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Finding myself again

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  • #350534
    Mima37
    Participant

    I wasn’t sure where to put this within the forums so I hope this is ok here.

    I’ve not posted here in a long time but some may remember me. I experienced a trauma in 2012 when my brother attacked me and my mother and sisters hurled abuse after abuse for 2 years afterwards as I refused to forgive him. I was struggling with trauma, agoraphobia and anxiety. I saw a therapist for a few years following and it was there we realised I’d had trauma since childhood but it didn’t hit me until what happened with my brother. I then realised how mentally and emotionally abusive my whole life had been with them. I cut my family out completely 4 years ago and I’ve not seen my mum since then. Which makes me feel guilty but she let me down, my health deteriorated as I was diagnosed with CFS/ME in 2016 and my mother refused to support me or even just send a text to check how I was. That was when I found the strength to stop her hurting me and me begging for my mum to show she cared. We now text in the last year and we’re ok better terms but will I ever see her again, I don’t know if I will ever be ready for that.

    I have had the CFS since 2016 but I had a better year in 2017 but then my best friend walked out of my life, she was my only real friend as I lost 2 after I was attacked as I couldn’t go out and  they just didn’t understand and cut contact. My best friend 2 years ago suddenly cut me off, she had been distant and quite rude to me on and off all the year before which was so out of character. I can only guess she didn’t want to have a friend with CFS, other than that I had no idea as we were always so close and never had an argument.  Then in early 2018 she cut contact and I tried to reach out and she ignored me. It broke me and it led to all the trauma finally catching up with me.

    I broke mentally and had a complete breakdown with 12 hour panic affable daily for a year which of course led to severe CFS/ME and I was bed ridden. The guilt I was struggling, and as I’m a mum to 3 teens and a wife the guilt les to depression. I’d never suffered depression. It was a hard and horrible year but last year I came through it. I still have the CFS affects of that year full of adrenaline and I am at home all the time and have to rest but I’m better than I was that year. I’m proud of that. My GP said I’d stayed strong to keep my children happy, trips out every day, holidays etc despite having agoraphobia after the assault and I kept going to make my children have a good childhood. Even with CFS I did that but then once my friend cut me off I broke down. It was another loss, it was like someone died. I’d lost my grandmother 3 months before I was assaulted and my GP said it was all too much loss and in 2018 it all caught up on me and I couldn’t stay strong and hide things anymore.

    I am doing ok now, I’m pretty much housebound even before coronavirus but I was making good progress with the CFS and my anxiety is mild to moderate now and I don’t have panic attacks anymore. I’ve come a long way from where I was 2 years ago. I still though keep getting flare ups of mild depression which my Gp says are situational. I don’t feel sad or low at all, nothing like when I had it 2 year’s ago. I always laugh and joke, don’t cry much but I’m an emotional woman, I feel things deeply, I’m a real empath that’s for sure lol. It’s more I’ve lost all interest in my hobbies and my emotions feel flat. I know I love my family but my emotions feel flat so I can’t feel it like I did, my gp says this is normal and how much I care for my family and worry about them, feeling guilt etc proves how much I love them. She’s right, I adore them, it’s just like my sparkle in my stomach has gone, my drive and I liken it to a flat battery.

    What I’m hating is I’ve lost all interest for my hobbies. I used to love reading books on law of attraction, Buddhism and spirituality. I loved my crystals and meditation. I did very gentle yoga. I’d watch inspirational YouTube videos and videos on recovery from CFS etc and I’d love to make a plan, and write notes on how I could work on myself. It’s as though this last few months that part of me has gone. It’s as though I’ve lost my drive and I’ve a flat battery where my sparkle in my stomach used to be. I used to wake up excited to do my hobbies but now I don’t feel anything for them good or bad, It’s so strange. I miss that little spiritual person I was, excited to do my moon rituals, learn more about my interests and have my own instagram sharing nice quotes and getting inspiration. It’s unlike me. I lost this drive in 2018 but that was only because I was in a constant panic attack where as this I’m not and it’s just as though I’ve lost my little spiritual sparkle.

    Im just wondering if anyone’s experienced this and what I can do to try and get that part of me back? I’m finding it hard to not let it upset me. I get my books out daily, say I will start reading one but I’ve got so many I don’t know where to start, which would be best for me in my situation. Say I will watch the videos on YouTube I used to watch, but I never do. It has got worse since the coronavirus as my minds been on that and caring for my family. Many I guess are the same around even world right now. This though for me started about November time when my son was struggling in school. His group of best friends turned to drugs and he didn’t want to be involved in it so he was pushed out of the group, he became anxious  about school and it was a very hard time. My stress levels went up as I felt so worried about him all the time and that’s when this anhedonia started. I googled and that’s what it’s called lol.

