Category Archives: to make you think

Hard NO on gabapentin ever again. **Trigger warning – self-harm thoughts**

I really need to remember (and underscore) that psych meds and I really don’t play well together.

I’ve noticed, and been able to label, psychotic thoughts getting stronger with each dose… The biggest “aha” moment came tonight after my evening dose (#3 in total) when I scratched an itch on my scalp, and thought “I should just rip it off”, and I pictured myself ripping off a large chunk of my scalp to relieve the itch. That is not a normal thought!

I may be experiencing psychotic thoughts, but I’m aware enough to recognize them as such.

After figuring that out, I did a quick Google search; apparently, psychotic agitation is a “rare” paradoxical effect of gabapentin…

References on this phenomenon:

There’s more out there, but I’m having trouble concentrating… My tongue is very present at the moment, and it’s flashing up a thought to “just chew it off to stop it from feeling that way”… Seriously not fun right now…

I feel like I might cry and laugh maniacally at the same time… My emotions are all over the place, mostly hypomanic & psychotic. I know I need to turn over and try to sleep, I just need to stop being scared of the thoughts. They are just thought. I don’t need to act on them. They will pass. I just need to let myself sleep…


Are dementia, Alzheimer’s, and trauma reactions related?

So, something that kinda connected in my head, but may not actually be connected in reality, were memory-related disorders of the elderly, and memory-related disorders connected to trauma.

Dr C often described dissociated trauma memories as “bubbles” of memory and understanding. I happened to be describing dementia in that way to a friend, and suddenly they both made sense in the same way: nothing else exists in the moment of a flashback, only that moment. Often times, the same is true for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients; they exist in the moment of the time they remember, but nothing outside of that. They forget loved ones, major life events, aging… the same is true for flashbacks, only flashbacks seem somewhat easier to ground from. Age-related memory issues seem to make it a more permanent state of being.

I’ll have to look into whether or not there’s research on any potential connections between age-related memory issues, and trauma-related memory problems…


How do you break the cycle?

A friend posed a really good question today: how do you actually break the cycle of [abuse/anger/self-harm/ insert whatever cycle applies]?

I didn’t have an answer for her.

I know my brother and I have both broken the cycle in our family, but I have no insight into how we did it. I know I have a deep-seated fear of becoming my father in any way, shape, or form. I think my brother also has that fear, tough I’m not sure.. since we never talk about that kind of stuff… but… how did that enable us to step back from the abuse?

I know I’ve had bouts with rage. They weren’t anything close to what my dad would display, but they were close enough to have me feeling like shit about myself.

So what helped after moments like that? I have no idea. Other than being scared of myself turning into G, I really don’t know what I did that allows me to control my rage…

I used to self harm, in a number of ways. I no longer use that outlet, but again, I have no real clue what changed. Yes, there is a huge fear of being hospitalized again, but there has to be more to it than that… right?

What is it that enables some of us to change patterns, while others are still mired in them? What’s the push that moves some of us out of the only patterns we’ve ever know, but keeps others stuck?

I don’t think it’s a personality thing, because that would mean only some people can ever change. I believe everyone can change, so that can’t be it.

Is it better insight? Not totally sure, because my friend is pretty insightful (I’d say more so than I am), so it’s not just that.

…but what actually is it?

I’ve been told that changing old patterns takes time. A therapist once told me in response to being frustrated at my slow rate of change; “you’ve spent 20-something years using that skill. What makes you think you can change that in a few short months?”

She had a point.

I had practiced my poor coping skills for more than half my life. It would take at least a few years to perfect not cutting…

But is time and fear the only thing that helped me change? We didn’t focus on alternates in therapy; we just addressed the trauma (repressed or otherwise). Was that the key?

So what happens if there isn’t trauma hiding behind the anger, or the trauma was addressed, but the anger remains? How do you resolve it?


family

I think that word has very different meanings for me.

We were always taught separation. My dad’s blood family was all that mattered to him, so that’s all he acknowledged. Everyone else was just “shit”. He didn’t promote contact with anyone outside his immediate family of origin (foo). We were isolated from almost everyone else, and even within his own foo, bitch was top, then him, then grandma, then K. Mom factored very little. K’s husband, T factored very little. Moms family was just unheard of (he made sure of that). We talked a bit about them and to them, but overall, they were essentially non-existent (in his eyes anyway).

I’ve only recently (like maybe the last decade or so) gotten in somewhat more regular contact with one of my cousins. We chat online a bit, but I think I’ve only seen her maybe 6 times my entire life (and we lived relatively close, like maybe a 4 hour drive, for several years). I’ve seen her parents a few more times, but that was only after she & her siblings had grown up and moved out… even then, I think I can count less than a dozen times.

Tonight, my mom informed me that her brother (my cousins’ father, my uncle) had gone to the hospital for a head injury. Apparently, this happened sometime last week, and no one thought to tell us (at least my brother and I. Mom may have known, but she’s not big on communicating stuff like that about/with anyone).

When I found out, it hit me just how disconnected I am from my extended family; I have no real emotions around him being in seriously ill health… I’m not even all that connected to any emotions my mom may have around it (though she’s never been big on emotions either. None of my family has).

I feel like it’s wrong somehow, like society is generally connected with their families unless there’s been some big rupture. The only rupture was my father. I should be connected with my aunt & uncle & cousins, but I’m not… and I think I’m a bit resentful about it.

I see L with her family (it’s a HUGE family), and I feel like we got the short end of the stick.

My dad made enormous effort to keep us isolated from everyone.

It sucks.

So now I have no real connection to family. I get the concept that we have an extended family, but… it’s just not in my radar for the most part. And I’m mad.

His isolation enabled the abuses that happened night after night. His anger resulted in a fear of reaching out, or attempting to connect with anyone (after all, any connection would be promptly severed once found out). We weren’t allowed to care for anyone outside the little dysfunctional circle that happened to include his foo…

The dissociation doesn’t help any. I feel like I’m just floating in a world where I don’t belong (or even truly exist). People have no clue about so much of my life. Everyone’s merely an acquaintance. Aside of L (and as of today, our friend DO), no one knows I have a dissociative disorder. At most, they’ve been told I have ptsd, but no one knows what it’s from; they assume I served in the military…

Most everyone in my life sees this shell, this act. They might notice I hit some bumps along the way, but mostly, I’m either shy and awkward (99% of the time), or chatty and awkward. I’m the crazy animal lady with the pet snakes, who also does art here and there…

I feel like I don’t actually exist. I must just be a ghost floating around.

