Reflections

As we look back at the passing year and look forward to what will be

Reflections of those we love

shimmer upon the water

bringing comfort and strength

even as they soar beyond this moment.

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photo: pixabay

 

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

 

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PTSD Doesn’t Define Me, but it Does Impact Me

I just came out of a major depressive episode. It turns out it was medication related. I have lived with, fought with, railed against my PTSD for eight years now, with very little medication intervention. The spring and fall are terrible anniversary triggers for me, this past autumn was particularly trying. I was having up to seven panic attacks a day and knew that I needed something besides therapy, acupuncture, yoga and family/friend support to help me.

I sought help and was put on anti-anxiety meds. They helped immediately! My body relaxed and my panic attacks ceased. When the fall triggers ended, I stayed on the medication and little by little I fell into a deep depression. My therapist and doctor communicated and wondered if it could be medication related. We would know by weaning me off the meds, to see if it lifted. It did! I’m grateful that I kept communicating with my therapist, showing him my mood journal, telling him how I was feeling and that he kept a vigilant eye on the changes that were occurring the past few months and communicated with my doctor.

So why am I sharing this? I’m sharing this because the nagging self-esteem issues I deal with from having complex PTSD were magnified ten-fold during this episode. I fight feeling like a burden to my family, feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness because my PTSD has rendered me unable to do many things that I used to love to do. I wrestle with feeling like I’m lazy because I haven’t cured myself of this illness. My family, friends, and professional support system never, ever indicate I’m a burden, worthless or lazy. That’s my own thought pattern, old tapes, and mental gymnastics as I cope with my illness.

The other day I asked my therapist, what’s wrong with me? He replied, “you have PTSD. You are doing the best you can, you are working as hard as you can, and you are okay.” He tells me that often as I find a way to live with this illness. People say that my trauma nor my illness defines me. That I’m more than my past trauma. I agree. When I describe myself I don’t use adjectives that bring in my past, that I’m a survivor of trauma or that I’m dealing with this unrelenting illness. I describe myself as a kind, compassionate, person with a wicked (sometimes dark) sense of humor who tries to live an authentic life. I have strong friendships and solid family support from my husband and children. That’s how I would define myself. My PTSD doesn’t define me, but it does impact me.

The effects of my trauma and the resulting PTSD has changed my life. It prevents me from working more than two hours a day, hopping in the car to run errands, enjoying restaurants, travel, and I have to consciously work with the triggers that cause flashbacks, and other assorted symptoms. While that doesn’t define who I am, it does have an effect my life.

I’m in a position, as perhaps most people who deal with a chronic or debilitating illness to find a way to live with my symptoms and try to have an illness free identity. It’s hard.  I spent years minimizing my feelings, being angry at my PTSD, thinking that I’m weak; after all, I survived unimaginable circumstances, why can’t I get my shit together and just get over this thing. That thinking wasn’t helping my trajectory of healing and it certainly didn’t honor my past, my feelings, or the fact that I did survive.

While PTSD doesn’t define me, it certainly impacts my life. I am more than my past, more than my trauma, more than my illness. And my terrible past includes significant trauma resulting in an illness. Sometimes, when people hear about it, read about, and understand that there are some really awful people in the world, it makes them uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable information, and it should be. We shouldn’t feel comfortable, complacent and unfazed when hearing about abuse. It’s something that can be stopped, abuse is something that is done by one person to another. This illness has changed what I choose to be passionate about, speak about, write about.

To understand what and who we are at our core, our intentions, and how we want to connect to others can define us. We aren’t defined by our circumstances, illness, or professions, but they often dictate how we have to live day-to-day. It’s been a struggle to accept this in my life, especially the last six weeks as I dealt with the major depression and the bottomed out self-esteem. I imagine it’s something I will have to wrestle with as long as I have PTSD. Perhaps, even if I didn’t have an illness, I would be checking myself, making sure I have a larger view, a compassionate perspective, and hope…always hope.

 

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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

Choices – A Wonderful and Sometimes Frustrating Lesson

One of the best and often frustrating lessons that have unfolded from my journey of healing is that I learned I can make choices. Seems like a no-brainer, right?  I could talk the talk, especially whenever drama was involved, but to actually understand that I can make choices about my life was a concept that was a little unconscious for me. This is difficult to admit, but I’m thinking this may be a recurring issue in some people’s lives. Especially those of us who are are healing from trauma. 

Some of the Best Lessons:

I became aware that I can choose to be around people who are working or living towards self-discovery or I can choose to be around people who are satisfied to live with their eyes shut; unwilling to change, grow, and understand that in our world we need compassion and connectedness, not separateness and silence. I can choose to have the people in my life who aren’t toxic, and who want to walk that transformational self-discovery path that leaves you winded at times. 

I can choose to say what I think about a situation or give my opinion about what is happening in our country, our world.

I can choose to add to a conversation knowing that I’m not taking away from that person’s moment, but that instead I may be adding to their moment and a deep and like-minded dialogue can occur.  

