A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘cells’

What if we had a Fattie Ghetto?

I read something earlier today in the paper which has stuck in my craw all day, festering and making me more and more angry. This was an editorial in the A section. I believe in the right to speak your mind. But when something gets published in the local paper, you better have your facts. This woman clearly did not and was out to make her stand no matter what. I got to tell you, if she was in front of me, I would have hit her. (Not really, I do not hit people) but she would have made the running for the first.

Seems she is proposing legislation to sanction overweight people. She wanted to propose a bill or mandate that people who were morbidity obese HAVE to do something about it. I am sure she is proposing surgery. Maybe she would like people to sew their mouths shut, which is pretty close to having your stomach stitched off. She said anyone who is obese would be sanctioned as well, but she did not reiterate how. She had no statistics, but spouted off like she was an authority on the cost of medical expenses incurred by fatties. (my word…because I am really getting cranked up now) She then went on to liken this legislation to be imposed and regulated the same way that cigarette smokers were sanctioned.

Here is how I see her thinking this would work: Every time a fat person wanted to buy food, they would have to step on a scale. And according to whatever weight they were, they would pay a higher percentage for their purchase. Chicken taco for a skinny mini: $3.59. For a fattie, 35.49. with taxes. Seems fair right? I mean, why should we pay for the extra health cost because this person wants to eat? Right? I mean after all, they are so fat they don’t need to eat.

GRRRRRRR….this is akin to a Nazi state. All the fatties will have to reside in a fat ghetto where they only get water and low fat Weight Watcher’s bread.

When my husband and I first met, I weighed less. We were so poor. We were going to college, working two shit jobs each and trying to keep the mortgage. That was my primary bill. That and the ten year old cars we had. When I went grocery shopping, I spent what I could. We were also feeding his 14 year old daughter who could pack it away. What do you think I bought? I bought the cheapest thing that went the farthest; pasta and sauce with cheap meat. We ate it all the time. I have discovered now for me it is the worse trigger food I have. That and white breads, which was another staple. The result of course was we put on weight.

We went shopping this weekend as I wrote earlier. We filled ¾ of the shopping cart with fruits and vegetables. The rest was a 6 pound only white meat turkey breast for $18.00, low fat ground chicken, and low fat other products like broth and some low fat cheese. No crap at all in the cart. Our bill for two people was over $200.00. We can afford that now, but that was more than I spent in a month back in the day.

When I was teaching in an urban college, I remember the mothers telling me how much they hated shopping for food for the kids. It was cheaper to get a happy meal and be done with it than shop for good healthy products. And on top of that, they were going to school and working jobs. When were they supposed to fix these fancy healthy meals?

To that point, I spent the whole weekend cooking. I made Weigh Watcher’s 1 point vegetable soup. I made buckets of the stuff. I made the turkey breast. We had haddock on Friday. $13.99 a pound. One piece of fish spilt between the two of us was almost $15.00. We bought what fruit was available. All of it was ridiculously priced because it has to be shipped in. I just cut it up to have it finger ready. I made low fat burgers for dinner on Sat and the rest will be for the week. The ground chicken was $4.49 for the package. The package is only 12 ounces, so it cost more than $5.00 a pound. Tricky aren’t they? My weekend off was spent on this effort to eat healthy. In between was spent doing wash and cleaning. Such fun!

My point is this. Here I am working so hard at this healthy life style. This B* tch has the balls to throw out there that all fat people should be penalized for being fat because the impact on the cost of medical issues. I am not going to deny that there is a high prevalence of more disease with obesity. However, not all fat people sit on their ass all day watching TV and stuffing their faces with beer and tacos. Some do. I know this. But not all.

When we were driving around this weekend, I was paying special attention to what food joints we passed. I was shocked and thought no wonder this is an epidemic. Every corner had a fast food joint from burgers to fried chicken. There were tons of pizza palaces and taco stands. There were ice cream and yogurt shops, donuts and on one street, two bake shops and a chocolate store. I did not see one salad joint although I know they exist.

