Physical & Emotional

scars

 

“There are so many secret wounds, so many types of hidden scars. The soul, being stronger than we think, can survive all mutilations and the marks upon it make it perfect and complete.”

This is from the PBS series Call The Midwife Season 6 episode 6. I love this series because of all of the stories of true life. It’s not just in today’s society we see aweful injustices on women. It’s been happening for years, behind closed doors, victims kept silent.

The ending spoken narrative, stuck with me. Something to reflect on.

 

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Desperation, Frustration….a little rant

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  Life can really get in the way of being able to see ANYTHING!  What does life look like for Katy right now?

  1. Diagnosed with 3 autoimmune diseases.  Able to manage one with diet.  The other 2 are apparently managed with medications, one is prednisone the other hydroxychloriquine.  Prednisone can’t be long-term, causes crazy bruising and causes other health concerns, finished my second course and now it’s out of my system and all symptoms have come back.  Hydroxychloriquine takes months to work, and that’s if it decides to work.
  2. Daily symptoms: extraordinary pain in my feet, burning pins and needles with swelling, swollen painful hands, headaches, low back pain, body shaking uncontrollably from the inside out, insomnia, mood swings, brain fog and confusion, ringing in my ears, fatigue, low blood pressure, dizziness and abdominal pain.
  3. Recently had to move because our landlord decided to sell our house AFTER we signed another 4 year lease agreement.  Have to love the little clauses in a lease.
  4. Husband’s employer decided to reorganize their departments, which left him out of employment, so we lost our health insurance.  We also lost our church, our second home and a lot of our community.  A churches words on stage only run that deep, integrity doesn’t always run deep behind the closed doors of the church.  I haven’t lost my faith in God, but I have in the people who teach it.  Yes they are also human and sin and make mistakes, but actions speak louder than words.
  5. New health insurance is crap and beyond expensive, so I’ve lost my psychologist and psychiatrist, back to a conglomerate healthcare system that has the WORSE mental health department.
  6. Just had the one year anniversary of my brothers tragic death, which is still so fresh I can’t even touch the surface of speaking about it.

I’m done with seeing and experiencing all of this.  Who gets me through it?  God.  I know He has a plan for us and everything we are going through, I know there is a light and I am seeing glimmers of it in the distance.  But-it feels so far away and hard to catch up to.  I want to feel energy again, unity, pain-free, confident and directed.  Instead I feel slow, alone, pained, uncertain and reeling with desperation.

One step at a time, one day at a time, one prayer at a time…it’ll all come back.  Yet my patience runs thin.

Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Blogiversary

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I started this blog one year ago in an effort to work through my past and present realities. I’ve grown in knowledge based on putting my feelings and experiences into words. I’ve made some amazing “blogging” friends who have similar experiences in life. I’ve even managed to piss some people off.

My goal was to create a space where I could raise awareness to CPTSD, and it evolved from there. I wish I could be writing more currently, but my health isn’t allowing it. My “brain fog” is a mother fucker at its best. So while I’m not able to put feelings and thoughts into words, I’m still going to do my best to raise awareness.

Thank you to those of you who have been loyal readers, without you…I have no voice.

No Contact… Ever Again…

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I used to love rollercoasters as a kid, wild ups and downs, unsuspecting turns, feelings of no control and the chance to get back in line to do it again. Not so much as an adult now, in fact I’ll never get on one again.  Now that I’ve experienced grief on many levels, I don’t care for the uncertainty the grief ride leaves me feeling.

When mom died it wasn’t the first time I grieved her loss. This first time was when she became an alcoholic and there was no option for sobriety in sight. She’d been through 3 different rehabs and walked out of them all. The grief of accepting that my mom would never “be” my mom again was a hard acceptance to swallow.  I tried the NC (no contact) method, but she would call me at work, page me constantly, show up at my house unannounced and made it impossible.  I searched for counseling and worked through that loss, but I still had hope that a miracle would happen. Accepting that I couldn’t save her was really hard, since I’m the caretaker in the family and it’s my best co-dependent trait, I felt like a failure.

As her alcoholism got worse, so did her narcissism.  She was a destructive force that triangulated through all aspects of my life and I never felt free. I honestly had moments where I wished she’d just die.  Ignorantly assuming once she was gone, so would the pain she inflicted on us daily. I was honest once about this with whom I thought was a close friend and she berated me over the coals.  My therapist knew I felt this way and she validated my feelings and helped me see that I wasn’t the only person in the history of the world to feel that way.

