time, not knowing when I will finally drown in the trauma.
So while I have become good at coping with my waking hours, I can’t control my nightmares and they are not giving up. They are seeping into every waking hour and I keep batting them away. I’m just desperate for some rest. I want to be able to move forward and these fucking nightmares keep trying to pull me under. Leave me alone. Today was one of the first days where I had a more fuck it attitudes towards my nightmares. I have tried to escape (flight) them, and I have certainly been frozen, now that remains is fight. If they won’t stop then I’m going to kill every last one of them. So as scary as all of this is and I live in constant fear, I’m not letting the pain and trauma win. To do so is to give up control to everyone who has caused me harm. Nope. Not going to happen anymore. You are not worthy of my anger, pain and sorrow. It is you that is lacking what you fear in me. My light can’t be estinugused and you tried with all your might. The only thing that it’s done is made me stronger. I have come to realize that not only am I unstoppable but unbreakable as are. So have at it mother fucking PTSD dreams. I’m ready for you know, with a baseball bat in hand. I’m determined to conquer my dreams. It’s a do or die situation. This is the final batter and I will not give up until I succeed.
It’s so easy to only see the failures. I’m learning to see the victories. Here are my wins so far:
I have been in therapy since 2012
On psych meds since 2012
Have my own apartment by myself
I finally have a psychiatrist
I have a case worker
I have not missed a therapy appointment and go no matter what
Lost nearly 90 lbs
Started to take the bus again
Back to working on Dragzilla, my comic book
Using my grounding exercises
Being honest with myself
Starting to process the deep wounds
Using mental health lifehacks, to my life easier
Came out as Trans
In the process of take hormones
Dealt with the loss of my Mom
Working on overcoming the constant need to please people
Working on self care
Cutting out people in my life who are not good for me
Starting to make friends
Going to my trans support group
Getting help when I need it, like being hospitalized
Taking risks like making new connections
Being myself and not hiding my light
Not taking things personal. What others feel about me is not my business.
Finally have my independence
Stability for the first time ever. I no longer have to live in fear of losing my housing due to the inability to pay my rent or due to someone else. I live alone and no one can tell me what to do. I can leave my apartment messy. I can cook in the middle of the night. I can sleep in until afternoon and no one can say a damn thing.
Starting to blog again
Taking steps to not relapse. Like ensuring I take my meds with pill packs and delivery of my meds right to my apartment.
Advocating for myself and letting the professionals in my life what I need. Liking getting rides to appointments from my caseworker. Otherwise I might not have gone.
Coming up with an action plan with my therapist, when I’m not safe. I send her a text saying 911, if I’m going to kill myself and she will call 911.
I had a sculpture in an art show in NYC. A fight foot tree made out of eyewear material
Had a rose sculpture at Art Prize in Grand Rapids that got me the sculpture commission in NYC.
Until this year I wouldn’t have been able to recognize all these wins. The smallest crumble will eventually make a cookie. I have come so far and I’m back on track. I’m near the finish line I just have to keep moving forward. Do what I need to do, when I need to do it. Survive the storm. Eventually it will pass. They always do. That’s one of the few constants in my life, having them eventually end. Now I’m preparing better for each one and putting to place action plans to keep myself safe.
So as tough as last night was, I won this battle. It didn’t really take me under. I felt horrible for about 15 minutes and then started to process it by writing this post. Other’s reality is not my own. So my family can judge me for my mental illness, that’s their right but that is not my truth. They can’t take away my triumphs. They just can’t handle my guatemalaness. (That’s a Birdcage joke)
They weren’t there for me during my bad times. Therefore they won’t be there for my successes. This time that’s my choice, not theirs. I deserve nothing but the best. I am going to use my light to help other people. I have value in this world and am going to only seek out people who want to be in my life, and will make an effort to want to see me. My differences are my strengths, like my artistic ability with my comic book.
So I’m on my way and screw my PTSD dreams. I’m working on healing the wounds one trauma at a time. Eventually the ptsd dreams will just be a regular nightmare. I will wake up and be like wow that was a crazy nightmare, and move on with my day. I won’t even feel bad about it. Dreams are just dreams, they are not based on reality. I haven’t been able to see that this year but I’m learning to. One ptsd dream at a time.