And as far as medical costs: here is something to think about. I worked in the system so I know of what I speak. All people diagnosed with mental retardation or developed disabled have the opportunity to have the State and Federal government pay for everything for them from their diagnosis at infancy to death. They can get housing, food, medical treatment and in some cases full ride to school. Most do not get a degree, but the State believes they have the right to a higher education. And they cost the school systems huge dollars because they need so many services and support. And part of their genetic makeup makes them very susceptible to illness. It was rare to have someone who was MRDD live past 30. We used to institutionalize them to keep society safe. We warehoused them in droves. Then Geraldo Rivera went to Willowbrook in 1987 (not that long ago) and the rest is history. My point is that this is a population that cost taxpayers millions and millions. Lots of dollars have been spent to understand their genetic makeup in order to help them have a better life. 28 years ago people who were MRDD were cast out and ridiculed for a genetic hiccup. Maybe we should have taxed the parents for having mentally challenged children and putting a burden on society. What do you think? (By the way, if you agree with this, stop reading, I cannot help you and you should be ashamed)

See, I am sure people do not see the connection. For some reason we cannot move past that not all overweight people have a terrible lifestyle. People cannot and for some reason will not accept that because their bodies fight them constantly either with metabolism and/or some form of mobility issue some people are prone to putting on weight. I believe there is a genetic connection. If it was all up to what goes in the mouth or how much movement people do, than why are not all people fat? Some people can eat a house of food and not gain weight. Add to this fact that everything slows down as we age including our ability to process sugar. That’s why everyone is getting diabetes for their 50th birthday. Want to guess the cost of diabetic medical costs? Maybe we should put them in the fat ghetto too as they probably overweight anyways or so they say. I hope my skinny super hyper active friend who was diagnosed at 55 with diabetes reads this. She will love it!

And we have such limited choices if you want to purchase prepared foods that are healthy. Much easier to pop a big Mac and call it good. If you scrape the secret sauce off, it will save you 400 calories….. I am joking. I have not eaten McDonald in 30 years.

I cannot and will not stop fighting for this awareness until I fall on my face and suffocate myself in my largeness. That last part, by the way….was sarcasm.

Trauma induced Obesity…. Really? No Sh*t!

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I actually wrote a whole different blog last night. I decided to sit on and not publish. In the morning, I reread and tweaked it and thought I would send it out anyways later. But in going over my emails, I found this email from a friend and therapist who sent me a blog article. I did not get to read it until later in the day. I had taken a break from work and decided to read through. I sat there at my desk crying.  Fortunately no one was around much. I have a heater fan running so hopefully no one heard me sniffling. I stopped and mopped my face up and decided when I got home to reread the blog and then write. Oh…. I was going to write.

I spent time tonight working on house stuff, laundry and the sorts and just sat down a little while ago to read the blog again. I was actually not thrilled about facing it again. I then went to the site and looked at some of the older posts. It took my breath away. It is so overwhelming to the point it knocked me out of writing what I wanted to. I am just ….and I am not sure the right word is that I am. I am mad because there is so much statistical information out there on trauma induced illness and yet it is so unknown by practicing clinicians. I had written about the ACE study before in my blog. If you have not done an ACE study, do so. And then read the implications. It is enlightening.


But now as the night has progressed and I spent it reading instead of writing, I am going to let the blog speak for itself. It is quite a collection of information. I am going to share the one line that made me cry. And it is terrible. The author is sharing the story of how the doctor who was working in creating an obesity clinic was upset because he was not successful. He went on to dig into many of the (obese) patients’ history and found a resounding amount of them had some form of childhood trauma. That is not what made me cry….it made me slap my head and say out loud, “Really? No shit!” This is right from the Dr.’s story after he had given his results to a body of educated physicians and clinicians.