When mom died my Sis and I both had the same reaction. Immediate sadness, pain and crying…combined with a sense of relief and freedom. What a fucked up feeling!  To be sad yet relieved a person has died is like cooking oil and gasoline…the two don’t mix! Highly flammable! In all honesty we both started to sing “ding dong the witch is dead” and then cried in anger that she made us feel that way. We felt guilty.

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The first month was sadness and a feeling of emptiness. I think I walked around in a state of shock and couldn’t believe a person could grieve twice for the same person. Then my friend who berated me earlier for wishing for her death called me to see how I was doing, then arrogantly stated “Well you can’t take that wish back now can ya? Hope you learned something from such a hateful thing to say.”  WOW!  That was helpful, I’d prefer you just shit in my Cheerios next time.  Then I sat back and realized…this friend was just like my mother.  Interesting how we attract what we know.

Grief may have 5 stages to it, but those stages don’t go in any particular order, no time frame, unknowingly hits you at the oddest times and circle back around.  Grief combined with PTSD, depression and severe anxiety is a cocktail for destruction. I went through one of the deepest depressions of my life.  When I didn’t have my son with me I’d stay in bed all day binge watching Trading Spaces. Cry uncontrollably. Then go out in the evening and get sauced at the local watering hole.

I’d pick up the phone often and call her house when I knew Larry wasn’t there, just to hear her voice on the voicemail.  Wear her perfume just to smell her, or her sweater to feel like she was wrapping her arms around me.  It was a deep loving grief. Until the reading of the Will.

Larry was 12 years older than Joan, he almost died several times, so Joan thought he’d clearly die before her.  Her Will was not outlined for me and Sis, just that Larry would decide what we could have. Going into their 8 year marriage mom had a 401k of $150k and $80k in equity from the sale of our childhood home, plus $50k from our grandmother’s estate. Larry had a monthly pension, social security, $75k in home equity and $500k in retirement funds. Let’s just say he didn’t need our mothers money…but he kept it. He wrote Sis and I a check for $10k each and told us to get her things out of his house and that was it.  Bought his grown children all new cars and gambled and drank the rest away.  Larry is a douche bag, plain and simple. Sad excuse of a human being that went from being our high school Principal to a greedy dirty old man with no conscience.

Our anger vacillated from him to mom minute by minute, how could she be so stupid, did she do it out of hate, how could he be so greedy, what in the hell was she thinking?  Money isn’t everything, but being a single mom, living in a tiny house with no retirement plan nor college fund in place, our rightful inheritance would have been very helpful.  That was 16 years ago and I still shake my head in disbelief. Ever see Mommy Dearest? She left her children NOTHING! This is why my mother’s name is Joan in this blog, she fits the role beautifully.

Through anger, disgust, hate and bitterness…you’ll still catch me wearing her perfume, her sweater or her favorite necklace. I still talk to her, sometimes I yell at her and sometimes I cry for her.  I miss her dearly and I’m so relieved she’s not here fucking with me on a daily basis.

Larry died about 6 years back, heart failure caused his lungs to fill with fluid, he basically drowned…good. Some day I’ll find his grave and I WILL piss on it…mark my words.

Not very Christian of me is it?  Well I’m not perfect, if I was I’d be Jesus, so all I can do is ask you to pray for me.

I’m Sorry Mom, But You’re Dying

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It was a midsummer morning, I was just pulling away from my house headed for work, and I became extremely uneasy and concerned for my mom. I was 30 years old and working as a nurse, three weeks prior mom had turned jaundice due to cirrhosis of her liver from alcoholism, so I knew her time was limited.

I drove to her house and looked inside the windows. I could see that her husband was gone, most likely took the early bus to the casino, but her purse was on the counter. I grabbed the hidden front door key and let myself in, as I did I announced myself, hoping not to startle her yet praying she’d answer.  When she didn’t answer, my heart was pounding as I inched up the stairs to her room. There was an awful smell and I just wanted to run, I was so scared.

I found her in her room sitting on her couch, awake, breathing but sitting in about 3 days worth of bodily waste and vomit. She had no idea who I was and couldn’t speak, she just mumbled. She had a half bottle of vodka by her side and nothing else. It appeared her husband was coming and going each day to the casino and ignoring her current condition.  I calmly called for an ambulance for transport to the hospital, not because I knew they could save her, but I sure as shit wasn’t leaving her to die that way in filth and neglect.

