A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

In the throes of PTSD

Bunnies 2

There are times in my life when I think why? Why do we as humans struggle so much just living. Was it like this since the beginning of time? Is there anyone out there who truly has no stress, no difficulties and breezes through live without conflict? Or is this what human nature means?

Being diagnosed with PTSD was the biggest ah-ha moment of my life. So much finally made sense in my world. Diagnosis means being aware and of all the medications and treatments, being aware the one thing that matters. Because I believe there is no cure. There is only living with it.

I have done as much mindfulness and meditation as humanely possible. I have sought treatments from cognitive behavior therapy to AAT and other forms of energy work. I am not saying they do not “work” but they do not cure. There is no cure. There is acceptance and awareness.

Last week, something tripped me over the weekend. I have no clue what. That is one of the tricky parts of having PTSD. You do not need to know what trips you off, it just happens. By Tuesday, I was in a full blown attack. During the day, I am anxious about stupid things like driving and loud noises. I jump at the slightest provocation. I am bit short in patience. But the telling sign for me is I gain a few pounds that won’t come off. And I have not changed what I am eating. My body pain level is extremely high and I have sharp pain in certain spots like my neck and shoulders which were tight as a trampoline. I cannot take a deep breath even when I doing breathing exercise. But the most telling is I do not sleep. Tuesday night I had about two hours of sleep. The rest of the week my sleep was fitful and full of nightmares that stay with me during the day.

On Wednesday, I was asked to do a presentation for the whole management group on a project I am leading. I then have to drive 40 miles one way to deliver the same presentation to another group. Just as I seemed to becoming down a bit, or maybe just calmer because of lack of sleep, this set me off to an even higher level of anxiety. Just writing this made me catch my breath. It is not that I am nervous about presenting. I just hate presenting to this group. Hate it! It is like they are sitting there with bared teeth waiting for you to make a mistake or in total judgment (which they are). Driving is another big time stressor. By the end of the day on Wednesday, I was a mess. The rest of the week I was a walking nerve fretting about it.

On Friday, I sat down to finish the PowerPoint and having accomplished that helped to calm me. Later at home that night when I was somewhat at peace, I went into my work email. Big mistake. We have a Coach from the med center who is overseeing the program I am presenting on. I am supposed to be learning from her because when she leaves in a couple of months, I am supposed to fill in. She never likes anything anyone is doing. We have had people actually go to our CEO and complain about her. She always has something to correct me on. I think she is a terrible coach. Sure enough, she hated the PowerPoint and said that she thought that only three of the fourteen slides had value. I just burst into tears and sobbed for a while. I was exhausted from the week and then this.

I did something I usually do not do. I fought back. I forwarded the email to my boss who is aware of the situation with the coach. I also sent an email back to the coach and said that it seems I never seem to get things right with her and this was making me very anxious. My boss wrote me back and said the PowerPoint was exactly what the administrators wanted and she liked it. I have not heard anything from the coach. But I felt I stood up for myself and that in itself is powerful. Shame is often a big part of having PTSD and so to stand up for myself was a big deal.

My thoughts for this week included feeling trapped. That is a sensation I have lived with forever and it is not because of any one situation. It is from years of emotional and mental abuse. I felt feel trapped in a job that is frustrating and limiting and often does not bring much satisfaction to me. It does not make me feel like I am contributing to the world. I am trapped as I need to work and the thought of switching jobs is worse than living with it….which is why I stayed in a shitty marriage for 27 years. Fear.

I hate the thought of presenting to this group because of their critical judgment. This is all management including the ones who are clawing their way up the chain and would do whatever they could to push someone out of their way.  This group also has staff that have been there a while and like the way it was always done…. Change agents are not welcome.  Fortunately, there are less of them now. There is a woman who will be in the audience who looks and act so much like my mother and I have had a terrible time with her. Her reputation is that she looks for the holes or mistakes in presentations and will pounce on any weakness. She constantly interrupts to ask for “clarification” and asks a million questions. Everyone knows this about her and it is a big joke, but it is also terrifying when she is grilling you. It does not help me that I have her position which she held for 12 years and she feels I am inadequate because I am not a nurse. When I first started, she had a posy of peers who felt the same way and made my work life difficult. A few of them have left or retired but she perseveres on.

