Archive for the ‘connection’ Category

I spent a good portion of the day staring at my scarred skin. I ran my fingers over the pale, raised marks in wonder. I felt thankful for the way they healed, for the softness of my skin, for my lack of shame in exposing them.

I never really noticed my skin before. Or any part of my body actually. I knew I had a body, logically. But I didn’t know it was mine.

So I was sitting on my bed and staring at my arm, my leg, my chest, all scarred. Thinking just how beautiful I really am. I touched my thighs, and my calves and my feet and thought how wonderful they are.

I get it. I get how much worth I have.

I also realize how weirdly thankful that I’m left with scars. My eyes have lost their haunted look. And my joy and happiness are visible in my expression and words. And bubbling about how beautiful life is to others… Can give the impression that I ‘just don’t know any better’ about how shitty life is.

Haha. Stick out my arm, look!

… I don’t actually think I’d do that though.

But I like it. I like that you can see my past on my body, my present in my expression, and my future in my words.

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Dreamer

Posted: February 24, 2012 in connection, intimacy, relationships
Tags: ,

I had a really weird dream last night.

I dreamt I was with a guy I went out with a couple times this year, and he was introducing me to his friends. And one of his friends was a former partner of mine from years ago. And I became (in my dream) obsessed with this former lover, and felt compelled to apologize to him.

So, the real-life story behind this dream:

This was maybe 4 years ago. Ancient history, as far as where my life is now, and where I was then. I said in my last post that I was trying to fuck my pain away. I was doing that with a series of one night stands and random hookups. One of them happened to be this guy I was dreaming about last night, we’ll call him A.

So A was one of the few I was able to hang out with and talk to as well as have sex with. He wanted more from me then I was capable at the time of offering. I don’t think I ever actually came out and told him I was fucking others, but he knew anyways. Then one night I was chatting with him (online), and I have no idea why I suddenly stated that I was seeing others, self-sabotage, I guess. I’m pretty certain I didn’t see him again after that. And then next I heard from him, he was living on the opposite coast from me.

So I woke up this morning and searched for him online. Nothing. I have no idea what I would say to him, or if he would remember me, or want to remember me.

I don’t really want to think about why this is bothering me me now. Because it is.

It reminds me of why I keep my silence though.

You can’t take back the words you say.

I need to unload a bit here.

My house is currently undergoing renos. The whole main floor, the spare bathroom in the basement, and the stairs going to the bedrooms upstairs. That is just the first phase. Second will be the rest of the upstairs. No idea about basement plans, but its already been tinkered with.

Anyways.

Having strange men invade my living space is disturbing to me. My old-ish line to myself of “I’m too fat to be attacked” or “They can clearly see my sister is the pretty one” (don’t judge me, I love my sister, but it’s true) can’t quite work for me anymore. Obviously, rape/assault has nothing to do with sexiness or attractiveness. I clearly know that. Doesn’t stop my thinking. Doesn’t help my discomfort.

So –

I’ve kinda been hiding out in my room since they started. And my room is not a place of comfort. It started getting really messy around the time I was almost strangled to death. Actually, mess is putting it kindly. It looks like a hurricane tore through. I guess you could say it’s now an outward reflection of my inner turmoil. Except I’m not sure how much turmoil I’m actually feeling anymore. So I’m not sure the mess really does anything for me anymore.

Even my bed has been a source of triggers. This is something I don’t talk about to anyone – the why’s of how I wound up crashing for over a year on the couch in the living room. Which I can’t do anymore. But, it being my bed, it not much of a stretch to imagine what has gone on in it. Shudder.

Which brings me to my next thought.

I f*cking hate – HATE – the city I currently reside in. I’ve lived here forever, and so many places here bring back things I do not care to be reminded of. Tonight reminded me of that. I was out with my parents, just to get a break from my room, and we went to pick up some stuff for our makeshift kitchen. Would not have thought that would be a source of triggers.

But as soon as I walked in, I wanted to get out. I looked longingly at the bus stop. Then it hit me. I had been there before. Why I would have been in that area, I have no idea. Not an area I would normally frequent. Regardless, in a flash it all came back. An seemingly innocuous memory… I was there with the same ex mentioned above, and he was telling me about a cosmetic procedure he wanted. Ridiculous – the guy was freaking gorgeous, but whatever. We then went in for a space heater, I think. No memory of what happened before or after that. Just the place. Which was enough to make me feel like I was about to pass out while in the store. I guess being stoic is both a good and bad thing. I panic, and no one can tell. Not that I would want anyone, especially my parents, to clue-in to my feelings. I was very glad to leave, however.

