I have been learning what that means for me and practicing implementing loving myself first all over my life.
I developed this concept for myself after combining all of the information I had gathered about my complex conditions and really boiled it down with some solid ocd overthinking- and unlimited access to the internet to read all about pain science and really study how to speed up the process of this getting better business.
Mama wants my body back!
I want to be able to pursue my career dreams; as uninhibited by this central nervous system disorder as I can.
I have the advantage of my age to reverse whatever is happening and I believe I still have time to get healthy before I am struggling with a full time condition. I am advocating for early intervention harm reduction for myself and for my body!
I know how precious health is both mental and physical, I always have known, I watched family members struggle with cancers, and grief, addictions and traumas of their own my whole life.
I learned through every circumstance that I have faced there are a few first steps that make the rest of the journey easier… like pre-requisites!
First is having gratitude for the journey that brought you to the present moment, acknowledging and really digging deep to find it for all aspects of your past.
Then finding gratitude for your resiliency- finding love for your grit; light in your darkness, getting your power back and gaining strength and motivation to grow further, dig deeper.
Then learning how to unconditionally love yourself, all of who you authentically are; with no filters or masks. Learn to dance within the shadows and bask in the sun.
If you LOVE yourself first you get one step closer to the rejuvenation of your cells… that’s the name of my game. It starts with self-love on this really high trauma informed level; it ends with my sensitization reducing with practice.
My full time job has been literally LOVING MYSELF FIRST, by learning and practicing things that heal my body while I wait.
I am overwhelmed with the network that I have created now. LOVEyourself first is the mindset that created the network of help I have access to now.
I’m so excited to continue to keep sharing my journey! Thank you for all of your support!
There’s this misconception in my life that somehow I am not as sick as I say I am or something. It is interesting to interact with people and have them treat me based on how real they believe my illness is or how much my illness effects me. The assumptions that people have about me
If I am capable of hitting the baseline of showering and doing my 10 minute makeup routine to make myself feel 75% better than when I don’t do that, it somehow discounts the fact that some days it takes me a whole day just to get to that baseline, and sometimes, often times I don’t make it.
Some days it takes me until noon to feel okay, some days I don’t get to achieve that feeling. But I am really sick and tired of being judged when I am graced with a good day where the stars line up and the inflammation is down and I feel as good as it gets for me.
I refuse to stifle those feelings. I need to encourage more of them and welcome them, it needs to be okay for me to be okay.
I am going to celebrate and encourage my body to do that. I will not hide it in shame, that is what we are supposed to do when we are on disability, we are supposed to only be sickly, never appearing tooo healthy, or they will re-assess you for your eligibility of being on disability.
Here’s what I have concluded. I have been deemed physically disabled. I am fortunate enough to have insurance that in the event that I remain disabled until I am 65, I am covered. To be clear, this is not the life that I want, I would much rather be contributing to my family income, than collecting disability while I wait for surgery, and possibly longer. I would rather build financial freedom than collect a tiny insurance cheque every month.
I’m not really sure why it comes as a surprise to loved ones that I am not doing well, because living in my body is not luxurious. I have been mentioning that in increasing intensity for almost two years now. I have been forced into my bed and abandoned by everyone I thought I could rely on at some point.
There was a point where I was so confused and didn’t even know if I could rely on myself.
I wouldn’t wish what happens to me every single day on my worst enemy. I just couldn’t be that cruel!
I don’t even want to live my life in my body in this condition, I couldn’t imagine forcing someone else to live in the pain that I carry it is torture for me- and I am conditioned to it.
I have danced with the demons that chronic illness brings, brings and have adjusted the expectations that got me here, and realigned them with where I intend to go.
Just because I carry it all so well, because I have practiced carrying trauma alone, for my entire life does not make it easy, and it certainly doesn’t mean I should continue to carry it alone. The brave face that I have worn as a mask for my entire life has come off. I have unmasked myself, and asked for help.
Not like I had a choice in the matter. If I wanted access to help, I had to ask for it. And asking for help with processing your thoughts puts you into a category, the one with the huge stigma… mental health. It doesn’t matter that a huge trigger is your medical condition and your treatment for it and the mental health care and the navigation that goes with all of it is pure torture.
Life with a physical disability is not luxurious.
Life with a mental health disorder like anxiety and depression or an eating disorder are not luxurious.
Life while you are healing from past traumas is definitely not luxurious.
Finding ways to live my life and find pleasure in my life could be seen as luxurious and I definitely do that!