So, if you were Vincent Felitti, whom would you pick as your first audience to reveal your stunning findings? A group relatively informed about obesity that would greet the new information with extreme interest, praise and applause? Natch. So, in 1990, Felitti flew to Atlanta to give a speech to the members – many of them psychologists and psychiatrists — of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. The audience listened quietly and politely. When he finished, one of the experts stood up and blasted him. “He told me I was naïve to believe my patients, that it was commonly understood by those more familiar with such matters that these patient statements were fabrications to provide a cover explanation for failed lives!”   http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

……..A fabrication to cover FAILED Lives?   Oh man did that stick in my craw. Truthfully it makes me furious. So again, because someone is obese (and I hate that word with a passion) the presumption is that (1) they lie and (2) their life is a failure. If you think this is an exaggeration, you are not in the world of being overweight. The reason I was crying is because it happens a lot. To read someone with such credibility admit this was overwhelming to me. It is pervasive in the medical field and I face it every day at my job. That is exactly what people, doctors and other clinicians have projected to me. I have heard other large people tell about me about their discrimination. A person I know just died because they refused to give her a liver transplant because she was overweight. Prime personal example: years ago, I had gone to have some work done up to find out why my a1c had spiked. I had the Chief of the Endocrinology department tell me I was a waste of time, that I would never be able to lose weight or exercise like HE did and so he was going to march me down to bariatric surgery immediately and get me fixed. (I have to breathe deeply every time I think of this) He never looked at my chart. If he had he would have seen my blood sugar had spiked in three months after a life time of low to normal readings. It took me having to read and discover that the prednisone and other drugs they slammed me on for the PsA all raised blood glucose. AND when I went off, it came back down. I went to see a nephrologist after one of my kidneys failed. Again, he never discussed anything but the fact that I was overweight and he wanted to bet me, BET me, that I would NOT be able to lose weight. I think he thought he was challenging me. Again, no one ever told me for a year my right kidney had failed…first concern…and that I had developed stones and they were a by-product of the PsA…it took me eight years to find that out and I should have been medicated then, eight years ago, to reduce the creation of more…which happened. No one can see past the weight. I am a non-person.

That last statement about being a non-person is very telling. I am going to stop tonight and let it just sit out there. I hope you will skim through the blog article: http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/





Epigenetics meets Akashic Records

Epigenetics describes the study of stable, long-term alterations in the transcriptional potential of a cell. Some of those alterations are heritable. These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell’s life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism. Noted developmental psychologist Erik Erikson used the term epigenetic principle in his book Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968), and used it to encompass the notion that we develop through an unfolding of our personality in predetermined stages, and that our environment and surrounding culture influence how we progress through these stages. This biological unfolding in relation to our socio-cultural settings is done in stages of psychosocial development, where “progress through each stage is in part determined by our success, or lack of success, in all the previous stages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics

The above information was found on a Wikipedia site and although I do not always find them a completely reliable resource, for this discussion, it works. I just watched a webinar and this topic came up. I have written about it before. But it coincides with something else I am studying called the Akashic Records.  I thought it was a sign post that this topic is popping up a lot for me. I believe in messages being sent to me that say “Oh girly….you need to pay attention to this.” My love of the mystic at times overpowers the science. I love magic yet I crave the logic and concreteness of science. At times in the past, they have been at opposite sides making a big conflict in me.

So what is Akashic Records? The Akashic Records are a dimension of consciousness that contains a vibrational record of every soul and its journey. This vibrational body of consciousness exists everywhere in its entirety and is completely available at all times and in all places. As such, the Records are an experiential body of knowledge that contains everything that every soul has ever thought, said, and done over the course of its existence, as well as all its future possibilities.

Howe, Linda (2006-05-01). How to Read the Akashic Records: Accessing the Archive of the Soul and Its Journey (p. 3). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.

Sounds very woo-woo. It is. My explanation is truly just that, my explanation. The Akashic Records is the place you go to when you meditate or pray. When you hear that voice in your head and it comes up with something you never thought of….well that is The Masters and Teachers and Loved Ones responding to you. And who are those folks, you ask? They are your spirit guides. Some would call them angels; some refer to them as the voice of God or Devine. Who cares what you call it. I am not big on labels. We all have the ability to access these voices, and many people make money off of “reading” these records. I am not going to comment as I am just learning about “accessing” the Records. But…. The thing that makes the Akashic Records so special is that you can supposedly access your history. Again, I am not going to comment as I have not gotten that far to say yeah or nay. But…. Think about Epigenetics.