I never expect people to remember me from one meeting to the next, or care about anything about me. I’m the awkward tag-along friend you invite because you feel sorry for them. I’m the wife you tolerate because we come as a package deal. I’m really not sure why L married me. I’m just the awkward one tagging along behind her to family functions. I don’t deserve to be there, nor am I really wanted there, but I’m crashing the party…

I shouldn’t be here still. I have no purpose or usefulness… but here I am, tagging along in this weird body that feels like a poorly-fitting borrowed dress. If I think hard enough about it, I can kinda find some connection to the C they think they’re supposed to get, but… I dunno. It just feels like a suit, like pretend. That girl who graduated college? Not me. The one who had a career? Not me. The one with friends and family? Not me.

I’m just that shadow in the corner… nothing to notice or want to be around; no substance, no presence, no worth…


On using psych meds

… that Sarah Silverman tweet got me thinking…

There’s so much info and support out there for people taking meds, but nothing for people who react badly to meds.

I’m not sure I ever really talked in detail about my struggles with psych meds.

I tried them briefly in college, but came off of them after a short time (can’t remember why, or how long I was actually on them). Then, 4-6 years later, I was convinced to try them again. It was against my better judgement, but my therapist at the time was adamant that I needed them. I wanted to trust that she had a less biased view of things than I did, and that she was more knowledgeable about it all than I was. I battled her about it for several sessions before I caved and agreed to try them once again.

I had trouble finding a psychiatrist I felt comfortable working with. I must have cycled through 5 or 6 before I found one who I felt listened & cared (read: didn’t try to push the same meds I reported as having not worked when I tried them; wasn’t cold or condescending; sat with me for more than 3 minutes before handing me a prescription). Sadly, she moved out of state after about 3 months, and my search began again.

I really don’t remember much of the details at this moment, but I do know at one point I was taking roughly 15 different meds up to 4 times a day. It started with one med, then another med to combat side effects, and another to augment the first, then another to help with side effects from the one helping with the original side effects, and so on.

The meds didn’t work for me. I kept getting more depressed, more anxious, and more suicidal. I cycled in and out of hospitals. Each time, they added meds, or switched them out, or increased doses, or all of the above. None seemed to help.

They started blaming me for complaining about the side effects. I was called willful and resistant to treatment. I was told I was being manipulative; that I didn’t actually want to be helped; that I was enjoying the depression; that I was not trying hard enough to get better. I was told I would never be able to live without medication; that I needed to accept it as a part of life… at one point, doctors told me that I would never be able to survive on my own because of my level of self-sabotage.

I was seriouslly depressed, constantly anxious, extremely impulsive, and actively suicidal 90% of the time, not to mention my mounting ptsd symptoms (an enormous difference from my demeanor when not on meds, but few people had seen me prior to starting them by this point. Even I was mostly convinced that I would certainly die without meds (which was honestly part of what prompted me wanting to stop them. At least if I managed to kill myself, the pain would end)).

During one of my last dozen hospitalizations, it was strongly suggested that I not be released back to my home, but rather permanently be sent to a residential facility, as I was an inherent danger to myself. The doctors were shocked that I had survived this long. Even less believable to them was that I had a successful life and career prior to my most recent hospitalizations. I had held down a full-time supervisory position, as well as 3 other part-time jobs up until that final year on meds. I would be hospitalized one week, then return to work as soon as I was released. I attended intensive therapy programs during first shift hours, and worked in the afternoons. I taught trauma informed care workshops. I attended professional trainings. I was very high functioning professionally even as I was crashing personally…

I was lucky enough to have family and friends on my side backing my insistence to receive more intensive treatment (mind you, this was 4 years after I started meds, and roughly 40 hospitalizations in by that time). I knew I was metaphorically drowning. I knew the treatment I was getting wasn’t sufficient (most psych units, even in psych hospitals, don’t offer therapy so much as physical containment), but I did not totally know what might actually help. Dr C was a great resource. She helped me figure out that a specialized trauma program would likely be beneficial. She’d also advocated strongly with the doctors at the local hospital to send me to a more intensive program. Between her, my family, and my own insistence, I was finally admitted to a trauma clinic, The Center at PIW.

There, I finally found some meaningful & intensive help. Despite reading my recent history, the psychiatrist agreed to help me come off all the meds. By the time I left there 2 weeks later, I had tapered off most of the meds. Those last ones I was able to come off of with the help of the psychiatrist at the day program I attended following my discharge from The Center.

The first day back to the IOP, the staff commented that I was doing the best they had seen since I first attended there 4 years ago. They said I seemed clear-headed, articulate, calmer… they asked what changed. When I mentioned I was tapering off the last 2 meds, they seemed incredulous. After all, how could the person who was so debilitated for so long be better not taking the thing they believed was her biggest hope at normalcy? Initially, the psychiatrist was ready to refuse treatment because I was refusing to take medication again, but upon seeing how differently I presented, I was allowed to stay in the program. I was, however, requested not to mention that I was no longer taking any regular psych meds. They claimed it was to avoid compliance problems with other patients in the program. I guess I was seen as an oddity.

After my shortest time “completing” the program (3 weeks or so), I was deemed stable enough to graduate. I returned to only doing individual therapy & the trauma group with Dr C.

Since that time (2011), I’ve only tried psych meds 3 times. Each time I noticed the impulsive drive to kill myself return in less than a week’s time. They faded just as quickly once I stopped taking the pills. The depression still hits hard, but suicide is no longer my first and only thought on how to deal with it. I’m also better able to avoid cutting (actually, I rarely think about using it as a coping tool these days).

Doctors still react with shock and disbelief when I deny being on psych meds despite my diagnoses. I’m pretty sure most believe I’m lying when I tell them I only take something for asthma and stomach issues. Even the neurologist did a side-eye when I mentioned the only 2 meds I take aside of the pot.

In a society where pharmaceuticals run the medical industry, and they are the be-all & end-all of mental health treatment, not taking meds is seen as going against medical advice. Hell, we take away people’s basic human rights when they say meds don’t work so they’d rather not take any. They are deemed an immenant danger to themselves, and not competent enough to make rational decisions… all because something we are indoctrinated into thinking is the only way to treat mental health issues harms some people more than it will ever help them.

I can’t tell you how much I loathe the phrases “you just need to find the right meds or combinations),” and “the benefits outweigh the side effects.” Sometimes there is no right combination, and the benefits definitely do not outweigh the side effects (because for some, there are no benefits). I wish medicine understood this…

Maybe we need to start another movement; that sometimes meds do more harm than good, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing not to take them. There are several notations in my records that insist I’ll die within 6 months max if I were allowed to stop all psych meds, yet here I am, 7 years later, more stable than I ever was on the meds. Oh, and check it out, I’m still alive! Who knew that was possible?! 🤔

It’s time we stop forcing everyone with mental health challenges into a medication routine. They can definitely be helpful for some, but we also need to acknowledge that they can be detrimental to others.


Musings on emotions

It feels like this huge, crushing weight (grief does).

