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…


6 Comments

Thirteen things to do instead of smoking…

Yesterday, I had a major set-back in my quit smoking endeavor. After a brutal night of no sleep, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks (courtesy of my bedfellow, PTSD) I turned to my age-old coping mechanism and puffed my way through a pack of smokes. I was angry with myself. I was annoyed with myself. But there is little I can do about it now other than slap my own butt and start the day anew. So. Instead of smoking I’ve decided to Thursday Thirteen my way through the morning, with thirteen things you can do instead of smoking. Hopefully writing it will renew my determination and help others struggling with this crazy thing called quitting smoking.

So without further ado…

Thirteen things to do instead of smoking

quit-smoking-now-no-smoking-please

~ in no particular order ~

~1~
Exercise!

So you’re craving a cigarette? You need that sweet feeling nicotine gives you? Stop. Take a breath. And go for a walk instead. If you don’t feel like walking, go for an endorphin creating session at your local gym or a thigh burning bicycle ride. If you don’t feel like doing either of these things, press play on the video below and spend ten minutes working your cute little butt off. Exercise will take your mind off your cravings and help shape a better you in the process.
I promise.

~2~
Binge!

I’ve long been a fan of the binge-on-your-favourite-TV-show craze. It’s a pleasant way to pass the time, keeps you entertained and engaged, and can quickly take your mind off the unpleasantness of nicotine withdrawal. So instead of lighting up, slip a DVD in your player and treat yourself to several episodes of your favourite show. You’ll forget about smoking in no time!

game-of-thrones-daenerys-targaryen-dragon-20150624140946-558aba2a95724

Top five TV shows to binge on:

1. Game of Thrones; it’s a contemporary classic for a reason
2. 24; Jack Bauer can kick anyone’s butt, including cigarettes!
3. The Walking Dead; zombies, zombies, and more zombies!
4. Castle; if Molly C. Quinn can’t curb your craving, nothing will.
5. Doctor Who; the Daleks can exterminate anything, including nicotine cravings!

~3~
Om nom nom!

Instead of smoking your way through a pack of cancer causing chemicals, why not sate your cravings with some scrumptious food. Since quitting smoking I’ve been addicted to toasted cheese sandwiches, peppermints, licorice and maple pecan pastries. But you could try something more healthy, say fruit juice, carrots, celery or salad. Find something that works for you and go with it. You’d be amazed at how quickly yummy food can take your mind off those evil, vicious, cravings.

The+Perfect+Grilled+Cheese+Sandwich+800+1581

How to make the perfect toasted cheese sandwich

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 slices bread, day old
3 ounces cheese, grated/shredded, room temperature

Directions
1. Heat a pan over medium heat.
2. Completely butter one side of each slice of bread.
3. Place one slice of bread in the pan, buttered side down, sprinkle on the cheese and top with the remaining slice of bread, buttered side up.
4. Turn the heat down a notch and cook until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.
5. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2-4 minutes.

~ from ClosetCooking ~

~4~
Video Games!

Video games can be a godsend during a quit smoking campaign. They keep your hands occupied. They keep your brain engaged. And they’re both an entertaining and enjoyable way to pass the time.

Last week, on my first day without cigarettes, I treated myself to a second-hand copy of Yoshi’s New Island for the 3DS. The idea was that the happy, bouncy green dinosaur would help take my mind off the cravings, and for the first few days, until I completed the game, he did. Since then I’ve moved on to other video games in an effort to take my mind off cigarettes. And they’ve helped, enormously.

Lego-batman-the-videogame-characters_(1)

Top five video games to take your mind off smoking:

1. Lego Batman; a glorious game of minion fighting and puzzle solving.
2. The Legend of Zelda; by the end of your first dungeon, cigarettes will be a thing of the past.
3. Yoshi’s New Island; you’ll enjoy the dinosaur so much you won’t think of smoking.
4. Mario Kart; challenge yourself with time trails, they’ll stop the cravings in their tracks.
5. Brain Training; keep your brain engaged with simple, fun trials and tribulations.

~5~
Music!

Music has the power to transport us to another time and place. It has the power to make us happy when we’re sad. It has the power to take hold of our soul and shower us with warm feelings of excitement and merriment. So instead of lighting up, log onto iTunes, stick a CD in your stereo, and blast your cravings away with your favourite tunes. But make sure it’s something you love, something that speaks to you, something that will get you singing and dancing along. Your cravings will evaporate in no time.