I can choose to set boundaries with people. I can give my opinion, I can stick up for myself, I can say no, I can say yes, I can ask for what I want and what I think I need, and I can feel okay about asking for those things. I understand that I may not always get my needs met, but I learned I can never get them met if I don’t ask. That lesson took me right out of that “victimy” role, I would sometimes find myself in.

I know the above may seem basic and rudimentary but for me they were new concepts. I learned to make choices before the drama occurs. I don’t have to be afraid of who I am, or what I have to say.

I definitely was not a withering wallflower before, it’s just that now, I’m much more authentic and less afraid to be vulnerable. I found that I’m more likely to attract a group of people who are just as willing to be authentic and vulnerable as I have become, and have been able to let go of the ones who used their narcissism to get their own needs met at the expense of others. 

Now the frustrating part of choice:

I knew this all along….I would have told any of my friends, my kids, my husband, or strangers that we all have the ability to makes these choices. I would have said to anyone…be authentic, be vulnerable, take a risk, take a chance. It’s amazing how I can look back and say “Whoa, I used to do that?” I used to be so afraid of what others may think of me, or worse, be someone I wasn’t, because I was afraid people wouldn’t like the real me and run away. In truth, the opposite happened. My friendships, and relationships are much more satisfying now than they were eight years ago.

I will admit, there are times, I still get sucked in and find myself in a situation where I need to change or create a boundary. But that’s okay, it’s all a process and a practice.  The practice of living an authentic, connected and compassionate life.

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image: pixabay

 

 

front-cover-biz-card-final

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

The Metamorphosis of your Personal Legend

The metamorphosis of your personal legend

 begins when you accept who you were

who you are now

and who you will be. 

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©Alexis Rose, Photo, Shelley Bauer

 

 

front-cover-biz-card-final

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

Inner Landscapes

An inner landscape is a life you lead inside of yourself; a place no one else can go unless invited. Although it looks different for each of us, all inner landscapes have this in common: they are a place of refuge. If you look deep enough, you will be able to find the images in your mind of your inner landscape; your own place of power and peace.

My inner landscape is multi-dimensional and serves more than one purpose depending on how I need to restore, rest, empower and breathe. One part of my inner landscape is a field of flowers. That’s where I go when I need to feel at peace. It’s a place where I can rest and restore my inner resources because I feel safe and protected there, with very little noise coming from my busy monkey-mind that tends to nag at me during the day.

Mostly my inner landscape is peaceful, warm and sunny; although, I also have a cliff I go to that is rugged and barren. There in one leaf-less tree there with a few wisps of grass growing up around it, but otherwise it is bare. The cliff is jagged, gray and very rocky with the sound of a turbulent sea splashing thunderous waves against the rocks. That’s the inner landscape I go to when my life is stormy and I’m dealing with challenges that I’m not quite ready to confront.

When I’m there, I hear my inner voice of self-doubt, self-judgement, and shame. It’s a place I go to when I know I need to look at things about myself that are comfortably uncomfortable but I’m not yet ready to change. I sit on the edge of my cliff and listen to the water crashing up against the rocks. Even though it is a place I go to when my life is stormy, I love my rocky cliffs and the crashing water that surrounds me.

My inner landscape is different from my happy place. My happy place is where I go to help me face the typical stresses of daily life. Sitting in a traffic jam, going to the dentist, standing in a long line sends me to my happy place. That quick take a deep breath to stave off the frustration place that we go to. My inner landscape is a place I go to for reflection. A place where I go deep inside of myself.

Can you visualize your inner landscape?

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front-cover-biz-card-finalThank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

Perspective

It’s 7:30 a.m. 15 minutes ago, I woke up, thought about all the things I needed to get done today, both at home and out-and-about. I finally thought of the perfect gifts for my kids, decided what to make for dinner Christmas Eve and that we would run to the grocery store after I went to the gym and worked out.

I was just getting ready to set my intention for the day,  something I usually do before I even get out of bed, but today my monkey mind was in full active motion. I grabbed my phone to jot down the gift ideas and shopping list on my notepad, and to check out the temperature to see how cold it was outside. I was greeted with negative 20 degrees.

That’s cold, even for Minnesota, that’s cold! I live in the cities, not in the hinterlands.  My monkey mind immediately stopped, and my intention for the day became instantly clear. Just Be, Just Stop, Just Sit, Just Rest.

Perspective. My family and friends are all safe and sound living in homes with working furnaces, our critters are indoor animals (although, I felt very much for my dog this morning when I let her out), It’s going to be a sunny day, already there is a beautiful sunrise, and it will do me worlds of good to rest after the week I’ve had.

Perspective. Minus 20 degrees can provide excellent perspective.

Disclaimer: Minnesotans tend to have a lot of chutzpah when it comes to weather. We are made of tough stuff living in the north. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few hours we brave the tempurature, run an errand and say, “weather, what weather…ohhh, it’s not too bad, at least there’s no wind.”