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PTSD Nightmares: The Nightly Battle

Over the last year, after losing my Mom and my two cats all within the year of one another, I have had nightly nightmares that have me re-live the worst times in my life thus far.

My dreams consist of seeing my mom pass away, become sick, or injure herself.

Last night, she choked and had a seizure in front of me.

My dreams consist of nightmare scenarios: being stuck in the ocean, shark attacks, losing friends and loved ones, falling from high altitudes, plane crashes…..

Last night, I fell through the sky, off of a skyscraper, and I felt it. I felt the roller-coaster feeling for a long time.

Will I ever recover? Will these ever go away?

I’m stuck in my trauma, awake and asleep.

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Dear Me At 23

I am sorry you felt the need to binge tv shows nightly and eat fast food to soothe yourself.

You stopped seeing friends except on the weekend when you would get wasted.

I am sorry you slept with numerous men who did not care about you.

(Remember the one who slept with you, took your cigarettes and then left and never talked to you again? Shout out to Kyle from Longmeadow, Mass. You reignited my trauma, yet I feel sorry for you. I saw those sadness in your eyes. I hope you are ok.)

I am sorry you let your mother, who loved you and who you loved very much, to control your emotions like a light switch….so badly that self harm and disordered eating became a part of your life.

I am NOT sorry for these experiences. They taught me lessons.

I am sorry for the hurt they caused my sensitive soul though.

Now, we will heal, but it’s up to me when.

When?

I don’t know.

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My Doctor Failed Me Today

I have been trying to get off of the fake love of my life, cannabis concentrate, for the last few years.

I have worked with substance abuse teams, therapists and group sessions.

I am now in an intensive DBT program at this place I’ve received all of my care. In order to be in the program, it is required you see one out of three of their doctors.

I’ve been seeing Dr. I* for over a year. Overall our relationship was cordial. She has a heavy accent and sometimes I can’t follow along with what she is saying, and I end up letting it brush by because, well, I have social anxiety.

Today, I came into the session planning to inquire why she dropped by antidepressant dose in half overnight, and maybe that is why I am struggling weaning off of 1gram of cannabis concentrate.

My partner was sitting next to me when after I approached the subject and let her know my feelings politely, Dr.I basically said “we have tried everything and at this point we are back at square one.”

Square one? I’ve been busting my ass getting clean. I gave up nicotine and alcohol! Why does she just seem to always tell me, “you just need to stop.”

That doesn’t work. Period.

To Be Continued.

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A Thank You Note


When a mental health professional that you’ve been working with leaves, it can feel devastating.

These people can provide what we never had.

Validation, reassurance, appreciation and love.

When they leave, it can feel like we are no longer validated, reassured, appreciated, or loved.

What we can try to remember is the gifts they have left.

They left us with new skills, new ideas, new outlooks.

They gifted us with a new way to travel on the road called life.

And while we can feel grief, sadness and whatever emotions come up over them leaving, we can carve out some time for gratitude.

For without these professionals, our lives can feel lonely, unreal and incomplete.

So, today, I am sending love and kindness to my particular mental health professional that is leaving in a few weeks.

Thank you.

Thank you for being there while I stopped drinking, and when I grieved for my mother. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for always validating me and providing me with comfort and laughs.

Thank you for teaching me about death and dying and your times in hospice. We knew my mom brought us together somehow.


“I appreciate you…especially your heart.” —Anonymous

https://pin.it/3UEFyUw
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Trauma

Unlike other forms of psychological disorders, the core issue in trauma is reality

Bessel A. Van der Kolk, Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society
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Be Here Now

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.

George Harrison
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Love Endures

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

Haldir, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
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Lune

I stop for a moment and look up.

In front of me, I see a square window surrounded by chipping paint flakes and coated in a deep brown color; similar to the dark color of my soul.

The curiosity reels me in, and I’m standing directly in front of the window now, so close that I can open or close it.

I look up. There it is, I think. Above me was a round and majestic glowing figure that seemingly met me here, at this same spot, for years now.

Some call it The Moon.

To me, I don’t care what it is called, as it puts me in a trance when it’s around.

I’ve…fallen in love with this…thing.

It never fails me, nor abandons, nor shames.

It just exists and lets me live next to it, without any judgment.

“Edmund! Edmund!”

I hear my wife calling from the porch across the way. I hope she gets tired and gives up with that yelling. Her voice used to spark a flame in me; now, sometimes, it extinguishes it.

I look up one more time before I must go.

The Moon has drifted farther from where it last was, and a jolt of sadness arises in me.

“Edmund! Get over ‘ere I need yah!”

I take a deep breath in and one breath out. My hands are clenched, yet I slowly let the stress from my body go.

This is why The Moon and I meet every night.

We are not involved in some scandalous love affair; no, we are engaged in a community.

When I am with The Moon, I create and build mastery in my life. I build what I’ve lost with my wife…

We never may know where we go one day to the next – or what may happen tomorrow, or a minute from now.

At least I know the Moon stays consistent for me, and I for it.

“EDMUND!!”

I break my gaze with my new lover, shuffle over to the barn door, and see Millie on the porch, in her nightdress, looking beautiful. The way her hair naturally swayed in the wind was memorizing.

Until she opened her mouth.

As I headed across the field towards the house, I couldn’t seem to focus, because our home was now glazed over in Moonlight, like the Moon was giving me a gift of departure.

We will meet again, My Moon. Until tomorrow.

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5 Ways To Cope With Trauma Symptoms

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing has always helped me calm and center myself. When I first started singing lessons in middle school, my music teacher always told me to breathe into the diaphragm, into my belly, and my voice would radiate better. She was right.

Now, I use breathing as a calming tool. I particularly like tactical breathing (4 square breathing)!

Breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should fall.

Self Soothing

I am consistently self soothing. Whether it’s fidgeting with something, taking a shower, or sipping a hot drink, these activities help ground me into the present moment.

These coping strategies focus on improving your mood and reducing anxiety and are sometimes described as self soothing or self-care coping strategies.

Social Support

As the years go on my social anxiety has gotten worse, especially during Covid! When I do spend time with people who are caring and understanding of my mental health, I feel refreshed and connected! It’s a great feeling.

Research has found that finding support from others can be a major factor in helping people overcome the negative effects of a traumatic event and PTSD.

Mindfulness

Ahhhh mindfulness. The one thing I am terrified of is the one thing that will ultimately help in my healing process! Mindfulness heals.

Mindfulness is about being in touch with and aware of the present moment.

Expressive Writing

Clearly, writing is an expressive tool in my life. Writing emotions down is easier for me than speaking them.

In PTSD in particular, expressive writing has been found to have a number of benefits, including improved coping, post-traumatic growth (the ability to find meaning in and have positive life changes following a traumatic event), and reduced PTSD symptoms, tension, and anger.

Reference

Tull (2020) https://www.verywellmind.com/ways-of-coping-with-anxiety-2797619