The thing is… I know this is only fifteen minutes max of my life. I know this will pass. I know I will be fine driving 80 miles as it is not snowing and I take back roads.  I know that by Wednesday night, all this will be over. I know all this. I fight to be in the present moment and not worry about the future. I know perseverating on this only adds and does not help. I am writing as another act of trying to cope. I am employing techniques that have I learned to calm. I am trying to think before I react, which is another sign of being in the throes of PTSD. My reactions are over the top and visceral. I am using all the techniques and skills I have been taught to cope. They are helping some.

But sadly the truth is I just have to wait for it to pass. I can only hope that nothing else triggers me and I can deregulate down to a more homeostatic level. I know I will emerge once again out of the rabbit hole.

Bunny and Dove

 

 

 

 

The stories we tell ourselves

floers

We all have a constant dialogue running in our heads. It is our story teller. We are wired to do this. We actually reward ourselves when we tell ourselves a complete story by releasing the pleasure hormone, oxytocin. Much of this I learned from a course I am taking on Courage Works with Brene Brown (http://www.courageworks.com/classes/living-brave-semester/lessons. The issue is we automatically believe the story, whether it is true or not.

I find that I am a consummate story teller in my head. I react very quickly to situations and it can be as minute as a look. Off in my head will go a whole scenario with a beginning, middle and end. For example, a simple look from someone will trigger my automatic reaction to my lack of self-worth and I take the look to mean I have done something. Then I will concoct a reason such as there must be something wrong with my physical appearance that made them look at me that way. I will then come up with a defense mechanism, which may be a snotty look of my own. That will put that person off, because in their head, they will do the same thing. The end of the story is they don’t like me and we react negatively to each other which only reinforce the story. I accept this and feel satisfied because in my head it makes sense. The hormones rewards me and I take this as gospel. But the truth is, when I walked in, she was even thinking about me, she had gas. She looks up and sees me glowering at her, and reacts.

Not only do we tell stories but we also automatically go to the negative side of things. We are also programmed to do that. It is call negative bias. We are hardwired to look for the danger in things as a safety mechanism. When a person is repeatedly exposed to constant trauma such as mental and physical abuse, this negative bias is rooted so deeply that it can be insurmountable to overcome. Trust is non-existent. The story mechanism bases its content on the facts of history within the person. So if someone has had negative outcomes from interpersonal relationships, especially if they were intimate relationships, the foundation for negativity is huge. It is the go-to end to all stories.

Seems like that would make the person a distant and unfriendly soul, and that is what happens often. That feeds their story ending pool because it keeps the person safe. They know what to expect and so in their heads, their story has the expected outcome and there is no surprises. Being vulnerable is too overwhelming. To some extent, we all do this and it is very difficult to overcome. We have to learn to draw boundaries and we have to learn to pay attention to our stories.

This has been a huge revelation for me. I jump right in and write these stories in my head about situations and they are always so dramatic and crucial. Many times, I paint myself a victim and in fairness to me, it is based on experience. But since I have been learning about this, I find that I can now stop and say, “Whoa, this is a story I am writing.” Sometimes I find myself grinning at this thought because it means I am aware, which is good.

This is where all this goes. There are few things in the world we really can control. Story telling is one. We can actually change the ending of the story if we want. If we want is the hard part. It requires that you look beyond the experience and expectations we set for things. It means we have to be vulnerable and exposed because there is a lot of comfort in being able to say, “I told you so,” even if we are saying this to ourselves. We like to be right. “See I told you she didn’t like me.” When in truth, SHE never gave me any real indication of not liking me, she just had gas. But before any real interaction could occur, the wall was up, protection was in place and the story ended as expected. But it was not true.