I find as much pleasure as I can in each of these areas, I literally squeeze every ounce of pleasure out of every single moment- never letting any of its magic go to waste.
I find it, seek it out; and if it is nowhere to be found, I make it.
I make my own luxuries when they don’t exist. I choose to do this instead of putting on the old mask.
I only have the privilege of the luxuries that I have worked to obtain, nothing that I have has ever been handed to me.
My life was a sequence of consequences for other peoples actions, or lack of them. Followed always by how I could use my talents please everyone. I became an expert at finding efficiencies that made more time, but then not keeping that time for myself, literally ever. My creativity was always used for the benefit of others, and never really to help me achieve my deepest desires and goals. Even my down time was always spent focused on where I could be of help to anyone but myself.
The consequence on your life when you are the helper that never accepts help, is that you surround yourself with people that prefer remaining apathetic over taking the actions that you normally take, and when you are no longer physically able to give- the relationship dissolves, almost always when the helper is looking for support.
As an abused person who was controlled, not having a real say in your medical treatment and having to fight your way through it for survival is absolutely not helpful, and certainly not luxurious. Being told while you fight for your life every single day that you have to wait in a line that doesn’t have an end date is devastating. It literally affects my self worth… how can my life be this worthless? I am deteriorating, literally, and I am supposed to sit quietly and wait?
Gaining access to help is not luxurious. For me it is literally traumatizing.
My life is not luxurious.
I have trauma surrounding my health.
I have trauma surrounding my mental health.
I have trauma in my relationships.
I have trauma in my life.
I have trauma.
Trauma is no luxury, unless you decide it is.
I decided that if there was a luxury; some kind of gift it could give me, that I would find it, seek it out; and if it is nowhere to be “found” I will create it, and I did, on purpose.
The gift my trauma gave me is really what I learned for myself through it.
That is the gift that my trauma gave me, the luxury that you see, it is my Authenticity.
The gift that I have found in my trauma is this…Authenticity. My own authenticity, my authentic self.
I’ve been many versions of myself as I have grown into the woman I am today because of my journey to find my authentic self.
There were times when authenticity was far from a priority, and being perfect and liked took the reins and truth be told, that is where I lost myself every single time.
I could never achieve true pure happiness for myself, until I committed to authenticity.
Authenticity is far from an all holy attitude. Authenticity is the raw and hard, but pure and clean white hot truth.
It is that hard thing to say that should help bring understanding to strong relationships, but also it will highlight the fractures in relationships that are unhealthy to begin with. The whole truth, that is authenticity.
Authenticity is always the right thing, no matter how hard; it’s the raw answer with the reason why that comes from your souls purpose.
Being authentic for me meant seeing where my actions might have been a disservice to myself and perhaps to others, and making the commitment to changing those actions and behaviours.
In order to be authentic, you will have had to experience the determination to change, or the will to defend your honor in some way.
Authenticity requires a little bit of grit in the beginning, but it gets less rough with practice- it does take practice.
In order to achieve authenticity; you must first be aware.
Without awareness there is no authenticity, only ignorance.
I started with being authentic with myself and realizing that I needed to make some changes. I took the steps I needed to take for me, on my path, and my journey, with the information that I had available to me at any given moment.
I became aware of the trauma surrounding my health, and took steps towards what would authentically be the most powerful and most helpful treatments for me, and I have taken action towards getting the trauma informed treatments that I need to heal.
I acknowledged that the trauma surrounding my mental health needed to be addressed. I took the steps I needed to take to get the kind of help that I actually wanted. There are many different kinds of mental health help available. It is important to find practitioners that share your values.
I acknowledged the trauma that was in my relationships, on individual bases. Being authentic in any relationship can sometimes put that relationship in the balance, especially if one person is acknowledging a trauma that the other person is not ready or willing to face for themselves.
I acknowledged all of the trauma in my life, in all of the places that I found it when I observed. I replaced it with authenticity, for all.
I showed up my authentic self, and those who didn’t want to face their own lack of growth threw shade and abandonment my way. I took that white hot pain and turned it into the motivation I needed to succeed, and the proof that no matter what I will always have my own back.
What happened from there is the birth of my new life, the new me Authentic me.
And then I learned what self love was, authentic self love.
When you have achieved authentic self love, your possibilities are limitless.
