Tag Archives: trauma

Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event.
A traumatic event involves a single experience, or an enduring or repeating event or events, that completely overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope or integrate the ideas and emotions involved with that experience.

In my Head

I spend a lot of time in my head.

Observing, synthesising, debating and concluding. All by myself. All in my head.

I’ve always done it. I don’t know how not to do it.

I put it down to being an only child, where there was no one else to share my thoughts, or the scenarios and debates I created in my head. My parents were hard working migrants, trying to put food on the table and provide their first and only born with the education and opportunity to achieve and succeed.

I’m sure as a creative child, those thoughts would have been fanciful and self-deluded. After all, there was no one to point out the flaw in my plan for schoolyard domination. I developed resilience via a steep learning curve.

Adolescence did not change my modus operandi, particularly as my parents went through an ugly divorce in my pre-teen years. The arguments, the late night whispering and the removal of my dad’s clothing into 40L plastic bags were all observed, recorded and filed away…for future reference.

My young brain recorded that trust and intimate relationships are fraught with danger.

Now as an adult, happily ensconced in an intimate relationship that looks nothing like my parents’ or anything else I had witnessed or imagined, I still find myself spending quite some time in my head.

Observing, synthesising, debating and concluding.

And in dealing with undefined auto-immune dis-eases, I find that I spend more time retreating, in my head, wondering how did it all go so wrong? What can I do to stop it, reverse it, halt its progress?

I’ve spent many hours googling down the rabbit warren, coming back more overwhelmed than clear. I’ve read books on neuro-plasticity finishing them with great hope that my brain can repair itself from the chronic fatigue short circuit and my short term memory will return.

I’ve scoured the latest journal articles on lupus research and the effectiveness of rituximab and the latest in immuno-suppressants. Hoping that pharmaceutical companies will add another drug option to the market, given that it’s been over 40 years since the last dedicated lupus drug.

I’ve struggled to find any information that could explain the importance of testosterone for females, and why my pituary gland is malfunctioning, without having to enrol in a degree in medicine. Although I suspect I have the first year of theory covered.

I even had my hopes raised when ABC’s Catalyst program, did a story on testosterone, but it was short lived as they chose to focus on middle aged men and menopausing woman. Because it appears that the sex lives of baby boomers, deserves more research and funding than those living with auto-immune disease.

I’ve fallen in and out of love with meditation, struggling to find a routine, a niche, a regular space in my day. Started drinking kefir daily, and once I got past the tangy and surprising effervescence of my coconut milk, my gut started to thank me immediately.

My yoga practice ebbed and flowed, largely due to the instability of my spine as the arthritis of my sacro-illiac joint decided to stand front and centre in 2014.

It started as a niggle, but ended with another red flag on my littered path.

The pain in the dimple of my left glute, my left knee giving way as I walk Franki to the café or try to manage the 45 stairs to freedom. The tingling in my left heel, the numbness in my hamstring.

Of the three episodes I’ve experienced in the second half of the year, I seem unable to acknowledge the symptoms until my back spasms, my hip locks and I can no longer turn my neck or lift my arm. Then the desperate call to the physio. As I’ve said before…I can be a slow learner.

And then the humility kicks in and I need to exit my head.

I ask my husband to wash my hair. I ask friends to walk a little slower. I ask Franki not to stop and sniff at every lamp post, perhaps every third one instead.

I tell my yoga teacher it’s a non-pretzel day, I can only do a 30 minute session and ask “can we do some breathing and meditation to complete the hour?”

And I ask strangers to help me untie Franki from the café chair leg as the Fisio-taped back and shoulders make my movements laboured as if my life has been catapulted into slow motion.

It’s those moments where I realise I can’t spend all that time in my head. That in fact, my life can be made easier by just opening the doors and sharing, asking and letting go.

Yes, 2014 has been a challenge. Not because my prognosis has become any worse, and not because the treatments have been wholly unsuccessful. Like everything in life, it has its success and its shortfalls.

I’ve experimented, struggled, rejigged and reworked.

Always in my head. But slowly, with others.

And with only hours left in 2014, I can only hope that I can approach the next 365 days with a little less “in my head” and a little more “in the marinating bowl” with others.

I’ll share my puzzle pieces, and ask for a different perspective. I’ll try them again, this time in a different place or space, sometimes by myself but also with others.

And I’ll remind myself that just as my parents tried valiantly, so will I.

Because life doesn’t always play out the way it does in your head.

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And this is where it starts…

The last six months of 2012 were life changing.

My life was turned upside down; and I was shaken, not stirred.

Shaken so very hard I didn’t know where I would land. What abyss would I face?

I was hanging onto a final thread, desperate to not let go of what was familiar, despite the fact that it would most likely kill me.

It was like a out take from the Lord of the Rings.

Perhaps Frodo should have let go as well?

I’m a slow learner you see, I’ve learnt that 10 is my magic number. It took me 10 years from the time I could speak, before I could find the words to leak my childhood secret. And at least 10 therapists since then to keep me sane, assuring me that my responses, behaviours and thoughts were ‘normal.’

10 days before by 35th birthday, I experienced debilitating fatigue before my body collapsed into a heap. 10 days after my 35th birthday to accept that something was wrong, and I could no longer push through. 10 weeks to hit absolute rock bottom, wondering if it was all worth it. And just as long to let go, if only just one finger, off that ledge peering into the abyss.

Bottom of well_canstock

How did I get here? God knows. I am the overachiever, type-A personality. I suffered childhood trauma, that has never really been resolved. Is it meant to? I’ve learnt to stay under the radar, work hard and people will notice your efforts. Mistake #1, of volume 10.

I’m not very good at asserting myself. At the back of my mind I don’t think my opinion is of any value. Again, childhood conditioning contributed to this.

I avoid conflict. I don’t think I was ever taught how to disagree without taking it personally or fearing I will hurt the other person. Whether it’s a debate over the dinner table about refugees and their right to seek asylum or whether I should tell my mum, 4 calls a day to check on my welfare, is a little over the top.

So I either avoid conflict, a difference in opinions, or if I’m really worked up…it usually ends with me in angry tears, feeling uber-tense and/or infuriated or leaving the recipient/s bamboozled. Not quite conducive to interpersonal relationships. This also explains why I was single for so long.

As you can see, I’m pretty au fait with my weaknesses. I just don’t know how to turn them around. And you can be as enlightened as possible, but without the ability to transform…it’s just a choose your own adventure book with only one option.

I’ve now been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus and Hashimoto disease is rearing its head.

No point asking how I got here.

The question is: how can I move from understanding my emotionally constipated state to adding some fibre?