Pam Grout (http://pamgrout.com/ wrote a series of books on setting expectations. In her work, she talks about expecting miracles. I tried doing her experiments and had some interesting outcomes. It is sort of the same principal of writing your story only it is more writing the beginning of our stories. She says that if you expect miracles, write it as a must fill expectation, you will discover miracles. Just like we write the ending, we can also write the beginning. How different would my experience been if I had walked into a room, and instead of narcissistically thinking it’s all about me, I just smiled at everyone and expected to be received. MY energy would have been positive, which would have caused an automatic reaction to my positive personal energy. The beginning of my story could have been expecting a positive outcome. The middle of my story would have included being more open and trusting and therefore easier to work with. Can you figure out the ending?

The Perfect Storm

Jan backyard  This is a shot of my garden sometime in the first week of February. The weather this winter has been delightful and warm. Every evening after work, my husband and I sit out on the covered deck and chat. It is the wind down of the day. I miss the outdoors all day and the fresh air. Sitting in my garden grounds me, especially after a long crappy day, which there seems to be an abundance of lately.

Last week, alerts for poor weather started showing up a day or so before Tuesday. I love checking the weather and the maps and air streams and all that. I also have a very intuitive gut. I am usually more accurate than the professionals. I had my staff Monday prepare everything for all the Wednesday classes and anything necessary for Tuesday was to be completed. My coordinator usually just laughs at me and calls me a worry-wart but this time she complied and we were set if something happened and no one could get in.

snow on light Something did happen. We got over 20 inches of snow in six hours. It was horrendous. I planned on working at home no matter what. I got up around 6 and sent an email saying I was working at home. By 8:00 am, our area was in a mess with grid locks and impassable roads. My coordinator called and thanked me and she remained safe at home. My Nurse Educator also was prepared to work from home as she lives over 20 miles away from the office. There were images on the DOT cameras that you can check into all over the city of accident after accident. Major highways were bound up from tractor trailer trucks being stuck. They issued a no unnecessary driving emergency at 10:00am.

car 2-16-16 The thought of being stuck in a car for three hours or more is overwhelming to me. My body would not have handled it. As it was, I did not sleep the night before from the anxiety of having to go into work or not. Our company is considered medical necessary  and we are all to report, even if we do not see patients. Personally, I think that is crap. Especially since I never see patients and I can work totally from home and VPN into the systems at work. But there are some antiqued few who still hold out to old work thinking and have not grasped virtual offices.

the wall  By two o’clock, the village came through and left six feet walls at the end of everyone’s driveways. I would not have been able to get my car back in to the garage if I had gone in and came home when they finally closed the offices at 3 PM. I had put in a full day and had done a lot of work safe and secure in my house. To me, they got a lot more out of me than if I had tried to come and go. I would not have been able to focus at work.

backyard snow 2-16-16 We tried to clear the back deck and a path because the poor doggies were unable to get to the yard. It took a lot of persuasion to get them to do their business in the small area we prepared. The snow was very dense and heavy and that was adding to the mess. Even the plows were getting stuck.

potted snow They officially closed all the expressways in the area in the early afternoon. Streaming headlines asked “How are you getting home?”  I think there is a lot of stupidity in demanding people who are really not essential report to work or else. If you did not come in, you have to use paid time off. Only teachers in school districts get paid for not coming to work because of snow. I get that it is a loss of revenue. But it is also a dissatisfier to know that the company puts money over people lives by putting them into jeopardy.

tunnel By early evening, the snow had stopped and people were digging out. We made a path for the kids to use for doing their business. Our snow plow guy came and cleared out the driveway and I was able to get out to go to work easily the next day. Many people did not make it in. Even the visiting staff rearranged their patients and many were not seen. What good would it have been to go out and then get stuck somewhere or in an accident? You would not have been able to get down driveways if you could even get there.  It is beyond me why the company insists on this.

As I get older, I value more the safety and security of my life more than the almighty dollar. I also am not brave and the idea of putting myself into a precarious position of driving in frightening conditions has little or no appeal to me. I will admit, I hate driving in winter more now than ever.