Sigh –

That’s been happening more and more. I wouldn’t call them flashbacks, because I associate flashbacks with the symptoms of PTSD… It’s more fragmented memories surfacing. Memories I didn’t think I had anymore.

Memories I do not want.

Because with the memories come uncomfortable feelings. Shame, guilt, disgust. In myself, mostly. I feel very uncomfortable in my own skin.

But I guess that’s part of the process, and I can accept that.

Stay safe ❤

I think a lot of us with PTSD struggle with the concept of a healthy body image.

After being repeatedly degraded, sexualized or desexualized, being mocked, and condescended to, raped and beaten… I am no longer surprised to hear of eating issues, body dysmorphia, and a general lack of love for your-self.

It took me a long time to realize the correlation between my weight losses and gains and being abused. The first time I “came down” with anorexic-like behaviour, I was 15 or so, and being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually by my first serious boyfriend.

I gained weight after, and lost weight again in a similar situation. By the time I was being prostituted a couple years ago, my “bf” (read: pimp) at the time liked the fact my body was curvy and voluptuous. Instead of escaping the situation, I internalized all the cr*p he was feeding me about being “only good for one thing”, and took it out on my body, losing weight again. When I met my next bf, who “rescued” me (never trust a white knight– their armor is tarnished, as is their souls), I was down to an abnormal weight for myself. The longer I was with him and more dependent I became on the relationship, the more I hated the body he loved. I gained significant weight before the night he tried to kill me, but after that event, it was like a no-holds-barred food buffet in an attempt to stuff my emotions.

Anyways…

I didn’t start liking myself until I started spending time with myself. I realized I had to have some positive emotion towards myself in order the change the pattern. I’m still trying to figure out the mechanism that lead to change within me, so that I can share it. All I know was that after the rape three months ago, I had enough.

In conversations with one of my exes, it becomes blatantly clear to me exactly why I turned to someone who rose red flags in my mind. As sad as it sounds, he made me feel completely unwanted– like I had no value sexually.

Bizarre, how I reacted, one would think that I would welcome the change from a literal sex slave, to… unsexed companion? But I’ve finally had to admit to myself that I’m simply not in a place mentally where I can be with a man, and not be physically intimate. I feel useless. And lonely. And dirty. And convinced that if he’s not getting any from me, he is getting it elsewhere.

So as soon as I cut him out of my life (again), I turned to a guy I casually saw, and who DID see sexual value in me. Enter feelings of validation. He rose red flags through mock-hitting me, accusations of cheating, and constantly checking up on me throughout the day… But I did not count of being assaulted by him.

I digress though, this is supposed to be about body image.

I had my massage yesterday, which was interesting. It incorporated BodyTalk techniques to help release trauma from my body (the areas worked on were my back and neck and face). Some of the spots she worked on felt completely numb to me, while pain flared elsewhere, and images flashed through my mind reminding me why I was hurting there.

It is very hard to relax during a massage. I hate being seen without my clothes on, to the point where I will put of showering or changing my clothing so I don’t have to experience myself naked. Touch without alterior motives is completely foreign to me (and perhaps on of the big problems I had with the ex mentioned above).

It’s hard to admit, but it went well. It was difficult emotionally, and afterwards I could not stand the thought of being in close proximity with anyone. The thought of anyone coming up behind me has me paranoid (not unusual).

The fact that my sex drive has bounced back through healthy eating and the elimination of libido-supressing medications has me a little freaked. Part of me worries I will act out like I used to. But the fact that I have an awareness I didn’t back then, helps me realize that self-destructive behaviour is unlikely.

Sorry for the disjointed thoughts. I seem to be a bit all over the place today. I really did intend on writing a well thought out post on Body Image.

Stay Safe ❤

I think the power of touch can be transformative, considering that we carry so much trauma within the body.

I also think there is a lot of power in our denial of touch– it says a lot about the depth of our hurt that we cannot allow someone to companionably or compassionately hold us, caress us.

I never used to have that problem– denying touch. I would crave it, and I would find it. I never questioned how much my need for touch was actually destroying my ability to be intimate. I went about finding touch in the wrong way– acting out sexually, when what I needed was compassionate and healing  touch.

