PTSD Awareness Month

 

My PTSD

It doesn’t matter if it is cold, hot, sunny, snowing or raining.

There is no telling when it is going to strike.
Are they alive or dead?

Is that pain real or echoes from pain long ago that resurface with a memory?                                   

It’s like being held hostage by your mind

Thinking today would be the day I am free.

I look like everyone else.

I know the difference between right and wrong.                                                                                              

Yet sometimes in my head, I can’t remember the last ten minutes of my life, or what day, year or time it is.

Are those smells real or is that a smell from a place and time when I was being held against my will?

Am I really hearing the sounds of helicopters, planes Cicadas, and birds?

Or is that the sound coming from a place that no longer exists and should never be talked about?

I want so much to be like everyone else.

So I will keep pulling myself up the rope.

Out of the clutches of PTSD and all the skeleton hand of the past that keep trying to pull me down.

I am like everyone else only my job is to live so I CAN live.

That is all I can ask of myself if I am going to have a future.

©Alexis Rose

 

image source: google images

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

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Trust the Journey

She connects with the world through her heart.

Tending to one flower, one smile, one child, at a time.

As she walks through the woods, the trees remind her to

find peace and trust the journey.

©Of Earth and Sky; Collaboration: Alexis Rose, photographer, Shelley Bauer

 

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

 

Reflections from my Inner-Spirit Mirror

I stand in front of a mirror. Not the kind of mirror that reflects your outside self, it is the kind of mirror that reflects your psyche. It’s the kind of mirror that reflects how you think, emote, or not emote, and feel. It is the kind of mirror that reflects back the years of psychological and emotional damage. I call it my inner spirit mirror.

It took a lot of courage to approach this mirror the first time.  I was terrified because I knew that if I tried to stand in front of this mirror before,  I wouldn’t have seen any reflection. I felt like a nobody with no-body. But something compelled me to look at the effects of the trauma and how it damaged my mind, and spirit and left my soul in tattered ruin.

Countless times, I could only stand looking into that mirror for mere seconds before running away in shame. But I was determined to keep going back. Each time I went back,  I began to have the courage to view my reflection and started to name what I saw. Even though it was difficult to see myself, I’m glad I was brave enough to stand in front of that mirror and look deeper into my spirit.

At first, all I could name was the lies that were told to my soul. The lies that perpetrators tell their victims to legitimize what they are doing or have done. At that time, all I could see was the hurt, pain, fear, and wretchedness of the first twenty years of my life.

Then to my amazement, as I stood steadfast in front of my spirit mirror, I began to see a light emerge from my core. My reflection of who I am, who I want to be, and what they couldn’t take from me, started emitting a stronger and stronger beacon of hope. At first, it was hard to trust the truth of the mirror. I could have turned away, and continued to believe the lies, or I could believe my truth, and trust my reflection.

Today when I stand in front of my inner spirit mirror, I see my reflection. I acknowledge the courage it took to stand there, to refuse to look away in shame. Now my inner light shines through, giving me hope that I have the ability to face each day, to stay the course, to continue to heal and grow. To trust, to believe that although at times, I’m still experiencing the choke-hold of  PTSD symptoms, what I see is the true reflection of me.

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

 

A Finished Manuscript

Two years ago today as my fingers were steadily typing out the words flowing from my brain, I stood up, heart beating like a hummingbird, started doing a dance to the tempo of the sound of the keyboard strokes and exclaimed, “I think this is the last paragraph.” My memoir was done. A huge milestone, an incredible accomplishment.

When it was published a few months later (after the grueling editing process) I set a goal to sell a certain number of books in two years. I am 13 books away from that goal. I’m so excited. When the book release anniversary date comes around, I will update you if I made that goal. But this close to reaching that goal on this very special day brings back that wonderful feeling I had when the manuscript was completed.  Thank-You, to all of you who have read Untangled, told your friends/family to read it, and shared it on your blogs. I continue to be humbled and full of gratitude for the incredible support and positive reviews.

