Tag Archives: ptsd

How a missed trash can led to Formation Tortue, but learning languages can help treating childhood trauma

Why did that paper ball flying over my head make me dive for the floor?

Shortly after I turned 51 years of age, a young coworker launched a simple balled up bit of paper at the trash can in front of me. It missed. What I saw was not a mere bit of paper becoming litter, however. Out of the corner of my eye, something came flying at me from behind. I reacted instinctively: by ducking. Since this was not the normally appropriate behavior for a 51 year old woman in an office environment, you can well imagine my embarrassment. My coworker apologized profusely: the poor thing had simply missed a trash can with a tiny bit of paper. What he saw was a reaction out of an earthquake drill. I also apologized profusely, but the damage was already done. For the rest of the day, coworkers eyed me suspiciously and slowly walked over to place their trash in the bin. The awkwardness was palpable, and I was grateful when some of my Mexican coworkers began talking and joking in Spanish, drawing attention away from the incident.

As I sat on my afternoon break with a cup of hot water, I suddenly recalled a time I haven’t thought of in over 40 years. Another object was flying over my head from behind me, but it was not a simple bit of paper.
It was a belt buckle.
Pandemonium had broken loose as an old man bellowed his wrath, and swung his belt. I was the only person in the room not running away. For some reason, I could see the old man, the belt, and the other kids in the room. All looked either furious or frightened. But it all seemed to be happening somewhere else, with me simply frozen in place. The sounds were there, but muted as if in an old fashioned film.

It suddenly hit me that this event was from a time that I had worked very hard to forget. I’d been 9 years old, in the house overnight of a babysitter who was rather negligent. I told my mother, yet she did nothing. So, I forgot. But I never knew why objects flying over my head made me panic; until today.

Spanish, in particular Mexican Spanish, has always been my favorite language to switch into when I need to move my thoughts out of English. As a child, I’d always wished that I had magical powers to allow me to fight, or that I had a fairy sister to defend me, but the reality was that I was thrown back upon my own resources, so hiding or being ready to run usually seemed to be my best option. Hiding from my own thoughts was fairly easily accomplished, even in my dreams at times, by singing or thinking in Spanish.

It turned out that I could not hide from myself indefinitely. Things we’d rather not remember have a way of springing up, in the end. As I began to get therapy for events from my childhood it turned out that hiding and forgetting was not an effective way of dealing with those events. I had to relive them, again. This was probably more frustrating for my therapists than it even was for me, as I was told again and again that pushing away the memories would only make my #C-PTSD worse. But the focus on just being functional made it easy to ignore, once I was back in a job where I could pour my time and attention into something complex. (This 13-26 week cap that Medicaid puts on the number of sessions is yet another reason that we need full #UniversalHealthCare for everyone. Complex cases of many illnesses require long-term therapy that, when covered, will make for a healthier work force and population, not just the functional-to-panic-back-to-functionality roller coaster that kills so much time and so many people, in the end…)

The final straw arrived when the regional economy took a dive, sending myself and the vast majority of people I knew out of work. Some went to California, and I went overseas for work. In a new country and environment, stress flared up, and so did my panic anxiety. But this time I had to talk to a therapist in a language I was only just beginning to learn. As it turned out, I was finally able to access a good bit of the emotional content, while remaining present and able to stem the tide of anxiety during each session. As we began to unpack more of the childhood memories I’d been avoiding, being forced to express myself in a language I was still learning appeared to keep me emotionally distanced enough to prevent being pulled completely into the pain of the original event. When I came back to the USA, I found in California that having a Mexican therapist allowed us to switch from my native English, which was required to access the full emotion of the memory, into Spanish. So when she needed to lower the intensity level of the session, but keep me in the memory, she would switch into Spanish, distancing me just enough from the experience to process it. Who would have thought that #learning a #language could help in this case? But, it did.

So, what would Astérix do? He’d ask the Druid Panoramix, who would say: Il faut #ArreterdeFumer tout de suite !!

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure & #‎StopSmoking for COVID-19
ShiraDest

April, 12020 HE

Smoking: a public health Menace and a private Inferno

In an earlier blog article related to this global pandemic, the #coronavirus, also known as covid-19, I pointed out that allowing accurate news coverage of public health information is vital for public safety. This point is illustrated by season 2, episode 13 of Spanish Public Television series El Ministerio del Tiempo. But what is not mentioned in the episode is the danger posed by smokers to those who are either ill or recovering from a virus, particularly one like the current malady, which attacks the lungs, much like SARS. For anyone who has allergies, asthma, any sort of lung-based or respiratory illness, or even merely a common cold, cigar or cigarette smoke, or even marijuana for those who are also sensitive to it, creates further breathing difficulty, hampering recovery. Thus, a public health problem is aggravated by smoking anywhere within at least a 20 ft. But that does not take into account the other side of smoking: the personal side.