So I ended up completely abhorring touch, and denying it to myself. And I wonder, is that behaviour any healthier? I am depriving myself of a basic human need.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-trauma-touch.htm

http://culturemagazine.ca/activism/the_liberating_power_of_gentle_touch.html

I have been doing tons of work, by myself, and with others, to help integrate body and mind. It’s been working so well so far, I feel less PTSD symptoms, I’m less reactive, less stressed, I don’t have violent nightmares anymore (or dream at all).

Yet– I know I have to add in therapeutic touch to help give me a boost. It is the one thing I am not working on. I still shy away from other peoples touches, and feel uncomfortable getting hugs. I’m beginning to feel that some focused touch on my back would be particularly helpful, as I store a lot of trauma there, as well as my face, and who knows where else. I think it would be especially beneficial to my detox process. As well as give me the building blocks for emotional intimacy (something that has always made me cringe).

I have a massage appointment in another hour, with the same woman who does BodyTalk with me, so I know for sure she has some experience with (emotional) trauma and it’s physical effects. The idea of a focused touch on places where I won’t even touch myself has me stressed, to say the least. But it’s too late to back out now– I have been avoiding therapeutic touch for several months now, and have never had a massage with the goal of releasing trauma… I would just dissociate for the hour. Not healthy.

So, wish me luck 🙂

Stay safe ❤

I have been doing a bunch of research, now that my brain is working more optimally. I’ve been trying to figure out the root causes of (complex) PTSD, and the disorders that can mask it or go along with it.

This is what I found (please note that some of these theories, while increasingly accepted as fact, are not accepted by all doctors):

Mitochondrial Dysregultation. Our mitochondria, when operating optimally, is the energy source of a cell. A dysfunction can show up as cognitive dysfunction, attention disorders, and memory problems. Stress makes this reaction worse (PTSD, anyone?), and makes the person more likely to be depressed, have chronic fatigue, bipolar disorder, panic disorder (PTSD, anyone?). Autopsy’s have proven these mitochondrial dysfunctions. In mouse-studies of mitochondrial dysfunction, the mice had bipolar symptoms, altered states, and turnover of monoamines (believed to be connected to depressed states). Mitochondrial dysfunction caused monoamine depletion, leading to mouse mood-disorder.

It boils down to ratty neurons, dysfunctional mitochondria, and brain damage (inflammatory response in the body).

Pro-inflammatory cytokines can induce depression. Elevated cytokines have been reported in depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, migraines, and chronic fatigue (common ailments to those with PTSD).

Anti-depressants have been shown to cause inflammation, and to damage mitochondria, regardless of the anti-depressant’s mechanism of working within the body.

Bipolar disorder has been shown to be connected to Metabolic Syndrome.

Fructose and lactose, when malabsorbed within the body, react chemically to Tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, degrading it, and leading to lower levels of serum zinc and folic acid. (Depressed people on a low-fructose diet were shown to improve 65% within 4 weeks).

Relative Hypoglycermia as a cause of Neuropsychiatric illness (article by Harry M Saltzer, M.D.), linked to bipolar disorder, psychosis, anorexia, obesity, exhaustion, fatigue, cold limbs, and muscle/joint pain. Found that if blood glucose dropped to such low levels, the body can produce bizarre side effects, such as psychosis.

Psychology Today: Could soda and sugar be causing your depression?

Gut and the brain: “Fix your gut, and you fix your health”.

Anti-depressants cause serotonin to remain on the synapse: that can cause serotonin burnout (the reason for having to rotate through anti-depressants, they stop working eventually). Anti-depressants do not make serotonin.

All your neurotransmitters come from amino acids. You get amino acids for eating protein (think meat).

70-90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Ingesting carbs releases serotonin to help move food along, but does not build serotonin (can lead to problems). Does create a feeling of satiety, which can lead to carb addiction. Solution: increase healthy fats and eat meat.

Tryptophan is a serotonin precursor, as is 5-HTP. Vitamin D also builds serotonin (sunshine!), and a deficincy can lead to a mood disorder.

Feed the deficincy, thus feeding the body. You are not suffering from a medication imbalance! No chemical imbalances have ever been unequivicaly demonstrated for any mood imbalance. Med’s work due to psychological effect (psych times).

http://emediahealth.com/2011/07/27/abnormal-cortisol-levels-depression-anxiety-and-ptsd-are-signs-of-long-term-abuse-and-psychological-trauma/

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/2011/11/depression-beyond-chemical-imbalance.html

http://www.pointofreturn.com/gut_health.html

So how do you help this situation?

