August 26, 2019 at 10:59 am #309381
I have had PTSD for the last 20 years and only discovered this myself 3 years ago.(I was raped by a work colleague more than 20 years ago at work).In the last 3 years alot has happened. Just as I started to work on myself to recover from PTSD I got Leukemia end of 2017. I have thankfully been in remission for the last year and a half. Even though going through the cancer alone and without support (this aloneness came from the long term PTSD which resulted in being socially isolated)was awful it was the making of me.I decided in that moment that I wanted to live and I wanted to be there for myself. I still look back now and wonder how I survived with a genuine sense of humour and no inkling of self pity those intense 6 months of daily ward isolation, infections, chemo and being in /out of hospital almost everyday.
But since then my recovery and emotional healing has taken on a life of it’s own. However I still feel exasperated that I feel paralysed about being able to create a new life. I still feel so stuck.I know that is still a part of the PTSD and I still have alot of buried emotions I need to unpack and deal with.I have goals and I am now working on reparenting myself and giving myself the love,care,validation and support I never got from my parents. I have been doing so much inner child work and the results have left me feeling joyous. But while all this amazing stuff is going on inside me my outer life has seen some movements but I still feel overwhelmed because I have to work on rebuilding all areas of my life. But I am 49 years and the last 20 years of my life have been what I call living numbed out in “zombie land”, just surviving and trying to run from the pain as fast as I could. I know most people would struggle undertaking my journey with help and support in their lives but I have done this alone and it’s not something I am proud of. I am trying to learn that it is okay to feel worthy for good things, but deep down inside I struggle to ask for help and get help, so I land up taking on my burdens by myself. It’s exhausting. I want to have a life of joy again, with all the good things most people take for granted.I want to let other people in but that all starts by me allowing myself to stop abandoning myself. It starts with me being ready and willing to be vulnerable with myself, but it is hard when I never got that from the people around me growing up. I have no idea what I am doing, but just following my intuition one step at a time.I had doubts for so long that this journey would take me anywhere worthwhile, I thought I was just a sucker for self punishment, however now I know that this path has a beautiful destination and that very soon I will be able to see that.It will probably deliver more than I could possibly imagine in my wildest dreams. I don’t know how I know this I just do, but for now I am struggling to get my outer reality back on track and do all the inner work at the same time. Any insights would be welcome, I would welcome any encouraging words to keep me going. I have never done this, so this is very new for me,BUT I thought it would be good to start reaching out to others in whichever way I could muster….August 26, 2019 at 11:42 am #309391
Dear Shae Hepburn:
“I feel paralysed about being able to create a new life… I have to work on rebuilding all areas of my life”- it reads like an overwhelming task, to rebuild all areas of one’s life. Feeling overwhelmed with too much to do .. and we do nothing at all, feeling paralyzed.
You survived a whole lot, alone. You are a strong woman and you did well.
“to create a new life”- what is your vision of a new life, for you?
It so happens that my user name is new life, I too wanted a new life. As I think of it now, of what it meant to me when I chose this name, the words that come to my mind are to be Free and to Love-and-Be-Loved. Freedom from the shame and guilt that rained on my parade for decades, bringing into my old life misery of incredible proportions. It was my dream to be free of shame and guilt.
I wonder what new life means to you.
anitaAugust 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm #309399
Anita thank you for your post and the kind words. In answer to your question. For me a new life is about reclaiming my true self, it’s about being able to redefine myself and live my life on my own terms without genuinely not caring about what others think. It’s about expressing my creativity and creating wildly and with abandoned joy in my heart and leaving that signature of me behind for all to see.It’s about loving and being loved without holding back but most importantly getting that right with the relationship with myself. And finally it is about understanding and learning at a deep visceral level the worth of who I am in those moments of pain and darkness and that in the end I didn’t have to do anything to be of value to myself, I just had to exist.
Did you get your new life? How was it for you?August 26, 2019 at 12:20 pm #309401
Dear Shae Hepburn:
You are welcome. I haven’t thought about my user name for so long; was reminded of it by your use of the words, new life. I know I will need to think about your question as the day progresses because I am not very focused at this time of the day. So I will return to your thread later on.