For many individuals, suffering from anything from emphysema to asthma, the hazards of smoking, both first and second-hand, are clear. But there is another side, which is not as often seen. For survivors of long term very early childhood abuse, cigarette or marijuana smoke can often trigger unwanted memories, flight/flight/freeze reactions, or even panic attacks. And to confuse the matter further, the very survivors may not even realize the source or the connection between smoke and their anxiety or panic reactions.

One survivor of very early and long-lasting childhood abuse explained it this way, when asked why the mere smell of cigarette smoke could make anyone panic:

“As long as I can remember, I have always flinched, or had the urge to run and hide (which we now call the fight, flight, or panic response), at the slightest smells of cigarette or marijuana smoke. As I sat in a place where there was strictly prohibited smoking, having been reassuring by a manager on the property that someone would find the source of the cigarette smoke right way, I relaxed for a moment and closed my eyes.

I suddenly found myself a 4-year old back in a place I never want to live again in a dark room sitting on the floor, hoping that the person with the cigarette would keep walking past the door. As the door opens can I come back to a memory of being asked for forgiveness many years later. Reasons for never given, but in my gut, I knew immediately.

What my gut knew, when I was in my late 20s, took me until I was 51 years old to come up to my conscious mind. It happened at 3 in the morning on a day when I finally feel reassured by someone that I would be protected. Not from the cigarette smoke, but from the person carrying the cigarette.”

So, please, for the good of those suffering with the novel Coronavirus, and also for the good of those suffering with buried memories triggered by smoke, please help all of us to be healthy, and stop smoking.

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

March, 12020 HE

Persist: review of a good but difficult book

Stronger Than You KnowStronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first person #YAlit novela (a bit short for a novel, I imagine) was both very hard-hitting in its accuracy, and very hope-giving, if a bit too much so, perhaps, in the ending. I find myself agreeing with another reviewer about the timeline being too short for certain things, but I can understand or imagine that the author wanted to give hope and encouragement, and teenagers have very short attention-spans and time-line perspectives, in general.

For me, this was a difficult read emotionally because it had me reliving events from my own early childhood and teenage years, and the earliest were the worst, as the ending of the book brought the external and internal conflicts together in ways that confirmed my own experiences very uncomfortably. But this is a very important work, and it is crucial to persist.

View all my reviews

Review of a book worth reading

The Female of the SpeciesThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, #TheFemaleOfTheSpecies, written in first person and present tense for all three PoV characters, is a book which is both difficult to read, and also cathartic. There are also some really good zingers, funny lines and situations, believe it or not, and some really spot-on descriptions of the humanity of one of the main characters from whom you’d not expect human warmth. I can only hope that I can make such a contribution one day, but if I manage to publish a book half as good as this crucial work by @MindyMcGinnis, I will feel my writing career to have been worthwhile.

I noticed that this was not her debut novel, and that the author seems to have had a bit of a time getting her agent to push for this work, which spent 15 years in a drawer. That tells me that these types of books are either coming into their time, now, after the ME TOO movement, or that I’d best better start with more light and fluffy novels until I get established as a fiction author. Either way, I am grateful and glad that McGinnis kept this work, and got it to see the light of day after all those years in the dark. In publishing this book, she has also helped many of us to believe that we can come out of the dark, as well, if not entirely whole.

(Reminds me of the female MC of Purgatoire des innocents English review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show… )

View all my reviews

How crucial it is to believe in The Good

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Upon reading again, I see that she uses the omniscient story-tellers voice more than I thought, in the first book, to excellent effect.

I find it amazing that Rowling managed to include child neglect, child abuse or bullying, ptsd and drugs all in one book, without coming off as preachy, and even giving it a happy ending. Then, managing to get kids to read it!