I love when woo-woo meets science. So if epigenetics says your have cellular encoding which is passed on from generation, why would you not have an imprint in your subconscious that with work, you can access the memory. I have mentioned before that every cell is basically a little body with a brain and nerve and “skin” sensors. So if you carry markers from your past, it would make sense that you would be influenced or predisposed to reactions from trauma from past lives. I think you would also be predisposed to pleasure. Think about something that a sibling and you have completely different reactions to. For example, everyone in your family loves the water. You grew up on a lake; you never had an incident that would cause you to be fearful like falling in or being held under. You swam like a fish until you were in you late 40’s. Now, you hate the water and have a real fear of it. My guess is in a past life you may have drowned. And the interesting thing is, you may not have become fearful until a certain age and then all of a sudden, you won’t go over your head in water. An explanation could be you drowned when you were 40 in a past life.

So in reference to the idea we develop in stages, is there a possibility of a trauma genetically imprinted from a past generation to demonstrate at the same time in the current host?

And the Akashic Records would correlate with that hypothesis. According to what I am reading by Linda Howe, she says we follow a genetic line from the time we are first created. The ancestry continues for ever. Within each ancestral line we are giving a complex riddle to solve. That riddle is our purpose for being here. Each time we are reborn, the purpose remains until we fulfill it. And the purpose is usually total acceptance, harmony and love….unconditionally all the time. Not too many people actually achieve that type of purpose. No one comes back with total recall from a past life. But there are signs. An example would be, let’s say…… if Jesus was at dinner one night in this time period and some guy came up to him and kissed him. He probably would get a chill up his spin and wonder why that tweaked him so much. But then, he got it right the last time around, so he is probably genetically elsewhere now. The Records are supposedly accessible to help guide. But there is no concrete answers given like, “you are here to create a new medicine that stops cancer.” However, you can get clues to help guide if you ask the right questions. For example, you could ask should I go to Hopkins and study medicine or Harvard to learn to teach. I only wish I had those choices. I am going to explore my thinking more on this as I read.

I know a friend of mine is doing ancestry discovery work on his family. He was able to have tests done that showed genetic markers that placed his lineage to a geographical region. It was funny because before he started all this he felt deeply rooted in a time period and location. It resonated with him. When he first began his work, the indicators were heading to another territory that was not where he thought his family was from. As he kept digging, he ended up where his heart always lived. He is a seasoned meditator and I am sure that have been many conversations from his Masters. He also has many traits that I am sure come from his ancestral line. He is a warrior as have been many of his ancestors. But he also suffers from PTSD and I wonder if he is also genetically predisposed to that as well.

One of the things I have not gotten to in the book is that through working in the Records, you can heal trauma and incidents from your past lives. I am sure that this seems out of the question for some. But then, it is only recently that the field of neuroscience has blended with psychology. So who knows what the future brings. As bizarre as the Akashic Records may seem, these types of questions may someday bring resolve to so many.