***this contains videos that are unedited of me experiencing and processing my medical journey. There is trauma in my medical journey. Trauma makes you feel unsafe:specific things happen to your brain when you don’t feel safe… and then if your brain has ever had “practice” not feeling safe (ie:prolonged, or unanswered trauma) your brain remembers and hot wires those responses. I am showing it to show my authentic struggles with this disease. Going to the hospital triggers my CPTSD- this is the aftermath of that on my body.
Mental health is a priority, and the level of stress the world has on us is a problem for many- bubbling right below the surface. That is the most dangerous kind of stress- because it sort of hides then explodes. It’s a brain game, I promise you it isn’t permanent… but do take it seriously and talk to someone or learn more about it for you!
If your brain is starting to play games with you please call the help/ crisis line, they are there 24/7 (everywhere has them- just google crisis line I don’t want to link old info). Even if it is just so that you don’t have to be alone through a tough feeling- that’s okay… that is why they are there, for support. Your concern is important no matter how small or “silly” or huge and suffocating… it matters, because you matter. Self-harm of any kind- even just binging is “enough” to reach out for help! Crisis intervention IS trauma informed care- it is safe… please reach there if you need… any crisis line can help you… ❤️ stay safe, stay here… you matter! ❤️
Thank you for coming to my PSA. I love you.
Welcome to my shitshow. -B. 💋
My body has conditioned to being sensitive now. I was in trauma for two whole days, so I just wanted to be authentic and honest about what my normally healthy brain looks like on trauma.
To be very clear I am not discounting the need for any medical service worker- and to know me is to know that I have compassion for the structuralism that the humans doing those jobs have to endure to save people the right way! ❤️ I have emergency nurses in my family. I have respect and gratitude for the amazing work…
I am promoting trauma-informed care for patients, because we need it- and it isn’t available. Anyone that might have started with compassion and empathy has Less and less as the compassion fatigue sets in and they become more under duress from being inundated with even more systems for the CDC – new fucking gowns and masks and all of the Ppe and rule changes that have to be implemented with people who are struggling with that trauma – its absolute turmoil…. how can anyone feel like they really have a second to breathe let alone actually help. It’s just a ball of frustration. My point is… I am working out my frustrations about a rare disease and it’s struggles with the system. Please don’t use my story to NOT seek care… I am just advocating for better care.
Ask for they help you need, always. The restrictions on your free life this past year have been gradually impacting everyone. Taking really good care of your mental health is becoming”trendy” medicine just hasn’t caught up yet. You are not alone in anything that you are thinking- I promise you that! Just take it to a professional- even our most loving and helpful people can be damaging when we really need a pro to guide us! Trust me… I’ve got the pro… she is a self love game changer because she sees my trauma where I can’t!
Pain is the root of my medical problem, and pain especially prolonged pain that wears down my central nervous system triggers my systematic trauma responses… which are elevated in my body. Trauma… We all have it and yet we never acknowledge that it has a way of making even the simplest of things so much more complex.
Well, I suppose let’s just hit the ground running… I had this grande idea of how my vlog portion was going to launch and slowly start to show my journey as it unfolds with pretty shots with new ring lights and fancy gimble. Welcome to the shitshow… buckle up!
I thought it would honestly start with good news; this could all be “timely” news (I’m not quite in a space where I can consider my experience in the full light of positivity yet.
But here we are- welcome to the shitshow. Let’s see where this journey takes me!
Starts off pretty normal- except the dentist. I am unbothered by the dentist, just there for a cleaning and looking forward to the feeling of my freshly cleaned teeth after not having access to benefits since losing my job the December before… it was time! We learned that I have been grinding my teeth, very common apparently for people who are anxious. I need a night guard. And she recommended about 4K worth of uncovered Botox to unlock the super muscles I have in my jaw now. The grinding is so bad there is some damage to my big teeth. She wants to place crowns. My teeth are healthy and normal otherwise very strong.
Jason was back to work, the kids were eager to get back to school… I was eager to get back to them being back into routines, so that I could do the same!
I was feeling alright… had a bit of pain and began my inflammation cycle between ovulation and my period… emotionally feeling the shift of the hormones… but I was keeping consistent and focused on my upcoming goals for 2021. I went on my walk to check that little thing off my list. While I was walking I felt really unwell.. I chalked it up to not having walked early enough in the day to getting balanced, plus just the back to school/work shift with my hormones.
By the end of my walk my left leg had shooting pain deep inside near my inner hip socket. I was having a fluttery heart palpitations and was a little disoriented.
At this point I decided it might be blood sugar maybe thyroid is off with hormone switch. I got home and had a snack and breathed through a couple more shots of pain.
