Road Trippin’ with PTSD

As summer begins to wane and the occasional cool breeze brings a hint of fall in the evenings,  I find myself packing to hit the road and drive thirteen hours to go hang out in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It’s was a spur of the moment decision to leave, which makes this even more exciting. But, for me, especially this time of year, where there are triggers, triggers everywhere, I have to make sure I have some plans firmly in place so my adventurous road trip doesn’t become a series of frightening flashbacks from a time long ago and a place that I don’t like to talk about.

I absolutely love the freedom of hitting the road, not having a specific destination to sleep, and just enjoying the journey. I love the spontaneity of it, and the “let’s take this road and see where it leads” adventure. It appeals to my carefree nature that is often squashed by my symptoms, but still lies just below the surface.

I love the majesty and strength of the mountains. They make me feel safe, protected, and extremely grounded.  They touch that part of me that needs to feel grounded by the steadfast rock, the earth.

I live in Minnesota, which is nowhere near the mountains. When I get close to the mountains, and my senses begin to come alive, I know I’m now on vacation. I was once that person who worked to go on vacation. Road-trip?  I was the first person to raise my hand and jump into the car. I love to explore, I love new places, I love new people!

Then I was struck with PTSD and everything changed. The things I did without thought have suddenly become a big production. I’m plagued with flashbacks, especially at certain times of the year when my symptoms are easily triggered.

My trauma occurred over a 20-year period in many different places throughout the world. I can be triggered by certain smells, sounds, the way the wind blows, dialect, and many other things. Sometimes, that can start a flashback. Sometimes, I get disoriented and anxious, and sometimes it’s just a general feeling of knowing something’s off. When I’m at home, I can figure out ways to ground myself, get support or use one of my distress tolerance tools to ride out the wave. When I travel, things are unfamiliar and it takes longer to come out of a trigger.

Another symptom of my PTSD is that I become overwhelmed in busy, loud, places — restaurants, for example. It’s very easy for me to get flooded by too many menu choices and a voracious appetite can become non-existent. Before PTSD, I loved trying new food and going to restaurants that I wouldn’t have visited while in my hometown.

Busy roads while not necessarily triggering, can be overwhelming for me. The speed and crowded freeways can be overstimulating, and I tend to get anxious.  The same anxiety I used to feel in a gridlock or driving at night with 18-wheelers whizzing by is now more pronounced for me. My anxiety is ramped up because my perpetrators often drove me to places across the country.

I used to try to navigate where I was by counting the light poles. I thought if I kept track of them I could find my way back home. Of course, I would lose count very quickly or realize that it didn’t matter anyway, and simply sit quietly waiting until we stopped at a final destination.

But once I became a young adult and understood the freedom of the open road, I began to love road-trips. I still love road-trips!

My support system is different when I travel. For my family, it’s often a good respite for them when I go out of town for a few days. It’s not an easy decision for them to let me go off without one of them accompanying me. So, a lot of moving parts must happen before I leave. My support works together to provide text, phone or FaceTime calls with regular check-ins. I must be mindful and respect the times that are available, especially with a time change. It feels uncomfortable for me to know that I require this support, but I’m grateful that I have this in place so I can do the things I would like to do and visit the places that bring me peace.

I understand that traveling with all my PTSD symptoms front and center is a huge challenge. But, I’m determined to have a great time and get my spirit renewed in the mountains. I’m going to the The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya at the Shambala Mountain Center. This has been on my list of things to do for many years, and I’m so excited to go.  My intention is to hike and camp in the beautiful Rocky Mountains and fill my senses with the crisp, clean mountain air, and for just a few perfect moments, breathe with ease.

Road Trippin’ with PTSD is certainly a challenge, but not impossible. In fact, with a bit of planning and the agreement to tell my travel companion if I’m having any symptoms, this adventure is not only possible, it’s happening!

Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Alexis Rose, Sue Coletta, Barb Taub, Yecheilyah Ysrayl and K. D. Dowdall

Im honored to be included in Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore update along with so many other talented authors.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Monday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore Update and the first author with news is Alexis Rose with a new review on Goodreads. If I Could Tell You How It Feels was released on 16th January.