I didn’t leave a note for her husband, he didn’t deserve to know where she was. My sis was in Mexico on vacation and I had no way of reaching her. I had to handle this on my own, which I preferred because I didn’t need the rest of the drama from everyone else. There were 1 out of 100 casino’s her husband could have been at, no way of locating him. Basically the ER doctor did what he could based on her current condition and that was to make her comfortable, admitted her directly to their Hospice unit and there I sat staring at her unresponsive body. Her body was full of toxins and she wasn’t expected to wake up, after a couple of days during her “sleep” she woke straight up and was asking the nurse what was happening. The nurse called me right away.

I rushed right over and it was about 10 o’clock in the morning, her doctor wouldn’t be in until that evening and I couldn’t have her sitting there in fear wondering what was happening to her. She needed to know she was dying, but I wasn’t about to let some stranger explain this to her. Her husband was once again out at a casino, wasn’t about to wait for his sorry ass to show up for this critical conversation. I went into her room and sat down on her bed, Joan was as lucid as she could ever be, it was an unexplainable reality. I made small talk asking her how she felt, if she recalled anything from the past few days, trying to gauge her level of orientation. I finally conjured up the courage to tell her where her physical condition was really at and death was imminent.

“Mom you’ve been here in the hospital for 3 days now, I found you at home alone, incoherent and very ill. After many tests and evaluations it is determined that your liver has completely stopped working. This condition is not reversible  and you are expected to die with the next couple of days to couple of weeks.” Then with a deep breath I waited for her response.

She also took a deep breath, looked around the room and says “Well I really fucked up didn’t I”?  I was in utter disbelief. I responded “Yes mom you did, but at least you gave it all you got.” She was silent for a time and I asked her if she had any questions. She replied sternly “No. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I want ice cream.”  I found her some ice cream and spent the rest of the time organizing her transfer to a long-term hospice facility nearby.

In 24 hours mom was transferred and she was in and out of consciousness. By this point she was 5 days without alcohol, she suffered tremors and anxiety and they treated her for comfort. My Godfather and my dad Clint came to see her. Being very Catholic, my Godfather brought a priest to pray over her. In the room was myself, Joan, her husband Leisure Suit Larry, Clint and my Godfather. She looked at my dad and smiled in delight, looked at Larry while pointing at my dad and said “Look honey it’s my husband!” Larry was pissed, I enjoyed his discomfort. We talked for a bit. Then she fell asleep.

Joan’s best friend showed up the next morning to see her, she prayed with her and asked if she would accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and mom did. She had been baptized as a child, but I think she was scared and this brought her some emotional comfort. That day mom slipped into a coma.

I went and saw her every day for the next few days and then woke up on a Friday morning with that gut feeling that I had to go to her that day. When I arrived with my latte and bagel she was now in a private room. I checked her hands and they were starting to stiffen, I called the nurse in for a vital check, she was in the “transition” process of dying and it would happen within 24 hours. Joan was very proud of her rings and watch and was wearing them, the nurse advised that we remove them now. She brought me a bag to put them in, but I immediately put them on the same fingers she had them on, except her wedding ring. I envisioned shoving the wedding ring in Larry’s mouth with hopes he’d choke on it and die.

Since I had this quiet time with her I decided I would write her eulogy and read it to her. I spoke to her about it as of she was in the conversation, I wanted her to hear the love I wrote. After I wrote it the weirdest thing happened. She started humming. Not mumbling but humming. No specific tune but it was a song. I called the nurse in and she was in amazement, she went and got some other hospice staff and the Pastor who were all in amazement. They said they’d never seen it before. She hummed for about 20 minutes and then became silent.

Her CNA came in shortly after to bathe her, asked if I wanted to step out and I said no that I would help her. So in silence and peace we bathed her and combed her hair. By that time I was tired and felt sedated. I grabbed an afghan from the end of the bed and crawled into her bed and cuddled with her.

After 30 years of emotional and some physical abuse, my pain and anger lifted and laying next to her was the most comforting precious moment I’d ever had with her. I napped for about an hour and woke up to the sound of a nurse sniffling, she was overpowered with emotion seeing me asleep next to mom. This nurse knew I hadn’t eaten since early and she came in with a tray of food for me.

I called for my sister to please come as mom was declining quickly and I asked her to bring the memory jar. I made Joan and Sis a jar full of 365 childhood memories for Christmas and I thought we could read them out loud and talk about good times.

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As we sat there we heard a clinking coming down the hall, then a cart pulled up to mom’s room, IT WAS A COCKTAIL CART! We were so shocked! Here she is dying from the effects of alcoholism and there’s a cocktail cart at her Hospice. We looked at each other and giggled and said “fuck it let’s have a cocktail”.  We each ordered one and I ordered Joan a vodka tonic, her favorite, then I grabbed a swab used for moistening their lips and mouth and plunged it into her cocktail. We raised our glasses and said a toast to Joan and I wiped the swab on her lips.