~6~
Blog!

If you’re a blogger, why not write your way through the cravings. Settle down in front of the computer and exorcise your demons through words and emotions. Write about your day. Write about your craving. Write about donuts. Just write anything. By the time you’ve shared your moment with the world your cravings will have disappeared and you’ll have gone another hour without the dreaded cigarettes.

It you’re not a blogger, then log onto the internet and check out other people’s blogs. Spend some time surfing the net and experiencing life through the thoughts and minds of others. By the time you’ve read your umpteenth blog post your cravings will have dissipated and you’ll have gone another hour without the demon cigarettes.

Blog-Image

Top five blogs to read your way through the cravings:

1. Panic Disordered
2. Many of Us
3. Strong Enough to Break
4. Blahpolar Diaries
5. Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess

~7~
Have a bath!

No-one smokes in the bath. No-one. Mainly because your cigarette would get all soggy. So instead of lighting up, strip yourself naked and soak yourself in a calming, relaxing, sweet-smelling tub of hot water. Not only will you be showing yourself some (much-needed) self-love, you’ll find the soothing water will evaporate any craving you’re experiencing.

bath

Top five secrets to the perfect bath:

1. If you use the right ingredients, bathing makes you look younger
It’s true – high quality, natural bath salts can take years off your appearance by helping your body defend against climate and UV exposure, genetics, and other elements that speed up the aging process. Not only that, but natural salts can help your skin repair and restore its youthful smoothness and vitality on a cellular level, addressing existing signs of aging such as fine lines and an uneven skin tone.

2. Atmosphere is key
Before you take your bath, make sure the lighting in your room is soft and low. Either dim the lights or place candles along the rim of your tub. Bring in a portable CD player and play your favourite, soothing music. Before you know it, your bathroom will be transformed into a quiet, tranquil oasis.

3. When it comes to bath salts, the more, the better!
Don’t be shy! Be generous with the bath salts – the more, the better. Grab a handful or, even better, two – and hold them under the running water as you draw your bath, allowing the salts to release their fragrance and oils into the steam as they fall into the water. The idea here is to replicate an oceanic environment – after all, there’s nothing more therapeutic than soaking in the sea.

4. Keep that curtain closed.
After you step into your bath, either partially or completely close the shower curtain or door. This not only seals in the heat (so water takes longer to cool), but it keeps in all that fabulous, fragrant steam. The steam will open and cleanse the pores in your skin, giving you a youthful, healthy glow.

5. Not so fast – keep soaking!
After 10 minutes of soaking, you may be tempted to hop out of your tub and go back to other activities. Instead, lie back and stay there for another 10 minutes. The bath salts will have time to work their magic on your skin while the warmth of the water improves your circulation and lowers your blood pressure. Not only will soaking longer help your body, but it will greatly benefit your mind. Believe it or not, it takes a while to get “used” to relaxing – those first few minutes are often spent thinking about appointments, projects, and deadlines. Once your mind is clear, close your eyes and relax!

~ from SFSalt ~

~8~
Go to the cinema!

You can’t smoke in the cinema. Well, you could, but it would be illegal, and you’d risk the wrath of both patrons and employees alike. So take your mind off the cravings by treating yourself to a movie and popcorn. Unfortunately, I can’t indulge in this activity as my social anxiety prevents me from being around so many people so, if you’re like me, why not recreate that cinema feel in the comfort of your own home? Just pop some popcorn into the microwave then curl up on the couch with your favourite comfort movie. Your cravings will just vanish, I promise.

~9~
Read!

There’s no pain or torment in the world that a good book can’t quell. So instead of reaching for your smokes, reach for a good book instead. You’ll be transported to another world, fall in love with enigmatic characters and lose yourself to the danger and excitement contained within. So much better than killing your body with harmful substances.

Woman reading a book

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
~ Jane Austen ~

~10~
Massage

Last night I dreamt (the divine) Karen Gillan was giving me a full body massage. It made me realise that (a) my life is devoid of human-to-human contact, (b) that dreams are so much more exciting than reality and (c) massages rock!

So instead of lighting up, pester your significant other until they tear your clothes off, lie you down, and massage the living hell out of your aching, cigarette craving body. By the end of the massage you’ll be relaxed, invigorated and ready to face the next challenge.