I only hope that my WIP can accomplish half as much, one day.
Shira, of The MEOW Community Cooperation Blog,
William-James-MEOW Date: 16 September 12014 H.E. (Holocene/Human Era)

View all my reviews

Reasons to keep a journal…

particularly if you marry when under duressif you marry when under duress or suicidality: 

Never trust someone, even if you have known him for seven years, who tells you that “All I want is your trust,” and “I will be your doctor” in response to your plea for help with ptsd and nightmares, when you are ill and have no income.

first

 

FirstShakeJY16Nov
First time spouse shook me

Second:

2ndShake1Feb2016
second time spouse shook me, even more violently

Why work and walk, when being who you were born still hurts

This is an off-the-cuff post, as I need to get this off my chest in order to concentrate on the book (A-Train…) I am reviewing and the one I am writing, but this cuts into both like a hot rusty knife. The jagged edges left from the taunts of the kids in kindergarten and 1st grade of how I must be white because my mother is dating a White man, and my skin is so light, I look like a little wild indian.
Of dark-skinned girls saying how I had “that good hair” while not letting my play double dutch with them, and of feeling grateful to the one girl who “took up for me” in school for a short while.

And for another short while there was my mother’s Jewish roommate Susanna, the 18 year old who took me everywhere, while my mother was out with her White boyfriend every weekend, and often weekdays as well. The one adult who never said “stop asking so many questions!” Yet the one adult who really showed the fear I lived with: a NY police officer pulled us over and she looked at me

-don’t say anything smart alecy, because this cop is going to think you are my daughter, so he is going to think I’m dating a Black guy.

A that moment, I knew. There really was no place for me in this world, and there never would be.

Through all of the moves to different projects and evictions, through sleeping in cars, begging to be let back into the school program I’d been in before … then even while staying in a Black professor’s apartment as she traveled to Africa, grateful to have a place to stay that week before my internship, I knew I had no place in this world. And I knew that it would always be that way: too light-skinned to be included by most of my fellow Black people, even within my own family (“you know M. only tolerated your mother because she was so light-skinned” -thanks, Uncle…), but always reminded by the white folks, like my first day of school in VA, that I am a “nigger,” and nothing will change that constant outsider-ness. Not even fleeing to another religion.

But I can try to help make this world a place where skin color and connections matter less. A world where no one ever sleeps on the street or fears for his or her safety, and thus a world where who you were born only means who your friends might (or might not) be, but doesn’t mean you are out on the street or fear for your safety.

So I work and I walk: I work for the Universal Basic Income that Dr. Martin Luther King called for, so that no child, black or white, ever has to fear the police just because of skin color, and no person ever has to sleep on the street for any reason, or go hungry, or come with hat in hand to ask anyone else for food, clothing, shelter or money for basic needs (and yes, a basic phone is also a basic need, as is free decent Public Transpo and Universal Health Care).

And I walk because a car (which I will admit to having fears of driving due to my PTSD, but I could usually keep that under control enough to pull over, back when I used to drive) also divides us economically, and any car takes money from public transportation. Yes, I am also lucky to be able to walk. And grateful. Ok, back to reading and writing…
Peace,
Destinie (Shira… ? really?)
yes: Shira

Back-posting this so it shows only to my Readers… Written on Monday, March 11th, 12019 HE…

The Bright side of PTSD: become a Body Guard?

Smells, noises or lights can suddenly awaken some of us, and refuse to let us sleep until identified. Long-lasting childhood traumas can leave your Inner Child reluctant to come out from under the coffee table. Some ideas, illustrated by examples from historical and fictional sages, may help your Inner Parent to teach safety and trust to that Frightened Inner Child so that your Inner Adult, your competent and ambitious self who’d rather ignore both Child and Parent, can get on with succeeding in life.

First, one possible intrepretation of Hillel’s famous pair of questions:
A. אם אין אני לי, מי לי (Im ein ani li, mi li: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me,”) is that each of us must parent and protect his or her own inner child, and

B. ? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני ; (Vekesh’ani le’atzmi, mah ani ? “And if I am only for myself, what am I?”), also stand with others who have been wounded.

Second, if, like Harry Potter, you’ve sustained significant losses in your life, even very early on, is there someone you can recall, or as Harry uses to conjure his first #Patronus, even some imaginary memory, showing love or kindness, even if from or to a stranger just for a moment? Your Inner Parent can use that image to show your Inner Child that there is hope for this world, and that is worth holding on to and fighting for, to motivate your ambitious Inner Adult to keep going. This is being for yourself in the most crucial way: parenting yourself through the panic and soothing those constantly jangled nerves until you learn to trust life. Then your ambitious and centered Inner Adult can take it from there to build the life you want to live.