The Cycle Completes

And the circle completes it cycle. That is how I was feeling today. After I wrote last night about this situation with my step-daughter, I felt a bit of relief. I find writing is a great method for me to purge and cleanse. There is a definite cycle that people quite often employ who are survivors, suffer with PTSD or have had a heightened constant negative experience (which is a fluffy way of saying a crappy time of it). One of the reasons I like writing, other than being able to share and teach, is that it maps out the cycle for me. I know I am usually in the height or coming down depending on what I write. I do not share well with conversation.
So let me explain. Think of yourself driving along in a car in a dessert area. There is nothing but flat terrain and little change in scenery, except a mule or two. Is this not the epitome of life, especially the mules? You are driving along on autopilot, disengaged from the sensations of the road, the occasional breeze, the monotony of the sand and the absence of an oasis of shade or water. All of a sudden, you blow a tire. You expect it because it is part of life. But you have had tires blow out way more than the normal person and once or twice, you were almost killed because you could not steer the car. It is nothing you have done like buying cheap tires. You are just genetically predisposed to blow tires.
So this event should be something you can handle. But because it has happened so often and with different outcomes, you react violently. Perhaps one time you were stranded in the snow. Maybe once you did not have a spare. More often, someone saw you being vulnerable and took advantage of you. One time you were robbed. One time you were in a very bad part of town and you were alone. That one time you were raped.
But on this road trip, you are actually prepared with a spare. You know how to change the tire. The weather is nice and the road is empty of traffic. You have mace and you have a cell phone. You should feel safe.
But it does not matter, because your body, mind and soul have been trained to react to the worst case scenario. You immediately become hyper-vigilant looking for predators. Your body goes into a pattern of flight, fright or freeze. For me, I become immobilized. And when this happens, I also get very angry. And the combination causes me to tense up my muscles and then that causes great pain. This is the first part of my cycle and from what I have studied, it is not uncommon.
Before I started working on all this, the period of being heighten after a trigger could last for a while. The cost on me physically has had a huge impact. I could not think clearly because my thinking wiring was being rerouted. That caused frustration and fed into the anger. The physical turning in of my body was another indicator. My legs turn inward and I curl my toes in, much like an infant does when frightened. My whole body curls inward. I keep my arms and hands very close to my body most of the time and I slouch terribly. Take a look around and you will see this is a classic posture for many people. I bet if you asked them there is a story attached. We of course do not do that. But health care providers should be aware of it.
It takes awareness to move out of this pattern. That is what writing does for me. There are a ton of things people can do to move onward. I also employ meditation and sitting as much as I can outside to get grounded. I found that trying to explain myself does not work well at all. There is a gap that does not get closed with talking about things. But by putting my thoughts down on paper I can rearrange things most times to make sense. I am often reminded about my inability to articulate clearly. I laugh, but in truth, it really hurts. I wish I could be garrulous and loquacious when speaking, but I physically cannot when I am either excited or agitated. I also find I do not remember what I have said and that is sometimes frightening. I find when I write, I often look back and think I wrote that? But then there is proof.
At some point, there is a coming down from the heighten experience. When I was going through therapy, this cycle was so pronounced, I called it a face plant. I would come off this high (and I use that loosely, because it is not a pleasant feeling) and I would crash. Sometime the crash left me desperate and very depressed. Think of a sine wave. For every up there is an equal low. Eventually these highs and lows became less. A “normal” person would bounce back faster and have less distance in the poles. I still bounce but not for as long and not so dramatically most of the time.
Back to the road trip and the blown tire: I have exploded into a series of nonsensical profanities that makes sense only to me. I may pound on the steering wheel causing me to hurt my hand. This reaction will continue for a while. Eventually, the reality of the situation will set in and I will do what I have to do. This often happens in a disengaged state. I shut down and function in a zombie like state. My posture is curled in and I present a defeated appearance. When I am in a conflict with someone else, I acquiesce in order to move on. This is also the time where I would engage is self-flagellation. (I originally wrote the word self-flatulation and laughed. Pure Janese!)
Slowly, and usually through some form of purging like writing, I settle back down. This would be when I changed the tire in my scenario. Hopefully it would be successful because if not, the cycle would not complete and escalate right back or even become worse. If I do calm myself in some manner I usually find clarity. I usually can see the resolution. I often marvel at how apparent it was and why I had struggled to find it. And it is because there is truth in the saying of not thinking clearly in the eye of the storm.
Often, after something happens and I go through a cycle, I end up at the end holding on to guilt and shame. This is a huge topic and not for tonight. I will end with my gratitude for those who have taught me methods of getting back to solid ground quicker. I would love to hear from others what works and what has not for them. I think it is imperative that people who have gone through similar transitions share so that we can support better and more effective treatment for people who have gone through developmental trauma or have PTSD.

