Global Trauma

mental-health-awareness-month

“You have to remember, we are all experiencing a global trauma right now,” my therapist reminded me after I shared that I was feeling off, disconnected, spacy, and slightly depressed. She assured me that these were not only normal trauma symptoms but that many people are feeling the same way right now.

I had to sit with that information for a few minutes to wrap my head around the fact that worldwide we are ALL affected and experiencing trauma. It helped me understand the reactions I see in the media, the protestors, the fear, anger, and general confusion.

I thought about my own history of trauma and how I had to heal my PTSD with EMDR and other therapies. What are people going to do that don’t understand trauma or how they are affected?

It took me 15 years of therapy to be able to sit with my feelings and process and calm my own anxiety. What about people who don’t know how to do this? People, who bury themselves at work and are home now? Or people who go to church to seek solitude or the bar to escape. They are suddenly immobilized and confronted with their own space, thoughts, and feelings.

And what about the people at the front lines? How are they ever going to recover? I read about the poor NY doctor, Lorna Breen that committed suicide after she treated so many Coronavirus patients in the Manhattan ER. Terribly sad.

According to Psychology Today, when trauma reaches a level where it negatively impacts entire societies or groups of people, it is called collective trauma. Situations that may lead to collective trauma include war, mass violence, genocide, and pandemics (Aydin, 2017). “Our society is definitely in a collective state of trauma,” said Jonathan Porteus, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who oversees the crisis and suicide hotline in Sacramento, CA.

It’s not just the initial emergence of the Pandemic that has affected us. It is the fact that every day things change. The virus mutates. People die. There are protestors and conspiracy theories and disagreements. Every day our foundation is shaken a little more. Say nothing about the people who are stuck with abusers and stressors in their very home. These are just the present facts. “Unlike posttraumatic stress disorder, which surfaces after a trauma has ended, the country is only starting to grapple with the pandemic’s psychological fallout,” Jonathan Porteus, PhD said.It is expected that there will be long term affects and an emerging mental health crisis. In a recent opinion piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, warned of an upcoming wave of mental disorders because of coronavirus.

He noted that “large-scale disasters, whether traumatic (the World Trade Center attacks or mass shootings), natural (hurricanes), or environmental (Deepwater Horizon oil spill), are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse.” “The COVID-19 pandemic would likely produce a similar “overflow of mental illness,” he said. From isolation to anxiety to excess drinking, coronavirus has touched almost every area of life, said Lan Nguyen, a suicide and crisis services program manager for the hotline in Santa Clara County in Northern California.

When I posted Coping with Pandemic Anxiety, it was at the very beginning of this rollercoaster. It was easier to be optimistic. Hours after I posted, my sister called and was very sick. She tested positive for a strain of Coronavirus but finally learned she was negative for COVID-19. Those few video calls watching her struggle to breathe were terrifying. I have a few friends with family members that tested positive for COVID and my heart goes out to all of the families affected. Now, it’s been almost two months since Trump announced the national emergency. And even though some parts are beginning to reopen, people are frightened and there isn’t any real safety or assurance available.

There is also a question about our personal rights. Should/will they force us to take a vaccination? There is the word of an App that records everyone you come in contact with, and news of possible home arrest devices on the ankles of people who test positive. There are conspiracy videos and YouTubers being banned because they say something else is happening. What about freedom of speech? All of this only adds to the current state of anxiety.

Personally, I am staying as safe as possible for the present. Both my daughter and I have asthma and that puts us at higher risk. I understand and even believe some of the conspiracy info out there, but I feel it is irrelevant at this point because the virus is actually real, I’ve seen it, it doesn’t matter where it came from or if it is being blown up. I don’t think I will get it but I don’t want to test my luck. I don’t think I will die in a car accident, but I am not going to go racing around dangerously to test that either! In addition to remaining cautious for myself and my family. I also will continue to wear a mask if it keeps the elderly safe and/or feeling safer.

I am doing a lot of grounding and tuning into my higher power. I try to take in all the info from different sources and integrate it with my own intuition. I am very grateful I have the ability to be aware of the trauma and not let it control me. I feel for people who are struggling and I plan to let my desire to help inspire my posts.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. This post’s purpose is to acknowledge that we are experiencing a global trauma. If you are feeling off, give yourself a break. A therapist, Jennifer Yaegar wrote an article for Business Insider,on how to handle stress during a Pandemic. She says, “When experiencing trauma, we are limited in our ability to process many other experiences at the same time, as so much of our energy is going toward surviving our current situation. We should accept we don’t have the energy to do everything we think we should be, and that we have to alter our expectations of our physical, mental, and emotional capacities. Because trauma immobilized our bodies, it is vital to burn off negative energy and calm our bodies and therefore our nervous system. Lastly, she recommends sharing our experience. Connection is so important and even more so during social isolation.”

