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The Sands of Time

These past weeks have been hard, friends.

I’ve been hurting, my soul has been hurting, my body has been hurting.

What people don’t talk about much as much is how depression/anxiety can manifest in your body as aches, pains, migraines and general exhaustion.

I’ve been living in a 10×10 room for much of these past few weeks.  Looking as the world passes me by.  At times I have enough energy to shower, to eat. Most days I only leave the house if I have an appointment.  Most days I only shower when I have to leave the house for an appointment.  It’s a planned life.

I wake up exhausted, I go to bed awake.

My husband has been holding our home together when he is home, while I hold down my bed.  He parents, he cooks, he has taken on the administration that I typically do.

The times I feel most alive are in real conversation with my friends, which are rare right now due to the amount of exhaustion and effort it takes to arrange.  Recently I met with a friend on my couch for a couple hours and it was just lovely.

We all just desire connection, understanding, truth, authenticity.  So right now this is me.

Authentic me.

 

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Dear Tempurpedic™,

These past two weeks, I’ve spent more time in an intimate relationship with you than I have in a year. My hip bones have made a permanent crease where typically my shoulders lie.

I look out my window at the world that goes weirdly on, as the world in my head swirls like the season of hurricanes hitting the south. I want to sleep so badly as I’m desperately exhausted, but when my eyes close, they can’t stop moving.

Your support has moved into just a container for my body to be while my mind quickly falls apart.

I get glimmers from the outside world while leaning against the back, my head with imprints of the columns of the headboard.

  • An email from my mother about hanging pictures on her wall (sure, let’s do that next week; defer.)
  • A Facebook message from a friend about Anderson Cooper (Yes, still sexy as hell; this is making me seem totally stable right?)
  •  A text from my husband that my child got the winning goal at his soccer game just now with 5 seconds left in the game.
    • Brain path:
      • –> I’m so proud.
      • —>Wow that’s great.
      • –> I wasn’t there.
      • –> I am in this bed right now instead of at his soccer game.
      • –> Watching fucking House of Cards.
      • –> What the hell am I actually doing?
      • –> I am failing at mothering and adulting and wife-ing.
      • –> I am failing at life.
      • –> (I fall apart at this moment.)

My place of solitude and refuge now becomes the place that has a grip that prevented me from participating in life.

The fingers of PTSD have me trapped in your expensive mattress.

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“You’re So Brave.”

Brave: having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty; making a fine show 

“You’re so brave.”

When people say this to me in regards to my story, my go-to outer response is “thank you.” My inner response is “I have no choice, so it’s not bravery, it’s survival and even that isn’t always a given.”

The past two weeks have been full of the bravery of a different type, simply figuring out a way to stay alive. I walked among the living, not feeling a part of them.  I smiled and joked, and played the part of the living, but was not one of them. I am around people, but alone.

PTSD is a Liar.  Anxiety is a Liar.  Depression is a Liar. Trauma is a Liar.

As someone aptly mentioned, trauma is like “my neighbors who not only play their music super loud but have extra bass that you can feel from across the apartment.” Wednesday night, that music brought me to the brink after a full week of operating at emergency trauma level, and I took a handful of pills on top of my typical nighttime medication.  This was brought about by quite a few of events involving a mix-up with a member of my care team, a person from my past coming up on Facebook surprisingly, and continuing feelings about the friend-breakup from the prior weeks.

 

My thoughts were scattered when I made this choice.  I can’t describe it.  I didn’t want to die.  I just didn’t want to live.  Or didn’t want to feel.  I’m not sure, maybe both.  Trauma is a liar. You can’t escape your brain, it’s always there.

So I talked about it.  First in a terrifying text to my therapist- where I downplayed exactly what I took.  Second, to my husband when “the story in my head” told me that likely my therapist would call the police to do a wellness check (which didn’t happen.)  Third, I reached out to my sister-wife, Diana.  Fourth, to Katherine.  Fifth, made a small circle post to my trusted people.  Oddly enough, the scariest reveal was to my bodyworker, as I was totally feeling very vulnerable about sharing this very deep scary part of my soul.  With previous attempts, I kept silent.  This time needed to be different.