If your partner is ignorant to the ways of massage, why not get them to watch this video:

~11~
Colouring In!

Colouring in is no longer just for children. In recent years it has become quite the adult entertainment device. Not only is it an incredibly mindful activity, it can work wonders in taking your mind off whatever problem you’re having, including nicotine craving. So instead of cracking out the smokes, open up a pack of delicious coloured pencils and get creative!

Here are some colouring in pages to print out:

~ Click each image to enlarge ~

~12~
Spanking!

Okay, so I’m running out of ideas. But bear with me. It may sound random, it may sound bizarre, it may even sound a little kinky, but a good spanking will take your mind off whatever problem you’re having. So cosy on up to your significant other and quietly request they smack your cute little bottom until it’s rosy red and flooding you with warmth and excitement! Your nicotine cravings will be gone in an instant, I assure you. :p

OTKspanking

Six of the best spanking tips:

1. Massage is a nice way to prime his (or her) butt pre-spank. Start by gently caressing his cheeks, and after a few minutes, begin kneading them as though you were making dough. Every so often, give him a firm pinch to prep him for more intense action later on.

2. When you’re ready for the big shebang, keep a few pointers in mind (and share these with him, too): (1) Mix things up – try a series of quick little slaps, followed by one big whack. (2) Alternate between smacking with an open palm and a cupped hand; each feels and sounds different. (3) Stick to the fatter lower part of his butt or his cheeks, and avoid his tailbone.

3. Try this game: Collect a bunch of household objects that would make fun DIY floggers – a wooden spoon, spatula, paperback book, etc. Spank him with one of the items and have hum guess what it is.

4. A cute way to send the message that you’re in the mood for a spanking. Use permanent marker to write something sexy on the backside of your undies, like Spank Me or I’ve Been Naughty.

5. Dirty talk makes spanking even hotter. Tell him, “Honey, every time I spank you I want you to say ‘Again, please,’ like a good boy.” It might spark some sexy role play.

6. Make sure you decide on a safe word first – something totally disconnected from sex like “popcorn” or “sunshine”.

~ from Cosmopolitan ~

and

~13~
Plan for the future!

Think of how much money you’re saving from not smoking. Pretty soon you’re gonna be rolling in the stuff. So instead of smoking, get your mind working and figure out how you’re gonna spend all that money. Are you going to treat yourself to a new book? A new video game? A day at your local spa? Or have you decided to save up for something more magnificent, like a holiday, car or house?

holiday

Now that you’re no longer a smoker, the entire world is your oyster!


3 Comments

Borderline personality disorder is a hurtful label for real suffering – time we changed it

h53npjfz-1437369684

by Jayashri Kulkarni, Monash University

Standing in the cold, dark bathroom, she hacked into her wrist with a razor blade and quietly stared at the blood that flowed from the cut. She told herself she was a bad person and deserved the pain.

A part of her felt reassured by the sight of the blood – it showed she was alive – since she felt so dead and empty inside. As she stared at her image in the bathroom mirror, she thought, “I have no idea who that person is staring back at me.”

Such deliberate self-harm is very common in people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. It takes many forms, including intentional overdoses of tablets with excessive alcohol, risky sexual behaviour, as well as physical self-punishment.

Other symptoms of the disorder include identity disturbances, feeling “dead” inside, rage responses or difficulty regulating emotional reactions to situations, mood swings, constant anxiety and panic, poor self-esteem, memory blanks, dissociation (“out of body” or feeling “unreal”) experiences, problems with concentration, feeling invalid, and fear of being abandoned.

A bad cycle

Between 2% to 10% of the population have some degree of borderline personality disorder, which puts them at high risk of suicide. While it’s poorly understood, we know that it predominantly impacts women.

There’s no medication that specifically treats borderline personality disorder, and it’s associated with a great deal of stigma among both health-care professionals and the general community. Research shows people seeking treatment for self-inflicted harm, including taking medication overdoses, are often seen as “difficult”, a “nuisance” or just indulging in “bad behaviour”.

Rage or diffuse anger is another symptom of borderline personality disorder that’s poorly tolerated by family and health professionals. If the person with the condition repeats self-harming behaviour, frustration among family, friends and health professionals increases and may lead to decreased care.

Since people with the disorder crave reassurance that they are worthy, valid and deserving of care, this rejection sets up a dangerous spiral of increasingly harmful behaviour that’s intended to attract care.

