PTSD triggered yesterday – What that looks like

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     Yesterday after I got home late from a long day at the pain clinic and having my very first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) session for Complex PTSD regarding old traumas from childhood. The specific situation that came to mind to work on was one involving lots of blood, broken glass, police, ambulances and near death situations. Situations a 16 year old girl should never have to manage dealing with.
When I got home from my day I felt the need to shake it off a bit. The work we did around the trauma had left me a bit keyed up.  Nothing a 2 mile walk wouldn’t help.
I have found my walking habit to be an excellent stress reducer as well as I believe it is helping me with sleep! I have a route I have found that is just a little over 2.5 miles which allows me to reach my daily steps goal.

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     So off I went with a smile on my face and feeling pretty good for the completion of ten weeks of education at a local Pain Clinic.  I learned so much from them and am extraordinarily grateful that I was given that opportunity. Their encouragement and motivation is part of what got me on a daily walking plan to start with and led me to believe that in time I can actually be a real runner! 🙂

     It started to get dark and so I switched up my route a bit and needed to walk past the house and up the block a bit to actually get my entire cool-down completed. I was just 2 doors from being back at the house when a pit bull comes charging at me across the main street barking.  I froze!  My stomach tightened, my hands curled up inside my shirt close to my heart.  I was flooded with memories of being bit on my right shin when I was 12 years old.  I was doing my monthly collections for my paper route.  I had dealt with this dog before and had arranged to deliver the paper to this customers mail box rather than their door.  I had called them to let them know I was coming to collect and they said they would have their dog contained.  It charged through their screen door when I showed up, and bit me leaving a bloody leg and a big goose egg.

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I was by the crosswalk sign on my side of the street, pit bull comes from the left where the mailboxes and little bit of white care are.

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This shows it better.  I was at the crosswalk sign and pit comes from where white vehicle is.

I hollered at the presumed dogs owner across the street, “Control your animal,call him off”. The dog was literally at my feet sniffing, and fortunately, not showing any signs of aggression.   Over the years I have gained enough presence to not bolt or lash out or cry or act out in any way around dogs I don’t know.  Yet I was scared.  I repeated my request across the street “Call your dog”. The man would not do anything.   I was terrified.
I was repeating over and over “call your dog sir, your dog is not being restrained”.  He finally called his dog, yelling out at me, “I didn’t tell him to attack or anything, you are fine”.  I was still frozen in place with his dog at my feet and his dog was not responding to his owners calls.  I said, “Sir, you need to get control of your animal, this is against the law”.  That is when the man began to be rude. One of those shitty pit bull owners who have no respect for others and have pitties for all the wrong reasons. I was getting more scared as time progressed.
Finally, on his own accord the dog went back across the street. I again yelled out “you need to keep your dog under control or I will report this, I have been bit before”. The man was cussing at me and oblivious of any wrongdoing on his part.
I admit, by this time my PTSD symptoms were so triggered that I hollered back a few expletives and proceeded to head to the house and immediately called and reported it to the police.  I was shaking and wound up and felt sick.  I could remember EVERYTHING about when I was bit before and my body was responding just how it did on that day!
Today while out on my walk/jog, feeling so confident because I reached my goal pace of 4 miles per hour, the closer I got to home the more tense I got. I felt my shoulders tensing. I felt my stomach tensing.  I felt everything tensing.  Was the dog going to be out again? Was the man going to be nasty and confrontational?  I was worried about it and it was taking away from my awesome feelings of accomplishment and relaxation I usually get from my walks.

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Even though I cognitively can process the difference between the situation when I was twelve years old versus now, my body and all the cells in it still remember.  THAT is what PTSD is.  It is the body remembering and behaving in the same way as it did when a similar situation that was traumatic occurred in the past.
I was able to complete my walk and the dog nor the man were out there to cause any upset when I arrived back to the house. I believe with just a little bit of EMDR or just a bit more processing I can figure out a way to continue my walks without the PTSD trigger being present.  Before I had started this treatment that I am doing with a therapist, I would have likely been unable to continue with something I enjoy, due to the fear (real or perceived) related to something that happened decades ago.  That dog last night did not hurt me.  Had I never been bit before and not experienced that trauma I likely would have just reached down and said “hi there fella” and gave the dog a pat.   Those old fears still get in the way of my life today.    Which is why I need to do some in depth trauma work.

 

(I haven’t found a dog yet I don’t like and most of them like me…it’s those dog owners)

My one experience with EMDR on old traumas was good and I am looking forward to doing more work. We didn’t get through the entire experience we were working on yesterday, so it will get visited again. After just that little specialized therapy yesterday I am not so afraid of doing this trauma work.  I believe it is going to be very helpful in me having a life free of fears that I have had for all my life!!!   Then I will  have the life I dream of and deserve!!!!

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Self love is selfish

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The river runs fast and with power, 

carrying with it all the debris of the things gone wrong with it – away!

Though dark and gray the afternoon sky

There is a fresh new hope building,

as I know that after the darkness light follows!

Today was a long, enlightening, fulfilling day.  The entire day was filled with doing things to take care of myself.  The entire day.  I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, I prepared and enjoyed healthy foods, I went to Pain Clinic (which is 3 hours of intense therapy) and then had my first visit with the psychologist and my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) session.  I also came home and did an online  SMART Recovery meeting.  All for me.

For the last year or so pretty much everything I have done has been an concentrated effort to love myself and take care of myself.  Many view selfishness as a negative thing.  I know I used to.  Today,  I know that to love myself is the only way I am going to heal, and that is the only way I am going to have the life I deserve and desire.

It feels good.  I don’t do it perfectly.  I have probably said and done many things in ways that were less than ideal during this time.  Yet, I am evaluating it all and making every attempt to learn from it.

So what things are included in my selfish life?  What are the activities of self love?

  1.  Caring for my body by being mindful of what I put it in.  Plenty of hydration, the best food I can get with the resources I have available, resting, being mindful of anything that isn’t food or water and is it going to cause any damage.  It takes time and energy to create healthy foods to eat.
  2. Meditating has been a lifesaver.  I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning and fall asleep each night while meditating.  I purposefully choose to meditate to sleeping meditations due to a long history of insomnia.
  3. Getting fresh air has helped in so many ways.  Getting out, even if only for a 5 or 10 minute sojourn to the front porch connects me with nature.  Nature is a natural anti-depressant.
  4. Exercise.  See above.  Getting in touch with building my body back to health and connecting with the knowledge that I have a part in my health gets my mind straight.  I have begun walking 4 out of 5 days for at least one mile distance.  However long that takes is how long it takes.  I also have been doing an exercise program for 10 days now.  It also is 4 out of 5 days taking approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Mental health therapy is allowing me to process some extremely difficult situations, thought patterns and coping mechanisms as well as teaching me new tools to manage physical and emotional pain.  I currently have 2 therapists and am getting filled up with new understanding.
  6. Community.  Finding folks to hang out with and then spending time with them takes courage and time and energy.  I need to connect with others who can show me that I am not alone, that can help me with things that I can’t manage on my own and bring me a sense of belonging.
  7. Reading and learning.  I spend 30 minutes a day at the minimum to learn about something I am interested in and that will improve my lot in life or the life of another.
  8. Being of service.  Ha ha.  How is that selfish?  It is selfish in that it gives me so much joy and satisfaction that the more I do, the more I want to do.  Sharing encouraging words, finding the answer to a health question, giving support to someone struggling make me feel a part of.
  9. GRATITUDE:  Spending time each day being grateful for what is in my life at the moment is so selfish.  It is realizing what has been provided for ME!

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