Stretched to the last inch

rubber-band-01Tonight I thought I would write about what it feels like when I have a trigger. And also explain a bit about how stress grows and a reaction builds very easily. Most of the time, I do not know when a trigger happens. It sneaks up. Not tonight. Tonight, it was a pie in the face trigger. Let me explain. There has been a lot going on with me, so I am already in a heightened state, even higher than “normal” for me.
Because I have been in a heightened state for so very long, at least 58 years, it does not dissipate like someone who has not been exposed to trauma. Think of a rubber band that gets stretched. Over time, it loses its elasticity. It becomes frail and can snap when one more pull on it occurs. If you look at a rubber band like that, you will see it actually is decomposing. The rubber crumbles and pits. This is very much like what it feels like when you come down off a freeze or even more so a flight or fight. You are spent. And the human body will crumble and decompose faster with constant stretching or stress.
If the rubber band is given time to relax and not get stretched again, it will go back to its original condition…. to some degree. This is what a normal reaction would be like. People who have a normal nervous system would maybe fly off the handle for a bit and then calm down and be alright in short order. They return to homeostasis, or all systems are even and functioning at a normal rate.
For someone who has had developmental trauma or PTSD, homeostasis does not happen quickly or easily and in some cases not at all. The system is always a bit heightened. So let’s say for this writing, you start off at you are at 0 in a scale of 0-10 in the “homeostasis” rating scale. This 0 represents a calm even demeanor. Something sets you off and you rise to a 7, and with a bit of time, you go back down. But you now go back to a 1. This becomes your new normal. Something sets you off, and you go to an 8, and then back down only to 2. You experience a lot of negative stimulation, (think stress and trauma) and because it is coming at you fast and constantly, you never have enough time to release and go back down. Like the rubber band, you may snap or become stretched out.
But many people who have this experience define their new normal and “stuff it”. They have no clue that their level is not normal and that they do not experience homeostasis. For them, they are always a bit heightened. And so when you run around at a five all, and I mean ALL the time, it takes nothing to get to 10. A simple trigger such as someone saying the wrong thing can put you into orbit. It may not have anything to do with the actual event.
Have you ever seen a garbage can with the spring lid and you leave it open for a long time, they get out of shape and won’t close tight. Using that analogy: you are going along; the garbage can lid on the amygdala is slightly open, oozing a bit of coding that is telling your glands to secrete a bit of hormones into your body. So now you are simmering with cortisol and a bit of high blood pressure. Your digestive track may be revving slightly or in my case, slowing down, you are breathing a little shallow and your heart is slightly elevated say at 90 bps. No biggie if this has become your normal for a while. You actually get used to it. And if for any reason the lid closes completely, you actually may feel tired, sluggish or “off”.
So my lid is always open. Then something happened to me tonight that set me off. I flew off the handle at a ridiculous thing. It was not ridiculous to me at the time. It was horrible. I have been simmering a bit higher than normal all week anyways. We have a situation in the family which could impact the dynamics of my household completely and will be very stressful. My husband’s ex-wife and the mother of his only daughter is dying. We found out tonight they had to intubate her. She is in ICU with no kidney or liver function. Not good. She is only 52. It is a long story, but his daughter has been living with her for the last 9 years. She is 25. So there is a lot going on with that. Then, he and I are looking into our retirement possibilities. Tonight after we had called her, I went to check out my teaching pension and it is so confusing it was starting to set me off. Then I read something and I lost it. I flew off the handle in a reaction that was totally unrealistic to the situation. It scared the crap out of me that I might not have a pension at all.
My body slammed full of toxins, the cortisol and epinephrine hormones flooded me. I became red, hot and my hands tingled. My skin was electric. I tried to talk (actually yell) and made absolutely no sense. This happens a lot to me and I get very frustrated. It too is a chemical reaction to stress which shuts down the language center. When I get frustrated, it adds fuel to the fire. I felt trapped like someone was holding me and I want to run away and I cannot. (This is also my common reaction and it manifests in chronic pain in my legs. This is another blog post.) My practice is to burst into tears in frustration and anger and that usually stops the building of the hot mess I am becoming. Then as I s l o w l y come back, I do not come back all the way. I always have a headache AND as an extra bonus, there is usually guilt and remorse for being such a jack ass and flying off the handle.
I disassociate from myself during the drama. I actually watch myself as I react which is very weird but part of the techniques I have learned to use to deal. It helps to bring me back faster. After an event, I think about how similar my behavior is to the behavior my father demonstrated, only he added physical violence to his rage.
The thinking part of my brain that would normally have thought out that “I need to investigate this” which was not accessible at all to me at the moment of the trigger. And because my husband was there and he reacted to my reaction, it added to the circus of the event. Even the little dogs know to get out of the way and hide. That really makes me feel bad. As I got older, I had these “events’ more often. It was really a horrible way to be. I was easily provoked. I am a little better at not getting provoked so easily. I actually have walked out on situations where people have started to push buttons, which is really great. It stops the person in their tracks when you walk away or out of a room when someone is yelling at you. I remove myself as the target and it makes me proud that I stood up for myself. Win-win.
I will say this as I like to always end on a positive note. Like I said, I have found some techniques to help me be calmer more often and more reliably. I will share more of them later. But in the heat of a really strong stimulus, I am still pretty weak. Nothing like thinking you have no money to retire on to tweak you especially when your family is being rearranged again. I have learned to “see” myself in the event and since I do not like that person, I burst into tears and release the anger. Unfortunately, I still need to work on the guilt, but I am better.
The long and short of it, at least I am still here in this world having my temper tantrums. I am not lying in ICU with a machine keeping me alive. Life is precious, every moment. I am very grateful for all of my experiences. Even those days when I feel like a spent rubber band.