So I’m going on my first month in a massive PTSD episode. We’re talking full on trigger mode. There are times in my life the trauma surfaces so severely that my mental health goes into system failure mode. I’m not talking about your typical depressive episode. It’s the kind of episode where you feel like you are losing your mind. It’s one thing to feel down about life and everything you see is darkness but another thing when you feel like you’re drifting into madness and everything is out of control. Regular episodes I can usually work my way through within weeks, sometimes days. Episodes like this one can last months if not over a year. In the past, they have led to multiple hospitalizations and I fear that is where I’m heading.
Most people won’t understand any of this. I’m speaking a different language than them. They just see someone constantly complaining, aka always being negative. If you think I’m being negative you should get inside my head and you will see the real negative. It’s a dark pit of loneliness, regret and sorrow. It’s like constantly gasping for air. There is no water but you’re drowning in misery. That’s what I am currently feeling. It’s like the atomic bomb of panic attacks. It’s non-stop. It just goes on and on. I will have a few days where I feel like I’m going to die, then I start to feel a little bit better for a day or so. The depression, anxiety and paranoia aren’t far away. The past month they continue to follow me and possess my body. I can’t help the triggers. That’s the problem when I have this type of massive PTSD episode. Not only am I flooded with emotion and pain but I’m forced to relive the trauma through flashbacks. I can’t get away from it.
Now it’s followed me into my dreams. For weeks I have been having these horrible dreams about real pain, fears and insecurities that have occured. The cast of characters are always the people in my life. I don’t dream about past actions. Instead I dream of new scenarios where I experience the same pain behind the actions. Like for example my Mom dying. Many nights my dreams are about her dying in new ways. Last night I dreamed that both my Mom and Dad were murdered on a family vacation to Walt Disney World. In High School my parents (when they were still together) took my sister and I to Disney. It was the greatest memory I have of us as a family. Pure happiness, joy and fun. In my nightmare that trip turned into a horror story where my parents disappeared while we were down there. In the dream, I’m desperately searching for my parents and trying to find my sister. I don’t realize that they’ve already been murdered. I’m also there with a boyfriend, who ends up leaving me during this situation. He just used me to get a trip to Walt Disney World. So imagine waking up from that dream today???? I woke up disoriented feeling like the world was coming to an end. I felt like my Mom died all over again. My dreams took one of the few happy memories of my childhood and destroyed them.
In regular ptsd episodes I never really feel like I’m losing my mind, as they’re not really based in major traumas. Usually they are environmental based like not getting out of the house. At first I was handling the dreams but they’ve been non-stop. One night I woke up every couple of hours. Everytime I fell back asleep the same nightmare started again. It was like someone was had put pause on my nightmare. When you tell people that you’re having bad dreams most people relate to it but I’m not talking about your typical dreams. These are like night terrors. I wake up feeling like I’ve been shaken or hit by a cement truck. I woke up at 5pm and I’m still feeling shaky at 3am. The first two hours were hell. I get in this paranoid state where everything is off, like I’m drugged. I’m frightened by everything. I went out to my park for a Pokemon Go raid and that was very problematic. It’s like being a lost child looking for his Mommy. It’s that feeling when I go out into the real world when I’m triggered. Everyone is a stranger, including friends and family. I had a good friend at this raid and even he I couldn’t trust. I describe this as friends and family becomes strangers, and strangers become enemies. You can’t trust anyone. Everyone is out against you. It’s like coming out of a sensory deprivation tank, that you have be trapped in for years. Everything is hazy. You lose all sight of your senses. Lights are too brilliant and sounds too piercing. Your skin crawls and you walk on pins and needles. Now you might be understanding why I feel like I’m losing my mind.
If it was just one trauma or emotion then I might could adjust but I’m being hit with everything at once. It’s like a family reunion of pain, trauma, rejection, loss and sorrow. On top of this all I’m coming upon the sixth anniversary of my Mom dying, which is one big factor in why I’m so triggered. So not only am I having to deal with the grief but I’m also reliving the other traumas in my life like the sexual abuse when I was ten. As well as the emotional abuse my father and many other rejections in my life. So think of all the bad things that have ever happened to you. Imagine having to relive them over and over for a month or longer. Most couldn’t handle a week. There were four big traumas in my life altered who I am. First the sexual abuse. I don’t need to explain that one. Then it was when my father left my Mom when I was in Middle School. That was when the emotional abuse started with my father. It’s when I started to hide in my bed out of fear and safety. The third trauma was coming out when I was eighteen, which were also related to the first two traumas. My father was extremely emotionally abusive. Even my Mom, who’d always been my protector, turned against me. The final major trauma was when my Mom died in 2012. In between those four big events were other traumas usually stemming from one of those traumas like getting in an abusive relationship. The smaller traumas would just reinjury me in the same ways. They reinforced the damage and negative view of myself.