Then I took my kids to the mall, one needed a clothing thing and I had a return. 2 stops. No dilly dally. I had to bend over and breathe mid mall a handful of times.
By the time I was home I was bending over in pain more frequently… this wasn’t like my normal pain, it was sharper and deeper and triggered with blood pressure movement, not physical muscle movement. I took off my jeans and looked at my legs and inspected my varicose vein- my left leg was visibly larger – in spite of being PCOS swollen in both legs- my leg was still significantly bigger. My vein where it normally bulges was soft and gone… and there was a hard piece about half way up my leg between where the lump once was and the pain was idling in my hip.
The symptoms of a possible blood clot are not ever to be messed with. When you add up all of my stuff it equals an extra likelihood of blood clots and other systematic abnormalities. This is why I am so focused on health and rejuvenating… because I have a chance to heal, if I don’t wait!
This is why I am so hyper aware of my body… we’ve come to have a very intimate relationship lately.
Emergency medicine reduces being aware and wanting to preserve your body by asking and or knowing anything about medicine, or your own body to being a hypochondriac, or a drug addict, or some other form of attention seeking or line jumping tactic.
With my diagnosis of centralized sensitization syndrome, I became so much more aware of everything pertaining to my health.
I have made significant lifestyle changes over the past two years. I know that the longer I wait, the longer I do tests that I don’t really need that give me just tiny pieces of information, the further I degenerate. I can’t do nothing… so I have been making changes while I wait.
This is how the medical system handles my chronic condition.
I don’t believe any human should be treated like this! Trauma informed care needs to come to be implemented in medical systems immediately!
Pictured below is what happens when you google my condition. Triage had this information and didn’t know what it meant…. no one bothered to look… I just cycled up into CPTSD for 9.25 hours.
I had the tests. I am perfectly normal! My blood is looks great, everything looks amazing!
I have asked my doctor months ago for a referral to a neurologist. I was referred to an endocrinologist after I insisted that I should speak to one… when I finally got to talk to him on the phone, it was one traumatic intake then a referral to an even more specialized pelvic Endocrinologist… because I knew more about the vagus nerve than he did… I was too challenging. How does an endocrinologist need more guidance when a patient simply asks…
how do I care for my cns better?
But what about just my central nervous system? Any advice?
Dr. : Ask the vagina doctor, I’m not sure….
The most infuriating thing for me as a patient is being treated like a piece of a broken human no matter where I look for help.
I have chosen to value living in a whole human way, in harmony with my illness and fix what I can and learn to dance with the rest.
I have to value harm reduction for myself because of the complexity of my illness, and the rareness of it all. If I don’t advocate for myself now- I will lose organ functions much sooner than I need to.
The wear and tear on my body is real. I am a little nervous to get my genetic testing back to see the real damage waiting has really done.
Waiting for the help doctors have acknowledged I need- but when I go and seek emergency treatment, with uncontrollable pain, I don’t have access to the mri (even though I have literally waited much longer than my share of time, nearing another year)
I’m waiting for a surgery that I am so far down the list for because my condition is so misunderstood, and my diagnosing doctor is sooooo busy because she is one of the best. Getting to her took me 2 years. (Before I was on disability sick)!
I’m waiting while I do everything in my power to regenerate as I deteriorate.
How long are people expected to tread water while they wait in and out of CPTSD induced by 10-40 day pain cycles?
I am taken less seriously because I have strong resiliency skills.
Rare chronic illness is no cake walk. I should never be repeatedly traumatized when attempting to access help. I understand neurological pain, I should have the respect of being informed if they suspect that over me upcycling in a waiting room.
I should have the choice to get a second opinion in emergency medicine when I ask for one because I don’t feel like a doctor is taking my rare disease seriously.
I am an ultra high functioning case. My therapist had a hard time identifying when I was in full trauma at first. I had to be willing to tell her what I was really feeling, and not hide.
My wish is for medicine to be systematically trauma-informed, because we all need that.
You can’t see my disease, just like you can’t see the trauma that anyone has carried.
Trauma-informed, with self love, and on purpose…. that’s how I choose to live, every single day.
Trauma is your ultra personalized antagonist, it is the antagonist in every human life.
In literally every dark corner of every single human mind… you can find some form of trauma. It might be “no big deal” but it is there chipping away at your self worth.