About the book

If I Could Tell You How It Feels is a series of essays and poems about living authentically with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Alexis Rose takes us on a journey into the reality of living with triggers, flashbacks, and the challenges of working through trauma. She writes with intimate vulnerability about the tough subjects of family, friendships, loss, grief, parenting, and therapy.

With a sense of universal hope and honesty, the author collaborated with artist Janet Rosauer to add a dramatic and soulful dimension to many of the chapters.

Whether you are a survivor, someone living with a mental or chronic illness, a professional working within the mental…

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Welcome to Minnesota: A Primer – Surly Brewing Co.

I live in MN and the world had descended upon us for the Superbowl this weekend. There have been a lot of great things to do in Minneapolis this week, including zip-lining across the river in 8 degrees above zero. Brrr!

We are a special breed here in the frozen north, so one of the breweries kindly wrote a pretty hilarious primer for those visiting MN on this cold snowy weekend. Yep, we talk about the weather around here!

Check out the link for a smile: Welcome to Minnesota: A Primer – Surly Brewing Co.

http://surlybrewing.com/news/welcome-minnesota-primer/

Perspective in Minus 13 degrees

This morning when I woke up, I thought about all the things I needed to get done today both at home and out-and-about while also mulling over an invention that came to mind last night, as well as the release of my new book.

With my monkey mind in full active mode, I tried to settle down and set an intention for the day. Setting an intention is something I usually do before I  get out of bed. I grabbed my phone to jot down my to-do list and to check the temperature to see how cold it was outside. I was greeted with negative 13 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 and my intention for the day became clear. Just Be, Just Stop, Just Sit, Just Rest and Breathe!

I also gained some perspective:  My family and friends are all safe and sound living in homes with working furnaces. Our critters are indoor animals (although, I very much felt for my dog this morning when I let her out). It’s a sunny day, and there is no wind. It will do me a world of good to rest after the busy weekend with my daughter’s wedding.  New Year’s Eve has me taking a thoughtful look at the past year, and with a positive outlook, I welcome the new possibilities in 2018.

Minus 13 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 when I  brave the temperature and run an errand or two, I hear myself say, “Meh, it’s not too bad, at least there’s no wind, and look the sun is shining.”

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you health, peace, and comfortable temperatures.

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Film Screening

I received an email today asking if I would share this information regarding a film that Jennifer Brea made called, Unrest. Below are the links and a synopsis of the film

Synopsis:
Jennifer Brea is an active Harvard PhD student about to marry the love of her life when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, Jennifer grabs a camera and films the darkest moments unfolding before her eyes as she is derailed by M.E. (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a mysterious illness some still believe is “all in your head.”

In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jen is moved to connect with others around the globe. Utilizing Skype and social media, she unlocks a forgotten community with intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly. Jennifer Brea’s wonderfully honest portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions of people. Unrest is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.

How to watch Unrest online: https://www.unrest.film/ digital
How to find a screening of Unrest near you: https://www.unrest.film/ screenings
Unrest images & media: https://www.unrest.film/media/

  • “Astonishing”– BBC
  • “Brilliant” – The Daily Telegraph
  • “Riveting…equal parts medical mystery, science lesson, political advocacy primer and even a love story.” — San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Remarkably intimate, deeply edifying and a stirring call to action…an existential exploration of the meaning of life.” — LA Times
  • ★★★★★ “A sensitive, powerful documentary” that’s “compulsive viewing.” — BritFlicks
  • “An intimate essay” that even feels like “a suspenseful thriller” and “packs a significant emotional punch.” — The Spectator

Review: Untangled, by Alexis Rose 5 stars

Thank You, Didi Oviatt, (didioviatt.wordpress.com) for reading Untangled and giving it a 5 Star review.  I appreciate the read and the review on your blog. Please click on the link to read the review on Untangled and give Didi’s blog a follow.