Pity Party

Last night I was having a pity party. I am trying very hard to keep this blog more about the science and spiritual components that I have learned along the way. Things have been building up for me and last night was not a happy night. It happens.

I decided to read other blogs for a while. I am amazed how many blogs there are out there about childhood trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence and more. I usually do not talk about my history to many people including my friends. Some know some things. I admit, I carry a lot of shame and I need to work on it. I was astounded how many women bravely told their story as part of their healing.

I feel strongly about not identifying myself as a victim but as a fighter. I really want to make sense of all this not only for myself but for others. It is important to me. It is how I heal.

One of the things that I will get into more in future blogs is the correlation to disease and trauma. That was what started me out on this journey in the first place. I know several other bloggers who have shared the relationship to their pain levels and stress and how it has impacted their bodies.

Today, I found out some good news and some not so good news. The good news is that the increase in pain I have been having and other complications I wrote about in a past blog were explained to me. I like to understand the pathology of the Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) I have. It sounds so basic. I hurt, I have arthritis. Nope, it is not that simple. This is an auto-immune disease which means it attacks many things. It is currently incurable and it will only get worse. In me, it has caused kidney stones, which form from the build-up of uric acid, a by-product of the turnover of cells because of the PsA. Who knew? I pop kidney stones like a goose. I have a high threshold of pain. (Which is good because I have a lot of it) Now it seems that the inflammation has spread in to my colon and digestive tract and I have colitis. Whoopee…. I have some new deterioration to some of the joints, and that is to be expected. But it has made walking painful.

So the good news is there are newer drugs out there and we are going to give them a try. I had very good luck in the past eight years with Enbrel, but it seems I have out grown it. This is ok as there are other treatments and this is my third time switching to something new. It will work.

I was pretty worried the last couple of weeks. Now that I know what is going on, I can handle it. It is like not knowing what causes triggers. Or why you react to some things and not to others. It is similar to the frustration of not having all the pieces of a memory. I firmly believe that in some cases chronic illness can be brought on by trauma and if nothing else, the trauma induced stress will exacerbate the disease process.

Work on calming the limbic systems, lessen the flow of toxic chemicals like cortisol, it will cool the jets of inflammation and voila…healing.

Well that’s my hope and my journey.

what is a trigger?

The fact that the cell membrane and a computer chip are homologues means that it is both appropriate and instructive to better fathom the workings of the cell by comparing it to a personal computer. The first big-deal insight that comes from such an exercise is that computers and cells are programmable. The second corollary insight is that the programmer lies outside the computer/cell. Biological behavior and gene activity are dynamically linked to information from the environment, which is downloaded into the cell.   Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles (Kindle Locations 863-866). Kindle Edition.

I purposefully started this blog with this piece of information. The book, the Biology of Belief was very eye opening for me. I read through and understood about half of what he was saying. My intentions are to go back and reread this, but currently I have a few other books going. Dr. Lipton, a cellular biologist, was radical in his thinking. He left the exalted chambers of academia to live on a Caribbean island and wrote this book. It is a little high end for vocabulary, but his discoveries of the cells power is amazing. For those who believe in mind, body and spirit, it is a good read.