It seems like I’m feeling it too intensely sometimes… 

For some reason, it struck me today that some people have “sensory processing disorders” around emotions rather than sights, sounds, or textures… 

The same way loud noises  (or lots of sources of noise) can be overwhelming to someone on the autism spectrum, “loud” emotions can be overwhelming to some people… 

What if that emotional overwhelm they try to always pigeonhole as “borderline” is really just an autistic glitch around emotions as opposed to one of the other senses? 

What if introducing trauma/abuse/neglect into the mix early-on intensifies the inability of a person to deal with this emotional sensory processing disorder? 

We’ve all heard the theories that borderline is better explained by c-ptsd (which I totally agree with). What if we took it one step further and explored the possibility that “borderline”was actually in part an autism-like disorder? 

If you consider that one “symptom” of borderline is “feeling too intensley”, and you understand that even trained clinicians minimize the difficulty of dealing with extremely intense emotions (as they’ve been trained to do; “know that emotions come & go, like waves”), it’s easy to see the disconnect in effective strategies for clients. It’s something along the lines of comparing a stubbed toe to a shattered foot. Sure, you can probably take over-the-counter Tylenol for the stubbed toe & it will likely help, but doing the same for the shattered foot probably won’t make a noticeable impact. For such an intense injury, you need prescription-strength stuff. We should have something more than “Tylenol” to offer people. 

What if we understand that pushing someone to sit with intense pain (physical or emotional)  will likely lead to various ways of procuring relief… so you take a kid who can’t handle loud noises, and you tell them they need to sit through a rock concert. You’re going to get a tantrum and various, inventive ways to deal with the pain from the noise (think stereotypical autistic behaviors like flapping, screaming, hitting self, or attacking others). Now take a kid who feels emotions incredibly intensely, and ask them to tolerate those emotions. You pretty much get the same acting out in search of relief: self injury, tantrums, physical and verbal outbursts…

I’m a huge proponent for dropping the borderline diagnosis from the dsm. It’s an antiquated and “cop-out” diagnosis with way too much stigma attached. While there’s a push to remove the stigma, it’s still very much taught to young clinicians. Professors and supervisors alike instill fear and disgust around the diagnosis. Myths are perpetuated. Doctors do the same. It’s quick to be diagnosed (often inaccurately), and it’s near impossible to step away from even if it’s found to be inaccurate. It follows you and colors every other interaction with every other professional that sees the dreaded diagnosis anywhere in the file…

What if, instead of just working to destigmatize the diagnosis, we came up with more accurate understandings, and got rid of it completely. It was, after all, just a catch-all category for people who didn’t quite fit any of the other categories… 

What are your thoughts on this? Does it kinda make sense? Am I way out in left field? 


I find certain things incredibly difficult to bring up in therapy. I’m not sure if it’s the way Dr C and I go about things, or the topics themselves, or my fear of disappointing her, or what, but sometimes I struggle till the end of session (or even after season is up) with how to introduce talking about certain things.

Last Monday, we had mentioned some stuff at the end of session that I really had hoped to cover today… only today I couldn’t bring it up again in time. The only reason I brought it up at all was because she caught me looking at the clock trying to calculate if I had enough time to get into it. I didn’t. She gave me the option of coming in again this week if I wanted. I took the opportunity, and also asked if we could talk about the self harm stuff that session. She said we can always talk about it, anytime. I told her I wasn’t sure how to bring it up; it’s one of those things that feels irrelevant unless I’m mired in it… only it’s difficult to talk about the “grand scheme” of it when I’m wrapped up in doing it, so it would be good to talk about it now when I’m not fighting urges… we established that it isn’t a current occurrence, but that it’s always in the back of my head (much like the concept of dying is always there).

I hope she can help me break into the subject next session.

Does anyone else find it difficult to bring up certain things at times? It’s not so much that it’s triggering or difficult to talk about (though it certainly can be), it’s just that we get going on another topic, or we seem to stay lighter, and I don’t know a good way to break into the heavy stuff. I find when there’s something I really want to talk about, I stall and sputter and pick something totally unrelated/surface to talk about when there’s actually something much more specific and heavier to talk about. I fall into the default notion of “they don’t really want to hear that stuff because it’s too deep/personal/uncomfortable so I’m just going to avoid it. I know it’s counterproductive for therapy (I mean, heck, that’s what I see the woman every week for: to talk about the uncomfortable/icky/ personal stuff), but for some reason I can’t get out of my own way and simply open up about whatever it is I really want to talk about most sessions. I’m so nervous and anxious about presenting well and progressing, I can’t bring up anything that might hint at any regression…

I know she says I don’t have to worry about disappointing her, but I always do (worry)… :/ I have this intense drive to please people and make them happy in order to make them like me. It rarely works. Half the people aren’t swayed by my frantic attempts, the other half take advantage. I know I should be more authentic with Dr C, but I don’t want her to give up on me or be mad that I’m just always drama…

I need people to like me. I need them to know I exist, and to want me around or I might blink out of existence… I know I won’t really cease to exist if they dislike me or no longer want me around, but the little kid in me doesn’t get that. She’s still desperately trying to please everyone around her in an effort to justify taking up space and resources… funny how much the kid in me is desperate to be real, while at the same time another part of me wishes and hopes for an end (the depressed part. The part that’s so tired of fighting and struggling and trying)… annother topic for therapy “some day.”

Oh, I’m supposed to make “balanced happy” art for Dr C. She was thinking I should do something that makes me happy/feel loved, surrounded by more things that make me happy and feel loved to keep out the darkness (or create a shield against it). She did some concept sketches in session today, and I think it might turn out really cool, I just have to figure out how to execute them in an interesting way… guess that’s a project for this week sometime. It won’t be done by Wednesday’s session, but maybe for next week?


There’s fiction in the space between…

Sometimes, I “remember” things that at other times I’m positive couldn’t have happened… but in the moment of “remembering” they feel so real I could taste and touch them.

I know exactly how it feels on my lips. I can taste the mix of sweat and cigarette smoke… in that moment, I know what’s playing in my head was a real event. But then the moment passes, and I can list a million reasons that event could have never happened…

I know the difference between my imagination and reality. I know those were never my fantasies… but what else could they be because I also “know” they are not actual memories. I should have remembered them all along. I should have know. I would have known.

But… ugh! I know they are at once real and fake. I know they are not only a cry for attention, but also a plea for attention. I know this, but I don’t.

I never talked more about duckboy at the time because I “knew” I consented by not fighting, by not screaming, by not pulling away, by obediently doing what I was told (MY had argued the point over and over again. She convinced me that a situation like that was consenting in its lack of resistance. The people that had experience with sexual abuse disagreed with MY, but her stance was easier to swallow. If it wasn’t abuse or assault, then I had nothing to worry about)… but why was I so compliant? I know I had learned somewhere that to simply do what I was told, or let him do whatever he wanted, meant that it would go easier and faster. I knew what it would feel like, I knew what to expect from my body. At the time, I couldn’t tell you how or why I knew this, but I knew.