Enjoy, the Introduction from Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

My body is streaked with sweat and dirt from my desperate search to find safe shelter. I’m barefoot, in a grimy torn t-shirt and shorts; my hands and feet caked with dirt. My hair is filthy and matted. My mouth is dry; I can smell and taste the gritty dust that hangs in the air. I sit down on a curb at the side of the road, and I know it’s over.

I’m unbelievably weary, all my energy spent in the act of sitting down. I’m devastated…emotionally, mentally, and physically, and the worst of my wounds are invisible. My eyes fill up, but no tears fall. I can only sit amid the rubble, trying to trust the safety of the gray, silent sky.

Six years later, the scene has changed. I’m no longer living in fear of the tangled web of sadistic people who use threats to keep their victims terrified and questioning their sanity. I feel grateful. The therapist that I call my Sherpa is sitting next to me. He’s listened to and witnessed my entire story, and never deserted me. He understands my journey and sometimes shares my grief. He’s helped me honor my resilience; taught me the value of telling my story and the importance of just sitting with my truth. So we sit here together, quietly resting in that truth.

I’ve fully remembered and told the story of my first twenty years, of surviving the abuse, neglect, abandonment, and fear. I’ve left behind those who terrorized me. I’ve untangled myself. My courage has set me free, and now nothing can keep me tied to the past. I can truly live today with blinders off and eyes wide open.

Featured Image -- 1269

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

 

Triggers and Tools

Living with PTSD often means understanding that there are triggers, triggers everywhere. Coping with PTSD often means learning the tools to handle the triggers. 

Before I was diagnosed I had no idea what was wrong with me. I was quirky to my friends and family, but inside I felt out of control and crazy. I could tell that the people I was with didn’t react the same way I did to certain situations, but I couldn’t understand why.

People can sometimes sit down at a restaurant and marvel over the choices on the menu. I become anxious and lose my appetite because the choices are overwhelming. Walks in the woods typically are filled with deep breathing wonderment at the smells and sounds of leaves rustling and crunching. I would cringe and keep looking over my shoulder because the crunching meant someone was running behind me to catch me. 

The sound of distant fireworks is often a sound and a sign of summer festivals and fun. I bristle and remember a time when I heard guns or bombs. The beautiful full moons shining brightly in the sky brings a sense of awe.  I often feel left-over dread and fear for the rituals the solstices brought in a place long ago, but not so far away. 

These are just a few triggers that I have to manage living with PTSD. 

 I used to flounder and drown in the vortex of my symptoms, but now, I have the tools to help me cope. I understand that there are triggers, triggers everywhere and I know the reasons why. Knowing the truth and understanding my past has been a huge help for managing my mental health. 

I understand what flashbacks are, and while they are terribly uncomfortable, I have the tools to cope with the aftermath. I have the tools to work through panic, anxiety, and fear. 

I have a plethora of distress tolerance tools and I have to employ them daily. There are days it feels like my full-time job is consciously finding something to ease the distress, but it is time well spent. 

I understand that going to a restaurant, grocery store, library, or a place with a lot of stimulation, brings some responsibility on my part. Perhaps I can look at the menu online and find something to eat before we get there. I may need to put a book on reserve and pick it up vs. wandering the shelves of the library and becoming overwhelmed by the choices. I have to communicate before my anxiety ramps up,  but I also need to remember and acknowledge if all is well, giving myself a mental pat-on-the-back. 

One of the tools that I’m appreciating the most right now, is that I’ve learned to enjoy the moments when I’m not symptomatic. I’m still hyper-vigilant and my startle response is off the hook sometimes, but I’m not necessarily waiting, or looking for someone or something to happen, and I can calm myself a lot quicker with my learned tools. 

Reminding myself I’m safe, understanding that my intense symptoms caused by triggers are time limited and that I’m okay helps me live with PTSD. The tools help me cope and accept PTSD and all the symptoms that come with it. 

Some day it’s still a tricky dance and I find myself stunned by the experience. I feel clumsy and inept, but with continued practice Im hoping for a symbiotic relationship between triggers, triggers everywhere and the tools to calm and soothe. 

image source: pixabay

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