MY REVIEW:

This is hands down the hardest memoir I’ve ever read. The life that Alexis Rose survived is so completely unfathomable. It’s hard to even imagine, let alone begin to comprehend, the pain both physical and psychological that she was forced to endure. To be put through such trauma by the hand of those who should have loved, shielded, and protected her, is utterly heart wrenching. Parent’s should nurture, love and support their children. What Alexis’ parents did was so completely opposite of that. It is, in my opinion, practically impossible to even put into words how horrible the things are that Alexis was subjected to.

This book shattered my heart into a million pieces. Despite it being such a short easy read, it took me a few days to get through because I had to put it down quite a few times to process…. and to cry. I had to take breaks to hug my kids and to stare blankly at the wall for large chunks of time, just to make any sort of failed attempt to understand how people out there can be so cruel and twisted.

Not only was Alexis abused by her parents, but they willingly passed her over to others to abuse her in ways that are arguably worse than most people could even come up with in their worst nightmares. Heart wrenching!

Luckily, Alexis’ story isn’t only one of such unfathomable abuse. It’s an inspiring tale of resilience and a deep rooted strength. Alexis is by far the most admirable woman who’s story I’ve read. Not only do I recommended this book (and have), but I feel like it’s quite possibly a necessity to anyone who may be taking their own lives for granted. I know for a fact that I will never look at my own troubles the same. I’m actually grateful for them, and all their minuscule quirks. I’m grateful to have a life full of love, and I’m positive that I will hold my children closer for as long as I’m alive to do so.

Thank you Alexis, for sharing your life’s story. Thank you for your example of how a human can have such a wholesome and compassionate heart despite everything you’ve been through. And most importantly thank you for giving me such a live changing prospective on the value of the life of my loved ones!

DESCRIPTION:

A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph.
Recalling her life, the author takes us on a journey of unimaginable abuse with continued explicit threats that eventually led to her being sent overseas on an impossible mission. Alexis Rose repressed the memories of her past until a family tragedy forced her to face what her life had been. A history of abuse, torture, and threats to maintain her silence or be killed could no longer be denied.
This is the story of facing the truth and risking the consequences of breaking the silence. The author learns to accept the effects of the trauma that echo through her daily life as PTSD.
Through years of self-exploration, Alexis learns to live her life fearlessly, with eyes wide open. Ultimately this book is about resilience; hope for victims who have suffered trauma and for the people who support them.

Didi Oviatt

MY REVIEW:

This is hands down the hardest memoir I’ve ever read. The life that Alexis Rose survived is so completely unfathomable. It’s hard to even imagine, let alone begin to comprehend, the pain both physical and psychological that she was forced to endure. To be put through such trauma by the hand of those who should have loved, shielded, and protected her, is utterly heart wrenching. Parent’s should nurture, love and support their children. What Alexis’ parents did was so completely opposite of that. It is, in my opinion, practically impossible to even put into words how horrible the things are that Alexis was subjected to.

This book shattered my heart into a million pieces. Despite it being such a short easy read, it took me a few days to get through because I had to put it down quite a few times to process…. and to cry. I…

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Meet The Author: Alexis Rose- Non Fiction Author #amreading #health #author

Thank You, Kim. I’m so excited to be one of the author’s that Kim interviewed this month on her blog. Check out the interview and be sure and follow her blog too!

Author, Kim Knight

Untangled: A story of resilience, courage, and triumph by [Rose, Alexis]

Okay we’re on a roll, the final author for this month is Alexis Rose! Alexis touches on very important issues that many people face in life. It’s a pleasure to interview her. Let’s get to know her style… over to you Ms. Rose

Hello nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?

Hello, Thank You for including me in your author spotlight, Kim. My name is Alexis Rose and I live in Minnesota. Besides writing, I love to be with my family and friends. I unwind by practicing yoga and spending time outside. I work part-time doing the marketing for a couple of wellness centers, and enjoy teaching beginning writing classes.

How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?

Writing came into my life purely by accident. I had never written anything…

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