I already was in a trigger from the sexual abuse, which started when the me too movement started last year. I have been working on those issues with my therapist. I had started to talk about the core of that trauma, which I haven’t done in over ten years. Then I had the whole living in a homeless shelter experience, which was one of the minor traumas. Finally what really opened pandora’s box was the lunch I had with my Grandmother a month ago where she shamed me for not having a relationship with my abusive, toxic father. She pushed every hurtful button there was. It’s like she dove a dagger into my heart and kept digging. No matter what my father did or said was justification for not having him in my life. That was the past. I needed to forgive and forget like my father told me many years ago when he found out that my cousin molested me. He said that the day after he found out, when I got upset that he went hunting with my cousin. It didn’t matter, it was of great shame to the family that I was acting like I did. Especially being a fucked up human being. I was told that I wasn’t an inspiration. She took a weedwacker to my soul and I have been struggling ever since. It brought up every wound I had. Especially the ones where I started to believe that I deserved the pain and that I deserved to be treated that way. So of course, I’m starting to think of trying to have a relationship with my Dad because I deserve the abuse. These are the things going through my head right now. Did I mention I had a dream where I was forced into a sexual experience by him????
So yeah my brain is a bit scrambled right now and I’m trying to hold on the best I can. I have virtually no one to turn to. Thankfully I have made a couple of friends playing pokemon but I can’t turn to them in this way. I have no one checking up on me. I’m not on anyone’s radar. People see my cries on Facebook and all they see is noise. The only family I have left is my sister and she’s in her own hell currently. That’s what makes this whole episode horrible, is that I don’t have my Mom to turn to for comfort. I see children with their Mom’s and it kills me. What I wouldn’t do to be able to see her in person and get a hugg from her but that will never happen again, at least not in this lifetime. So I must learn to suffer alone. If it wasn’t for Pokemon Go I would go weeks without seeing anyone, other than my therapist and my neighbors who I just see in passing. I had started going to a transgender support group monthly and even this month’s meeting triggered me so nowhere is safe.
My triggers are creeping into every aspect of my life and they’re affecting me deeply. Nowhere is safe, not even my dreams. I’m living in my own world war. Will this be the day when the monsters come knocking at my door. I’m doing all I can to cope with this all. I’m sticking with therapy, even when I don’t want to go. I continue to talk about the things I don’t want to but the pain is endless and there is no relief. The trauma and feelings from that trauma have me in this torture chamber. It’s using my new awareness against me. They know that my wounds are wide open and they can push their pointy little fingers into the flesh of my gaping wounds. The beast uses its claws to tear through my wounds, like nails on a chalkboard. There is no pain killers to dull this level of torturous pain.
I just wish others would acknowledge the pain and not try to cover it up or pretend it’s not there. I gotta get through this. There is no easy fix. Taking a hot bath won’t solve this problem, nor will any amount of positivity. The one person who would check up on me is dead. I have no one looking out for me. I don’t really even have anyone to be around, especially on a regular basis. I go days without seeing anyone. I am locked in my solitude. Lately I don’t even want to be in my apartment. Right now it’s just a bedroom. I don’t have a couch. I have nowhere to relax. I have a tv and no way to watch anything on it. So right I just see an empty space, where I’m left to deal with all this pain and trauma.
I just wonder when things will ever change. I sure want them too. I hope I’m really at the core of my problems. Maybe that’s why I’m struggling so. I just worry that it will get so severe that the pain will take me over completely. Right now I have the sense to be able to write it all out in this post but tomorrow could be differently. My life is in turmoil right now and that’s not on anyone’s radar. I’m dying inside and no one is invested enough in me to know this. The clues are all over my Facebook and after a while people just unfollow and tune you out. You become apart of the fake news on Facebook.
My father use to tell me (over and over) that I was going to Hell. He was lying, I was already there. Ever since I have been desperately trying to get out of it. I’m locked inside my own misery and I haven’t found a way to escape. Every door I open leads me back to that room, where the pain lives. That is where I’m at today. I keep fighting and pushing through. I keep trying but I’m so tired and so lonely. I just want people to be around. I want people to care that I’m dying inside.