Trauma is the aftermath of an event, a circumstance that is out of your control and/or is in the past, and therefore no longer in your control. Something that pulls you out of the present moment and into the past with depression, or into the future unknown with anxiety or worry is trauma. It can even just be the thoughts that you think about yourself that hold your trauma. They are also beginning to include emotional conditioning as a form of trauma, seemingly small repeated things that eventually alter the perception of your own self-worth, that’s trauma.
Trauma is the antagonist that you inherit; always there to help you undermine yourself. Always there to tell you that you are not worthy of this or that. Perhaps that you are not capable of achieving more because of something related back to that trauma that has limited your beliefs. Trauma has the ability to help you dissolve any self-worth or motivation in an instant. Then to make it even more difficult to navigate, if you have more than one kind of trauma, or multiple incidences of trauma in your life there is the probability that the complexity of your trauma is greater and more challenging to heal from- because it is all tangled up and has the ability to create not only Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but then on top of that there is the Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, like I have.
It is no surprise that I came from an extremely adverse childhood- if you know my childhood story, or even only the pieces of it that were not on the hush-hush, you know that I was no stranger to trauma. I was engulfed in it; and all of the forced vulnerability and shame that it came with.
I have always been interested in psychology and human interactions. I have inadvertently been studying this for years as the common thread of my life has been growth from my traumatic past. It wasn’t really until I put trauma at the forefront as being one of the key factors that I needed to address that I finally began to put it all together for myself.
I have a vast knowledge of trauma from studying it in depth over the past decade or so as I worked with traumatized and disabled individuals; then later worked with Canadian Mental Health Association where I learned even more about trauma, addictions, and mental health that coincides with both; including trauma healing.
It was here that I was introduced to the concept of the housing first model. This “unpopular” model puts the needs of the human before the needs of public opinion. The housing first model puts psychology and proper mental health care at the forefront of healing, meaning this model houses people who are struggling with substance abuse. Housing first, addictions treatment when they are ready and stable enough to start the process of healing. It focuses on learning self-care if that only means harm reduction for them for that day- that can be enough.
What the program does in many many ways, and what it highlighted for me is this; this is what whole human care looks like. The kind of compassion and understanding that can make a real impact. The Executive Director that I had the pleasure of working for showed me a kind of compassion and empathy that I did not know existed in the world until I experienced her presence.
One day my Executive Director was over an hour and a half late, I knew that she had planned to have a breakfast meeting that day, and assumed that it had just run longer- but it was nearing her next appointment so I was getting a little anxious on her behalf, and was just about to call her cell to check on her. Then with moments to spare, she walks into the office alongside a man who was clearly having a rough day, soiled clothes not showered, and had experienced some powerful emotions with red eyes as proof.
She is a fancy lady. The two walking side by side would be a juxtaposition for most people… unless you knew her. If she wasn’t in her office, or in a meeting she could be found over at the housing first facility sitting in the living room with the tenants gathered around telling their stories, enjoying a famously bad not-for-profit coffee with the powder cream “huffin dust” junk.
She came in and announced unapologetically that the other person, in the waiting room in a suit, could wait a minute because this gentleman was her priority at this very moment. Then she ushered him in with a case manager within minutes to get him set up with the network of services available to him. She undoubtedly helped to heal at least a small part of his trauma just by making him “worthy” of her valuable time.
This Executive Director showed me what it means to see the value of every single human, and that everyone just truly wants to be accepted where they are at today, and to be able to walk beside someone and see them is one of the greatest gifts you can give. She showed me that day and every single day, that real empathy places the same intrinsic value on all humans.
What her experience showed me is that if you take the time to understand more, and have an approach that is compassionate and empathetic towards trauma- you have the greatest gift to give anyone.
All we need when we are fighting for life is to be seen, and to be acknowledged with empathy in lieu of sympathy.
The impact of unanswered emotions and trauma is devastating to the human life. No one asks to be traumatized, but we all are in some way- it is how humans work.
The perpetuation of trauma in your life will always come from a lack of acknowledging it in a healthy way, trust me… I’ve been living in trauma, and climbing out of it.
We tend to bury it, eat it, hide it, laugh at it, use addictions to cope with it. We will try anything and everything it seems before we simply acknowledge that it is there, and that it needs a little attention.
And I know why!
It is the shame that comes with trauma that encourages us to hide it and use avoidance strategies that produce negative returns for us. Trauma is it’s own cycle within us that we also have to keep balanced in our minds. In order to break the cycle, any cycle the first step is awareness or acknowledgement or education about the process of breaking said cycle.
