Neck Pain & DREAMS

I still feel like I was just in a car wreck, and I have a lot of neck and upper back pain. PTSD is a weird animal. I slept 12 hours last night and spent a lot of it dreaming about whether I experience schizophrenia. It was a main point in my dream sequence, questioning myself about it and evaluating and seeking out evaluation.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD I was evaluated for numerous mental health conditions, all of which were ruled out, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I don’t believe that’s what I’m experiencing now, but I’m also curious as to why that condition specifically. I don’t know much about it so I’m not approaching the question with a lot of knowledge, and I’m not aware of knowing anyone with that diagnosis, so I don’t have personal experience to speak to. I don’t know why that was part of my unconscious processing. I don’t know what, if anything, it means.

I do know that this week, the anniversary of the trauma that got me an altered brain, has been painful and limiting. There are so many things that I want to do that I am not able to access because my body’s memory of being under life-ending threat is so powerful that it is blocking my attempts to live. I’m not even talking about jetting off on a last-minute weekend trip or kayaking on some of the fast rivers created by recent flooding, I’m talking about cleaning my floor and pulling out the cold weather clothes I’ll need for Monday. I’m listening to The Body Keeps Score, but I’m not making it through fast enough to know how to address this and what I can do differently. It feels like I’ve reached a sticking point in recovery – as in I AM STUCK and don’t know how to wiggle past. Somewhere in my brain below the trauma I have the desire to wiggle out and start living, but that desire is under a mountain of trauma that does not want to budge.

I Woke Up, Sleep Shattered

I don’t often have nightmares. I don’t recall ever having a triggering nightmare, although I don’t tend to retain memories of triggers so I may have just forgotten. That all changed the other night when I started awake at 3:30 in absolute terror. I had been dreaming that I was riding home with my mom and instead of turning left onto our street, she turned right and we were facing the street dead ending into a cornfield. Sirens were suddenly blaring, lights were flashing red, it was the end of the world, people were starting to appear, screaming, the car hit something, she was dead and I was crumpled in the passenger floor board.

It took over an hour for me to calm down enough to go back to sleep.

I rarely have literal dreams. I don’t remember having dreams that resemble flashbacks. I don’t have flashbacks. It was so literal, and so related to the car wreck that broke my brain. It was horrible and terrifying and shocking after I’ve worked so hard at recovery and have experienced something like that so seldom, especially after the 5 years it’s been.

I wrecked in early October. We’re approaching that time, and I don’t want to make a deal of it. One year, maybe year 3, it didn’t bother me and I seem to remember sailing through like it was past. That doesn’t seem to be true, and I think part of the difficulty I’m having now is related to an approaching trauma anniversary. Maybe because I’ve dragged so much up to deal with? Maybe because I’ve dug so deep? That answer feels like the right one, much as I hate it. I hear the body keeps score, after all. And I still need to read that book.

100 Days of Healing – Day 51

I’m one green juice away from being able to eat again. I cannot wait.

My business divorce was finalized this morning, and I now own my own company outright. I can’t even get to a place of satisfaction about it because it’s been a hard week getting it done and signed off on. And there is so much uncertainty. Do I want to re-brand, do I want to do something else for a while, what clients do I want to pursue?

While not nearly as difficult as divorcing a spouse, there has been the death of a dream, of a plan and of a partnership, and there are still a few hard feelings toward my business partner for not pulling his weight. But it’s done, I can let it sit over the weekend, and on Monday start picking up the pieces so I can move forward.

100 Days of Healing – Day 28

I got punched in the brain by my own brain last night. Shit.

One texted sentence that was completely innocuous lined up trauma after trauma after trauma in my brain, then jetted straight down that neuron path and off the rails. It was one of the fastest trigger-to-panic attack experiences I’ve ever had, and wow does the mind work fast.

I was at the start of flossing and brushing my teeth when it happened, so I kept on with that, and it kept me steady enough that when I finished I started to slowly climb through the wreckage to try to figure out what had just happened. I decided that was a great time to quit the day and go to bed, still carefully stepping through what could have done that.

Ah. That word, that experience, that feeling, what I’ve been concerned about for the last few weeks…and my brain connected them all and clubbed itself with it. Shit.

I woke up early because of my neighbor’s diesel truck, and had a lot of anxiety as soon as I woke up. I never like that, and usually try to go back to sleep to see if I calm down. I didn’t. I dreamt that I got a text message from a stranger, and because I opened it he was able to hack my phone, then my computer, so I was trying to work on my computer but realized I was being hacked and I couldn’t stop it and I didn’t want him to have what was on my computer but was still getting text messages that my phone wouldn’t let me delete or block. I got to the point that I knew I needed to wake up to get out of the dream, but when I started waking up I experienced sleep paralysis and I left my body for a few moments.