So I’m in the second week of my PTSD episode or what I call a bubble… more like a force field. One thing I learned very early on was how to dissociate to keep myself safe. There were two significant events in my childhood where I first learned to dissociate. The first started when I was sexually abused at the age of ten. I learned then that my bed and pillow were the passageway to another dimension. They became my magic carpet into the night sky. The second was a few years later when my parents had separated and my father would come over enraged, threatening my mother harm and trying to knock down the door. Both these instances I tried to float away from the scary and traumatic event that I couldn’t stop. I was scared and alone, so naturally I chose the only way possible and that was to hide. Float away from my body so that I didn’t have to endure the pain.
Once I learned the dissociative trick I started to use it as a coping mechanism, especially when trying to deal with any of the past trauma. It was my escape plan and I used it often in my adult life. Often times I had no control over it. Like a switch it would quickly get switched on and I would float away. My bedroom became this safety zone. It was like this teleportation device kind of like my own Tardis. Though I don’t need to be in my bed to dissociate. It’s just home base for me. No matter how scary and painful my life was I knew that I had my room to escape to. This was true when I came out in 1995. My parents didn’t understand being gay and they tried to change me. As a result it caused even more trauma and it confirmed to me that the only way to cope from traumatic events was to check out of my body by dissociating.
There are times when my dissociation is brief. If I can notice that I’m starting to float away then that helps lessen the time it takes to get back, though that’s not always the case. If it’s an environmental trigger then I usually can just leave the situation. Though a lot of times it will set off further triggers, making it a nasty cycle to overcome. If you are near me when I start to dissociate it’s pretty obvious. It’s like the air is being sucked out of me and I start to deflate. I go inward like I’m ready to ready to go into a cocoon. This was obvious a few weeks ago during a support group where we had a man come into our safe space and use it for his own motives. I could feel myself float away because I couldn’t handle the situation. Listening to him lecture us was just too much to take and it reminded me of too much of my past with my family. I couldn’t find a way to deflate the situation so the only choice I had was to dissociate. My two options were to confront the man or to leave. Either choices could have put me in harms way of being assaulted. I didn’t know how to handle the situation and worried about him invading my own personal space so away I went on my magic carpet.
The problem with that situation is that I had already started to dissociate prior to that night. So my magic carpet was ready to go to it’s final descent. Once I completely check out then it’s very difficult to get back to my body. It can take months and in the past it has lead to hospitalizations. To cope I take the magic carpet so far away that I get stuck in this void of nothingness. It’s a very scary place to be. It’s like you split in two. I can feel my body but everything else is far away. The whole out of body experience is like watching a movie. I can see and hear everything around me but I can’t really change what I see. I just have to wait until the movie is over. Being out in public like this is very startling. You have this sense of paranoia. It feels like the world is going to end. Everything is dark and scary. Physically I am drained and can feel every move I make. I really feel my weight like this. When I discoatiate my healthy parts go far away, leaving the unhealthy ones to roam free. They take full advantage of being alone and they use my mind as their own playground. Every insecurity and bad thought is pounded in my brain with a sledgehammer. I feel like I’m dying.
Today I had to leave the house for an errand and I didn’t want to leave. The world outside of my apartment is a very dangerous place right now. My friends and family have become strangers, and strangers are now predators. I can’t trust everyone. Everything is in fast forward, while I’m in slow motion. It’s tough to navigate like this but I do the best I can. When my errand was done I wanted to get back home. I couldn’t take the outside anymore. I started to panic as I knew it’d be at least an hour with public transportation. I would have done anything to been able to physically teleport out of there. Unfortunately my magic carpet doesn’t take my actual body. I could feel my anxiety rise as I got closer to home. The closer I got the more it felt like I would fail. Finally I did get home and I was safe again. I laid down and slept for three hours.
The process of returning my body is a slow task. Each day I get closer and there are setbacks. I will get triggered by something and start to float away again. I take two steps forward and one step back. The returning to my body aspect of it is when I feel my physicalness pretty dramatically. It’s why today on the bus it felt like I was going to die. It’s not a natural process to return. It’s a shock to my system. Once the two parts start to unite I can feel everything. The darkness starts to turn to grey but I can still see the darkness in a distance. It’s strange to be able to feel both sides, the good and bad. My mind feels better but my body and spirit don’t right away. I’m less weighted down and start to venture out more. I have to force myself to do things. Though there are things too far out of my comfort zone, like having cavities filled by my dentist. Having any sort of appointment during this period is problematic and often times I cancel like I did today. In my mind, I already have an exit strategy just in case. I go from wanting to go to therapy to not wanting to at all. In the past I would cancel therapy but this time it’s different. I have enough control of my healthy side that I know that I need it more than ever. I don’t want to talk about the pain and struggles but I do anyways. This last session I kept wanting to bolt out of the room. Talking about my problems will only bring me closer to my body and the unhealthy parts will do whatever necessary to stop that transition.