We sat and giggled for hours, cried and shook our heads in disbelief. Then at about 9pm Leisure Suit Larry showed up stumbling in thoroughly intoxicated and could barely walk. I took the initiative to tell him she was on 1/2 hour vital checks as she was nearing her final breath. Standing there swaying he says “She could still pull out of this.”  That hit a nerve and I had a cocktail courage moment and I said “You know for a Retired Principal you’re pretty fucking stupid and your denial is pure ignorance.” I must have been a bit loud as our nurse and Pastor walked in. They pulled Larry out and called him a cab and sent him home.

Late that night mom took a turn for the worse and became very agitated groaning in severe pain. I asked for comfort measures and had a gut check that she wanted us to leave. Joan couldn’t have imagined having her daughters see her so helpless and clearly didn’t want us there when she took her final breath. So we left.

The next day I received the call in the morning that she had passed with Larry by her side.  Which didn’t bother me that he was there. I’ve seen people take their last breath and it’s a memory scarred in your mind forever. I’m glad he witnessed the outcome of their choices, it was his consequence.

My emotions right after her passing and now are such a difficult topic to explain I’m posting that blog next.

Joan passed in 2001 at the age of 54. Now with her Lord and Savior free to laugh, dance, sing and be pain-free. I refuse to wish her back be cause that would be selfish to want to take her away from eternal happiness.

Psalm 23

 

Migraines After CPTSD Emotional Release

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Jettison

Until this past year I hadn’t experienced many migraines and I certainly never put two and two together for their cause. In the past I’ve had chronic pain associated with severe depressive episodes, I grind my teeth when sleeping during high stress moments which causes jaw pain and broken teeth and gone through chronic fatigue syndrome right after traumatic events.

It’s been proven by medicine that pain is typically a side effect of emotional trauma.2  What I hadn’t known nor anticipated were the crippling migraines that would follow after working through a severe past emotional trauma. At this point I can’t count the total migraines I’ve had this year, which seems bad, but it’s actually a good thing in my eyes. It tells me that I’m really working hard to get through the really tough shit buried deep in my thalamus4. Those memories that I thought I had moved through before are clearly coming out in my psychology sessions. I’m  seeing a correlation though, it’s typically associated with crying.

The crying isn’t a cry like an unfairness, anger or physical pain directed at me.  It’s a cry that comes from deep within my soul, that bellows out of me like a grief I had never experienced before. A grief I didn’t know existed until my brother traumatically died this past year from a hiking accident. That loss alone has destroyed me this year and I can’t put into words what it’s like losing him. My own mothers death wasn’t this painful. But I can’t get into his death just yet on my blog, it’s too fresh and too painful.

The grief I felt and still feel losing him, is like the grief I feel when I finally open that closed trauma that I thought I had worked through. Opening that door again and touching that emotion again from the trauma is kicking my ass. My psychiatrist calls it a “body memory”, where my body is helping me process the emotional pain and it’s literally hitting me with physical pain.

After some trips to the emergency room in the evening, trips to my doctor’s office during the day..I finally put the two and two together. The downfall for me is that the migraine is not caused by dilated blood vessels, therefore typical migraine3 medications don’t work for me. The other option is a narcotic, well that’s not a good choice because I had a 3 month addiction to Percocet after a PTSD trigger. My only option has been to go to the doctor and get a cocktail of injections, which consists of Torodol, Phenergan and Benadryl. If that doesn’t work fully they add some Valium on top of it. Knocks me on my ass! Then I wake the next morning to a rebound headache and have to pound water and ibuprofen.  Thankfully my doctor found a new combination of meds we’ll try so I don’t have to go in for injections and I can take these medications at home, haven’t tried them yet or should I say I haven’t had to try them yet.

I’m learning through this process that this type of grief goes away after opening that door to the trauma. Death grief on the other hand is an unrelenting asshole and I can’t shake it.

CPTSD is destructive and I believe to be life threatening if you don’t treat it. It’s scary as hell to face, but I would rather face it – fight it – kick its ass, then to let it paralyze me from experiencing true happiness and freedom. So I may have to deal with migraines for a while and drool all over myself from the treatment of them, but it’s better than the alternative of living with that trauma closed behind a door in my thalamus.

