Friday, January 31, 2020

Help For Me In The Shadows

The lovely thing about the time we are living in now is how Mental Illness is handled. The stigma remains, but overall, the conversation is changing. Social Media is a huge part of that metamorphosis.

In my personal life, PTSD, CPTSD, Anorexia, Suicide, Depression, and Anxiety along with the physical ramifications, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Migraine, etc.  are part of my daily vocabulary. Similar to someone dealing with diabetes or a heart condition. I am aware daily of the ups and downs. I am conscious of the tole it takes on my inner circle. They are not my cure or the source of my self-care. I am. Those of us who manage a chronic physical or mental illness know we are A LOT to handle. We can be draining people to be around. It is a source of shame often for me and can keep me from asking for help.

However, the relationships I had cultivated over the years understood my shortcomings. The Coping Mechanisms I developed and practiced kicked in. Anne and My Old Friend could not win this time.
This is what asking for help looked like for me over the past six months:

The house was purged of the evidence from my former life with the help of an ever-cycling team of people within a week and a half. All of it was lovingly boxed up in the garage to rest. In the bare walls and stark shelves, the trauma anxiety was able to find some calm.

A friend slept with me the first night. Holding my hand and listening to me try and fall asleep between sobs. We reminisced over our 30-year friendship. Other people helped and I tried all the solutions, but after four days of PTSD night terrors and no sleep I asked for help. I gutted the bedroom, put a small mattress on the floor next to a window. Every night Jupiter and the Stars said goodnight.  A group of friends pitched in and bought me a new bed. Slowly peaceful sleep returned.

Anne made eating difficult. With help, I asked friends to help create a nutritious simple food strategy that I could follow. I asked friends to bring me meals. I asked people to watch me eat.
When I couldn’t finish, they would say in a loving parental voice, “Yes. All of it.”
I would eat it all. With all of that nourishing love, slowly I was able to plan and feed myself again. It wasn’t perfect, but I could be consistent on my own without fear.

I asked for help in staying connected to my body. CPTSD, Anxiety, Anorexia and such often come with a side of Dissociation. In the peak of my Anorexia, I didn’t feel anything from my neck down. I never felt hungry or tired or pain, really. I always felt numb. I went to a friend for yoga sessions to work through connecting my trauma brain to my physical body again. To heal and balance the Amygdala (fight or flight gland). In healing and finding balance quickly I would be able to offer my healthiest self to my kids, who were suffering too.

Within this Sacred Circle of friends, I would message them every morning and evening at first. 
Checking in so I knew they made it through the day and I reminded myself I wasn’t alone. I still check in with them regularly.

 I threw myself a Birthday Party.  I asked my treasured people to Art my New Life. I filled my empty spaces with reminders of the people near and far that I cared about and cared about me.

Slowly the Trauma Brain eased up. CPTSD night terrors eased. Flashbacks during the day ebbed away.

I’ve learned that in order to move forward in life,

 I have to stop.

I have to let my brain heal whenever a sudden major life change happens.

I have to allow my psyche find a new equilibrium and orientation.

This is what help looks like for me. If you are struggling, please ask for help. You are not alone. You are worth a vibrant, love filled life.

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