This Sunday morning, the snow is melting but still too deep for easy running for either dogs. But they have made some paths and look like Pac Man going down their little alleys. The temperature today should help to dissipate more of the snow. There is more predicted for the week, and I will do due diligence and perseverate on it in the middle of the night. But today, the air was filled with bird songs. You could sense the difference in the light and sounds of the anticipation of spring’s arrival. The squirrels were at my feeder and my cardinal flew right by my nose as I stood on the deck. It was as if he was saying, “hang in there, this too shall pass.”

Warm gratitude

snow 2014

Yesterday was the worst weather we have had all winter. The temperatures were below zero and the snow was vertical all day with the wind. Yesterday was also the first day in a long time I felt some inward peace and happiness in long while. I was so grateful we did not have to go anywhere. We stayed home warm and secure, surround by our contented animals, and hibernated.

La La in the snow

I felt bad because the little doggies still had to go out to do their business. The little girl’s feet would get impacted with snow and then she did not want to move. She would limp and cry. It broke my heart. Normally she loves the snow and rolls in it. But it was so bitter that within a few minutes she was miserable. She would recover back inside with a snuggle and the world was fine again.

I thought about all the homeless people who would be so absolutely miserable out there last night. The snow had picked up and the streets were silent except the occasional snow plow. Where would those folks go on a night like this? The wind-chill was a reported minus 35 degrees. I thought about all the beautiful creatures like my bunny that visits and the squirrels and birds and hoped they were warm and safe.

bunnies a Louie

I felt such gratitude for all I have. My house is not big or a palace. It is a comfortable hodge-podge of hand-me-down furniture and passed down antiques. The chairs are big and soft and there is no denying that animals live there too. I have wonderful windows that face the front of the house that go from almost the ceiling to almost the floor. They leak air because they are so old. But it was one of the reasons I love this house. There are a ton of windows and lots of light. I cover them with fleece blankets I turned into curtains and this week was the first time I had to put them up. It helps to keep the house warm and comforting.

I also slept a lot yesterday. Thursday night, the mask to my CPAC ripped. I should have replaced it a long time ago but they are expensive. Friday I did get a new mask and it made all the difference in the quality of my sleep. I think that has been contributing to my feeling bad the last months. I have been sleep deprived. Because there was so little to do I was able to relax and even took a nap. What a treat that is.

When I go to bed a night, I usually list the things I am grateful for. They have sounded hollow in my head. Last night, snuggled down in my soft bed listening to the snerggles of the little furbody buried in my comforter, I knew that I really was grateful for all I have.

Living brave

Waiting for Santa Paws

I am doing a class from Brene Brown in her Courage Works Classes called Living Brave. I thought it would be a good distraction this winter. I love her work and have read her books and followed her blogs for a while. My intent is to get back to the spiritual and self-compassion work I had let go of. I also thought it would help because I usually am depressed in winter and this year has been very bad for me.

I also have been so overwhelmed at work that I am miserable, cranky and in general, very unhappy. My hope is that this class might help me figure out why. It seems so simple at first glance but the layers and complexity is deep and involved. The bottom line is being vulnerable. My biggest issue in my life all stems from one intense feeling for me and that is feeling unsafe.

Children who grow up in chaos and abuse learn to create a way to get through life. The toll on the body appears later in life in chronic health issues, mental illness and addiction. This has been proven with the ACE Study. I believe that this occurs because the body never deregulates in to a calm and natural state. There is always a sense of fight, flight or freeze going on with the individual that never really goes away.

I do not think I can even put into words the way this feels. It is not like a phobia that only occurs when faced with what-ever action created the phobia. This is more like a low level current that just feels like bad food sitting in your gut. It never goes away. It can be more prevalent at times, especially if something happens to put me in an even more vulnerable spot. I wake up in the morning with it and often will wake in the middle of the night to perseverate on something to the point of become nauseous.

