Saturday, December 31, 2016

Talking about Traumatic Memories

I’ve talked briefly about my traumatic experience, but it feels like it’s time to talk more about it.  Trying to access memories that your mind hid from you because they were just too much to deal with is…well it’s very difficult.  I’ve been reading The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk and it does an excellent job of explaining traumatic memories.  These memories tend to be visceral, jagged, and non-sequential.  They don’t really make any kind of sense because when a person is truly traumatized their rational brain is bypassed and the experience goes straight to their emotional brain.  In other words, the experience is recorded by images, sensations, sounds, smells, but no coherent story. 

One very caring person suggested that maybe I was just picking up on someone else’s experience rather than it having been my own.  Now, I do tend to pick up on everybody else’s stuff (hazards of being an INFJ), but this was different.  Other peoples’ stuff has a fuzzy, disconnected feel to it.  I feel it, but it’s not mind.  When my trauma began to really raise its head the feelings were sharp, discordant, and very much mine.  Traumatic flashbacks are very visceral.  They catch you up and drag you along and all you can do is hang on for the ride and try to put yourself back together afterwards.

The private practice I’m completing my residential hours for my counseling license at has several unique services.  One of these is a brain queue using EEG, otherwise known as a brain map.  I’ve had two done – one before I had any memories from my trauma and another one recently.  The new brain map shows just how big an impact my trauma has had on me.  These are just a few of the things that show up on my recent brain map:  re-experiences intrusive memories; emotional numbing; dissociative episodes; amnestic disorder; mood disturbances aggression, rage; and the biggest one was the evidence of a concussion that I also don’t remember.

I’m going to do doing some more intensive self-help over the next few months.  Very soon I’ll be seeing a specialist who is trained in EMDR to help with the continuing process of dealing with my trauma.  I’m also going to be doing more intensive neurofeedback to help my brain networks operate more optimally and again, help deal with my trauma.  There are some unusual opportunities coming my way and I’m going to do my best to keep myself in good enough shape to take advantage of these opportunities.  All I can really do for now is wake up every morning, do the best I can to take care of myself and my kiddos, and go to bed every night.  The rest will come one way or another. 

To anyone reading this who knows someone else who has experienced trauma – be easy with them.  It takes a great deal of time and patience to effectively feel safe after having a truly traumatic experience.  My brain kept my memories from me for 36 years, so now I get to spend the time I have left nurturing myself.  Healing takes time, patience, and trust.  Hopefully I’ll be able to use some of my skills to help heal myself.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Roll with it

Helplessness is not a feeling I deal with very well.  There have been several times in my life when helplessness became overwhelming (Lightning's birth with transposition of the great arteries and all that entailed being one of them) and I really have to fight not to just curl up into a ball and let the world fade away.  Still haven't pinpointed it (although I'm thinking it had a lot to do with the dolphins celebrating my birthday this year) but something has shifted within me.  Instead of giving in to the helplessness of not being able to do very much about the many things affecting my life right now I'm choosing a different tactic.  I'm going to look at my strengths and do what I can to make small changes in my world.

Having a chronic nerve pain condition along with hypoglycemia has made it difficult for me to do anything physical for long amounts of time anymore.  I can still do a reasonable amount of work, but I can't start a lawn mower.  Accepting that you simply can't do the things you used to be able to do with ease was difficult.  But.  Thanks to my education and my life experience there are lots of other things I can do to help both myself and others.  I've got a plan in works right now that will help a great many people, but I'm making myself wait for it to come together instead of trying to rush it.  The Universe seems to be intent on helping with this, so I'm going to let it come together in its own time.

Another thing I can do to help both myself and others:  There will be a new additional section to my Narcissism Resources post on dealing with a President-Elect who has NPD (that's narcissism personality disorder to any newcomers.)  Quite frankly DT's electoral college win terrified me because I've lived with a person who has NPD in my life and they are just the worst to deal with.  Especially if they're in a position of power.  So...there will be new articles and information available soon in that area.

The kitten we rescued in Hazard, KY ended up being a 2 year old male cat who was so malnourished he looked like a kitten.  Ginger has now been neutered and has his shots (that was a bit of an ordeal, but he was fine when I picked him up) and we're very slowly introducing the two cats.  Calypso is handling it better than I expected her to.  Based on her behaviors now, I'm thinking her previous owner punished her more than praised her.  We're giving her lots of reassurances and attention while letting Ginger get used to being inside the house and so far all is going well.

I'm also going to be doing more tarot readings and posting them here in case anyone else is interested in seeing them.  Part of being an INFJ personality type is getting flashes of crap affecting people and not being able to do a damn thing about it.  It pretty much sucks.  Tarot helps me interpret what some of those flashes are.

Another thing I'm doing more of is EEG neurofeedback at the office where I work.  We have a protcol called Alpha Theta that really helps with PTSD.  Neurofeedback has been helping me cope with some of my PTSD symptoms.  When I do Alpha Theta I will often feel as if I'm making a connection to the Universe that I've been lacking for a very long time.  It's helping me let go of some of the shame and helplessness that CSA instills in children and adults.

That's pretty much it for now.  I'll try to update fairly frequently, but since the Holiday Death Spiral is in full spin don't count on it.  There are cookies to bake, gifts to wrap, and mother in laws not to decapitate.