When I first “remembered” the other stuff, it felt like an elephant kicked me in the chest. It took my breath away. I was driving home from therapy and I had to pull off the highway. I remember calling De in a panic and begging her to tell me all the reasons why what flashed through my head and body wasn’t actually true…

I repeat those same defenses against its truth to myself often: it was something I saw on TV or read in a book, It’s my imagination, it’s the stories of my clients’ pieced together and told with people in my own life…

And at the same time, it can feel so damn true. I know things because “I just know.” I don’t know how I know, I just know… I feel things for no reason other than I have a very active imagination; I’ve pieced together different events and written them with all new characters and story lines. I have a really good imagination. My body plays along with that amazing imagination to give me a better fantasy life… yeah. That’s it.

In the shower today, I remembered something, but it quickly gave way to something I know for sure is not a memory (feels different, and was drastically embellished from the actual events. I think I do that as a defense and a means to keep distance from the other stuff)… but now I’m not sure if the start of it was actually a memory, or just a play going on in my head. I can’t even really remember the beginning part anymore, just that it was disturbing and felt very real.

How can something feel so real and so fake at the same time? How come I can’t talk about it even in vague terms outside of therapy?

image


Write the saddest story you can in 4 words…

I saw this on fb…

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“I loved you once…”

it can have so many endings:

…but then I remembered.

…and you betrayed me.

…then you used me.

…and I saw your true colors.

…you broke my heart.

…I still love you (and I don’t know why)…


Shared from WordPress

A Letter to My Daughter — From Your Trauma-Recovering Momma. – http://wp.me/p2ohnp-3h4


Homework

I’m supposed to work on loving my kid self. She wants me to use art to show my kid self being a care-free kid. She had originally said to show her being hugged or cuddled, but I’m nowhere near that point. The closest I can come right now is passing her Beary… it will have to do.

We were talking about childhood, and what it meant to get in trouble. I could only access the stuff I’ve known all along. The new memories didn’t make it to my descriptions. Another check in the “they’re fake” column…

But then there’s the stuff I feel in my body. It feels so real… check in the “they’re real” column.

I just don’t know…

I was mad at her today, though I’m not sure why. She didn’t do or say anything insulting or mean… but every time she brought up loving my inner kid or younger self, I just got more and more frustrated. I think I was stuck trying to convey how scary that would be, yet she kept insisting. The concept of (care-giver/person in power/parent/adult:kid) love and care is so messed up in my head. For some reason it translates to hurt and violation, and that’s all my inner kid could hear today. She didn’t hear that Dr C was advocating actual care, she heard am adult planning for her to be hurt…

One thing I never thought about, but which Dr C  brought up today: where does that hurt I dissociate from end up? She thinks some part of me is holding it but out of my awareness. I guess technically, self harm should hurt. It should trigger pain. Only I’ve stopped if it ever does… I’ve gotten so adept at dissociating pain that I don’t even know where the sensations end up being felt. It just feels like comfort to me… (it branched from a combination of trying to explain that care was confused with hurt; and that I hadn’t cut in a while now).

I dunno. Guess I will have to think about that one some more. She seems to believe the pain had to go somewhere. I’ve never given it much thought. I’m certainly not aware of carrying it around.


holy links batman!

Ok, so in a (seemingly futile) effort to find an article on parenting to the emotional needs of your child that my brother wanted to read, I keep stumbling across a bunch of other stuff I want to read. I have no time at the moment to devote to the tons of articles I’m finding, however I do want to save them for later. If I simply bookmark them, I’ll never look at them again…

So, in case anyone else is also interested, here’s a dump of some of the stuff I came across today. I have not read any of them yet, so I dunno how useful or interesting they are, but either the topic or title piqued my interest:

now that I have those written down, time to hurry my butt up and get to work – doggie play day!!!! 😀 I love when my boss puts me into camp.

Oh, also, if anyone finds any articles on parenting to the emotional needs of your kids, could you link me to them? a week later and I still can’t find the article I’m looking for. The wealth of info available on the internet is amazing, but quite overwhelming at times!


on trust

Someone on a forum asked about trusting people in life. I believe she meant it in terms of trusting someone to not hurt her, but I defined trust slightly differently. I took it in a more universal scope…

I don’t trust anyone 100%. I trust my wife the most, though I don’t burden her with most of my trauma stuff. I trust her to work on the relationship. I trust her to call me out on my crap. I trust her to tell me when something is bugging her… I trust my critters. They are easy to figure out and rarely have ulterior motives except maybe food and adventure… I can build trust with a therapist. I trusted TM to work with me on what I brought to therapy. I trusted her to be open to helping me figure out my reactions. I trusted her to help build that trust, and to work with my best interests in mind within the bounds of her expertise and ability. I’ve trusted the same with some past therapists… I trust other members of my family to live up to what I have experienced from them in the past. I trust my dad will continue to be an abusive *** who will never learn. I trust my mom will be distant and in denial but loving in her own way. I trust my brother to be a geek and creative and funny but not emotionally accessible. I trust my wife, my mom, and my brother will be there for me. I trust my dad will push the boundaries I put up and bulldoze them (or try his best to do so). I trust his oldest sister will forever be crazy, abusive, and a plight on society. I trust my best friends to be people I can always come back to regardless of the time and distance between us…
So I guess you can say I trust a bunch of people, just in different ways.
I wish I was able to trust someone completely in a positive way, but I don’t even trust myself completely. People will come and go. Critters will come and go. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but I trust certain people will do their best to be loving… I also trust everyone is imperfect…

Who do you trust? How do you define that trust?


new word…

learned a new word from fb today: (gasp! yes, you can actually learn things on fb…) (from the sanskrit dictionary)

 

भूतदया bhUtadayA f. compassion towards all creatures
भूतदया bhUtadayA f. universal benevolence

 

 


really? that’s how you found me?

have you ever just browsed your stats to see how people find your blog?

I was casually looking before coming to post an art-related entry, and I stopped in my tracks & did a double-take when I read the only search term used to find me today:

search term used to find my blog

really? That is how you find me? I mean, I’m all for people stumbling onto this blog and maybe finding it helpful, but… ?! sorry to disappoint. nothing even close to any of that here. yes. each of those words, individually, may have been used as tags in my posts, but definitely not together like that… ::sigh::

smh around search engines that pop up blogs like this when people are clearly looking for something else…

seriously though, I’m pretty accepting of individual kink, but try not to harm or traumatized anyone while following your passions. black gay porn? sure, go for it! just leave the dog out of it (though I guess if you get off on watching dogs do it with other dogs, that’s ok, just don’t participate or force anything…). bestiality doesn’t exactly involve consent on the part of the animal, so I can’t condone that. consent and respect are huge deals in the realm of sexual activities.

if it was you, and you kept looking around here, more power to you for being disappointed but plugging on… lol.