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I was talking with a gal on Insta today about how she was worried about her mental health stories being depressing.  And maybe they are.  Maybe we ARE telling the depressing stories.  We talk about clawing against the walls to get out of the well.  We talk about the awful side effects of medication and how we want to crawl out of our own skin with it, and without it. But here’s the thing, these stories HAVE TO BE TOLD.

Mental Health HAS to be talked about.

Suicidality has to be talked about.

I can appear at a mom’s group at 9:30 AM on Wednesday looking perfectly functional, joking, and at 5:30 pm try to end it all.  The person right next to you could be struggling with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, all sorts of things and we AREN’T talking about it.

This HAS to change.

I’m not brave.  I’m alive.

Sometimes, despite my best efforts.  This week, despite my best efforts.

Bravery, in this case, is “Making a Fine Show.”

 

 

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Dear Flashbacks,

Flashback

a :interruption of chronological sequence (as in a film or literary work) by interjection of events of earlier occurrence; also an instance of flashback
b :a past incident recurring vividly in the mind

This week, you’ve moved into my body with a vengeance. An interjection of events of an earlier occurrence, an interruption of my normal day by inserting your grainy fingers vividly not only into my mind but into my body, into my lungs, around my neck, through my belly.

You bring the war back into my soul unexpectedly, and by that I don’t mean Iraq or any other desert, I’ve never been there, and by that I mean I sometimes wish that was the case because people might be able to relate in some way or at least ask about the war I lived.  And by that I mean I can’t say that out loud because of the shame of saying I wish I had lived through the war of people rather than the sexual war I lived through sometimes.  I could speak about you more in groups, people would understand better.

Instead, I spend most waking moments consciously working to keep you in check.  People don’t typically focus on how many breaths they take per minute.  How often I hold my breath and wonder “why am I so dizzy right now?” grab the counter and then gasp when I realize I’ve been holding my breath.   How often I realize how often I feel awful and realize it’s because you have caused me not to leave my room all day and need to eat.

Massage is one of the only places where my main job IS to breathe, IS to relax, and the place that you make me work the hardest.  For months you have been poking at me, knocking at the door of my brain just WAITING to jump out. Only once before have you come out to play, and you scared me.

This week I was unable to keep you put away in your little box.  My feelings were at the surface, I was working so hard just to keep myself together generally that once I got on the table, I realized that the whole 90 minutes were going to be hard work to keep you at bay.  My feelings started swimming at the surface immediately before she even came back in the room.  I became hyper-aware of every single noise.  Every person around the building became my rapist, every voice, the one who was going to come get me.

Once she came back in the room I felt my focus go extremely inward to manage you. You started immediately when she touched me.  You started teasing me with small little memories.  Some were benign compared to others.  Little leadups to the Big T traumas.  Then in one quick moment, you hit, as if physically, and I had no control any longer.  I’ve been able to keep you in check for months, but yesterday I was totally helpless to keep you in your box.

Little t traumas either in Charlie Chaplin black and white skipping silent reels will play, where I can’t keep track of where you are leading me or when you will stop.  A mix of little t and big T traumas will play in mini cartoon style where you insert sound or feelings and my body will start to react. My hands and body will start to shake and my breathing will start to alter. In the largest situations, Big T traumas will play in full film or even 3D fashion, where you just move right into my mind and hijack everything.  This is the scariest part.

I have a deep fear that people around me can’t cope with you, mainly because *I* can’t cope with you.  I can’t imagine what it is like to watch someone experience a flashback from the outside, as I just know what it feels like inside.  The way you make me feel is so out of control.  I can’t breathe, I’m suddenly thrust into 17 years past like a horrific Christmas ghost of trauma.