Origins in trauma

About 80% of people with borderline personality disorder have a history of trauma. They may block out recollections of early life trauma, but the impact of their emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a young person is profound and present for many years afterwards.

More specifically, people who were sexually abused as children often feel – wrongly – that they did something wrong, that they are to blame for being abused and that they’re bad people. At a deep level, they believe they deserve punishment; their self-harm acts out this belief.

The rage of people with borderline personality disorder, which often occurs in response to apparently small issues, may actually be a totally justified – a delayed expression of anger with the perpetrator of their abuse. And their memory blanks and out-of-body responses to stress may be attempts to repress recollections of abuse and to escape from trauma.

Not all traumas stem from physical or sexual abuse. Emotional neglect or deprivation can also be difficult for people to identify and define. They can, nonetheless, leave a mark for years to come. About 10% to 20% of people who have borderline personality disorder have no known history of childhood trauma.

Difficult diagnosis

The biology of this poorly understood condition includes the hypothesis that abused or neglected children produce high levels of stress hormones (cortisol) and remain on “high alert” – watching and waiting for the next abusive episode. These stress hormones impact brain circuits and centres that determine anger or emotional control and higher learning.

Deliberate self-harm is very common in people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. | Rachel Collins/Flickr, CC BY

Women with this condition can also have cortisol-induced cyclical reproductive changes, leading to menstrual cycle-related depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, increased facial hair, infertility and ovarian cysts. All these long-lasting mental and physical symptoms appear to have their origins in a history of early life trauma with biological brain changes.

There are effective psychological treatments, such as dialectical behavioural therapy, for borderline personality disorder but health professionals have to recognise and explain the condition before appropriate care can be provided.

And many health professionals find it difficult to recognise the condition because different symptoms come and go over time. An overall view of the person’s life is needed to correctly make the diagnosis.

Ill-fitting name

As a diagnostic term, borderline personality disorder not only fails to capture any of the underlying issues and mechanisms involved in producing its symptoms, it also denigrates. In contrast, major depressive disorder describes a serious condition with the key feature of depressed mood explicit in the diagnostic term.

The word “borderline” was used in the 1930s by psychoanalysts to describe patients whose symptoms were on the border between psychosis and neurosis. But today the most common interpretation of the word is that the condition “borders” on being a real illness.

In effect, there’s an invalidation of the illness in its name. This mirrors – as well as possibly enhancing – the feeling of invalidation the person with the condition already suffers.

And all this is not helped by the next word either. To suggest there’s something about someone’s personality that’s disordered – especially as personality is, collectively, the intimate and unique qualities that describe a person – is a devastating blow. And it cuts further into the already diminished self-esteem that people with this condition have.

Why it matters

Diagnostic labels carry a great deal of weight. They describe symptoms, attempt to answer the question of “what is wrong” and lead to a treatment plan. A diagnostic label such as borderline personality disorder with its stigma and propensity to invalidate the person’s suffering clearly has many negative impacts.

A name that captures the origins of the condition, such as complex trauma disorder, could shift the focus from seeing the person as “behaving badly” or not having a “real” illness, to recognising them as a survivor of trauma or abuse. Such a change could improve outcomes for them and their families.

Of course, what’s also urgently needed is clinical research that creates better understanding of the condition, and the development of tailored, effective treatments. But ultimately, prevention of early life trauma would make the biggest difference to the development and expression of this disorder.

In the meantime, changing the label borderline personality disorder to something more sympathetic, even if just informally, may start shifting negative attitudes to people with the condition.


Jayashri Kulkarni is Professor of Psychiatry at Monash University.

conversation-full-logo-1070aea8b0feb9a5f470ed093ecef06e

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.


10 Comments

Tomorrow I quit smoking – for good!

cigarette-ash-art_130434526842

When I first started smoking, way back in 1999, I was a naive twenty year old who wanted to stop self harming. I was tired of the cutting, tired of the burning, beating and bashing, so, in one of my finest ever decisions, I decided to swap self harm for cigarettes. It kinda suited me at the time. I was living in a backpacker hostel, surrounded by people who smoked, people who socialized whilst they were smoking. Having a cigarette in the smoking lounge meant having someone to talk to. And at a juncture in my life when I was also trying to stave off the social anxiety, it suited me to have an ‘excuse’ to be social. And by the time you can say ‘big stinking idiot’, I was addicted.