I write about this not because I want people to feel sorry for me. I write this because I am facing my own vulnerabilities. I am not sure if this is a help.  I am not alone in this though. I was surprised in reading through the multiple threads in the class that the issue of being “unsafe” is something that so many people face. When I realized how common the lack of security or trust is with my classmates, it made me think what are we doing to ourselves? There are hundreds of people from all over the world taking this class and so many all feel some degree of being vulnerable to a point massive insecurity. That is what unsafe is.

Just being aware that I am not alone has been helpful. I think many people do not want to face fear and it does take being Brave to do so. I am not sure yet what steps to do or if there is steps, or even if there is a fix for this. I am starting with some self-compassion which is very hard for me to do. And it goes back to feeling worthy, which is a whole other issue unto itself.

This weekend I made time to do things I enjoy like reading. I am dealing with the guilt that came from not attending to the things around the house that need to be done. My usual approach is I do the work and then heap on being more miserable because I did not want to do it in the first place. It is like I still hear some voice saying “clean your room” and I feel like I am going to get into trouble for not doing the work. But no one is going to yell at me. I literally had to talk myself into a place of feeling ok with not spending the weekend busting my ass. I admit, I am really enjoying the escape into my book and it helped to not think about the negative stuff for a while. The outcome was a few hours of peace and pleasure and well worth the grace it gave me. Who cares if my Christmas tree is still up? I love my tree and I would leave it up all year.

I am a work in progress….

 

The Beast Returns

IMG_2172

People who are diagnosed with PTSD will relate to this post. I am of the belief that there really is no cure for it and that it is an easy beast to get captured by and eaten. All the therapy in the world will never truly vanquish the beast. But therapy may help to armor up and fight.

I am ensnared at work in a most ridiculous, piss-poor and totally out of control project. It involves almost every aspect of the agency. The two captains should have been removed months ago. Meanwhile, we all are being sucked down this path of disaster unable to stop the slide. And of course, there is a ton of money involved so just pulling the plug is not possible. But it really was the answer four months ago. Now, we are headed right for the launch at the end of this month.

We were about to roll it out in September when none of really knew what was going on. The night before the first training session, the team of six of us practiced how the training would go and discovered huge issues, so we stopped the roll out. Since then, the team was to resolve these issues so that things would work. But the reality is that they will never work. The system is faulty and does not meet our needs.

I am responsible for training all the staff on this system. There are two factions. One group was launched this week, and I do not foresee any issues with their piece. It is the training that commences with the 250 aides in the middle of the month that is a challenge. Even of the training goes through without a hitch, the after effect, the tsunami, will be awful.

I know that training will be blamed, even though everyone knows we cannot train to the level to thwart this disaster. It is inevitable as the users apply this product. The issue is that the product is not what we should be using. They needed a different system. But the Captain signed the contract and pushed it forward without testing. He continues to fabricate reports to the admin team about how wonderful this product will be. It could not be farther from the truth.

I am not sleeping. I had a cold at Christmas which seemed to get better and then last week it returned. I actually think this was the flu. I had chills Monday night so bad that I crawled into bed and covered myself with blankets and two comforters. But I had to muster on and go to work because there is no one to cover what I do. I have not been this sick in years. And everyone is feeling ill. That is what stress will do to folks.

Because of my PTSD, I have reverted to old reactions that I thought I had worked to subside. I need control in my life. When I do not feel safe, I am reactionary. I fire off in fear and anxiety. I feel trapped in a place I cannot get out and for me, that is the worse. I become a trapped animal. I wake in the middle of the night and perseverate on all the things that are happening and even if I work out a resolution, I will fret and worry for hours until sleep overtakes me again. I wake feeling exhausted and I have the shakes. I cannot meditate because I am so exhausted I fall asleep or I start a cycle of worry. I have tried to use my breathing exercises but have only successfully set off a series of hacking coughs.

In a month, it will be done for me. I will survive. It helps that I know what is physically happening to me. I can control some of the anxiety at times. I am aware when I am flying off and reacting in fear. But the hard thing is to control it before I lose it and it takes over. That is usually in the middle of the night when the demon seems so massive. I am aware again of that endless deep abyss that seems to be right below me and that my grip is weak. It really gives perspective to being on the edge for me.