You wrote in your recent post: “it’s about being able to.. live my life on my own terms.. not caring about what others think… without holding back”-
I ask because I would like to understand better (when I return to the computer and to your thread later on, maybe as long as tomorrow morning): if you didn’t care at all what other people think, if you didn’t hold back, what is it specifically that you will do that you are not doing now- or if it is something that you are already doing, how will you do it differently?
anitaAugust 26, 2019 at 12:54 pm #309403
Dear Shae Hepburn:
I have an answer for you earlier that I expected: the way my New Life is turning out to be (still in progress) is this:
My New Life= My Old Life minus Shame, Guilt & Anxiety.
What is left is just that, Life. No different from the life of animals in the wild (not those in captivity such as in zoos and enclosed in farms and food production facilities)-
Just that: life- The dog wagging its tail, the rabbit escaping danger zig-zagging its way, the bee gathering nectar, the rooster calling the chickens and so forth.
anitaAugust 26, 2019 at 1:06 pm #309405
*And a little more, maybe it is something you can relate to: that trauma in the CPTSD you mentioned, my trauma- that which happens to the child when the child doesn’t see it coming, the hurt, the betrayal. You know the innocence of a child, before knowing what life is like, before conceiving the idea that there is such a thing as betrayal of trust-
the child unprepared, not seeing it coming, soft to the world and then it happens, the betrayal, penetrating hard into the soft tissue (the child didn’t build up scar tissue yet.. didn’t know, didn’t see it coming)- it hits so hard, so deep that the world loses its color, all seems gloomy, back and white. No color. I think it is that zombie state you mentioned.
In that black-and-white, no color world, everything is different, cut off.. and one wants to die, I tis to dark, to gloomy, nothing to look forward to.
New Life is about getting life back, seeing-in-color, the pain and the joy, all emerge from underneath.
Isn’t it amazing how we die while still alive and yet Life is such a strong natural force, stubborn, passionate, it survives the heartaches, it still wants to maintain itself.
anitaAugust 27, 2019 at 6:54 am #309431
My heart breaks to read this.. I have been diagnosed with PTSD in the last year following a trauma back in the summer of 2018 and it has been one hell of a journey since..
It is so difficult reading stories from people like yourself who are still experiencing the struggles of the condition many years later.
If you do indeed enjoy journalling or sharing stories with people with similar experiences I would highly recommend visiting http://www.myptsd.com – it has been a life saviour for me when I couldn’t have felt more secluded from the world!
You have come a long way, you are incredible and deserve all the very best in this world!
I am wishing you loads of light and healing now and always!August 27, 2019 at 7:47 am #309445InkyParticipant
Hi Shae Hepburn,
One way to get your power back is to press charges against the man who raped you. Yes, they will TRY to shame you during a trial. But after your fight with leukemia, NOTHING can get you! Understand? NOTHING!! Leukemia is a tough bastard. It took my cousins, two other tough bastards. If you survived, YOU are tougher!
But take it from me, blowing the whistle on these creeps is totally worth it. You are protecting other women. You become the living embodiment of karma in their lifetime. They will be scared $hitless. And bonus! The cowards always (ALWAYS) try to settle out of court so you are ripping money from their pockets as a favor so they won’t go to trial. If the statutes of limitation is up, you still can ALWAYS have your lawyer give them a good scare.
InkyAugust 27, 2019 at 3:31 pm #309485
Anita thank you for your input it is appreciated.
Kkasxo I am so sorry to hear about your PTSD.Yes I am aware of myptsd website ,it’s one of the many tools I used during my recovery. I hope you have recovered?
Inky thank you for your words. Unfortunately I was in Amsterdam during a team building weekend for work and when the rape happened my manager put me on the first plane home to London and when I later tried to go through the Victims Tribunal in Belgium they would not take action because I did not report it to the police in Amsterdam. So he got away with it and I feel awful about it, however at the time I did all I could even tried to take action here, but again without the report to the police in Amsterdam nothing happened.I did want to go to the police but my manager (who was also a woman) was more concerned about her job and thought it was the best thing for me to do was return home. I was in a bad way and did that.I appreciate what you said however I think I have paid back in kind for how my life has gone the last 20 years:I think for me taking my power about is about healing me, something that is long overdue. The best revenge I can have is to be happy and have a good life. While I do feel bad that I was not able to prevent him from doing this to other women, I cannot change the past and what happened. What I can do is concentrate on getting my life back on track. I am sure the rapist will have to deal with his own karma.