 

The photo used in this blog has been approved by the artist as long as I provide you a link to her work. I find her Jettison gallery fascinating.

jet·ti·son noun \ˈje-tə-sən, -zən\: a voluntary sacrifice of cargo to lighten a ship’s load in time of distress.

http://www.mollystrohlphotography.com/

How The Grief Stole Christmas

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Christmas has always been most special to me, because it was always celebrated near my birthday. Since I was two years old it’s been family tradition to put the tree up on my birthday and we’ve never faltered from that. Christmas ornaments have been collected by me since I was a little girl and I’ve made sure to never lose nor break the ones that mean so much to my heart.

Though after dad left and moved out, Christmas lost its wonderment and magic.  I looked so forward to putting up the tree and celebrating my birthday and the start of Christmas. Let’s face it, Christmas is what a child waits for all year round! When dad left, especially that first year, my mom went through a level of depression I’d never seen before nor knew existed. She lost an extreme amount of weight, lost her smile and her infectious laugh.

Yes my mom was a narcissist and I don’t have many good memories of her, but her smile was big and beautiful and her laugh could be heard miles away. These are a couple of things I’ll always cherish about her.

That first Christmas was rough..and every year after that. Before the divorce on my birthday I would come home from school and find all the Christmas boxes and tree pulled out from the crawl space and in the middle of the living room. Pure bliss would course through my veins! This first year without dad started a landslide for me. I came home from school fully anticipating to find the boxes in the living room, I walked inside with a smile ready to yell “yay”; instead I came home to an empty house and no boxes.

Befuddled, I sat down on the stairs and just stared. About an hour later mom came home with a store-bought cake and a card. Before she had always baked a cake for me and there were always presents to open, but not this year. I was 11 and I was beyond heart-broken. I asked if we were going to put up the tree and she told me that if I wanted to put it up I could have at it on my own, but she wasn’t in the mood.

Now as an adult who suffers with depression, I can completely understand where she was at the time, but as a little girl I felt completely rejected and lost. The divorce was the death of my childhood in so many ways. I couldn’t wrap my head around the rejection and at that moment didn’t realize it was the birth of grief that I have felt every year on my birthday.

I did do just what she said and I dragged those boxes up the stairs one by one. I read the directions for our fake tree and put it together. I wrapped those lights with such care, learned from years of carefully watching my dad. I hung the ornaments with design and meaning. I created a tree of beauty in my eyes and it was lit in brilliant colors.

I finished with decorative nuances around the house, displayed the nativity scene, hung lights in the window and just opened my creative mind. Then I turned all of the house lights off and laid under the tree. As I looked up and gazed at the ornaments I hung inside the tree and the twinkling lights, I day dreamed about being in the movie Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Like Rudolph, I felt rejected, but hoped in the end I would be seen as useful and I would be loved.

From that point forward in my life I made it my tradition and decorated alone every year after that. Each year I hoped she’d join in and want to be a part of “my day”, it never happened. I was a misfit and although I had hope, it didn’t fill the loss deep in my heart.

Friends would invite me over knowing Christmas Eve and Day were hard for me. Their parents knew my life, they knew my loneliness and they knew my grief. They all did their best to include me, I’m still friends with all of these people to this day.

A couple of years I got to spend my birthday with my dad and he made it all Who-ville for me. Singing, laughing, joking around and celebrating. Moments far and few between, but engraved in my memory.

Unlike the Grinch, Joan didn’t try to make it miserable for me, but she sure didn’t try to make it nice either. Her pain was deep and it wasn’t from having a tiny heart like the Grinch.

However, like the Grinch she didn’t want to appear “bad” to Little Cindy-Lou Whoo, so she tried to be kind and complement my decorating. Would brag to her friends about the beautiful job I did. Unlike the Grinch she didn’t steal anything of monetary value, just made me feel robbed of the happiness of family and love.

I never let her see me cry when I was sad, but I was in deep pain. I grieve for the 11-year-old little girl to this day and I still have moments of pure disgust for Joan at Christmas. This year I told 11 year old me that it’s okay now to have been so sad and I had every right to have expected love, excitement and celebration on Christmas tree day. This year my husband surprised me and jumped right in without me having to say anything. He brought all the boxes in, he helped decorate and he celebrated my birthday like we did when I was a little girl. This year is an extremely healing Christmas tree birthday.

Grief on the other hand is an asshole and I hope someday grief see’s how much more important unconditional love is,  and hopefully grief will learn to love and not be so mean.

No matter the gifts, wrapping nor ribbon…I am in awe of the magic of God’s love for me. 

Merry Christmas to you all, now go enjoy your roast beast.