 

 

Getting through the storm

wind

I feel for my cousin in New York City and all the people who went through the blizzard the last two days. There is something about a snow storm that is completely different than any other storm. It is so silent. Thunderstorms crash and tornados have a noise much like a freight train coming through. But snow falls silently blanketing the world in abject quiet. Car and trucks cease to move and it seems all the world has stopped.

There is a panic that sets in prior to storms. I think our media has learned that this is a source of revenue for them. People tune in to be updated. The more dramatic the better. And hysteria builds.

snow 2014

I am in a center of another type of storm. This is happening at my workplace and although there is no precipitation to speak of, there is definitely fall out. And I know that my work environment is very similar to others. Have we grown to expect this turmoil as part of the working condition in an unstable economy?

Growing up, my parents’ generation often worked for one employer for their entire career. People were loyal and would ride out uncertainty knowing in their hearts that their employer would have their best interests in mind. Then, somewhere that all changed. I remember my father being let go and finding out that what little pension he had was gone. The company folded and that was that.

My husband had worked for a major international company for just shy of 25 years. He watched for many years as his co-workers were being dismissed for no other reason than they cost too much. He was let go and giving only the money he had put into stocks and a small retirement. The stocks are worthless. There is little left of that giant company. It devastated this area and changed the whole economy along with the people.

3-30-14 snowfall

This practice of changing the population of employees is not unusual. It is cheaper to have younger people as they do not cost as much to insure. But they come with huge issues also like child care and lack of organization and loyalty. And because currently all extra costs are prohibited, there is little effort to offer any method such as team building and retreats to help bond them into a cohesive body of employees.

And there is a low buzz or vibration that permeates the agency right now. It is vicious and for me, very hard to work with. I am too sensitive to people’s energy and the energy in the building is similar to that of a mob at Wegman’s prior to a predicted snow storm. I am caught up in the anxiety much as my coworkers are. It creates short tempers. Unfortunately it also brings out the worse in people who are worried about their foothold. They will lie and throw others under the bus in order to save their own asses. It is a very unpleasant work environment and by the end of the week, I am exhausted from just trying to get by.

La La in the snow

I can tell myself that I am safe, but in truth, no one is there. Safety is rare in the world today. In this economy, people will be sacrificed in order for the organization to survive. I lie in bed in the middle of the night and worry about every little thing and deadline. The energy of the day still pulsing through me. I struggle to employ my calming techniques and my anxiety builds instead of dissipates. I try to tell myself that this too shall pass much like any storm.

Spring is somewhere in there

Yesterday, I sat on my deck and listened to the quiet. We have some snow, but nothing like we normally have. It is still extremely quiet. I realized how much I miss the noise of the birds. And almost as on cue, I heard the song of some bird in the pines next to me. It sounded like the trill of a robin. I embraced the thought that all is not lost if there is hope. For me that hope is spring and the renewal of the garden. It is my life boat.

 

Live not in fear

hawk 15

“Ne vivent pas dans la peur” Live not in fear. Terrorist are not powerful because of their acts, but because of the fear they instill. More people are affected by a terrorist event because of fear the act will be repeated somewhere and they will be the next victim. This is the goal of terrorism and the world will come to its knees if allowed. And not because of just the fear, but the retaliation this could cause.

We watched a movie last night called the “Kingsman.” The movie itself was entertaining and had a lot of special effects. The theme of the movie was that the villain put microchips in the necks of powerful people and then gave away free cell phones. At his command he could create mass chaos and uncontrollable anger by sending a signal to the chips and phones. People would turn on anyone near them and fight them to death. In one scene, a whole church congregation turned on each other and everyone slaughters each other except the hero, who walks away.

This is the same effect that terrorism is based. By causing fear in the minds of the population, they can create anger and then the mob mentality will escalate until we have a war. And to me, that is not the answer.

And as much as I hate violence, I am not sure not doing something is the right answer either.