I have no doubt that the bitterness, anger and rage I felt for him doing this to me contributed to me getting the cancer and so I made the decision to be kind to myself and that means dealing with my emotions differently.August 28, 2019 at 2:44 am #309503
It is brilliant isn’t it?! For someone like myself who never struggled with mental health, suddenly being hit with trauma and PTSD was a complete shock to the system and for a long time I felt really isolated, almost as though I am actually going crazy! I had no idea who I was, why I was the way I was, why I did things the way I did.. and then coming across the website and seeing people share their experiences was like a God send for me, I am in fact not crazy at all!
It sounds to me as though you have come a long way. And I do agree with the fact that whilst the events and aftermath of your trauma may not have prevented him doing this to other women, you are in no way responsible for whether that happens or not.. You have enough on your plate and you need to heal in the way that you see fit.
It is interesting that you say you believe the bitterness and rage you felt at that time in your life contributed to you being poorly.. It’s actually a concept I often explored myself many many times as I noticed my body shutting down on me, I think there may be some truth in that.
Now I know I am nowhere near where you are in my recovery at all, but having done extensive trauma therapy, reading, journalling etc I think the one thing I have learnt is that PTSD and the recovery from trauma is really all a journey. And one hell of a journey at that! I think everyday you try and explore with new ways to heal, work through triggers, reminder dates etc and it kinda just becomes a way of life in the end? That idea does fill me with sadness sometimes as you do kinda just feel broken? Like unfixable?
I think you’ve done incredibly well to be where you are at today, acknowledging that you need to be kind to yourself and keep working on healing! You are extremely brave, well done you!
I’d love to hear more from you and I’m absolutely rooting for you!August 28, 2019 at 4:20 am #309505
Kkasxo I loved your last post! I related to what you said because like you, I never had any mental health issues before. I was a relatively happy child(despite the childhood issues) and later adult. I think for me it was my sense of safety being taken away from me, which even now I still struggle with in terms of triggers and anxiety. Yes my nervous system has calmed down significantly because now I can feel, when I was just numbed out for years, but gosh it’s just been relentlessly hard work to get to where I am right now. And like you I struggled for years understanding what was wrong with me? Why did it feel like parts of me were missing? Was I going crazy? So yes the website was helpful to me too,reading Michele Rosenthal’s books helped me understand what I was going through too, as did the books and research into neuroscience. I am afraid therapy has not helped me because I haven’t really found anyone who understood how good trauma therapy works. It’s just been alot of therapists asking me to talk endlessly.
I tell you what is strange: I have spent so long living,breathing, walking and talking my PTSD recovery that it feels like that is all my life is about. I didn’t identify with the cancer and yet it is hard for me NOT to identify with PTSD because it has cost me so much and has taken up so much of my life. BUT I relate to what you said about the brokeness and being unfixable. I dealt with that too and I KNOW that a part of me which is my soul is whole and needs no fixing and that feeling of being broke and unfixable is just the ego feeling shattered because all it thought it knew before was a lie. But I think the gift in that is that if you can work through that then life is giving you a chance to really connect with you ARE deep down inside on a soul level. Oh my gosh, that has been so true for me. But the most important thing I did was make the decision that no therapist or other person is going to tell me whether I can heal or not from the PTSD, because I have made the decision that not only will I overcome I will thrive. These 20 years have to count for something, seeing as it came at such a high price.
I think you’re amazing and I think that one thing all of us going through trauma have in common is that deep down inside we are magnificent. PTSD is not for wimps, or the faint hearted it is for people who ultimately have a choice to make: do they succumb to the tatters that trauma has left them with or do they dig deep within their souls and realise they were just butterflies waiting to metamorph into something quite free and beautiful! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words which touched me so deep, because it seems like we have so many similarities in our journey. What I want to know is how do you cope when things get tough, bleak and hopeless?
P.S.I journal too btw.August 28, 2019 at 6:09 am #309523
I cannot even tell you how much I can relate my journey to yours – and it’s in that I find incredible how our minds can be oh so complex and yet many of us have such similar experiences!
The idea of the ego shattering because all we ever knew to be true is actually false is SO accurate! I think that hit me hard post-trauma. It was literally like my entire world as I knew it fell apart, and in fact it did. I had to start everything from scratch but the biggest aspect of it all was completely not recognising the person looking back at me in the mirror! Like getting to know someone completely new and different..