    He is ok now, he’s finished school and his exams cancelled due to the virus. He’s doing well but he’s had no friends since what happened so of course I still worry about him and my husband thinks that’s what’s flared up this in me to lose my hobbies and sparkle for them, as I’ve been in constant worry about him and worrying will he end up struggling to go out after the virus as he had no friends in his final year and he was struggling with that. My husband says he’s fine and I worry too much, we will support him once the virus is over and gradually build his confidence again. He’s a lovely boy and talks daily to his friends on the Pc playing games  laughing and joking and has lots of fun on his PC games. He texts a girl he was close to in school so he has that connection but he won’t ever talk about his old group of friends as it makes him anxious looking back.  I’m sure when he’s ready he will get an apprenticeship when the economy settles again in the UK and he has a wonderful family supporting him. He’s 16, rest of his life ahead of him. I just never wanted any of my children to end up like me having had anxiety and struggling to go out when my brother assaulted me and now with the CFS.  You just want better for your children and my husband has to remind me our son is not going to end up like that and that’s my own fears making me worry about him becoming agoraphobic or socially anxious etc I’m sure he is right and he will go back to his paper round after lockdown and I will see he is ok and this hasn’t lockdown and what happened in school hasn’t affected him like I fear.

    Sorry for going off course but I think maybe all that worry for my son is  what’s led to me losing myself and my hobbies. Sorry this got long. I just needed to let this out of my head as I’m desperate to find my little spiritual self again. Any tips  on how to find my joy for my hobbies again and find my spiritual self are most appreciated.

    Ju

    • This topic was modified 5 months ago by Mima37.
    #350540
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mima37:

    Welcome back. Your husband reads like a loving, supportive husband. As you probably know, your kids will be better if they believed you don’t worry so much about them. Children want their mother to be okay, content. So do your best, again, to help yourself. Don’t pressure yourself to enjoy the activities you enjoyed before. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you feel.

    Be gentle and patient with yourself, do not put pressure on yourself  that is not necessary.

    Let your son recover from his social crisis without being further burdened by the idea that his problem is making you miserable.

    Remind yourself that there is so little in the world that you can change: from the current global pandemic, to .. the global drug crisis.. all the way to your son’s former friends turning to drugs.

    The Serenity prayer:”.. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

    anita

    #350550
    Mima37
    Participant

    Thank you Anita,

    You’re right, I shall definitely do that and stop pressuring myself. I’m doing other things right now, trying to keep my family safe and happy. I’m doing enough.

    I don’t tell my son I’m worried or anxious about him, but I know what you mean. I do ask him how he is about 1000 times a day. I just annoy him. I just ask it in passing but he will know I’m concerned. I voice it to y husband or it goes around my head all day my worries.

    Thank you for welcoming me back.

    #350554
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mima37:

    I am glad that you are back, and you are welcome to stay for as long as you want to, post anytime, and I will be glad to reply to you.

    “I’m doing enough” reads good enough to me!

    If you don’t ask your son how he is “about 1000 times a day”, he will be better of. Ask him once a day, maybe?

    * I just came back from my daily walk, and it occurred to me as I walked that something I posted to another member today may be helpful to you. Here it is: “Expressive Therapy is about using the creative arts (drawing, painting, collage, clay, music, movement/dancing, drama) as a form of expression and healing.

    Unlike traditional arts, that require skill and talent, and that emphasize performing in front of an audience, or exhibiting art to an audience, expressive/ art therapy is not  about performing to an audience, or about a final product to be exhibited in a museum. And you don’t have to be skilled or talented. Expressive/ Art Therapy is about.. expressing our emotions so to heal and to maintain your health.

    in a website: innerself. com/ content/ personal/ happiness-and-self-help/ counselling/ 4130-express-your-emotions-through-art. html, a Lucia Capacchione, PhD., ATR, an art therapist, writes that the Latin roots of the word emotion are: e (out) + movere (move). Feelings either move naturally, like a river, or get blocked. It is the nature of emotions to move.

    If our emotions naturally move, we feel alive; if they are blocked, we feed like life is hardly worth living. When emotions are blocked, because their nature is to move, they keep moving in that blocked context, creating stress disorders and illnesses.