Terrorism touches people in so many ways. 911 had a huge impact on my life. It altered it completely. No one in my family died. But it was the catalyst to the end my marriage. My ex-husband wanted to be recruited to serve and was turned down on every front. He had to face his age and his lack of abilities to be a hero and it changed him completely. His anger, and the anger of the group of people he hung out, with was palatable.  Their hatred and desire for massive retaliation was ugly.

I hear my husband talking to his right winged family members and I hear their hatred for all Syrians. How silly is that to hate a whole population because of a few assholes. But that is how the mob mentality is created. After 911, anyone who looked Middle Eastern was suspect.

I would hate to think we could head back into a state of war after so many years. The government has been very careful to name disputes anything but war, such as a “police state” or even a peace mission. You do not hear much about the fighting in Afghanistan and how many of our folks are being maimed. Why are we still there?

I do not propose a solution. Half of me says: “do whatever it takes to get rid of this scourge.” But I know it will involve the death of innocent people. But their action already took the lives of many innocents. I cannot imagine the horror.

My thinking is that life on this world will not end because of global warming. We will end our existence on this phenomenal planet by self-annihilation. And no one wins.  I just hope that fear will not be the dominate factor for solution.  We need to remain calm, carry on in our lives, stay informed and support a significant solution that will not end up with just more death.  Je suis tellement désolé, France.

Its a Gut feeling

vegas nerve

Have you ever wonder if there is a connection to having gut issues and being under stress? Why do some people always  seem to be sick? Why is it that when facing a lot of issues some people end up with sore tummies and other disturbances? It is because of the connection to the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a division of the peripheral nervous system that influences the function of internal organs.[1] The autonomic nervous system is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. This system is the primary mechanism in control of the fight-or-flight response and the freeze-and-dissociate response. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomic_nervous_system

This is the system that regulates how we physically adapt (or not) to pressure and challenging situations. It is the system that keeps animals safe and helps them to employ tactics such as being able to run at super speed or feign death in a freeze like mode. This system triggers chemical such as adrenalin and cortisol to help the being physically have the juice it needs to do what it needs to do in the form of flight, fit or freeze.

People have the same ability of flight, fit or freeze. We adapt to situations with the ramp up of the same chemical juices during times of stress. For people who are in stressful situations all the time, this chemical and nervous system process does not have time to deregulate. The human never goes back to “normal”. Hence: Post-traumatic stress syndrome. PTSD.

We think children have a natural resilience and are not affected by stressful things. We dismiss their stress with sayings like: “They will get over it.” Or “they are too young to understand what is happening.”

What really happens is that the child internalizes it. It may be hard for parents to see that their child senses stress differently and how that correlates into health issues in the child. It is also complicated by the fact that two people can be exposed to the same stressful situation and one will react and be done with it and the other will have it affect them harder and for a long time. We add to that sensitive child’s issues by naming that child a sissy and telling them that their issues is insignificant . That adds a layer of guilt on top of it and makes the child withdraw further.

The same situation happens with adults. Some people do not deal well with stress and have learned to not say anything, because there can be a layer of judgment that comes from people, including medical providers. Even people who teach tools such as mediation and mindfulness can be critical of those who struggle to “find their zone.” We are all hardwired differently and all meditating in the world cannot really change that.

The Ace Study was a scientific research study that identified the link to maltreatment of children and chronic illness. They program has grown and is now widely accepted yet many providers still do not know about this epic study. It states emphatically that there is a correlation to childhood trauma and adult stress and chronic illness.

What needs to happen in the medical world is a change in thinking. Current medical practice is symptom management. There is a medical issue we throw medicine at it to eliminate the symptoms. When people return over and over for the same issue, there probably is more there and the illness is not actually the main problem. This is what being trauma informed is all about.

For those of you like me who have chronic issues, there is a new thinking out there that really is helping me cope. I wish I could find the article but I cannot so I will have to paraphrase. This was from a young man who has multiple disabilities and chronic illness. He is currently in a monastery and is not writing.