Knowledge really is the most powerful thing when it comes to trauma, and the aftermath of it all. Knowing that healing from trauma has some general processing steps will bring awareness to some of the things that happen during the healing process. During the deep healing processes there is a little bit of chaos to be aware of, know the warning signs for early identification for yourself. Just like anything if you have a sense of the kinds of things to expect, they seem less like curve balls.
Healing from trauma requires you to grow through it.
There is no pill to heal trauma.
There is no single remedy.
In a couple of months it has been two years on this healing journey right through the depths of all of my trauma.
Some of it had been lying dormant for decades, and was very much about me learning to feel safe, after never in my life feeling safe and worthy.
I found that I had packed up all of my trauma in a hypothetical old junk trunk stacked up and compartmentalized for what I thought was the way to live an optimal life. I never thought to unpack any of the trauma. I had acknowledged it was there, and decided that the life I had built was enough to satisfy the healing of my trauma. People who met me in my life prior to being disabled were always visibly shocked to learn about my past. I appeared to be a “little stretched” with motherhood and a career etc, but very “normal”- even envied I came to learn later!
When in reality, I packed that trunk around my life- and eventually the trauma couldn’t be contained anymore. When I tried to fit being physically disabled by pain, and emotionally hitting rock bottom after losing my job- that hypothetical trunk exploded all over my seemingly“near perfect” life.
I have lived with it. It has nearly killed me, and I have reclaimed my life from it piece by piece. I have put in the time and energy into learning about the complexity of my traumas and how to heal them.
I have been doing so much research on trauma; and I am ultra passionate about it. The research that is emerging about trauma and mental health being linked to physical health is something that I frequently nerd out with.
If you battle with trauma of any kind- please find some guidance from someplace that feels safe and healthy. Even starting with educating yourself about what trauma can do, until you are ready to start healing is an amazing first step.
The condition that I have is Centralized Sensitization Syndrome. It comes from trauma being trapped in your body ( in super non medical terms). Trauma is energy (negative energy!!) that travels through neurological pathways and synapses it has a different frequency, and creates different outcomes biologically than a non-traumatic energy. (Where physics and biology collide). What happens with my condition is that there is a negative impact up cycle that isn’t needed, or a larger response than is needed, because of the way my brain perceives everything. This creates chaos in my body’s functioning because it is processing extra hormones and damaging my organs from over use to detoxify what my body is producing for itself.
My job is to heal myself; including the trauma. Trauma is my ultra personalized antagonist, and battling it has been one of my life’s greatest stories. Becoming trauma-informed was another amazing gift that I gave myself to heal.
There are quotes and even definitions about self-care that skirt around exactly what it is, because to define it wholly would be impossible I think, and frankly people just aren’t really aware of what is good for them anymore.
Who can blame them?
There is no clear definition for something as basic as self-care that really gives any direction. No wonder the majority of us suck at it!
My mother in law uses an analogy about a dictionary that reminds me of this… she never could understand as a young girl, why if she was asking an adult how to spell something they would tell her to “look it up in the dictionary”… cool she would think to herself, EXCEPT…. in order to look something up in the dictionary… you kind of need to know how to SPELL IT!!! Having access to the dictionary, without access to the proper spelling renders the dictionary useless if you can’t find the damn word!
I think that we all approach self-care in the same manner, and we are largely missing the point- in just the same way as the adult telling the child to look it up. Self-care, we know the word. We really don’t know what components make it up for us, how to spell it out as individualized self-care; therefore have a really difficult time defining what it means for ourselves.
There is no right or wrong in self-care, just like in grief, or growth, the individual results will be different, depending on the person and their life.
The impact will be different depending on a persons past experiences, and ability to be mindful and consistent.
Biologically we all live on a spectrum, a combination of all experiences, perceptions and circumstances that make use unique, therefore the self-care that we require will be unique to us.
That said, there are thousands or millions of things out there that claim to be “self-care” they are products, don’t confuse them as anything more than that, they are there to make someone else money! If you find it helpful to purchase something additional once you have begun your self-care routine to enhance your experience… by all means- but notice that real authentic self-care should not cost you a thing. Journaling is journaling, if you write it on loose leaf paper or in a $1,000 leather bound journal the point is that you write, don’t miss the point because you can’t afford the journal that you desire…. just write!
Self – care is not a commercial purchase on a daily basis. You do not need to buy anything to practice really great self-care. All you need to do is be consistent. At first you can be consistent at defining what self-care looks like for your life…. then once you think you know just be consistent with things that help, and your life will get better.