I’ve heard of trauma survivors feeling as though they experienced things from outside their body or being paralyzed, but I haven’t experienced those things myself until this morning. I didn’t like it, I had really high anxiety, and I went right back to sleep because I just couldn’t deal.

I’m cognitively pretty slow today. I was waking up when my boyfriend called, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting what tumbled out of my mouth. I mean, who would? It was enough to make me get up and eat breakfast, and I’ve decided to stick with the easier side of what I need to get done today. I have a project my mom needs me to do for my grandma and I’m supposed to be at a bridal shower this evening with a gift and recipe in hand. I can do that. I think. Maybe.

I don’t feel like this was a setback, just a big bump that maybe blew a tire? It was a lot to handle, but I’m glad that I have been able to bring myself back to center while being forgiving toward myself about what I can and cannot do today.

100 Days of Healing – Day 7

I’ve noticed the last two nights my heart rate has been about 25 beats per minute higher than it should be. No wonder I’ve had a hard time going to sleep. I’m laying in bed, trying to get everything to slow down for sleep time, and my body is ready to flee in terror. I’ve tried breathing, but for me it’s a small and very temporary fix any time I try it. Thinking about something else is hard to do because I’m mentally responding to my body’s flight preparations. Maybe I don’t like the dreaming and processing on a subconscious level?

Last night’s dream seemed to be about setting boundaries, something I will need to do a lot of work to get better at doing. There were a bunch of animals in a setting with people and I finally had enough and started hauling them over to their pens to get them and their disruptive behavior out of the way of the people. Once they were through the gate, I didn’t care what happened so long as they stayed on their side. Other people noticed and expressed concern, but I had done my part and gotten them out of my way.

Curious to see if setting boundaries is any easier for me now or if it still presents the same challenge and I still just avoid it.

100 Days of Healing – Day 6

I slept hard and dreamt again. While I don’t remember much of the dream, I knew very shortly after I woke up what it was about. I was processing having a hidden illness.

I don’t know if it’s because I could realize it or because it was processed, but I don’t feel hung up on having an invisible illness anymore. It doesn’t feel like a burden or weight to have experiences that no one else can see. I don’t feel a need to run around shouting about being broken by trauma, but I also don’t feel my usual aversion to humans in the context of debating whether to hide or reveal my struggles. I simply feel neutral on the topic, and that whatever I choose to hide or reveal is exactly that – my choice.

I’ve made a few steps forward in being regulated – I brushed my teeth and went to bed on time last night. The next step for me is beginning to journal.

I had a post-trauma ritual of recording re-traumatizing experiences as a sort of recorded narrative that served to reinforce the trauma rather than release it. For that reason I have a negative association with journaling. When my therapist suggested I try it, I was not interested until she pointed out that may be something I take back – reclaim as a beneficial thing instead of a negative. I think it’ll help me to sort out the dreams, the slowness and the feeling that only my lowest level cognitive abilities are functioning.

And I am not going to go buy a new journal and go through some ritual of needing a new book and a new pen and nice writing and whatever. I am using the small, blank book the stalker gave me the day I met him in Paris. That day and what happened after made my experience of enjoying myself and attracting energy a liability, and I have not been that person – A PERSON I ENJOYED IMMENSELY – since. Maybe this will help reclaim that too.

100 Days of Healing – Day 5

I avoided hard today. I had more dreams last night and woke up overwhelmed, so it was hard to get my brain together enough to get up and on with my day. I handled the phone call and meeting I had to attend and commiserated with my brother over his girlfriend dumping him with no explanation (real explanation is her parents are crazy and constantly interfered). I finished the set of earrings I’ve been working on that don’t look anything like I wanted them to (I need different beading thread that isn’t as stiff). I didn’t do much else. I feel like I can’t do much else, and the earring was just to keep my hands busy while I watched some tv after the meeting to help calm myself down and detach.

I thought a lot about self care and routine for me. I can barely make myself shower, brush teeth and wash dishes right now, and I’m trying to work out in my head that if those are the only things I tell myself I have to do the rest of the week and not the other stuff (work, etc.), maybe they won’t seem so daunting?

The hard thing for me about taking this time out to let my brain process is that I don’t know how long it will take. It felt like things were starting to look up yesterday, which is maybe why today is that much more difficult. I declined again today instead of improving, and I really want to improve so that I can get to doing and being what I want to do and be. As so many of you know, if your head isn’t in the right place for that, it’s nearly impossible, and I forced myself through for long enough that I can’t even really do that anymore.