WordPress and whatever search engine popped up my blog in response to that search term, you may want to check your algorithms… though I felt the need to add that search phrase into my tags, so now more people looking for that will find me easier, haha… oye!

 


He Never Hit Me (Huffpost link)

Powerful read… He Never Hit Me (Huffpost.com)

“By hurting me, he showed me he loved me. He cared enough to go that crazy. He cared so much that he was overwhelmed by anger or jealousy or sadness and simply couldn’t control himself.”

Sometimes I think the hardest thing to integrate is the coexistence of love and abuse… very confusing.

 


shame and attachment in therapy (link to outside article)

Came across a link to this on a support forum. It’s a post on shame and attachment in therapy. It makes a lot of sense to me… I was originally going to slip it into another post, but I couldn’t figure which one it made more sense to add it to, so it’s getting its own post…

I recently wrote to TM that I am mad at myself for kinda feeling attached to her, for feeling she is safe. I don’t want it from someone I know I will lose from my life in short order. I would rather have it from people I expect to be around (my wife, my f.o.o., my close friends)… It would be easier that way, but not necessarily safer.


violence breeds violence, regardless of the motivation…

I write this with full awareness that I may have my head bitten off by several people for posting the following opinion… I will also remind any commenters to please keep their comments civil and respectful. I’m ok with discussion, but not bashing.

I am in the minority of people appalled by a video of a mother beating her son for partaking in the Baltimore riots this past week. I will not hail her a hero or “mother of the year”. I do not care what her reasoning was, I think she was wrong. I also think her son was wrong for participating in the riots in the manner he did. It was stated that the woman was trying to prevent her 16-year-old son from being killed. Reportedly, he was about to throw (or continue to throw) things at the police, and join in the general havoc. This apparently justified the mother smacking her son repeatedly on his head and torso as she berated him.

I was told by many friends and family that they “would have done the same” or they understood her fear/anger reaction. My problem with the whole thing was that she used the same logic and behavior he did to try to dissuade him from further action:  I am more right, and have more power for X reason, so I will beat you into submission… That’s up there with cursing someone out while you tell them not to curse.

I’m pretty sure that’s a huge double standard right there (not to mention a mixed message). It’s suddenly ok to beat your child (and have it filmed, then applauded by millions) because you are trying to prevent them from getting hurt?! If I see my kid almost run into on-coming traffic because he didn’t look before he ran, is it suddenly ok for me to yank him back and start beating on him? Would the media and millions of Americans tell me I am “Mother of the Year”?? No. I would have the child taken from my custody (even if temporarily), and I would have CPS up my ass for the next year or more. “But I didn’t want to see him killed, and he wasn’t listening to me when I told him to stop.” would never fly as a valid excuse for beating my child…

There’s pages and pages of articles on the generational cycles of violence. It’s a safe bet to say that the 16-year-old kid witnessed (with some regularity) violence growing up. It didn’t have to be his mom, though her reaction to his poor choices leads me to believe she likely has done something similar before. It’s also safe to say that she was probably witness to violence in her childhood. People repeat what they learn. Even those with the best of intentions can succumb to early learning. Heck, I see in myself some of the very things I hate in my dad. I try to make a conscious effort to not behave as he did/does, but I’m certainly not perfect (super-far from it actually). I find myself angry and yelling more than I would like. I can feel rage bubble, and fists want to fly. I do my damnedest to not act on those urges though… Would my anger at my early life excuse abuse I perpetuate on others? Absolutely not. It would be understandable, but not excusable. I would still be expected to change my behaviors… I am expected to change my behaviors. I mainly turn my violence onto myself. Even that is not acceptable. I hear from person after person that I need to be kind to myself; that I need to stop treating myself so abusively…

So why is it ok to see this mother hit her son repeatedly? People come back with responses along the lines of “I would do anything to keep my kid safe.” or “What would you do if your kid was about to walk into his death?” I maintain that my response would be non-violent. I would step in his way to block his path, I would pull him away, I would do my best to hold him in place, or move him back if possible. I would not strike him. If for some reason, I lost my head and started beating my child, I would hope someone stepped in and pulled me away rather than film it and laud me with praise… But I guess I have a different perspective than most.

That same day, when I questioned the logic of rioting and looting within the community, it was defended by some as “displaced anger”. This also bothers me. Why is displaced anger from a mob more ok than displaced anger in say, a romantic relationship? If the mob were a man, and the destroyed property his beaten wife, he would have been arrested on domestic violence charges (in the very least, there would have been some outcry of injustice from women’s rights activists and a public push for charges). So why are we excusing it because it’s fueled by institutional racism? When my dad came home pissed because he got mugged on his lunch break, then proceeded to yell at, threaten, and hit my mom, it was not okay simply because it was “displaced anger.” When a parent beats a child because of financial stressors, it’s not excusable as “displaced anger”. Why are we so quick to step up and excuse other violence as such? Why is mass-perpetrated violence ok when individually-perpetrated violence would be scorned?

I do not believe racism should be tolerated. I do not believe young black men should be singled-out and harassed or harmed. I do not believe anyone should be harmed. I do agree we should be outraged by the state of our society. I believe we should stand up and “fight” for change, but I do not belive rioting, looting, and violence are the answer. They get us nowhere but deeper into the cycle of violence. I really wish more people understood that…

 


thoughts and ramblings… (apologies for this wall of text)

I had my usual appointment with TM today. I struggled to explain to her what was different about this weekend. She asked what the motivators were for my change in attitude. I couldn’t put my finger on the tiny “half-spark” of internal motivation for the change, but I also could not adequately describe the difference in external motivators either. At one point, I tried to explain that I disliked being a cause for concern. I don’t think I explained the “why” behind that very well though… Just now, reading through an older post from another blog I follow, I found a wonderfully concise and accurate description:

“I have always reacted badly to emotionally affecting other people; it’s like I should exist as a neutral entity. Especially when it comes to people who matter to me.” ( blogged about it in this post from last year)…

I’ll have to try to remember this the next time I see TM.

Anyway, we talked about the weekend, and she challenged me to find what it was that allowed for that tiny bit of internal push to change how things turn out. I kinda thought about it already while running errands on the way home… I don’t think she will like the answer (though maybe she will be able to put a positive spin on it): Since I don’t have a fool-proof, guaranteed-to-work method to kill myself, I might as well work to make the interim as pleasant and productive as possible. If I’m in crisis and falling apart at the slightest sign of stress, I will certainly not be making the most of this time I’m “stuck” here. I will also never progress past the initial “dump” of info in therapy. I need to be able to get past this point.