So what can self-care look like then if you don’t need to buy it?
Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself, in all aspects of your human spectrum the self-care that you require is no different than any other human… we all have a basic set of human needs that we are supposed to be capable of meeting independently.
I ran into the problem of being in my 30’s and really not knowing what self-care truly was. I mean I was managing, and living my life, but I didn’t realize what self-care actually meant for me until I had no choice but to learn it to cope with my medical conditions.
Part of my treatment plan included returning to the baselines of self-care from being totally dependant, and incapable of physically caring for my basic needs, like showering and feeding myself properly. I was in such a bad state physically where my sensitization and neuropathways were hotwired for trauma, and constantly triggered. This put me into a worse place both physically and emotionally and got me my ticket onto the hot mess express!
It was from this place, of literally facing living in a panic ridden pain stricken body that I finally decided to figure out what self- care actually is…. and what it isn’t.
I’ve written about the concept that I adapted- HELPING VS HURTING where for every decision that I made for myself I observed myself with LOVE for myself and a willingness to learn what I might be doing that is quietly sabotaging me.
As I became more aware of the actions that I was taking, I was able to make corrections where things were not serving me or my health, take actions to weed out the self-sabotage.
In about 4 months it will be the two year anniversary from when I was removed from my life to take a break, by a trojan horse of a disease.
I am still here, still improving every day while I wait for the surgery with no date and live my life as best I can in the meantime.
Self-care is really anything that helps to rejuvenate cells in your body, on a mind body spirit level, anything that helps over hurts.
For me, self-care is the pursuit of the healthiest life that I can have for my whole body… especially my brain and my organs. My young body has been through a whole bunch.
Self-care for me is anything that will help me get really old and stay really healthy. I have so much living left to do, and I am going to do it using the knowledge of self-care that I have afforded myself through my illness to stay as healthy as I can.
The impact of self-care will be different depending on past experiences, and ability to be mindful and consistently dedicated to your commitment to grow.
Once I finally acknowledged that I was really lacking in the area of real self-care, and that getting my nails did really isn’t the point- my life changed. Once I used consistency to compound the affect of self-care in my life it turned into something even more beautiful, it turned into growth.
If there is any hint of imperfection while I stare my trauma in the face, shame on me.
It doesn’t matter that my life feels like it is in the balance, shame on me for showing emotion in my trepidation.
It doesn’t matter that I literally have to help the medical system help me- so that I can survive, shame on me for having enough drive to survive to have a “new diagnosis of the week”. I must be a hypochondriac, shame on me.
Shame on me for spending so much time on myself.
Scraping together moments of time that match up with moments when I have cognitive clarity all while attempting, and failing horribly at maintaining a life that I was once capable of, shame on me.
Shame on me for fighting for the love of my life, while I battled my other demons completely alone, shame on me.
Shame on me for showing up the only way I knew how to; and saving my marriage.
Shame on me for being hurt by pandemic divorce jokes; when I was contemplating that reality, shame on me.
Shame on me for being hurt when my rock bottom life is the butt of your jokes.
Shame on me for believing in anything beyond, or more divine than myself.
Shame on me for being traumatized my entire life by nearly every person who said that they love me. Shame on me.
Shame on me for being unwanted, especially now that I am no longer anyone’s version of perfect.
Shame on me for not being able to be quiet or good enough to not get the shit beaten out of me as a child, physically at first, and then emotionally for a long time after that. Shame on me.
Shame on me for my parents choices.
Shame on me for never having the space to have a voice- then learning how to have one only in anger as I defended myself against the people who raised me. All I ever did in my first family was defend myself, there was rarely happiness available to me; and never without a cost or an exchange. Happiness was not taught to me as something that is free and readily available. Shame on me.
Shame on me for being physically bigger than the other children. I got different portions, and food restrictions. I got verbal comments and pokes and jabs from the whole family- about my appearance… literally shame on me.
Shame on me for only having access to foods that were unhealthy for me, and shame on me for feeling so deprived and unloved that I chose food as a coping tool. Shame on me.
Shame on me for losing my shit when I am being abused, after I have specifically asked for a boundary due to a my known trauma… shame on me for losing my temper.
Shame on me for being emotional when I am being abused. Especially as an adult.
Shame on me for learning how to heal.
Shame on me for learning how to be better than I was.
Shame on me for asking why.
Shame on me for all of the things that I was taught were out of my control.
Shame on me for realizing that my life is in my control.
