The place where past trauma and prolonged hardship meet is the breeding ground for bad chimeras. Trauma carries the genes of depression and anxiety, and spliced together, a feeling state of isolation. Isolation begets loneliness, and its shadow – despair – is the mother of PTSD, at least for me. Loneliness and despair, coupled with feeling a lack of enough inner outer support causes me to collapse under the old feelings of being an anomaly or of alien origin, lost in space without any help or relational tether. It is a terrifying experience that has happened countless times in my life. This is when I lose the path and –
lost, panicked, adrenaline galloping through my veins, I run into a darkened landscape pocked with land mines, jagged glass, oily cenotes, and black bramble. I stumble and reel, slipping on tears and sweat, trying not to drop the baby. The only sound is the staccato of my heart and storm of breath between the howl of anguish erupting from my belly. Ahead is the Bleached-Boned Desert – where nothing lives in its unrelenting, hellish heat …. I don’t want to go there.; it ends at the border of madness. I am lost, trying desperately to survive and find my way back to safe ground. I ask God (?), “What did I do so wrong?. Please help me!” I can be here for days or years ( i have been there for years on 3 counts); I never know how long this will last. My only chance is to fight and do whatever it takes to find my way back, even when I feel down for the count.
It is 3rd week in April. Thankfully, the sun is out and streaming through my window as I write this. It has been weeks of relentless, grey overcast here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It slipped my mind when making the decision to return back to the NW how brutal and long the Winters are, especially if your chemicals aren’t quite right to begin with. At first, I dove into the dark, short, cloudy days of the northern Latitudes as it was a welcome reprieve from the sunny, hot and humid over stimulation of the South, where i moved from. Too many grey days and a long Series of Unfortunate Events, however, have teamed up and muddled the waters of my brain soup, and I am feeling crushed under the weight of everything bad that has ever happened. Thoughts of suicide have dominated my mind in the last two weeks, convincing me it is an inevitable, uncontrollable outcome.
Depression transformed into panic a couple days ago. I found myself stepping off the trail into the Dark Lands. Not on purpose mind you,; never on purpose. It just happens – something triggered it, not sure exactly what. But I hit the tipping point and lost balance. My brain physically feels like a train wreck – twisted metal, broken glass, some casualties. Thoughts are disorganized – wheels off the rails, still spinning. The more distressed I get, the worse I literally feel, so i am laying super low.
It has been about 24 hours since I noticed an incremental shift toward “better”. I still literally can’t see straight, eyes have become misaligned making me dizzy and increasing the disorientation to body and planet. My digestion is off, so I am afraid to leave the house for too long. I am still being carpet bombed by a disregulated nervous system, but am starting to get a few breaks. Memories of every other PTSD cycle I have ever had are taunting me. Intrusive suicidal thoughts are still around but not so compelling. My self esteem and confidence are very low. I hate hatehatehate going through this.
And in this place I have to make decisions on how to make it through this for the 10,000th time. It is hard to do it all on my own; such a heavy weight to bear but I am determined.
Even though life has sucked for a good while, I don’t want to die now. I want to die happy, if that is possible. A strange pursuit and motivator, but it has kept me going this far.
With my addled brain (running at about 40% capacity), I am trying to make some decisions about how to get out of this mess and find my way back to some stable ground. What have the last 35 years of therapy taught me? To always carry a sack of breadcrumbs, for one. This can cut back on the time i am in the Dark Lands.
Two, I need to figure out where I am in terms of Mind, Body, Emotion, Spirit: What do I need right now, then short term and longer term?
I am forcing myself to eat something so my blood sugar doesn’t exacerbate my panic. I put on flute music to counteract the requiem in my brain. I started calling friends and ask them to remind me I am not alone and things are going to be ok, that I have been through this before. I continually pray for strength, courage, guidance and grace. I set up a tanning session to get some vitamin D production. I have acupuncture and therapy sessions scheduled. In the few moments of sunshine, I will grab a two block walk and smell the flowers to stimulate the pleasure center. I try to breathe in a square. Maybe go to the bookstore across the street to try to be around people. Repeat, repeat, repeat ad nauseum. I am praying this will break soon.
Most folks, never have to experience this on a consistent basis. Life has its ups and downs but they bob, weave and stay on their feet for the most part. They will never know what it is like to live with the lingering effects of trauma on a daily basis, and for that I have no judgement except maybe to say they are very lucky. Some folks develop PTSD after a traumatic event, during combat, a stressful divorce or after a loss for a period of time. I have lived with this everyday for 50 years in some way since I was born – if not up to my knees in it or totally underwater, being in the fear of going “there” again.
Don’t get me wrong, it has its gifts and blessings, but it is exhausting.
I keep fighting for a good life. There is always hope for better times ahead. I want some good years before I go back to that place of light I remember. Besides, Earth is a beautiful planet. She is just so beautiful.