To that end, TM pointed out what should have been obvious to me but wasn’t: I’m still pretty depressed. We talked about what my barriers are to accomplishing even the simplest things. I had reported to her Friday that I had tried several times between Tuesday and Friday  to go to the beach without any success. She wanted specifics around what had me turning around. I explained that it should have been easy enough for me to go, since I always have a “beach bag” in the car (shirt, shorts, blanket, towel, bathing suit). I could simply head out and either change when I got there, or go in jeans and change into dry shorts after. But I would get stuck on all the steps needed to make it to the beach. Sometimes I would start to go, get much of the way there, then turn around because the remaining effort was just too much. The slightest hinderance to making the full journey (which is really only about 6 miles or less, and maybe takes 20 minutes) had me losing my resolve to go. It became overwhelming to think of having to make all those turns, go through all those lights, find parking, gather my stuff, walk “all the way out” to the water, find a spot to consider “mine” or walk along the shore… And if I decided to go in the water, I would have to make sure my stuff didn’t blow away, and my valuables were safely hidden, and battle the waves to get to a point where I can just chill… It was so much easier to just turn around and go home. (I also described my thought process around going to the mall several weeks ago to exchange my bra. She was surprised at how far I broke it down, and admitted that having to think about doing all that would exhaust her also). She agreed that my miles-long list of “steps to get there” could seem to out-weigh the single acknowledged gain. This was where she pointed out “what [I] probably already know, but…” that’s all depression talking. I sometimes forget that depression can also manifest as a lack of energy or enjoyment from things. I’m so used to it being a horrid, hopeless, lifeless mood that as soon as the mood lifts a bit, I don’t see the depression anymore. I think the universe has been trying to bring this to my attention of late. Not only has TM now pointed it out, but I had followed a few forum posts where it was suggested that the poster still was experiencing depression despite the lack of depressed mood. It was more of a behavioral presentation. If I take an honest look at myself lately, I have to admit I’m still obviously depressed. Not only do I find it incredibly difficult to motivate around anything or take enjoyment out of what used to be enjoyable activities, but I also actively battle a higher intensity of “self-destruct” thoughts than would be considered my baseline… So much for moving past the depression. :sigh:

Anyway, she left me with cognitively challenging homework this week (a good balance to the emotionally challenging timeline from last week). I’m supposed to document (timeline or otherwise) some happy/good events in life. I laughed at her and said it would probably all fit on a post-it, compared to the large piece of brown paper I brought the other timeline in on. We laughed, then commiserated on the salience of negative or traumatic memories as opposed to positive/happy ones. I pointed out that we probably wouldn’t have gotten very far in the history of humanity if we forgot tigers might rip our arms off when we tried to cuddle them in the forest. She laughed at that. I like that we have a similar sense of humor, and our thought-process is somewhat similar. I again almost asked her if I could take her with me when I moved…

The other piece of homework was more of a reflective exercise: to figure out what happened to give me that internally motivated little half-spark of hope that helped me get through the weekend. That is so much more challenging. I can easily figure out the external motivators: L, the animals, not wanting to wind up in the hospital, not liking the feeling of causing others to worry or be concerned… easy-peasy. Internal factors though? maybe the discomfort with causing worry? (because it has changed somehow from not feeling worthy or deserving of worry, to disliking the feeling I get within myself when others say they are worried. I know I’m not describing that well, but…). So yeah, I dunno. This one may take me forever to accomplish.

On another note, though TM offered the possibility of a scheduled phone check-in, we ended with leaving it up in the air. I told her I really wanted to prove to myself that I can be self-sufficient (because I used to know how to do that at one time). She made it a point to say that neither calling nor not calling her would mean a failure of any kind. I’m glad she has been listening to all my fears, lol. While I still am seeing calling her as a failure, I will keep playing her statement over and over again in my head. Regardless what happens this week around seeking support, I will not have failed… (some day, I might believe that).

 


Self-compassion & recognizing limits

An article on self-compassion and understanding your limits was definitely something I needed to read today.

The last few days have me slamming hard into my own limits around processing my trauma. I am working towards acknowledging them to myself, and admitting them to TM (as much as I don’t want to in the moment because it means we will need to tweak our approach). I certainly want to push past my limits, but I need to do so carefully. I really wish I could keep seeing her for longer, and maybe a bit more often to help move past this, but therapy has its own limits and boundaries.

On another note, a friend pointed out something to me last night that was hard to hear, but definitely something that needs addressing. She was suggesting some coping strategies that I have used in the past, but have become huge triggers in the last year (mindfulness around breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation… well, they were always triggers, but not this intense in the past. I could utilize at least breathing techniques in the presence of someone I trusted. I can no longer do that without triggering or intensifying flashbacks). My problem comes from the memories that have surfaced recently. In them, I would pretend to sleep in order to “get it over with” faster. Pretending to sleep involved slowing my breath and relaxing my muscles so the person would believe I was asleep… I didn’t understand why these two techniques were so difficult for me until last year, when the cognitive memories started accompanying the physical and emotional ones. Since then, my reactions to the two techniques are incredibly intense and visceral. In the past, I would panic when I tried them, but I was able to try them without my whole body shaking; not so much any more. I know I need to work on this, but I’m not totally sure how. Time with TM is limited in so many ways, and there is so much to cover. 😦

Anyway, back to the article on self-compassion. It can be found here on GoodTherapy.org. While their articles are often geared towards professionals in the field, they have a wealth of articles for clients, friends, and family. I don’t always agree with what they post, but some are spot on, like the one mentioned.


getting “profeesional” – books on grief (for kids in kid bodies or kids in grown-up bodies)

Funny how when I get overwhelmed with my own stuff, my “profeesional” side kicks in. I take a detached and intellectual jaunt through all of the professional resources I keep around… It’s just much easier than being mired in my own emotional mess.

Anyway, I stumbled across this list of books for kids that deal with grief. I may have to find some of them (especially the pop-up ones, OMG, pop-up books are the best!!!!!… ok, putting my inner child away now).

the list is on brainpickings.org. It’s a site I’ve liked articles from in the past, but never really ventured through. One day it might be worth the wander.

anyway, the list can be found here… One that piqued my personal interest was The Flat Rabbit(public library) by Bárður Oskarsson

 


“50 shades” controversy, & the lasting effects of childhood trauma

So, after first writing this up almost a month ago, I have yet to put more effort into it. I had contacted a few people claiming to be connected to the BDSM community in an effort to get “honest” perspectives. Publically, they strongly supported the notion that the community is respectful and vigilant of “safety”. Privately however, some denounced the community as seedy and very unsafe. I was warned to “stay far away” from anything even remotely having to do with BDSM, including looking further into the different aspects of it. The few people I know personally and trust, and who also have some experience with the community express otherwise: that their experiences have been safe and respectful… This has me confused. I am more apt to believe the people I know in real life, so I guess I will go with that… Continue reading


interesting concept as a middle-ground for suicide prevention

saw this article via fb. I think it’s an interesting concept, though I am hesitant on the heavy focus on peer-counseling. While I think it can be an amazing thing, I personally am more comfortable with a clinically trained therapist or crisis worker. Regardless, I think this is a great idea and a good step in the right direction.