Compassionate body mindfulness, movement and breath can help. Eliminating processed foods, simple carbs, sugar… Increasing healthy fats help cravings (such as coconut oil, ghee, lard…). Talk-therapy, body-mind integration.

6 components to healing: Safety! Self-regulation; self-reflective information processing, traumatic experiences information integration; relational engagement; positive affect enhancement.

Signs of healing: your inner critic (the abusive “voices) shrink and lose dominance, allowing your own voice to shine through more often; increased ability to relax – resisting overreaction to triggers; Trusting in your intuitive response; Asserting your own needs; Self-compassion, -soothing, -protection.

http://www.palace.net/llama/psych/herman.html

http://ptsdawayout.com/2011/09/12/c-ptsd-healing-emptying-the-amygdala-one-breath-at-a-time/

http://ptsdassociation.com/ptsd-coping-strategies.php?Trauma%20and%20The%20Spiritual%20Path-12

One more thing (K, maybe more then one):

Complex PTSD is often misdiagnosed as bipolar or borderline disorders. The symptoms of the C-PTSD can be masked by medication, thus making the misdiagnosis seem valid. However, the root of the problem (the real issue- trauma) remain untreated, as does all the other symptoms of C-PTSD (shame, guilt, repeating trauma patterns…).

A genetic predisposition to Borderline Personality Disorder is unrelated to trauma. BPD can, in these cases, be interchangeable with Complex PTSD.

Human beings are not inherently broken. All cells renew themselves within the body– meaning that the imprint of trauma on the body/brain can be healed.

Stay safe ❤

{Let me just preface this by saying that this is my opinion only, and that I am only doing what is right for *me*. I am acting with the blessing and supervision of my therapist, and while I am not a professional, I spent a very long time researching to make sure that my thinking was heading in the right direction}

In the last several weeks I have been in the process of reducing and eliminating my medication with the hopes of becoming med-free for the first time in 14 years. Just to put those 14 years in perspective, I am 24 years old. I have been heavily medicated since I was ten.

A couple weeks ago, I was once again upset and resentful about being dependent upon chemical compounds (a feeling that overcomes me quite often). This time though, my thoughts took a different turn —

I started thinking about my development. It really hit me that I had been severely limited by the addition of heavy medications at 10, only to continue taking them for the next 14 years.

It started out because of an injury in school during gym class, a hockey puck to the knee. The swelling and bruising was normal. But the immense pain was not. Tests showed nothing. My doctor suggested I was “acting out” to keep from going to school. Other doctors suggested it was all in my head and that I needed psychiatric help.

Eight months went by before I had a firm diagnosis– that my pain was real, and I was not faking it.

Things continued to deteriorate– at school, I was ostrasized for being different. At home, I just shut myself up in my room and retreated. My parents took me to the “best experts” in the country….

At 10, I was declared clinically depressed due to the chronic pain, and thus suicidal. That I *needed* medication.

Typical of modern-day health care, no doctor ever really tried to get to know me, or figure out what was the cause of my pain (abuse). It was simply accepted as fact that pain made you depressed, and therefore, I was depressed.

I spent several months out of the next few years in hospital getting treatment. Meanwhile, my diet was abismal, consisting of hospital pizza and pasta. So of course my weight weight up, making me even more withdrawn and isolated.

To say nothing of the dehumanization of actually being in hospital.

Fast forward… I was 16, and deteriorating once again, after having a good year. On even more heavy medication. My first serious relationship has been going on for a year, and for a year I have been abused. Both my ex- and I were put on accutane at this time, and he became even more rageful and vengeful towards me, while I turned my anger inward and became completely unresponsive, almost catatonic. My parents brought me to emerg, and I was placed in psychiatric care for the summer.

This started a pattern. I learned hospitals were safe– even with “crazy” people. He could not touch me or harm me anymore while I was locked away. I felt better, I did a lot better. Of course, everyone continued to insist I was depressed (my habit of cutting did not help– again, turning my anger and rage inward).

Fast forward… My parents take me to visit various mental institutions, and there is talk of putting me away. Frankly, I’m not sure I care much. I never had freedom to begin with, so why would being locked away matter? At least I would be safe.

Fast forward… I am diagnosed as bipolar. Something I now believe was result of being placed on so much medication that ruined my gut and brain (plus the shitty diet, I think at this time, I was anorexic, and making sure I got less to eat then people in countries of famine– yes, I actually did the research). Finally, something broke and I became psychotic.

