Daily Archives: May 11, 2012

Confronting Trauma

Over the last three weeks I have quit practically everything that could be considered a crutch cold-turkey. Even donuts. And I effing love donuts.

I have been allowing myself a cup of tea now and again though, because seriously. This is painful.

It all started for two reasons.

1. I wanted to see just what exactly was effecting me, and how.

and

2. I have started “working” (and by working I mean being tortured) on dealing with issues of past trauma.

Apparently, the story with trauma is that people are supposed to grieve it before they can move on. When it is particularly gruesome, however, a lot of folks just cram those feelings in a bottle, stick a cork on it, and shove it in the back of the mental closet somewhere.

Meanwhile, over the last few years whatever was in that bottle has fermented, and it is stinking up the place. From what I understand, I am supposed to uncork the bottle, experience all of the negative emotions and memories (without me repressing them again) a little bit at a time, and then dispose of the bottle in some biohazard area.

So grieving + cleaning = potential elimination of (at least some of) my PTSD problems that have been getting quite bad.

I am no psychologist, so this is a very rudimentary understanding.

Taking in the upsetting information in chewable bites has been tricky. Part of me wants to absorb as much of it as I can at once to try and get it over with, but it doesn’t work that way.

It is like treading water, and someone hands me a bowling ball with some magic healing words on it. I try, as fast as I can, to read the words on the ball before it pulls me to too far down to safely drop the ball and swim back up to the surface. If I hold onto it for too long, I could potentially drown.

Then I keep getting handed a hundred more bowling balls.

Anyway, there are also theories that partaking in anything that will numb my emotions will only prolong the process and make it worse, because seeking solace in anything that will numb things will ultimately just repressing them again, even though it feels better. 

I have only been working on this for about two weeks now, but it took months to whip myself into the sort of mental frenzy where opening pandora’s box seemed like a good idea, rather than something that should stay hidden for all eternity.

I really find the idea of this whole experience terrifying, but I know that is how PTSD operates. It keeps me from getting help by instilling in me the terror associated with having to re-live the ordeal(s) over and over again, while screwing around with my life in silly-yet-serious ways in the meantime.

Of course, one of the books I have says I will likely get depressed while I’m trying to work out all of these negative emotions swirling around, which is just peachy. I am not entirely convinced that this intense ball of conflicting emotions really got the ball rolling on the mixed episodes I had been having. The whole thing is extremely unpleasant and makes me want to flail around, and then my face has been hurting from clenching my jaw so hard. This week has been easier, I am working on some kind of dance I can do to step into and out of the ick.

At this point, like with the Lithium, I am being handed a model of something that has worked for other people. It is rather unpleasant (and definitely yucky), but this is something I have to try because there is the chance it might work. 

Right now in my life, the universe is being somewhat stingy about the opportunities it gives me to improve my symptoms -for bipolar disorder, for anxiety, but for PTSD especially. There isn’t a pill for PTSD, unfortunately, and pretty much all of the “helpful” sorts of drugs associated are antidepressants, which I clearly cannot take.

I’ve been trying hard to keep an open mind about this, and I know it will ultimately feel much worse before it begins to feel better, but at least there is a chance it will feel better.

Because leaving that bottle to rot certainly did more harm than good.