Flashbacks in the Rain

I almost died in a car wreck that happened in the rain. For the most part (and thanks to EMDR and a lot of therapy) I don’t really have problems anymore when I drive. When I do, I have coping skills that work well. So today was a pretty big surprise when I was driving in the rain on my way to a meeting and started having flashbacks, not about my car wreck, but about the day of my brother’s accident. Clear as anything were the memories of getting the call from my mom, picking up his truck, sitting in the ICU waiting room unable to pray and barely able to hold it together, leaning on the prayers and shoulders of friends.

I’ve rarely had flashbacks of my own trauma, much less that of someone else. And while that day was traumatic for me, it hasn’t had nearly the impact that my own trauma has.

As I began to write this post, I also began to ask why and to process what happened this afternoon. I’m dreaming again… I’m processing again… I’m resolving trauma again.

I am done being afraid of the hold the past has on me. I’ve survived this much this long, and I can deal with whatever else boils up. But this was interesting, because as much as the flashback experience while driving on slick roads was not pleasant, it didn’t shake me. I’m now more curious about it, about where it came from and why that day?

I dream when I’m relaxed or when I am processing. Emotions, events – they all get run through my dream cycles in full color and epic drama. I don’t dream the exact thing, I dream versions of it, or nothing at all related. I started dreaming again this week after a long time off. My resting heart rate is slowly dropping, I’m a little more calm during the day and now memories are emerging that probably haven’t been dealt with. The human brain is fascinating.

Am I excited by this? Nope. Am I afraid of it? Also nope. Gonna deal with it and move on…

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Week One Off the Meds

When they all seem to conspire against you…

I’m not going to post about this every week, but I have made it through the first week of coming off my medications. It was hell. And I’m still full of synthetic chemicals. 

The situations and circumstances around me were the real issue, not my response to quitting my first prescription. I’m ok. Maybe a little more grumpy, a little more intense and a little more looking for connection. There’s also a slight internal shift I can’t put my finger on yet. I might have a little more ability to push through? I think I might also be slimming down a tad. Or it was the 6 hours of playing ball on Wednesday…

Between my family, my friends and my job, the week was bonkers. I’m not sure who called who to sabotage my sanity this week, but they did their damndest. I don’t hate people any more than usual though, and I successfully ran a meeting full of strangers, so… Maybe that was a test? I guess I passed? 

I reckon it’ll be January before I’m completely off everything. That’s a bit ambitious, but I’m nothing if not ambitious. And if this goes the way I’m planning for it to, I’ll be much better off by my birthday. 

Good Practice Today (And This Week, Really)

…yes, I admired grass. Like I said, I’m laughing too.

I didn’t really come with a natural ability to chill out, and post-trauma I have had ZERO ability to chill out, so I have to practice.

Yep, I practice being calm and taking care of myself. I know, I laugh at it too.

This week has been one of my best since my brother’s accident about 4 months ago. He was badly injured at work and that put my recovery on pause until recently. I was so focused on him and my family that my brain stopped working through the trauma for a while. Now it’s back, now some emotions and realizations are starting to come back to the surface. It’s a good thing, it’s part of my healing process, part of my recovery. I’m so much better prepared to let my brain resolve things now, so much better at recognizing that after working 3 long and intense days, knocking off work early to go for a hike was a great thing for me to do.

I’m pounding out my stress and anxiety by the mile. I’m over 32 miles since Sunday, which is really good for me! 9 miles today since I walked with a friend and by myself (running is not my favorite, I never get the high), and as much as my feet are sore and my muscles are not happy, I feel really good about it. I am doing this while meeting intense deadlines for clients, spending time with friends, getting hit with the same disaster coverage everyone else is and looking after my “chickens”, the lovely group of young people that I have adopted and who view me as the favorite “Aunt”.

I pushed my practice a step further by pausing on my evening walk to admire the fading rays of the sun illuminating tufts of grass seeds. Sunsets sometimes make the most warm and comforting and happy glow, and I settled into it as I walked along the trail from my neighborhood and yes, I admired grass. Like I said, I’m laughing too. But it was such a good thing to be present and notice simple, pleasant things and not be burdened by things that didn’t exist in that space. It was also a tremendous accomplishment for my brain to do that. Sometimes I practice and fail. Today I practiced and nailed it.

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More Ups & Downs & Post-Storm Anxiety

I didn’t go to church for a bit over a year because I was tired of it, disconnected from it and not interested in the petty politics of it. Not God, to be clear, not my relationship with Jesus, but with a particular brand of church that to my perspective lacked a clear focus on Jesus.

I went back to church on the invitation of the friends I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and have barely missed since. Except today, when church was cancelled because the school we meet in cancelled church because the district cancelled all weekend rentals in case the schools needed to be converted to shelters (presumably).

We have a more or less “singles” group that hangs out and has fun, and several were up for church despite the weather, so I organized a small group meeting at one of the guy’s houses and even though the rain and wind was fairly strong this morning, we had 6 people meet up for “church”. It was exactly what I needed. It was a calm, safe space with genuine friends in the middle of a literal storm. We went to lunch after and hung out for a few hours talking about nothing important.

Now I’m in bed hiding from the world and wondering where on earth that sense of calm went?!? Because right now EVERYTHING CAUSES ME ANXIETY.

Yes, I drove in conditions very similar to those in which I wrecked, but I’ve been through EMDR and I didn’t hydroplane even a little, but maybe my brain still doesn’t like it.

Yes I drank coffee (known to increase my anxiety) and ate a few donut holes (also known to increase my anxiety), but I thought I had tempered that with water and protein.

Yes storm is not that bad here and we are safe from flooding. I hate that so many people are not in that place, and social media is BANANAS right now (these check-ins as “safe” from people who haven’t even had rain today are so dumb! There is life-threatening flooding that is causing a real need for people to know the status of loved ones, don’t make this about you if it’s not.)

Didn’t do yoga but went for a walk and took a warm shower after, which made me feel pretty good (temporarily).

So here I am, glad that so many people are bravely helping strangers and giving what they have to help, but staying in my bed because I don’t want to create a problem and I can take care of myself from here. Outside is not a place I can safely be right now.

This is such a strange experience. I am used to taking care of others, stepping up and helping, taking charge and figuring it out. This whole month in therapy I have been working to understand how to learn to take care of myself, because that is something I don’t do very well. Frankly, it’s easier to ignore my needs because they just annoy me.

Well, here’s my chance.