All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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How to cope with PTSD flashbacks?

I feel it pertinent to point out that this isn’t a ‘how to’ post. You may feel slightly jipped to discover this, especially since the first two words of the post title are “how” and “to”, but I did place a wee question mark at the end of the title, meaning I need your help. And with your help, perhaps we can write the ‘how to’ post that you were probably expecting.

My PTSD is a complicated beast. It doesn’t just come from one traumatic incident, but several, the memories of which have combined to form an almost impenetrable wall of trauma that I have no idea how to deal with. Firstly (and foremost) there is the emotional abuse that I was the victim of. Without question this causes the most damaging of my PTSD symptoms. Secondly, there is the assault and rape I experienced when I was in Adelaide in 2007. Thirdly, there is the recurrent memories of being homeless; of being ostracised by society and forced to exist in a sub-human state on the streets of Melbourne and beyond. Fourthly, comes the various physical assaults that I received during this homeless existence. On a daily basis I am hounded by flashbacks of these four incidents; flashbacks that occur without warning, leaving me a quivering, delusional wreck.

Over the last few months, ever since becoming unwell, the memories of the emotional abuse I received have been impossible to contend with. I have been regularly conversing with a hallucination of my abuser to the point I devolve into a fuming, shouty monster. Lord knows what my neighbours think of me, for the walls between us are thin, and my voice is raging. I will scream, yell, holler, bellow, bawl and shriek as I replay specific abusive events and attempt to discover why she saw fit to abuse me. I am desperate for answers, desperate for closure, but I know I can never receive it so my voice rages ever louder. I want to know why she decided to destroy my sense of self, why she was so cruel and callous in her criticism and insults, why she worked so hard to drive a wedge between my friends and I, why she decided I didn’t deserve to be in tertiary education and why she decided I should die because “my voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone I talk to“. I need to know why I deserved the abuse she gave me. But like I said, I know I will never discover these answers, I will never have the closure I need, so how do I cope with it? How do I live with the trauma rather than let it control me?

At least fourteen hours a day are lost to these fuming, shouting sessions. They occur when I’m home, they occur when I’m walking down the street and they occur when I’m surrounded by people in the high street. And I have no idea how to stop it. I have no idea how to cope with these intolerable flashbacks.

My GP believes a new anti-psychotic will help – a week into taking it, it hasn’t. I’ve tried mindfulness techniques. I’ve tried my usual coping mechanisms. I’ve tried CBT and DBT techniques. I’ve tried flooding myself with distraction. But nothing has worked. I always devolve into the shouting, always devolve into the trauma and always allow it to control my thinking, my actions and everything in between.

Hence the question – how to cope with PTSD flashbacks? How do you cope with your PTSD flashbacks? How do you stop it controlling your life?


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Day 09: Two smileys that describe my life right now

The penultimate day of the 10 Day Blogging Challenge is the hardest so far:
two smileys that describe your life right now!

-1-

Emote___Smiley_by_Sinister_Starfeesh

This first smiley was chosen by Meadhbh as she believes it’s a perfect representation of her and me. I’m the big yellow one having his anxieties and stress soothed by her, the small green one.

-2-

Angry_Mob_by_Sinister_Starfeesh

Whereas the second smiley I’ve chosen is a representation of my current battle with flashbacks and demons from the past; all of whom relentlessly pursue me on a daily basis.


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Flashbacks, heat and unexpected problems (oh my!)

Once again I find myself on hiatus from my blog and once again it hasn’t been entirely self-imposed. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing severe internet connectivity issues, which may not seem such a huge ordeal to some, but the internet is one of my primary coping mechanisms, and often the only outlet I have to the outside world, so when I can’t connect, my stress levels rise and I become more vulnerable to life’s negative emotions.

Normally I’d like to think I’d be able to handle this, but it seems that once again January is becoming a problem month. Last year, I spent the month wrestling with alcohol consumption, this year, I’m spending it locked in a battle with flashbacks. In fact, things became so bad last weekend that Sunday was lost to endlessly replaying the events of emotionally abusive relationships, homelessness and seemingly innocuous moments shared with long-gone friends.

No matter how hard I’ve tried, no matter what exercises I’ve practised, I’ve been unable to ground myself in the present. So much so that focusing on anything other than what my mind is forcing me to relive has been nigh-on impossible. I’ve been unable to watch movies with any clarity, I’ve been spending more and more time locked away in my unit and no matter how much I want to, I just can’t find the words to assemble the posts I crave to write.

Hindering all of the above has been the incessant heat of the Australian summer. Today was the fourth day over 40 degrees, and by all accounts there are going to be at least three or four more before there is even the slightest hint of a cool change. I’ve never been a fan of the heat, in fact I downright hate it! I hate being sticky, I hate sweating like a weird little sweat monster and I hate how the heat brings out the worst in my body-image issues. During summer I despise myself more than usual, so much so that this self-hatred  – considering my inability to wear shorts, go swimming or even shower without clothes on –  makes it impossible to cool down.

Unfortunately that brief moment where I believed 2014 will be the ‘best year ever’ has long since passed. The last sixteen days have been incredibly stressful and difficult to navigate and I’m sorely looking forward to February so I can banish January into the annuls of history and start the year afresh.

However, I’ve remained true to my resolution and have not drunk a single soft drink all month, which – when you consider all the flashbacks, heat and unexpected problems – is quite an achievement! :)