What does this have to do with this blog? Triggers! This is a phenomenon very common to those who have PTSD and developmental trauma. Unless you have it, it is hard to understand. I have heard several times in my life: “why do you just change?” If it were that simple, I would and so would the thousands who have chronic trauma related issues. This is not a choice. If a therapist tells you that it is, run for the door.

What is a trigger? Each person has multiple triggers in their lives. There are smells that trigger hunger and smells the trigger revulsion. Same nose smells them all. What makes the one smell pleasant and the other not pleasant? The memory attached to it. I love the smell of pine for example. It reminds me of the Adirondacks, The River and decorating the house for the holidays. These are all pleasant places or times that I felt safe. There are smells that trigger the opposite.

Light is a big trigger for me. I am very sensitive to light; the brightness and color of light. For example, the fading crimson light of sunset will often trigger me if I am not careful. There is something about the shadow and color that sets me off if I do not focus and keep myself in the present moment. It takes conscious effort to be aware. Why would this particular light bother me? I had to really analyze this as this has been a factor for a very long time for me, since I was very young.

Every night, my parents at 5 pm would stop their lives and sit down to have cocktails. It was without fail. We children were excommunicated from the area and left to our own devices. The room would fill up with the stench of cigarettes and later cigars. One cocktail would follow another. When I was very young, it was not so much an issue as my brother and I were fed earlier by my mother’s live in. As time moved on, this ritual lasted longer and longer. My father would drink and turn into a monster. And the hard part was it was not all the time. Sometimes he would be fine, and other times he would explode into a rage for no reason. My mother would catatonically sit on the sidelines and allow his irrational behavior to run its course. I did not realize at the time she was protecting herself.

Two things this light symbolized for me. The exclusion brought on by the ritual of cocktails. There was such a feeling of isolation and rejection stemming from their choice of alcohol over their children. And the fear of what drinking would do to my father. When we moved and I was the only one at home, they would get so tanked that they would not stop. Often, I would have dinner on my own, go out for the evening with my friends to come home to either the monster or having to help them get to bed. Needless to say I did not bring friends home.

The tricky part of triggers is we often do not know what they are. I can be going along in my day and realize that I am not breathing well. My chest will get tight and I cannot take a deep breath. I will have no idea what set me off, but something did. It can be as apparent as an argument or it can even be something I overheard. But sometimes, it is just the environment. And that is where cellular biology comes into play.

Think of the cell as a little person all on its own. It has a brain (nucleus) and it has a body with multiple parts that produced respiration and osmosis of sorts and creates energy. Surrounding the cell is the cell membrane which is like our skin…..which of course is made up by cells. “Each eukaryote (nucleus-containing cell) possesses the functional equivalent of our nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, excretory system, endocrine system, muscle and skeletal systems, circulatory system, integument (skin), reproductive system, and even a primitive immune system, which utilizes a family of antibody-like “ubiquitin” proteins.” Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles (Kindle Locations 345-346). Kindle Edition.

This is important to understand because triggers are sensed. They can be attached to a memory which will indicate whether it is a good trigger or a bad trigger. As we proceed through our day, we are assaulted with so much information that if we were to pay attention to it all we would be immobilized. So we tune out. I should say our thinking brain tunes out. The cells on our body do not. So we may feel uneasy without realizing where it is coming from. Have you ever walked into an empty room and felt creeped out? I have. There is something that was there or may still be and I cannot perceive it cognitively, but my little cell brains can. And when that happens, the little cell brains send a signal to the nerve highways and send the non-apparent threat up to the reptilian brain. It reacts and sets off the limbic system and opens Mr. Amygdala who then sends off all sorts of chemicals and then I feel crappy. AND, I have no clue why.

Think of how often this can happen in the course of a day. The part I will get into later is that this reaction or trigger grows exponentially. In other words, simple things set us off more and more. And because we end up being triggered continually, our system is flooded with chemicals that create inflammation and disease. Chronic pain is a common symptom of developmental trauma and PTSD.

This is in part why I had to take a mental health day this weekend. My pain level is out of control. My body is telling me I need to calm down. I had to take myself out my normal environment of work and interactions. It is not how I can live, but the respite was good. Unfortunately, the resurgence in the world of grocery shopping yesterday produced a heightened sense of over stimulation and increased pain level again. But the one day was worth it.