    And so, (Mima37) find your art medium, maybe painting, or collage, and/ or dancing to music.. find your medium and express your emotions!”-

    – I was wondering, Mima37, if part reason for your CFS is caused by those blocked emotions that “keep moving.. creating stress disorders and illnesses”.

    anita

    #350614
    Mima37
    Participant

    Thank you so much for that.

    I completely agree. I think the PTSD and all that stress I had with my extended family after my brother assaulted me led to my body breaking down and my doctor agrees. My body even now feels it’s stuck in a stress response even though I’m not panicking anymore etc but I never feel relaxed, I always feel tense and worried. I’m not in the fight or flight panic every day anymore but ever since that assault and the stress my family inflicted on me I’ve felt stuck in a stress response  and my tests showed my cortisol was high. I wish I could reverse that because it feels like I’m stuck in it.

     

    I always feel tense and uptight, I worry about everyone and life feels hard. I feel different to others because the last 2 years I’ve become agoraphobic again and very socially anxious to the point I can’t open the door to the postman as I get a rush of bad panic socialising with anyone. Ok my health has led to me being stuck at home but I believe the stress has led to it all and because I’ve been so hurt by people I’ve become a recluse. I subconsciously I think see the world and people as a threat, I have that hur I think I do because the last 2 years I’ve withdrawn from people and stay home. My health has limited that as I struggle to be active for long but I believe the mental side plays a huge role.

    I am happy at home and love my life but I hate I’m not normal or like I used to be. I can’t attend doctors appointments etc I see others I follow on social media going to get their hair and nails done, going to their appointments and I really can’t. This is hard to admit as I fear someone will judge me and think i sound like a complete freak. It just feels like since my friend cut me off I broke inside and suddenly I’d have severe panic attacks having visitors in my house or someone knocking the door. I had social anxiety and agoraphobia shortly after the assault in 2012 but with therapy and exposure work it for better and I was back doing everything. My doctor supports me via the phone and she is brilliant. I’m just so ashamed that at 40 I’m like this. I tell myself daily I’m a terrible mother and wife. When I became so unwell with the panic attacks and CFS 2 year’s ago my husband took over the house, he did my role of cooking and cleaning because I was bed ridden so unwell. We now share evening 50/50 which is a huge success for me but at times I do even more and he does less, it all depends on what my body allows me to do energy wise. I still feel a let down to my family. I stayed strong for so long after the assault doing  trips out etc and now I can’t I feel I’m ruining their childhood having a mum with such fatigue issues and they don’t know about my anxiety but I just feel I’ve let them down. Their dad takes them everywhere and they don’t miss out but I’m not with them so I best myself up when they go places. I worry how I accept them mentally but they assure me they’re fine and having a great childhood.

    M children also lost my mum, my siblings and their children, I always worded my children have missed out on grandparents and cousins etc and blame myself but I couldn’t any longer have mentally and physically absusive people in my life. My children really can’t stand my family. They witnessed my brother attack their father the year before he attacked me. My eldest ended up with anxiety and would cry every day sag on the windowsill worries why his dad was late home from work. He would beg me to call him to check where he was etc it was hard. My mum used to visits still at this point and she would be shocked how anxious my son was but even she reluctantly agreed it was because my brother had hurt his dad. He ended up needing therapy and it worked wonders and he’s the least anxious person I know since we cut out my family. I know I did right fk protect my children from the childhood I had.

    My step dad saw my son recently and he said to him ‘now I understand why your mum won’t return to the family. I didn’t know anxiety and depression until I married into this family and now I’m on anti depressants. They’re all still violent and one is now a drug addict. Your mum needs to stay away. She is the only nice normal one’. That meant the world to me as he had never said anything like that when I was in the family.

    I knit but haven’t in ages as I just can’t bring myself to do anything. It’s like I have zero I’m oh anymore. I know I need to push myself. Get off my phone, get out of my head and force myself to fake it to make it.

     

    Thank you for your kind advice.

    Ju

    #350634
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mima37/Ju:

    You are welcome.

    “I was diagnosed with CFS/ME in 2016… I never feel relaxed, I always feel tense and worried.. my tests showed my cortisol was high.. I always feel tense and uptight” –

    Cortisol is a hormone that causes an increase in the concentration of sugar (glucose) in the blood. This is how I understand stress, much simplified: there is acute, time-limited stress and there is chronic stress.