I think you’re absolutely right, PTSD really isn’t for wimps. It takes so much strength to keep going on a daily basis, to re build your entire world from scratch, to deal with triggers..
For me I definitely hit rock bottom before anything got even remotely better. I was in an extremely bad place for a long time but the one thing that really hit me when finishing up my trauma therapy is that she kindly mentioned the fact that even when I had 0 will to keep going, I always came to our sessions discussing the new read I’ve started, or the new research I did into my trauma etc, it’s like despite feeling hopeless I never really gave up on myself, I kept trying without even knowing it.
For a long long time I ran away from everything trauma related. I isolated myself from everyone because I had no understanding of myself, so I couldn’t possibly explain what is happening to anyone else. I distracted myself from the depth of my feelings at any given opportunity as when I didn’t I spiralled into what I call a ‘dark place’, in a nutshell I really didn’t want to exist anymore.. in addition to that my anxiety was sky high, my heart felt like it was gonna jump out of my chest most days which obviously wasn’t helping at all. The feeling of fear, a complete lack of safety or anything stable to hold on to in my life engulfed me.
It wasn’t until I consciously decided that withdrawing from the world was no longer serving me and I had to face up to my trauma and the pain associated with it that things got slightly better.
It got way worse before it got better but I am thankful that I haven’t visited the dark place in some 4/5 months now.
I still very much have bad days, of course, in fact now being where I am it is even more disheartening when I have a week of okay and then a day full of fear, anxiety, panic and it’s like a nasty reminder that I am in fact not entirely okay and maybe I’ll never be… it’s all a process and learning curve and I do think that maybe it will just be a way of life. Maybe it’s not something that is ever going to go away, but rather become something I learn to live with?
I recently had an anniversary trigger date and that was a particularly tough time for me. I kinda fell into the withdrawal thing (survival mechanisms eh) and had to quickly remind myself that that is not how we do things around here anymore. So I sat and I cried and I journaled and I felt it all. And I felt terrible for days but eventually it wasn’t as intense anymore and the days got a little lighter.
I think on my bad days now I try to just enjoy the small things. A good series on Netflix, fresh bed sheets, a hot bath, a good cup of coffee. Keep myself busy enough to not let anxiety eat me up BUT not so busy that I am unable to process and then it all hits me late at night. I sit and I hope that it’ll pass.. and walks in nature! Long walks in nature! I couldn’t recommend it more! It’s probably the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed but it does work!
I know what its like to feel as though you may have hit a brick wall in your recovery and the thoughts of ‘is this all there is to my life?’ Take over but look at you though, you will not only survive but thrive! This is incredible! Those are very powerful words and I am in absolute awe of you!
I am so happy to have you here on this forum! You are incredible, you have immense strength and you give me hope! So thank you!August 28, 2019 at 10:27 am #309561
Kkasxo I am so sorry to hear that you think you might have to live with the PTSD. I know it is hard to overcome it but it is not impossible. Thank you for all your kind words but please consider just how much you have overcome yourself. It is heartwarming to know you never gave up on yourself. I just wish my journey had not been as long and so lead to cancer as my wake up call. Because it just made it all so much harder,but again not impossible. When I feel inclined to feel sorry for myself I like to remind myself that on some level I must have chosen all these experiences to learn and grow and then I feel my heart swell up with awe and gratitude and I feel truly blessed. I honestly do not know what kept me going most of my dark times except for a steely determination, even down to finding out I had PTSD in the first place. Even down to “resetting” myself which has been a skill I value the most learning for myself. (it works by me mentally and emotionally rebooting myself and ensuring that if I have a bad day this does not turn into weeks or months. It’s working as now my bad days last a few hours and not even full days) And now most days I wake up and I feel mood wise amazing even though my body still aches. I know that clearly I have worked on my mind and it’s paying off however my body is telling me I need to unpack the pain and let it go, which is what I am doing write now. Maybe most people wouldn’t have bothered if they were in my shoes, but like you,I have never given up on myself. Please hold onto that, because you deserve to be happy and to thrive. I am so grateful you responded to my post. In these brief moments you made me feel less alone and more hopeful that I am on the right track. Please stay in touch if you would like.