The Journey by Mary Oliver

On the last day of your PTSD Hospital stay one of the therapists shares an inspirational reading on behalf of the graduates. This poem called The Journey by Mary Oliver was read on my last day. I think it’s powerful and I would like to share it with you. It really embodies everything this blog and I stand for which is that I am strong enough to save myself. And that I am worth saving.

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

For more information about Mary Oliver click here.

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Is There Such A Thing As A Therapy Cat?

Therapy Cat

    Is there such a thing as a therapy cat? I’d like to think so.  I’d like to introduce you to Fiona. The latest addition to our family and my newest sidekick. She’s 12 weeks old, adorable, and of course a bit of a handful.

   We thought long and hard about adding a pet to our family. It was hard losing our dog Blue last year. I still miss him every day. I miss having company, especially now that I am not working, I spend so much time on my own. We did think about a dog, even looked into the possibility of getting a trained dog for PTSD. However, the care a dog requires was going to be too much for me. On bad pain days getting out for a walk isn’t always possible. Although there aren’t therapy cats, a cat can be a little more independent. And so we brought Fiona home yesterday.  Aside from having company I’m looking forward to looking after her, playing with her and watching her grow.  I’ve read that pets can be healing for mental illness. I think that she’ll be good for me.

Do you have a pet? How have they impacted your life?

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PTSD and ME

This is a hard post to write. There is still so much stigma around mental illness. But I no longer want to feel ashamed of it which is one of the reasons I’m writing this post. I have Complex PTSD. There. I said it. It’s out there in the world. In case you don’t know what PTSD is, it stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association PTSD is defined as. . .

“a mental illness. It involves exposure to trauma involving death or the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Something is traumatic when it is very frightening, overwhelming and causes a lot of distress. Trauma is often unexpected, and many people say that they felt powerless to stop or change the event. Traumatic events may include crimes, natural disasters, accidents, war or conflict, or other threats to life. It could be an event or situation that you experience yourself or something that happens to others, including loved ones.

PTSD causes intrusive symptoms such as re-experiencing the traumatic event. Many people have vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of the event that seem to come from nowhere. They often avoid things that remind them of the event—for example, someone who was hurt in a car crash might avoid driving.

PTSD can make people feel very nervous or ‘on edge’ all the time. Many feel startled very easily, have a hard time concentrating, feel irritable, or have problems sleeping well. They may often feel like something terrible is about to happen, even when they are safe. Some people feel very numb and detached. They may feel like things around them aren’t real, feel disconnected from their body or thoughts, or have a hard time feeling emotions. People also experience a change in their thoughts and mood related to the traumatic event.”

If you’re interested, you can find out more about PTSD by following this link.

I’m not going to give the details of what caused my PTSD, it’s too hard to write about. I also don’t think you need the details to understand that I have a mental illness. I was diagnosed in 2013, and it has been a rocky road working with my psychiatrist to find the right combinations of medications and therapy.  We struggled so much with finding that balance that I’m currently in a in-patient treatment program specialized in treating PTSD. Some of you may be shocked by this. I’ve kept my illness hidden well from most of you. I don’t talk about it openly for fear of ridicule and judgement but the thing is I don’t want to stay quiet about it anymore. In my silence I feel like shame wins.  I also want those who are suffering with the same illness to know that they are not alone.

Like chronic pain, I’ve been battling PTSD for many years. It affects my sleep, how I interact with people, it causes me to isolate and to hide. I startle easily and am always at the ready for the next tragedy to befall me. I don’t trust easily, and I feel scared all of the time. I’ll say that again…I feel scared all of the time. I dissociate, and numb and at times I don’t feel present in my own body. I feel like I’m not living at all. That’s what PTSD does, it cradles you in fear and stops you from living.

However, since arriving in this program I feel like I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m actually daring to feel hopeful. I’m learning skills and tools to help me deal with the symptoms of PTSD. And while there is no cure and it will be something I have to manage the rest of my life, my hope is that this program will give me the foundation I need to be able to do so. I hope it might be a new beginning.

PTSD

I know for my readers and some of my friends & loved ones this is new information. I’m happy to answer any questions or concerns you have, and I’m thanking you in advance for your support.

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Coping- A How to Guide


I feel like I’ve not been coping. Pain has been really high for the last while, nothing seems to relieve it. Not my meds, not hot baths, or walks, or massage therapy,  or my beloved heating pad.  But through all this, and despite the pain somehow I’ve coped. I’m still here.

My best friend and I were taking about this very thing the other night, here’s a couple of screen shots:

Coping: A How to Guide image

We came up with chapter headings  for an imaginary book called Coping: A How to Guide.

Chapter One : Wifi

What would I do without wifi? It connects me with my friends and family as well as my online pain community. All of the above are like a lifeline for me. Especially since I can’t get out as much as I would like to.

Chapter Two: BFF

We text everyday. She reminds me of how well I’m doing given my circumstances and will never let me give up or stay in a pity party too long.  She makes me lol, and also understands my tears.

Chapter Three: Good Drugs

This, in reality is hit or miss. Sometimes the “good drugs” help, sometimes they do nothing at all.

Chapter Four: Understanding family ( and friends)

I’d be lost without my family. My husband is a supportive caregiver and has taken over most if not all the house responsibilities. He loves me unconditionally and that makes me a very lucky woman. My son, is so understanding and helpful. Parenting while in pain is not easy, but I’m so blessed that we seem to have kept the bond we had before I got sick. My mom who is always there for me. Friends who reach out to me even though  there lives are busy.

Chapter Five: Junk Food

My favourites- Dill pickle chips, chocolate covered almonds and white cheddar popcorn with the odd A&W teenburger thrown in.

Chapter Six: Courage

I need courage for so many things. Medical appointments, speaking up and voicing my concerns, medical procedures. Courage that I can make it through hours of pain, and still wake up the next day. Courage to live a life  with a major component I hadn’t planned on.

Chapter Seven: Silent Inside Voice Cursing

I think this is self explanatory- I won’t share my favourite swear words.

Chapter Eight: H.O.P.E.

Hold on pain ends. Hope that something will help, pain will ease, something might cure my illnesses and pain. I hang on to that hope everyday. It keeps me going.

 

What are some ways you cope? What chapters would you add to my book?

 

 

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