I hope in sharing I am helping. Blessings to all humans of Earth. You are not alone.

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National Sucide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Resources:

Psychology Today, WebMD, Business Insider, pics healthyconnections.org and campussafetymagazine.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wounded Woman

5bc9e87e975941fc2b3f8f495690f93a-d3bxc9o                                            pic credit/Cold Wounds by badccintra

 

Wounded Woman

You can tell by the look in her eyes.

A beautiful sadness, silent cries.

The lines of her face

mark passages of time.

The scars and stories, she can’t erase.

Wounded Woman

She carries immense weight

on her shoulders.

A lifetime of trauma and pain;

but, the heaviness doesn’t stop her

from dancing in the rain.

dancing in the rain

Wounded Woman

twirled and thrusted

until she broke through

to the other side.

Alas, in Great Spirit she trusted,

and set herself free,

never again to hide.

Wounded Woman

She wove her wounds

like an intricate web of Grandmother Spider;

as she journeyed deep inside her.

She found the truth and beauty

of her own old soul.

Her spirit held all the selves, the keys.

Thus, Wounded Womanbecame whole. …<3

 

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Rape Trauma and Vaginismus

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I have been waiting to heal from my hysterectomy before beginning EMDR therapy again for my rape traumas. I have been putting it off because I know it’s going to be difficult work. It feels scary and dark. There are big chunks I don’t remember and EMDR will take be there to retrieve the fragments of my memory and emotions. Like it did to retrieve the abuse from my grandmother.

I have endured these horrible traumas early on in life and then spent a lifetime burying them with alcohol and drugs. From being a young teen into my early twenties, I was often sexually assaulted and raped. There is a large history of abuse that I have to visit.

Despite my fear, I recognize how necessary it is to heal. slide_32

I want a healthy life, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually. These traumas need healing in order to get to where I want to be.

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I shared in my post Preparing for Surgery, that I had I come to the awareness of my vagina clenching as I read about the vaginal hysterectomy. I made the connection that I have often clenched when threatened, whether it was a pap smear exam or making love.

I googled ‘psychological trauma to the vagina’ and found vaginismus.

Vaginismus is a disorder that occurs when the muscles around the outer third of the vagina contract involuntarily when vaginal penetration is attempted during sexual intercourse.

There’s not always a reason for vaginismus. The condition has been linked to past sexual abuse or trauma, past painful intercourse, and emotional factors. 

I have clenched so tightly it feels like I am bruised. It is very painful and I surmise it is associated with the trauma of being raped and forcefully entered on more than one occasion. I believe it is why I have recovered a little more slowly with my hysterectomy and the ablation I had last year.

If my body is holding that much trauma still, I can only imagine where else those memories lurk.

Healing is hard work but so worth it to get to the other side,

survivor-teal

The New Year: Review, Reflect and Move Forward

moving forward

It’s the first week of 2016 and I wanted to take time to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. I hope your holidays were filled with love. Mine were wonderful. Lots of laughter, bonding and magic with my daughter. Memories that I am deeply grateful for.

As 2015 came to a peaceful end, I reviewed my progress and felt quite proud. A year ago, my life began to move in a new direction. I had finally recognized and identified my personal boundaries. I reinforced those boundaries by moving out on my own, despite feeling terrified! I continued to work on my self worth and learned to listen to my body. I worked on my PTSD with EMDR therapy. I quit smoking cigarettes. I became a vegetarian and I started a new job. (A temporary holiday job that I will post about seperately). Wow!!! Did I really do all that? It feels like I have been working for years to just be ready for my life. Alas, sadness, frustration and the paralyzing fears have finally loosened their grip on me. Somewhere in the darkness I found myself.

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In 2016 I plan to further discover my true self by continuing to heal. I have more work to do with EMDR and improving my physical health. I will dedicate more time to nourishment of my soul through writing, crafting, nature, yoga and meditation. I will take more steps to re-enter the workforce. I will also work on personal relationships as my self confidence grows. I look forward to another year of enlightenment.

I reflect, and pat myself of the back for making it this far. It’s been a bumpy ride; but my caboose is still running and I continue to move forward in the direction of my dreams.