What I never mentioned to any “expert”, was all the abuse, and the abuse I was experiencing before, during, and after this psychosis. After all, it was my fault right? Boys will be boys, and all that crap…

Of course, the “experts” knew I was abused, that is the kicker. They could tell. Some pressed me on the subject, some mentioned it, trying to be subtle. But they all knew.

Fast forward… I am… 20? 21? I have attempted suicide yet again by overdosing on my pills, which I have failed to take for two weeks, having collected them instead. Oddly, while my mind is confused and muddled, it is no worse. I still overdosed. I was not trying to die. Never did I want any of my attempts to result in death. I just needed something to change. And I did not have the tools at the time to fix myself. So I did the only thing I could think of to get to a safe place and recollect.

In psych wards, I was always polite, well behaved, and friendly. I was being looked after and safe. That made me happy.

Anyways, my mental health is not something I like to discuss normally. I realize how my actions looked from the outside looking in. I acted like someone with a serious brain imbalance.

The last several months I have been doing a bunch of research… I have been compiling evidence that someone like me can be healed through proper nutrition (orthomolecular medicine). But since it is only me compelling me to act, and no one else helping me out, I had to actually implement change on my own.

Change happens in an instant, but getting to the momentous shift can take forever with the thinking and hesitating, and analyzing.

On sept 25th, I was raped again. And I used that as a catalyst to change.

I forced my brain to focus on what I was researching. To assimilate the knowledge I was reading and to actually process it. Finally, it started sinking in. And my thoughts, which would usually peter out if getting too complex, actually clicked. The cycle I am in is killing me, my health is failing me, and my quality of life sucks.

So I did an overhaul, I revamped my diet first, started getting more fresh air, put things into play to ensure that I slept at night peacefully. I created a good support system around me. I really opened up to my therapist. I got better.

I started questioning my diagnosis. I’ve long accepted that my fibromyalgia pain is my body’s result to trauma. But could the bipolar be as well? I did more digging.

I found out about damaged gut flora, and how it can create physical and mental problems within the body that can manifest as both fibro and bipolar. (google “GAPS”– gut and psychology symdrome).

I started to believe that my symptoms were a result of nutritional defitency. That my mental state was the result of long-term heavy drugs used to control mood. The side effects sometimes “create” illnesses like bipolar. I also learned that my painkillers could be making my pain worse. I also feel like the real source of all problems is trauma. Help the trauma and I help myself.

Everything built up until I decided to simply wean off. I informed my psychiatrist, told my general practitioner, and explained in depth to my therapist, who completely understands, and is amazed at the progress I have been making.

A week and half ago, I started tapering off oxycontin. Yup, same stuff that people sell in the street, snort, crush, get high off of. I’ve been on it for at least the last 10 years.

I am now on day 3, being completely and utterly medication free. Here are my observations about myself:

I am at peace. My mood disregulation is gone. My complex- PTSD symptoms have all calmed down. I smile randomly throughout the day. My mind is clear. I am capable of complex thought process in a way I never have been before. There is a spring in my step, where as before, I walked about as fast as my cane-using 80 something yr old grandmother. I feel a desire to do things I have not done in forever, or have been too triggered to do (like listening to music).

I actually feel hope for the future. Trying to start a business while being unwell just was not feasible. I’ve now come to discover just how bogged down my brain was due to medication– I could not function as a “normal” person– no focus, no concentration… I have drive, but had little motivation to propel me into action.

I have an appt set up with my p.doc this week, and I hope I sound coherent when I explain my reasons for getting off meds. He has always taken the stance that taking them is up to me, and only me. But it would be nice to have his support, like I do my therapist. I am also doing a 17wk group therapy for abuse survivors. I am doing BodyTalk, where I am connecting mind to body, which is helping me heal in leaps and bounds, instead of tiny baby steps. I have an appt this week too with a naturopath, with whom I hope will guide me in the correct direction regarding supplementation, and diagnostic testing (I suspect some hormones might be out of balance, possibly candida…which of course contributes to the mess my body is in). It’s a lot of specialists I have been committed to seeing, but I figure if I do the work now, I will benefit sooner, and for longer.

I am still in detox from oxy, but the worst is over. The miserableness of the last week and a half has lessened to mild unpleasantness. It is thrilling, because my baseline pain levels are lower then normal.

Stay safe ❤