I no longer smoke to be social. I smoke because I am hugely (and annoyingly) addicted to cigarettes. Nicotine has me in its grasp. Cigarettes fill me with joy, with happiness, with frustration. I hate bowing down to the commands of such a cruel mistress, but with boredom and depression eased by my filthy, disgusting habit, who am I to argue? Smoking gives me something to do. Smoking fills the time and stops me from going insane. Smoking is something that 32% of people with a mental illness do, so there must be something in it. It must soothe the demons somehow.

But smoking is doing its own unique brand of damage. It’s infecting my lungs with cancerous chemicals and slowly eating me from within. It’s draining my bank account and forcing me to choose between food and clothing. It’s making me smell like an overflowing ashtray and staining my skin a grotesque shade of yellow. All things that, until recently, I have just accepted as side effects of my chosen vice. But not any more.

Tomorrow – the 15th July 2015, coincidentally my brother’s birthday – I have decided to quit cigarettes. From the moment I awake in the morning I will not be reaching for the cancer sticks to kick-start my morning. I will not be turning to them throughout the morning to stave off boredom and I will not be smoking my way through them during the long, bleak afternoon of nothingness. I’m tired of being a slave to addiction. I’m tired of the damage that I’m doing to myself. I’m tired of having no money because it all gets spent on tobacco.

It’s going to be hard – I’ve given up in the past – but in time it will get better. After a few days, once the toxins have left my system, it will get easier. Or at least, that’s what I’m choosing to tell myself. I know that for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be the crankiest bastard on the face of the planet. I’ll be snippy, short-tempered and a pain in the arse to be around. But it is for the greater good. It is for my health, my wealth and my sanity.

Just go easy on me. Please. :)

 


2 Comments

The DOs and DON’Ts of Self Harm

I found this years ago in a Facebook group and have always thought it quite brilliant, hence my reason for sharing it today:

The DOs and DON’Ts of Self Harm

SI Awareness

01. Don’t ask them why. If they want you to know why, they will tell you. Most of the time they don’t even know why.
02. Sometimes they just need to tell someone, because they fucking need to.
03. Never talk about him/her behind their back. They will find out and they will be pissed. They prefer you to speak directly to them.
04. If you ask them to never self-harm again, and they say “okay”, they’re lying.
05. Never ask them to never self-harm again.
06. Don’t try and understand why they do it. You’re wasting your time.
07. If you don’t know what to do, just ask them “Are you [insert appropriate form of harm here]? Do you need to talk about it?”
08. Get over your own insecurities about worrying if they’ll hate you for asking.
09. Asking shows concern. Not asking shows negligence and an “I really couldn’t care less” attitude.
10. Telling a teacher/parent/counsellor/other friend before talking to the person in question shows “I can’t be fucked working up the courage to ask them myself”. But it’s better than #09.
11. Offering suggestions of other means of coping is pointless.
12. Tell them that you’re there for them. No matter what. And you never judge. And you will always listen. And you will always just be there. And sometimes you never have to say a word at all. Sometimes they don’t want you to say anything.
13. It does not mean they love or enjoy pain.
14. It gives them the right to make fun of themselves/other self harmers.
15. Depending on the situation, it does not give you the right to.
16. Classifying them as “emo” only reduces yourself to an ill-informed bitch who believes you’re God’s gift.
17. It is not always a case of attention-seeking. A lot of the time it isn’t.
18. Self harm is a way of coping with emotions. While most people might cry and scream and rant and rage, self-harmers generally don’t express those sorts of emotions openly, and bottle them inside. The only way they know that works of releasing them is by inflicting pain on themselves. Hence the NOT ATTENTION SEEKING.
19. If they wanted attention they would go slit their wrists in the toilets at school and walk out with their clothes soaking in blood, collapse in the middle of the school grounds, and wail.
20. Other people self harm because they’re so emotionally numb on the inside, they need the pain to remind themselves that they’re alive.
21. Others hurt themselves because they believe they deserve it.
22. There are 39846324956234986487562387456238475123518746459865 other reasons for self harm.
23. There is not one direct cause. There is usually a trigger. A trigger may be a picture of a cut. That will get them thinking of cuts. That will get them into the mindset of cutting. And inevitably, they will want to cut.
24. Other triggers include any form of high negative emotion.
25. There is a difference between cutting for release and cutting for addiction.
26. Addiction-cutting is when you used to cut because you needed it, and now you cut because you can’t stop. You have no way of controlling the emotions without cutting. So you cut when you’re angry, sad, depressed, etc. It works. Temporarily. So when the same emotion comes up, they do it again. Only this time it doesn’t work as well. So they do it harder. And etc.
27. They know they shouldn’t do it, it’s no use telling them that.
28. Some of them like their scars, some of them hate them. Some are proud of them, some are ashamed. Just because one likes them and the other doesn’t, does not mean that the one who likes them is “okay” with what they do.
29. The need and want to self-harm rarely goes away.
30. Ask them questions about what they do. If they don’t want to talk about it – don’t push it. But if they do want to talk about it – keep asking questions. Don’t let them do all the talking. Ask questions. Questions are caring. Questions show them that you love them enough to want to know what they do, so you can understand and be there for them as best as you can.