Third, if, like Amelia, you see that it would be safer to give up than to fight, perhaps your Inner Adult can take the lead, having learned by watching your Inner Parent defend your own Inner Child, that sometimes an adult must sacrifice to create a better world for all Human Children. And like Feruze Hatun, healing all those around you may come at a high personal cost, but honesty and love, even shown to our enemies, as Gandhi and Dr. King proved, can indeed defeat hate, and bring you greater self-confidence and feelings of security.

So, warrior like Amelia or Intergenerational Community Parent to all, like Feruze Hatun, or just competent, capable, and knitting lots of hats for House Elves like Hermione, parenting yourself can lead to parenting others , for the good of All Humankind. Or you could still become a Body Guard.

Some more of my thoughts on how local government Policy such as accepting part of local taxes in local currencies/Time Dollars can help stimulate local community employment and inclusion for PTSD survivors are found in my related paper on Building Community and the crucial role of Intergenerational Participation in Community : Shavuot (Pentacost) as one of four Biblical pillars of building community.

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !
ShiraDest
My books on Economic and Social Policy: Shared Monetary Governance, and Stayed on Freedom’s Call…

September 10th, 12017 HE
Community4BiblicalPillarsShavuot

Relating PTSD, homelessness and debt to lessons not learned in youth: do we need studies?

What we need our children to prove, for recognition of adulthood, is not their prowess in battle or the hunt, not their virility, not their adeptness at social maneuvering, but their ability to contribute meaningfully to society by teaching another person, from level 0, how to do something that is both difficult and absolutely neccessary in our society today. By requiring our pre-adults to teach some other person a needed life skill, over the course of at least a year, that pre-adult shows persistence, perseverence, discernment, and of course, the skill in question.

Thus we provide an esteem building excercise and respect building accomplishment which we then reward with full adult status, whatever the age of the pre-adult in question. This obviously assumes that the person has had opportunity to prove his or her good judgement in other ways as well, prior to seeking adulthood recognition. This might help as one step of a series of steps implemented by and through local communities which could lead to more long-term thinking in society at large, given a critical mass and good faith in the ability of humankind to rise above our instincts, and learn to cooperate.  Certain pre-requisites should apply: knowledge of emotional, financial and physical self-defense.

Tying into emotional challenges like PTSD, pre-adults must learn how to communicate non-violently, manage their own emotions and prevent emotional manipulation, which eases the recognition and treatment of difficult past traumatic disorders.   Homelessness and debt both relate to issues of financial self-defense, by which I mean the ability not only to balance a check book and write up a home budget, but also to avoid falling victim to scams of all sorts, as well as the ability to plan for long-range problems like job-loss, or illness, etc.
Hence the post I mentioned developing the idea of an Adulthood Rite of Passage:

First elaborated here: https://network23.org/communitycoop/2014/04/17/pre-adulthood-adults-and-rites-of-passage/ with an annoyingly trivializing comment, and then here:

http://adulthoodchallenge.dreamwidth.org/318.html , with more extensive conversations.

Then the prerequisites which are essentially being able to defend oneself physically, financially, and emotionally:

http://meowdate.dreamwidth.org/6177.html but more cleanly written (w/ref. to V. Frankl, also) here: https://network23.org/communitycoop/2014/06/27/am-i-an-adult-part-1-definition/

(A useful side effect of this idea is that it would effectively increase the number of available tutors, and also lead to every adult in our society coming away with an understanding of the challenges involved in teaching anyone anything non-trivial.)

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !
ShiraDest
May 7th, 12017 HE

1.1.12018 update:  and scans of my long-term project (The Adulthood Challenge project) to build a movement in 4 parts toward Roosevelts Four Freedoms…)

MyMissionPlanGrid1

MyMissionPlanGrid2

Under Stress? Remember your Dreams!

My personal dream has always been to save lives, and  I hold on to my dream: to become a Volunteer Firefighter.
(My dream for the world is to see a Tiny House or at least a small well-insulated room with kitchenette and bathroom, with potable water, green vegetables, brown rice and dried beans and solar/windpower with backup pedal power for every man, woman and child over maybe, the age of 10, world wide, free for that person’s use from birth to his/her death with no charge, no questions, and no way to lose that right.)

Then I journal, walk, run or plan (esp. for my training for the fire-fighter’s test:  41MarathonVert2016 ) and work some more.

Peace,

 

Read, Write, Run, Teach !

ShiraDest
7 February, 12016 HE

updated with my Dream for the World:
Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

ShiraDest
22 February, 12016 HE

(update:  after 3 weeks off for the start of an intensified job search, I am bumping down to a Half-Marathon…)
Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

ShiraDest
23 March, 12016 HE