I told someone this week, “you can’t handle this.”  Truthfully, *I can’t handle this.*

Truthfully, *I can’t handle this.*

I can’t handle you.

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The Greatest Thing…

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“The greatest thing is just to love,

AND be loved in return.”

 

 

My grief cycle moved very nicely from anger to sadness throughout the day, which I credited to really FEELING my emotions, which I hadn’t really done before with strong “negative” emotions, for lack of better terms.

Last night I attended another Authentic Relating circle.  I was particularly nervous because a friend was also attending.  This made me feel vulnerable for a couple of reasons.  First, they knew me outside of the circle, and that I had been struggling.  Second I was concerned that I would no longer be able to be an on-looker at the circle, and need to participate more.  Both concerns were forcing me to look at my emotions and focus on being present in the space which I ended up being very grateful for.

I also was grateful that I was asked a pointed question about how I was feeling, which forced me to be out in the open and vulnerable.  After the past few days, I was feeling raw, and was craving the opportunity to speak about my experience and yet still feeling really trepidatious about opening up to a group of nine people I barely knew about the hurt I was feeling.  But as soon as I started talking I started to feel a release of some of the sadness I was carrying.

I started to hear the stories of the other’s in the room and one line struck me about being a giver, and pouring a lot of love and time into relationships and feeling like you’re not getting much back.  When I heard that line it hit me so hard, like someone threw truth at me like a brick.  All I wanted to do was to reach out touch the person who said this, but they were across the room.  It was an almost overwhelming desire to connect and go, I hear you, this is exactly it.  The givers give, but often we are not given TO.

Yes. yes. YES. You are not alone, I hear you.

One of the reasons I surround myself with such amazing people is TO LOVE.

 

I’ve realized that equally important is to be loved IN RETURN.  

 

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Dear Yellow,

Yellow, you are a feeling.  I saw you this morning in the sun, and I wasn’t ready to see you.   Minutes later you hit me in the face with a pretty Insta post with the hashtag #goodmorning and #wakeup.  You symbolized the feeling of dread I had today. This feeling of “the world just isn’t ready for the rage I have to unleash on it today.”  I wasn’t ready for this pure lemon cake color.  I was ready for coffee and grunge brown.

Yellow, I didn’t think I could interact with you today.  I didn’t think I could start to see the good in the world.  I didn’t think I could start to think that there are people out there that aren’t trying to be subversive and mean.  I started the day spinning on my current friendships and wondering how they too are going to plot against me and suddenly flip the script and dump me in a dumpster fire like I was a couple days ago.  This is not the color yellow.  This is is pea soup green, and not the pretty kind.  The kind with lots of bacon grease and goo.

Yellow, you started to find me today in reassurances.  In little moments where I was told that I was a good person, despite words to the contrary.  I found you, yellow, in snuggles with my kiddo.  I found you in pre-lunch almond rocas.  I found you in little social media messages with new friends where I got to share little inside jokes, about the color yellow. I found you in the acoustic version of Ella Vos’ “Down in Flames.  I found you in the sun that snuck in through a small crack in the blinds.

Yellow, you were in my therapy room today, where I raged, and cried, and shook for 20 minutes explaining why I was so hurt and angry.  And I looked across the room and saw this hilariously drawn unicorn with zebra stripes.  I smiled and realized that you, yellow, were in the room.  In that moment I realized that it really didn’t matter anymore. The truth will never be heard by the one person who would need to understand it. I was just the person in the way at the moment in their story of hurt.  And that’s really sad.  I can move on, but they are likely lost in a sad story.  I wish I could be there, as I had been before, but I won’t be. That was the choice they made, and maybe one day looking back they will see that.

Yellow, thank you for being so beautiful.  I went back to you today and noticed how pure you are.  Thank you for putting amazing people in my life who talked me through amazing things over the past few days, especially those who knew both of us in this conflict and could really stand with me in understanding.  I feel such a burden of release and relief.  It’s weird to have a color associated with it, but I do.  Thank you.