Deep inside of me is that scared little boy I use to be. I wasn’t allowed to heal or process things properly so I locked him far away, where no one could hurt him. I piled trash up on trash on top of him to disguise his location. Now as an adult I’m starting to finally heal. I’m having to pick up the trash, one piece of time. I’m closer to him than I have ever been. I’m in the house where he is at but there is still something blocking my way to his bedroom. It’s like in Harry Potter when Fluffy is blocking my bedroom door. If you’ve not seen the movie or read the books it’s a three headed gigantic dog that is foaming at the mouth and ready to eat anyone who tries to get through the door. That is what I’m up against and I’m still figuring the best way in.
I hope that this might be my last leap but history tells me that it might not be. I’m tired of enduring this process. I hope that as I start to properly heal that it will become easier to identify and control the dissociation. That means dealing with a lot of pain and trauma. I have to feel those horrible feelings that I couldn’t cope with so many years ago. I can’t run anymore. So I must deal with them as they come.
So I have not been leaving the house much lately, which is fairly common when I’m this depressed. Everything is a chore. I become like a hermit. I spend a lot of time in bed. It’s one of the only comforts in this dark time. I attempted to go out earlier to play Pokemon Go but I have been having issues in the service so that didn’t go very well. I couldn’t get the game to work and missed out on a raid with a bunch of people. So quickly I retreated back into the comforts of my dark apartment and slept for a few hours. Honestly I have spent most of today in bed.
My anxiety is on high alert. Everything is getting on my nerves, especially people. That contributes to not wanting to leave either. I become a energy sponge and I soak up all the negativity out in the world. Usually I’m good at controlling that but not when I’m this depressed. I’m not a violent or aggressive person but it makes me want to punch people in the throat. That’s how irritated I get.
I really want a new cell phone but can’t afford one. I know many people think playing Pokemon Go is silly but I really enjoy playing it. It gets me out of the house and keeps me moving. It’s the one joy I have right now and even that is struggling. Depression zaps all the joy out of everything. Even so I still play the game this depressed but today I haven’t be able to because of the issues with my phone. It’s also frustrating because it limits me on everything from tracking my calories and steps, to keeping appointments and having medicine reminders. I can’t do that with my current phone. It overheats just playing the game for five minutes. I think the most frustrating thing is not being able to afford a nicer phone. The current situation I’m in I can’t work because I’m going for SSI disability. I get very little for state disability. So I can’t afford big ticket items like a phone or a new tv for my place. It’s just a reminder of the shape I’m in and that makes me feel less.
I woke up around 10pm and I was frustrated that I couldn’t play the game. You can send gifts daily to your friends and to get them you must spin these wheels at various spots around you. I felt bad that I couldn’t send to my friends who did already so I decided to go out again to try wifi once more, even though the attempt earlier was a failure. It was pouring out, which was rather appropriate for how I was feeling. Again the wifi wasn’t working, as it was too far away. So I decided to walk to the library up the street to see if their wifi was working and it did. I was able to play the game a bit and send out gifts to my friends, that made me feel good. By the time I got back to my apartment I was soaked but I was glad to have went outside. I have always loved the rain and it was therapeutic to let it drench me.
I’m feeling better but I’m suspect of that because that’s usually how it goes. I get a few bursts of feeling good then I’m back to feeling horrible. That’s the struggle when you open pandora’s box. You just can’t force that energy back into the box. The cat is out of the bag and you must endure the pain that comes out of it. So you do what you can. In many areas I’m not doing what I should. I’m forgetting to take my medicine when I should. I’m drinking Pepsi like a fish. I’m isolating. But I’m also brushing my teeth daily. I took a shower before leaving the house. I even put on clean clothes, well my shorts. I left the house twice today. I have therapy tomorrow and I scheduled a ride to make sure I go. I have been writing in my blog regularly. So you take your positives when you can get them and hope that you’ll get back on track sooner than later.