The “Living Room” model of crisis intervention.

What do you all think?


site on suicide prevention, support, and treatment resources

someone pointed me to this site. it’s really good. check it out. Speaking of Suicide

it has resources for suicidal people, friends, family, treatment providers… all around good info. (I will also list it under my “resources” page so it’s always relatively easily available).


10 things no one ever told you about life after sexual abuse

saw this on fb tonight and thought I would share.

10 Things no one Ever Told you About Life After Sexual Abuse


on vulnerability and being human

Brene Brown’s voice came up as “soothing” when I asked elsewhere who people thought had soothing voices. I couldn’t remember if I had ever heard her voice, so I threw her name into a google search. Up came the 2010 TEDxHouston talk on Vulnerability…

It kinda connects in topic (or maybe listening to what she was saying sparked a thought that led to a thought that led to remembering) to this blog post from Inner Canvas (a blog by an art therapist for therapists about utilizing creativity in their practice). Specifically, I’m thinking of the quote with which she starts the entry:

“Our profession is the only profession that gives you 5-6 chances to feel like a failure every day.”  Scott Miller

While I haven’t bothered to look up who Scott Miller is, I think this quote speaks not only to vulnerability, but also to the humanity of therapists. They are people, not “gods” or “robots” or anything else impervious and impenetrable we may conjure when thinking of them. This is something of which I often need reminding. I find myself at once understanding that therapists have their own lives with trials and tribulations, yet forgetting that they have emotions in reaction to not only their lives, but also to what we (as clients) bring to session with us. I’m remembering the recent session with TM where I was disclosing something I felt little emotion about, but to which I thought I saw an emotional reaction from her. In the same moment, I felt a fear that I would break her with the “truth of who I am” but also hoped that she was immune to the darkness that leaks from me… I’m expecting her to be stronger than I am against all of the “gunk” in me, but I’m also afraid that what I express will break her apart as badly as it has both myself and others…

I hope with all my heart that my vulnerabilities do not mirror her own because then they may actually break her. I worry about that with everyone and anyone with whom I let down my guard and allow to see the mess inside. Yet I’m reminded of something TL had said to me in session one day; “you’ll be surprised how many people appear once you begin to be genuine with who you are to the world.” She was speaking of that same concept of vulnerability Brene Brown talks of in her presentation at TEDxHouston…

Therapists become vulnerable daily when they invite us to show them our pain. While it’s different in quality to the vulnerability we present as clients, it’s vulnerability none-the-less…

…and because I saw she had another talk up from TED2012, I thought I’d listen to that too… I’m not done, but there was one quote I wanted to include here: “vulnerability is not a weakness”… can we get this in neon, blinking lights please? because I know I have a lot of trouble with this concept. Here’s the whole talk in case anyone is interested:


Thoughts on self harm

I recently posted on a support forum about my reasons for self harm. One reason was again pointed out as “eye opening” (when I had mentioned it to De, she had admitted that she never thought of it that way, and it helped the whole thing make more sense to her), so I thought I would share it here also.

“people will help with profuse bleeding, but I am expected to handle intense and unbearable emotions on my own”

Regardless of your skill-level in dealing with physical injury, there is no expectation of figuring out how to heal the wound on your own if you are bleeding badly. People will not look at you with an incredulous stare and tell you that you should be able to stitch yourself up and get on with your day. Even doctors are expected to seek medical help with physical illness or injury.

With emotional hurt however, a person is expected to develop the skills necessary to carry them through even the darkest times alone. The emotional equivalent of evisceration or amputation is expected to he handled with grace and poise and completely on your own. Yes, you are allowed to seek help, but you are not allowed to expect hand-holding or much support outside of a quick check-in. You are expected to “take a deep breath and use your coping skills”. Would you tell me to use my coping skills until I found one that worked if I got into an accident and became trapped in my car? Would you tell me to use my coping skills to try to cure cancer? Then why tell me to use my coping skills again and again and again in response to flashbacks or depression or anxiety?

Sometimes, when you ask for help over and over again only to be met with dismissal, you find the help any way you can get it.

I’m writing this not to invalidate the usefulness of healthy coping skills, but to offer another perspective to the concept of self harm being “done for attention”… sometimes it’s the only way to start to get the level of help you need, or the only way to allow people to understand the extent of the hurt.

When the intensity of my self harm had gotten dangerous in the past, it was always directly proportionate to the level of emotional hurt. People stopped saying “go deal with that shit on your own” and finally started asking “how can I help?”

I guess I had hoped to have this post speak more to the stigma of mental illness than it is actually doing. My frustration with the way mental illness is treated comes not so much from the general public, but from the standard of functioning treatment providers set up for clients. While they often acknowledge that it is “difficult to overcome,” and “issues that have been with you your whole life should not be expected to change overnight,” they still are expected to change and improve in relatively short order with relatively little intervention.

A cancer patient has support in so many forms, but a person with depression gets ostracized for “not trying hard enough” when they can’t get out of bed, or told they are being resistant to treatment when the medication side effects prove too taxing (or they report the medication not working)… we need to keep examining the way we treat mental illness. We need to keep looking at the expectations placed on individuals who deal with this day in and day out. When you are exhausted from fighting with the world inside your head, you shouldn’t be expected to fight the world outside alone, yet we do it every day…


Childhood trauma and adhd

Another link to an interesting article. I know, I’m full of referrals today. Enjoy the break from my chatter while it lasts 😉

http://acestoohigh.com/2014/07/07/how-childhood-trauma-could-be-mistaken-for-adhd/


Link to an editorial about mental illness in a marriage

An interesting thing to think about, and another perspective on living with mental illness in a marriage… longer read, but worth the different thoughts.

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/lovely-wife-psych-ward-95567/?Src=longreads&mc_cid=a61e5d5735&mc_eid=820602ca5e


The memory debate

Ever since these new memories have surfaced, I have questioned them. I’m still incredulous about having not remembered anything about these events prior to last year, but on the other hand, they make sense in context of some other unanswered questions.