    When a deer notices an approaching predator, its heart starts pumping blood fast so to provide the leg muscles sugar and oxygen for the purpose of running away fast. As the heart does that, and a fast running is anticipated,  the blood sugar depletes and is expected to deplete even more, so a hormone called cortisol is released to the blood. It travels to the muscles and breaks down protein in the muscles, converting them to sugar, so to get more sugar to the blood.

    It is not a good thing for the deer to have some of its muscle broken down, but the logic of nature is: I’ll deal with less muscle later, for now I have a higher priority: I need more sugar because I have to run fast to save my life!

    So the deer, energized with sugar and oxygen pumped to its legs, runs very fast. After a short while, when it perceives that it is safe, it is exhausted. It has no energy to eat or anything, so it lies down and rests, for a long time. During the long rest, its muscles rebuild. After the rest and restoration, it is as good as new.

    Now, take this deer and place it in a small cage in a zoo. It is stuck, it perceives danger: how can it escape if a predator approaches; how can it look for food? (it doesn’t rely on being fed; it is not a domesticated); perceiving danger, its heart pumps blood to its legs, muscles break down, and this happens for a long time. The deer doesn’t get to run away, nor does it get to rest, so it stays cages, stressed and exhausted.

    In other words, in an acute stress situation, the brain/ body attends to the immediate need of running away from danger/ flight (or fight a danger); some damage to the body is done, later (when the danger is over) to be corrected. In a chronic stress situation, the danger is not over, the body doesn’t get to run away from the danger, or fight the danger, and it doesn’t get to rest because .. the danger is still there.

    The damage done to the body of an animal who prepares to run away or fight danger is not limited to breaking down of muscle protein, it includes a compromised immune system, a compromised cognition (ability to concentrate, to remember, etc.). But all the damage is supposed to be temporary and corrected once the animal is no longer in danger.

    Unfortunately, when an animal, including a human, perceives danger but cannot run away from it or fight it, the damage done to the body in preparation to do the impossible (flight or fight), does not get corrected, health is not restored, and therefore damage can be permanent, such as ending up with chronic high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, neurological conditions and other illnesses and syndromes. And these illnesses and syndromes create even more stress!

    I know that your doctors already guided you toward all the relaxation practices possible since you were diagnosed, and indeed you’ve been experiencing improvement in your stress responses. Better do more of what works, persistently and patiently.

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by anita.
    #350752
    Mima37
    Participant

    Thank you Anita, that’s the best explanation I’ve ever received. I knew it was likened to a tiger in the room constantly but the way you explained it was so easy to understand.

    Yes I worry all the time incase I end up diabetic or something bad from years of stress but especially how bad I was in 2018. That was a year of severe panic attacks daily. It went away but I always worry did that year cause damage. Hopefully not anything serious. My anxiety makes me worry about my health.

    I wish I knew how to work on the chronic stress response I’m stuck in and how to get out of the anxiety for good. Even though it’s much better I’m still stuck and not loving any further forward. I’ve tried therapy but all they do is make me discuss past trauma which causes more fight or flight and panic. I’ve been there done that 7 years ago and it helped then. This is why I want the spiritual side of me back to help me with the chronic stress and anxiety I’ve been stuck in for the last couple of years.

    Thank you again.

    Ju

    #350768
    anita
    Participant

    Dear mima37:

    You are welcome.

    I’ve suffered severe stress from early childhood and throughout childhood. That severe stress damaged my body, leading to OCD (including multiple compulsions, every hour, every day) and Tourette Syndrome. I no longer do the OCD compulsion for the last 25 years or so, but I do suffer from motor and vocal tics, although not at the severity of early on, but these tics still lower my quality of live every day, and significantly so, because a tic is involved with a subjective distress, and it happens multiple times per hour, all day long. So I know body damage as a result of stress.

    You wrote: “I wish I knew how to work on the chronic stress response I’m stuck in and how to get out of the anxiety for good. Even though it’s much better I’m still stuck”- I used to hope that I will heal and no longer suffer anxiety; I used to hope that I will no longer suffer these tics. What I learned is that although I am healing, there is no way I can live long enough to heal completely. Healing of this kind is simply too slow. Even if life was unlimited in time, I don’t think all damage can be undone.

    All we can do, I believe, is heal as much as is possible for us. No longer expecting complete healing is in itself healing. Like the Serenity Prayer I quoted yesterday, we have to accept the damage that we cannot heal, and heal the damage that we can heal.

    With realistic expectations- we heal; having unrealistic expectations- we get stuck.

    anita

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