1175234_10207617239576591_3750795556663999683_n     Happy New Year!!! ❤

happy new year

Darkness in the Labyrinth of My Mind…

            In the labyrinth of my mind
                                                          I’m running down a blackened hall                        
                                  Searching                              
                                             fearful of what I may find.                                                                     
                                                                            I see a little girl                                                         
                                                            rocking in the corner                           
                                                                                           trying to calm her world.       
She’s bruised and beaten,                               
                            yet she smiles.               
                                                      “The hitting only lasts a little while”           
                                                                                        she whispers,                         
                                                                                                                   and retreats into a  closet.                 
             Darkness envelops her.                            
                                                                             Demons stir.                                               
                                                                                    Suddenly, I hear laughter echo,        
                                                                                             I turn to go                                          
                                                               A teenage girl                                   
                                                                               is fighting for survival.
                                                      It’s a bloody battle.                
                                                                       She screams, then laughs again                     
                                                                despite her pain                           
                                                                                 and drinks and drugs it all away.
    Monsters hover over her,                       
                                    smelling and probing her.          
                     Their insatiable appetite
rapes her.                                                                 

                                 Her innocence feeds them,
                                     and they suck her dry.        
                                                  She looks to me and smiles,  
                                                                   “It only hurts for a little while.”
                       There’s a candle lit            
                                     far down the hall.            
                    I investigate.    
                              There sits a young woman,                                                                            
                                                                                             up straight and tall 
         consumed by pain and hate.                      
                                                    Her light is a tiny spark of a dying flame.             
                           She performs her duties 
      and sheds her soul.              
                                            Her heart feels empty and cold.
                                                                    She downs a handful of pills               
                                                              chased with vodka,                                         
                                                                                  and mournfully wails,
         “Please, make it all go away                
                    just for a little while.”                   
                                               I’m running to find another passageway.                            
                                                            An exit out of here                              This is too sad and dark.                                              
                                     I can’t stay.                 
                           I hear screaming and crying                          
                             from afar away
                                         No one is there.          
              I fall to my knees.    
                                              I cry
                 and pray,
            for the light to set me free,
                                           heal these wounds of mine! 
                          I open my eyes and find          
 I have awoken   
                        from and to                          
                                                  the darkness                                 
                                                                 in the labyrinth of my mind.              
                                        
Pictures found on Deviantart and Google Images, Click pic for link

My Grandmother and My Abuser

Presently one of the images I’m dealing with in my EMDR therapy is of my grandmother and the abuse she descended upon me.

The image of her on top of me, beating me.

The ugly in her face.

The crazed look in her eyes.

Her flailing hands and evil glare

as she grabbed my hair.

Pulled, tugged, slapped, and bruised.

She then put me in the closet

until my parents were there.

This image has haunted and taunted me my whole life. I even began to wonder if they were real memories or confused realities. EMDR is helping me finally release the emotions and associations related to this experience.

Embracing the bruised inner child.

You are safe now.

Why did she not care? The child asks.

Then I hold her and we cry.

When my friends had grandmothers that were loving and sweet and associated with soups and cookies, I had one who hated me. When I finally became too big to hit, she abused me with her words. Yelling and calling me a whore, when I was not even 12. Telling me that if my mom loved me, she’d be home and not working. These are just a few memories of my grandmother and my abuser.

I grew up thinking abuse equaled love.

No wonder I am an abuse magnet.

Including self abuse.

It’s been three weeks since my first round of EMDR, and I am still working on processing and releasing this one trauma. Overwhelming and healing, simultaneously.

Forgive my scattered writing, as I post this during an anxiety attack.

Though the memories of my grandmother are not as panic inducing as they once were, (thanks to therapy) I still have much anxiety with the process.

No child should have to hurt

or be unloved.

I shed tears for my inner child.

It is over now. I keep reminding.

Now it’s disassembling the connections intertwining.

This is where the anxiety and the journey continue.

EMDR: My next step in therapy

This week in therapy, I will begin EMDR  (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). I was supposed to begin it in the beginning of this month; but, I postponed because I wanted to enjoy the very last bit of summer without being overcome by painful memories.

Regardless, just the thought of EMDR approaching had forced those same memories to surface anyway. As a result, my physical health is suffering and depression looms over me. After discussing with my therapist, we decided to begin as soon as possible.

EMDR therapy is used to treat PTSD but it has also been known to treat other mental illnesses and addiction. I will have to relive past traumas and while I do, my therapist will instruct me on particular eye movements. There is also a machine involved that I saw in her office; but, I am not sure how it works. I only know that it’s time to finally release this pain and hopefully retrain my brain.

It’s been explained to me, that our body processes traumas and keeps those memories. When something traumatic happens, our brain takes a photo or a still frame of the smells, surroundings and environment. This flash memory later becomes what we learn are our triggers.  EMDR will retrain my brain, so that when I have these memories my body won’t suffer as much. For example, I will be able to visit my home town without severe anxiety and fear.

I started learning about how our body has it’s own memories of traumas shortly after my surgery. Listening to my body hasn’t been easy. There are many wounds that are crying to be healed.

Presently, my anxiety is at a high level with EMDR approaching; but, the truth is that I am living in pain with my past on my shoulders. I am afraid to formally visit these memories; but, optimistic that I can heal, my mind, body and soul.