PTSD: The Long and Winding Road

I’ve felt so tired lately, and for good reason. In addition to unpredictable trouble sleeping, IBS-related stomach discomfort, the hangovers of cortisol flooding (after fight-or-flight triggers), and hypervigilance, there have been major health crises in my primary family since last September. I won’t go into all the tedious details, but these events included three life-threatening operations with complications and attendant caretaking.

And then, my dear husband, Jack, and I decided a couple months ago to relocate from Chicago to Arizona at the end of this summer.

We are super excited to move, but because of my husband’s heart condition and other health issues (he’s decades older than me), I’m doing a significant portion of the preparatory work (packing, scouting for homes, streamlining finances, finding homes for our planties and the furniture we won’t need, researching and interviewing movers, etc.).

Doing all this suits me fine really. I like to organize. Also, as an adult child of an alcoholic, one of the roles I unconsciously took on long ago was “caretaker” and it’s still second nature to watch over others and manage complex situations, especially emergencies. (I think a lot of us PTSD’ers are great in emergencies when, at last, our insides match our outsides!)

So originally, I was going to write a blog solely focused on the issue of PTSD and fatigue.

But then I thought about where I was at when I got off the meds three and a half years ago, (and was shocked to discover myself riddled with all the symptoms I’d had twenty-five years before, pre-meds) and instead decided to contemplate how far I’ve come.

(I write in detail about this in my book Frozen in Time: Adventures in Releasing Buried Energy and all I did to alleviate or get rid of PTSD symptoms.)

I wouldn’t have been able to take care of my beloved uncle, brother and husband during their health crises or even go alone on a scouting expedition to Arizona a couple weeks ago, if I hadn’t found ways of alleviating or getting rid of debilitating PTSD symptoms.

The most disabling symptom to reemerge off the meds was physical pain. First, it was in my feet, then my right gluteal muscle and lower back, then it spread in sciatica down the back of my left leg, then pain hit my neck. There was a time I couldn’t sit due to pain. I could only lie down, knees up, feet flat or stand, leaning on one leg. And then there was this incredible, indescribable pain in my solar plexus, unrelated to my digestive cycle.

I was so sure I was dying, so positive, not just from the mystery pain (the doctors could not definitively find anything organically wrong with me), but from the surging energy that woke me, speeding up and down my arms like mice running as fast as they could from my biceps to my hands, the terrifying overwhelming nausea that would bring me to my knees and had no relation to stomach acidity, and the feeling of imminent physical collapse that would strike out of nowhere.

I began reading books on PTSD like crazy. (I list a lot of them in my blog post on Recommended Books on Healing.)

I discovered Peter Levine and Somatic Therapy and came to understand all about trauma energy–the original trauma energy mobilized to deal with the threat of annihilation or equivalent that essentially froze in my system when I couldn’t fight or run or later shake out and release, which is the body’s natural response after trauma and would have rebalanced my system and prevented PTSD symptoms.

I realized that for decades I’d also buried most strong emotions that my survival brain, meds, and later narcotics, were unable to block. I can only remember crying a few times between my twenties and fifties. (On occasion, I did feel overwhelming anger and rage beginning in my early-twenties, and released it, most successfully, through work-outs.)

I had so much inside of me that needed to come out and until I found ways to release it all, I was apparently going to feel it as manifested in physical pain, nausea, near-faints, and feelings of bizarre energy manically buzzing through my body.

I discovered all this talk about buried energy and pain was true one morning, when my feet woke me with burning pain. I went into the bathroom to give my poor little feeties a sea salt soak. I put my earbuds on and began listening to a new sixties playlist I’d created, and suddenly began sobbing like a baby. I couldn’t believe how much I was crying–and without any idea what exactly I was crying about. When I was done, to my surprise and delight, I realized my feet didn’t hurt anymore. And I hadn’t put them in the sea salt bath!

I think the Other Side gave me the paradigm for my future healing that morning. I had to begin releasing the sadness–the feelings of anguish, abandonment, loneliness, and grief from my childhood, and in response to the sad waste of numb and despairing decades alone that followed.

In the last three and a half years, some of the things I did to release that old buried trauma and emotional energy included Somatic Therapy, soul retrieval with a shaman, Trauma Releasing Exercises, mindful meditation, and sessions with an energy healer and chiropractor.

And I cried.

I cried me a river day after day after day. Then one day, all the physical pain was gone, all the nausea, near faints and bizarre buzzing energy were gone, and the sadness became very faint.

And man, it was just in time! As soon as I got rid of all those symptoms, the family emergencies hit the fan. And, of course, we made our decision to move cross-country.

So I am tired. There’s no doubt about it. I still have sleep issues, but they’re better. I usually sleep every night now. I am frequently hypervigilant, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. And although I have digestive-related discomfort, that seems to be improving rapidly, too.

Today I feel so grateful for how far I’ve come. I like this new feeling of hope for the future.

Hooray!!

 

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6 thoughts on “PTSD: The Long and Winding Road

  1. It sounds like you have lots on your plate, and at the same time its so cool how you could stop and reflect how far you’ve come. And let yourself feel good about it. Yay!! I love having hope for the future. New beginnings for you in just a couple of months. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Miss Alexis!! I’m excited today. I even went to a family event last night and wasn’t triggered. Things change when I do. Yay! Thank you for your lovely support. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “releasing the sadness–the feelings of anguish, abandonment, loneliness, and grief from my childhood, and in response to the sad waste of numb and despairing decades alone that followed.”

    This succinctly expresses that searing loneliness of much of my own life, loneliness that could have been alleviated had anyone listened to the trauma’s I suffered. Because of the family’s priority of keeping it silent to protect their image, unlike when I’d broken my arm and no gag order was put in place by using shame tactics, these trauma’s go into a child and ferment.

    That the body insists we pay attention by causing so much distress. That surely affirms the mind/body connection.

    I too spent many mornings crying as each chapter erupted out of me just a few years back. I welcomed my mornings of writing and the tears, they felt good, cleansing, and the word ‘heal’ became more than just a word. I had not welcomed tears. One must just go on forging through, that is until one can’t. Tears. A good thing…

    I am so in awe of your capabilities and what you have accomplished, your knowledge, fortitude in learning about how to heal, and your willingness to try unconventional avenues such a shaman. I have thought about that but have no clue where to find one. And that you did in the heart of big city is amazing. There ought to plenty in the area you’re moving.

    I hope you have a bit of reprieve and can rest!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You make me feel like a million bucks.

    And you brought a tear, a happy tear!!

    Thank you, thank you.

    I am so glad the cleansing tears came for you and me. I have to admit, I didn’t like it for the first year because, I guess, I had to feel all those blocked feelings. But then came a day I welcomed the tears and was grateful. They were freeing me of pain on so many levels.

    I hope you have a beautiful summer day. : )

    Liked by 1 person

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