My original search started in an effort to find the description on rainn.org of body memories. I remembered reading it once and finding it was not the same context in which I was using the term when trying to describe what I experience. I couldn’t navigate back to where I found it (and my memory of the content is very vague), so decided to try a general Google search for a definition of the term “body memories”. It was through this I stumbled upon everything from websites describing the role of body memories in trauma, to websites refuting the claim that body memories even exist. In all of these websites, I think I found a small handful that used the term in the way I use it. I guess I will have to be specific when talking to anyone new about what I mean when I say I experience body memories: the physical sensations associated with an act or occurrence. For me, body memories are generally experienced as the feeling of hands or other body parts on or in my body. It’s not limited to that though. I also experience body memories of instances of self-harm (cutting or burning). While the body memories of being assaulted/abused trigger cognitive memories of the assault as well as the emotional effects, the body memories of the self harm often bring about the same relief that actually engaging in the self harm would. I get the rush of relaxation, the slowing of thoughts, the release of bodily tension, and respite from the flashbacks or suicidal thinking. The “flashback” of the self harm is experienced the same way as a flashback of any of the other negative stuff that went on in my life. It holds true to the experiencing of the self harm and its emotional aftermath. Honestly, I wish I could induce the self harm memories whenever the flashbacks of the assaults became too overwhelming. It does the same thing as the cutting, but I don’t get in trouble for it… and maybe if I mastered control of the self harm flashbacks, I could master control of the assault flashbacks.

Anyway, I had mentioned coming across sites that try to refute the concept of repressed memory and body memories. I read through two of them, as well as a few websites that sided “with” the concept of body memories. I must admit, the ones “for” it were somewhat better written than the ones “against” it… one “against” site sounded like it was written by someone with a personal, vested interest in proving the concept false. There was no explanation of their terminology, no references (on the page I read), and lots of teenage-like bashing. I must point out I did not explore the rest of the site beyond reading most of the linked page. I found the “interview” transcripts a frustrating read since most therapists I have had the pleasure of meeting are more well-spoken than what was presented there, but again, that’s my own bias. The other site simply pointed out the dangers of unfounded allegations and offered a few references. That said, one of the pages I read “for” repressed memories and body memories offered real scholarly evidence and critical thinking around the topics. It also pointed to several other articles both supporting and denying the claims that repressed memories of trauma are valid. I would like to point out here that none of the pages talking about the validity of repressed memories actually gave a definition of body memories, used the term “body memories” very often, or described them in any detail beyond calling them a physical re-experiencing. Most of the pages spoke about flashbacks without separating out the physical re-experiencing of the events. I am unsure why this is, since as recently as last year, I was able to find this info quite readily. Perhaps it is related to the controversy around body memories and “false memories”, as well as the lack of research on the topic.

Some other sites I found that would be good to read through:

I could not find the second page refuting body memories this time around (didn’t think to save any of the links the first time I went through my search yesterday afternoon). I’m sure it exists out there, and that there are more, but I cannot find it at this moment.

Anyway, it’s got me again questioning the validity of the memories attached to these flashbacks. The above mentioned well-gathered page for repressed memories cautioned that anyone wanting to tackle previously forgotten trauma ask themselves a few questions, including:

  • “Why do I want to recover (more) memories?”

  • “What do I hope that recovering memories will do for me?”

  • “Why do I wish I could know for sure whether I was abused?”

  • “What problems and suffering in my life now do I believe will be changed by remembering abuse?”

I know for myself, I simply want the flashbacks to subside. I want to be able to stop experiencing the sensations of being assaulted over and over again. I want my life back. I want to function again. I hesitate to tell anyone close to me the details because I am aware that newly discovered memories can be misleading. I want to talk about it with a neutral third party (therapist) so I can explore it, get it out of me, and hopefully move on from it. I don’t necessarily want to discover more memories because honestly, this is plenty, but I do want them to stop popping up. So if there are more locked away in my brain, bring it on and let me deal with it so I can stop being so strongly and adversely effected by it. I also want to figure out how to be ok without ever knowing for sure if these memories are accurate. My only goal in dealing with them is to make them leave me alone already.

All that said, I think I have a slightly different take on what body memories are, at least for me. I’m not sure I believe that we remember specific incidents at a cellular level unrelated to the brain. I think the memories are stored in the brain, but just separated out from the conscious, cognitive remembering. Muscle memory is the concept that our muscles “remember” frequently used motions and can return to it at any point in the future, even without much practice or conscious thought (the rough definition paraphrased from here). In school, we learned about muscle memory in relation to fitness, learning to play musical instruments, repetitive physical activities, etc. I would hazard that what I am experiencing as body memories are actually just muscle memories (which I would say are more subconscious memories, rather than ones actually stored in muscles, but I  have no evidence for that). Anyway, my personal theory is that traumatic events or ones causing great stress can also cause “muscle memory”. If we go with the theory that traumatic events are more salient because they allow us (as a species) to survive and avoid such traumas again, then it makes perfect sense that we would store those memories in a number of ways for quick access. Think of it this way, you’re walking along in the wilderness and stub your toe on a rock. It slows you down, you’re not able to get where you are going, and you may be sick & hungry for a while. Once you heal, you notice your toe still kinda hurts sometimes, but not all the time. You pay more attention to it when it hurts. You then start to notice that the hurt really only comes when you are in a place with more rocks around. You begin to pay attention to the rocks in order to avoid stubbing your toe again. I think body memories are quite valid. I also think they evolved as a way to enable us to pay better attention to the things around us to which we need to pay attention either to make life easier, or to spare our lives. With PTSD and flashbacks, this all somehow got kicked into over-drive. Our brains are desperately trying to protect us, so it throws this stuff our way. It is also trying to make sense of stuff that doesn’t compute well with our conscious thoughts… Take PTSD theory, toss it in a blender with muscle memory, and you get body memories that accompany the flashbacks (after all, most flashbacks also include a physical re-experiencing of an event)… I think the intensity and salience of “negative” body memories can be explained with the same theory that explains the intensity and salience of negative cognitive memories. Afterall, most people do not claim to experience “flashbacks” of really happy times. I have not yet heard of people being randomly triggered into remembering their happiest moments in the same full-on, 3D, THX, IMax experience of traumatic memories. There are no anecdotal stories of people re-living the good times to the intensity of the really bad ones. There’s no body of research on the spontaneous re-experiencing of strongly positive experiences, so why is the argument against body memories centered around the lack of body memories for positive experiences? Just some things to think about.

(on a side note, and only marginally related to all this, I’m kinda frustrated/pissed/angry/sad that Dr. Glenn Doyle seems to have disappeared from the blogosphere and the internet in general. I was trying to link to the post where he described flashbacks as 3D, THX, IMax experiences, but his blog is gone. His fb page is inactive, and his practice seems to have moved according to psychologytoday.com. I worked with him very briefly while inpatient in DC back in 2011 and really liked his style. He has a similar sense of humor, but writes much more eloquently than I do. I hope he is well, and I hope he reappears again soon… I miss reading his thoughts on things).