PTSD slapped me upside the head with a trout

Well, not really, but that just sounds so much more appealing than it actually was.

This last week was… rough. I wrote all of last week’s posts over the weekend, when I was still reeling from Saturday’s therapy session, and I spent the weekend and most of the week in a depressive fugue. I was too depressed to move Monday or Tuesday, and I only lasted about two hours on Wednesday before getting sent home. I called my therapist and got scheduled for Thursday instead of Saturday, so my supervisor said I could come back Friday if I was feeling better.

My therapist and I talked a lot about how I’d felt blindsided, like I was thirteen again and being berated. We talked about how cruel I really am to myself in my head, how I use the negative words- lazy, fat- to beat myself endlessly, especially when I don’t feel well. We talked about my guilt, about needing to save the world. She told me to start loving myself and caring for myself, which we’ve talked about before. I admitted that I’m horrible to myself, at least in my head, and I don’t feel I deserve those nice things, because I am such a horrible person. I cried, but it was good crying. My head felt like it was put back on straight.

Friday was my work holiday party, so I figured I could handle that. I took some crochet with me because we have two yearly retreats, and so in the morning we go over stuff that needs to be reviewed for accreditation purposes, and then we have a nice catered lunch, and goof off in the afternoon. I crocheted throughout the presentations, because unless I’m on top of the screen I can’t read it anyway- I don’t think anyone I work with truly understands how Powerpoint presentations are supposed to work- and I focus better if my hands are busy. (Last year I doodled, and the lady I’d been sitting by came to see what I drew this year. She said she’d been bragging about my pictures and was sad that I hadn’t been drawing again.) I sold a pair of fingerless gloves on the spot, got potential orders for more (and I still haven’t come close to finishing my actual Christmas presents!) and one of the people who came up to talk to me about my gloves, is someone I think I’ll definitely be developing a friendship with.

We started off talking about a commission for gloves to cover some really bad stress eczema she gets on her hands, and I commiserated on that, as I get it down the length my index finger, through the webbing onto my thumb, and back up my thumb, on both hands. We talked about stress, about coping with stress from life and work, and I shared my diagnosis with her, and she shared with me that she’d once been diagnosed bipolar, but it was actually complex PTSD from childhood trauma she’d suppressed to the point of dissociation. She told me some things that have me thinking completely differently.

She came from an abused past, as well. My therapist has long since diagnosed me with PTSD and we talk about it continually, but my new friend helped me connect it with symptoms I’ve long since assumed were from my bipolar disorder and couldn’t figure out why things wouldn’t Just. Stay. Fixed.

Losing time? Check. Recurring nightmares? Check. Horrible insomnia? Check. Feeling disconnected from my body, and dissociation? Check. Feeling like I’m larger or smaller than I actually am, and wanting to be invisible? Check. Waking up paralyzed? Check. Self-sabotage? Definitely, as I seem bound and determined to lose my job these days. (Thank god for FMLA.) Massive trigger responses? Yeah, considering I missed almost a whole week of work again, I’d say that’s a check. We talked about grounding exercises, and how to work through the voices- not psychotic voices that sound external, the internal voices. My mom, dad, and stepdad feature most prominently, as their voices are usually the ones berating me. Most often it’s my dad, but this past week saw my mom and stepdad in starring roles.

She suggested looking up grounding techniques, and recommended the treatment she’d gone through when she’d been so badly affected (and improperly diagnosed and treated) that she’d spent years on disability, and is just now getting back to working, as someone in her late fifties. I’ve been searching out various grounding techniques most of the evening now, and I think I found a good list here, on Mosaic Minds. It’s definitely a starting point. I’ve heard about the rubber band around the wrist for thought-stopping, but not for grounding. Breathing exercises only help so much, and I tend to get very panicky at work, in crowds, or anywhere I feel rushed or unprepared.

After setting boundaries with my mother for as long as I had, and for her to dredge all of those things back up, along with telling me about how she and my stepdad were both angry at me for being lazy, and disappointed, and think I’m going to be 700 pounds and disabled, and all the rest of it, I was taken completely by surprise and I was massively triggered as a result. I now realize that I felt like I was thirteen again, desperately begging for help only for mom to tell me, “Aww, do you need some Prozac in your cornflakes?”

Drama queen.
Lazy.
You’re over-exaggerating, it isn’t that bad.
Just deal with it, you’re fine.
Fat.
Moody.
You’ll have to have your knees replaced if you don’t lose weight.
You don’t need to eat that.
Eating in secret.
Food shame, guilt.
It’s all in your head.
Recurring nightmares of pressure, being trapped, being chased.
Claustrophobia and oversensitivity to the extreme in crowded, noisy places.
A fight or flight response of “freeze.”
Immediate state of panic whenever people nearby- especially if I know them- are in a verbal altercation.
Fear of alcohol and bars.
You must be cheating on your diet or you’d be losing more weight.
Part of health is exercise. WHEN do you exercise? You’re too sedentary.

I’m going to write down all of those negative words that fill my head, and burn them. Despite being broke, I felt it was important to make myself a sort of cleansing ceremony, to put a tangible end to the tormenting and break free. I bought some incense in a scent that isn’t horrible (it’s usually too strong, but I found some vanilla that’s not too bad, with the windows open) and a pretty glass vase to burn things in; it’s good and thick and deep and curved so stuff won’t pop back out. I’m going to make an event out of it. I’m going to clean my apartment, tidy things up, and burn all the old thoughts that are imprisoning me.

Fresh start.

I can’t wait.

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5 Comments

Filed under Now, Then

5 responses to “PTSD slapped me upside the head with a trout

  1. Morbid Insanity

    “burn all the old thoughts that are imprisoning me.”
    Nice! I support your initiative. I should do the same =/

    • It was actually quite fun to do it. I shredded up paper- ended up using two sheets of notebook paper in the end- and wrote all the things that echo- insults, both from other people and ones I use on myself, all the abuse, all those little sniping comments from people that cut to the quick and come out to play when my brain decides it hates me… Each one, I read aloud, and reclaimed my power over it, and burned it. I had a couple candles burning around me, and I would light it off one of the candles. Once I had burned them all, I lit some incense and stirred the ashes with it to burn the last little bits. Now that I’ve washed my little candle holder, I’m going to fill it with GOOD things.

      • Morbid Insanity

        That’s awesome!
        I’m thinking about it like something to be done every end of week or month. 🙂

      • Yeah, it would be a good end-of-month ritual, if I kept track of things all month- jot them down as they happen. I might also do it New Year’s Eve to start the new year on a positive foot, too!

      • Morbid Insanity

        It is an amazing idea! Maybe this way the new year starts with good vibrations and better things happen. 🙂

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