He said instead of trying to cope and bury your issues, live with them. We are a society where other people’s suffering makes us uncomfortable. He said that is why people want to help. It is not really about the sufferer, it is about the dis-ease that suffering generates. We want to eradicate it before we become part of it. I will write more about this in another post.

But for the sufferer, they are taught to move on, get over it or take a pill. It dismisses the being. It diminishes their lives and their history. What would happen if we all were allowed to live with our baggage instead of struggling to remove it? What if we accepted our plights and accept what comes our way as being human. Instead of guilt and anger, we would learn honor and virtue. Being human is messy. It does not come with instructions and no one has the same path.

This is the current direction of the ACE movement. The focus is to help children who live in violence and maltreatment to speak up. They are encouraged to talk about their situation and ask for help and without shame or guilt. But what about all the adults who grew up in households that were littered with dirty little secrets like incest and drunken violence. We were told to never tell.

All though this post rambled on through many different topics, they really are all connected. We are human. We have uncontrollable systems within our bodies that regulate physical reactions. We taught at an early age to cope. But we don’t really; we camouflage our emotions that eventually manifest in illness.

What do you think would happen if there was a change that allowed people to say, “yeah, I am really struggling here?” and have the reply not be…. “let me fix that or let me change you?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say Good- Knight….

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My fellow blogger, the Doc Victo, talked about how she longs for a Scottish night. I admit, I too have often thought I wanted a strong and commanding male in my life. I wanted to be the Princess, the damsel in distress, to be saved by a powerful male knight. I want someone to protect me and keep me safe. But in thinking about this, I realize how totally opposite this is to my real personality.

Yes, I do want someone who makes me feel safe. But that really does not mean I want them to slay dragons for me. What I honestly want is for them not to cause me distress. I want to be able to rely on them to do what they should, when they should and be able to give back to me when and what I need for support in my life. It should be a two way street. When they are in need, I should be there for them.

This is not how it is in my reality. I live with a very needed person, who at times sucks the life out of me. I have been doing some thinking on this and came to the conclusion, I chose this path. I am the type of person who puts themselves in a place of being needed.

For example, I was not happy with my career until I began teaching. I taught in some capacity since 1981. Having my own classroom as a high school teacher was a dream. But it was exhausting. Being a teacher, you are totally in a position of giving to people what they need in some fashion. It is a constant flood of answering questions, directed and guiding and then the comforting and soothing to make students feel good. I can remember coming home and telling my husband to leave me alone for a bit so I could get out of feeling depleted and stabilize.

It sounded so terrible when I though how selfish this was, but it is not. People who are in positions such as teachers, doctors, nurses, all care-giving clinicians are all susceptible to this feeling. But being who they are, they feel guilty for it. To be in these positions, you must have a nurturing persona to begin with. It is who you are.

But there is a time when you have to step back and say I need some self-compassion. I need someone to take the load for a while. People with successful marriages have worked this out. There is a lot of research and new programs being implemented to help clinicians to learn to step back and take care of themselves. I have a program we offer in our orientation series based on the work of Dr. Kristen Neff to give our staff tools to work with when they are having burn out or are overwhelmed. http://self-compassion.org/

I thought about the idea of having someone who was my knight, my protectorate and shield, and I know I would not really like that. I am too independent and too strong to let someone over shadow me. I also do not like forceful men because of my past history with that type of being. I chose to put myself where I am. When I am disappointed with my current relationship, it is because I am measuring this person to my expectations. He too has learned to be passive and submissive and let me do for him, because I will. And the game goes on.

I also have put myself in a position at work which is completely exhausting. My day is filled with putting out fires. There is always someone in need or an issue I must deal with. Sometimes there is a line out my door of people with a questions of some sort. I come home drained and have again instituted the leave me alone for five minutes rule. I spent yesterday not doing any work related activities and stayed away from the computer. It did recharge me. I will need a longer respite soon.

I think if I lived in the days of yore, when knights in kilts were everywhere, I would still be who I am. I would be the woman in the village who had the docile husband, own either my own shop or farm, and would still be independent, be in a position of fixing either people or issues and yet, overwhelmed. It is who I am.