5 Comments

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?


3 Comments

The mystery is solved

As I mentioned in my last post, my physical health has been somewhat of a problem since the beginning of this year. Abdominal pain led to pancreatitis which led to hospitalization and, since I was discharged from hospital, a mysterious abdominal pain that has zapped me of my strength, energy and motivation. In fact, it left me a doubled-over-in-pain, nauseous, vomiting wreck of a human being – and all I wanted to know was what was wrong with me. So last week, after numerous consultations with my GP, I was sent for a scan.

The scan took two hours. Two – tediously boring – hours! First of all I had to force myself to drink nearly a litre and a half of water. I don’t know why I had to consume so much liquid, this was never explained to me, it was just brought out to me and I was asked to drink it as quickly as possible. After making myself feel quite nauseous I was summoned into the scanning room where, after changing into a nifty hospital gown, I was laid on the CT scanner and was told I would need a canulla inserted in order to pump me full of the radioactive contrast medication that enables the scan to be viewed more clearly. This isn’t a problem if you have strong veins…but I don’t. After a gloriously failed (incredibly painful) attempt, the man summoned in his superior who would hopefully have better luck. They didn’t. So they decided (thankfully) to run the scan without the medication. Alas, this didn’t work, so they tried again to install a canulla into my quivering body. This time they wheeled in the ultrasound lady to try to locate my veins through technology. Two further (extremely painful) attempts later they finally managed to get the wee medical equipment into my vein and we were good to go. As the scanner man said “it took forty-five minutes to do something that should have been done in five”. At least the scan itself took only a couple of minutes.

The wait for the scan result, however, was seven days of anxiety inducing madness. As each day clicked over my mind flooded with all sorts of possibilities that could be causing this (at times) excruciating abdominal pain; could it be pancreatic cancer? Maybe it’s stomach cancer? Or an ulcer? Maybe it’s several ulcers all conjoining to create the world’s most grotesque stomach growth?

Yes.

I have hypochondriac tendencies.

It’s not fun!

But after seven days of waiting I finally got the results of the scan yesterday. Apparently what is causing the pain is a 4x7cm cyst that has nestled itself into my pancreas and is happily doing whatever cysts do, much to the chagrin of its host. The GP said this might require surgery (which I’m not too keen on) but because the pain has subsided slightly over the last few days, he hasn’t referred me to the surgeon’s knife just yet. He’s going to monitor me over the coming weeks and, in a couple of months time will send me for another scan (which I’m not too keen on given the canulla nightmare of my recent scan) to see what the cyst is getting up to.

Strangely enough I’m not too fussed about having a cyst. It’s a little disconcerting (especially given its size) but it’s wonderful to know that there is an actual cause of the pain and that it’s not just some depression/anxiety induced psychosomatic symptom. It’s also wonderful to have a doctor that seems to genuinely care about what I’m going through. He really has been fantastic over the last several weeks, putting up with all sorts of paranoia, hypochondria and anxiety from this most stressed out of individuals.

In fact, it’s safe to say that I have never in my life felt this ill (even when I had glandular fever, which is the closest comparison to my current woes). And when I feel ill, I don’t function well mentally. My mood turns sour, depression creeps in and life becomes bleak and unenjoyable. So hopefully, as time ticks on, and my physical health improves, I will find my mental health improving alongside it.

For I really am completely over hospitals, canullas and abdominal pain. Although I do quite like the gowns, as they show off my cute wee behind! :p