Shame on me for expecting help from people that say that they love me.
Shame on me for asking for help.
Shame on me for needing more.
Shame on me for wanting solitude, specifically peaceful solitude.
Shame on me for scraping together, with zero resources, in a pandemic.
Shame on me for having self respect.
Shame on me for maintaining a space held for my healing.
Shame on me for being a warrior.
Shame on me for speaking about being a warrior.
Shame on me for needing to tell my story.
Shame on me for wanting to help others ease their dis-eases.
Shame on me.
Shame on me for healing relentlessly. Through trauma, through fear, through pain, through broken relationships, through parenting and even through a pandemic… through it all… shame on me.
Humanity still uses shame, it is engrained in our sub culture, in humanity.
Shame is a tool that is used by humans to get them to comply with being a certain way. We are all taught it from a very young age, how to give and receive shame.
Giving and receiving shame are taught more extensively than giving and receiving love.
Think about that.
Shame is used pretty much from birth to “help” a child conform to society’s standards. Shame is an archaic tool, that should hopefully be recognized as doing way more harm than good.
I am a fairly sturdy individual, but I can assure you that shame is not the way to build resilience, ever.
Since I began sloughing off the shame that people try to place on me, I have found more resilience than ever before.
Shame is generational. Brene Brown has done research on shame, and I will say this again she has been a huge influence on how I chose my healing path. The information that she provided me with the work that she has put into the world has undoubtedly helped me navigate the stigma of mental health advocacy and the shame attached to that when you are advocating for yourself.
I am a natural advocate, for literally anyone and everyone in my life who needs one.
I enjoy helping people, and when given the opportunity I am often told that I have a profound impact on how a person feels. I make people feel special.
People don’t need shame. There is enough of it in the world. Part of being trauma informed is knowing what shame is and how it contributes to people’s lives. We have been conditioned to make shame.
I don’t need shame, certainly not from people who claim to love me!
Shame is not welcome here. Shame was left behind as soon as I realized that it was there. I intentionally burned the shame bridge to the ground.
I’ve shed all of the shame; released all of the guilt that it tries to hide behind.
There’s no shame on me, and I don’t even feel guilty about it!
I'm Human; amazingly Human.
I'm a wild juxtaposition of emotions and feelings.
vulnerability and courage
love and hate
fear and abundance
strength and weakness
chaos and calm
I'm Human; amazingly Human.
I choose to feel it all, in balance and on purpose.
I'm Human; amazingly Human.
I harness vulnerability and create courage.
I embrace love and release hate.
I abandon fear and forge abundance.
I find strength in weaknesses with growth and practice.
I calm the chaos with intention.
I'm Human; amazingly Human.
I thrive instead of survive; by choosing my life on purpose.
I'm Human; amazingly Human.
And, so are you.
I have some really complex ones that I have created for myself.
I have built them up over time.
They are a complex system of reasons why I should or shouldn’t succumb to urges for the sake of my comfort, and at the expense of my growth.
The one thing that I know about excuses is that they are part of growth that we don’t like to talk about… they are the death of growth.
Excuses are the death of growth.
Mine are anyway.
My excuses for why I do not do the things that I know need doing are alarmingly good at targeting my little bit of willpower and obliterating it with a single thought!!! One little sentence in my head- can kill my motivation with laser precision- and nothing even needs to happen, just a thought.
I have “watched” myself process as part of the mental health exercises I have completed throughout my healing journey.
I progress through the goal setting stages, and then build the motivation that I need to propel me forward, and in the beginning , and still more often than I like- I can be defeated by an excuse that comes from a negative thought. Then I beeline for the comfort that I know is bad for me, but need the comfort so badly that I don’t care in that moment. Then the regret and the building upon the self sabotage happens. This is the cycle of addiction.
If you watch closely you can match the cycle of addiction to every single human. whether they identify with it or not- we all have things that we need to be “addicted” to. I can assure you that the person who has the addiction to drugs and the person who has the addiction to food and the person who has the addiction to working on their body for a building competition, all have the same emotional struggles they have made different choices as to how they cope.
Coping is a survival tool.
Coping is necessary, sometimes… it is what we need to do to carry our bodies from trauma to restoration. There will be times when coping seems like it is the only thing available, because sometimes it is.
I think we have taken that sometimes and run with the feeling that the coping gives us. Coping is a form of instant relief- but it is ultimately a band aid that actually causes many many other problems.
Coping kills progress and coping of any kind is addicting.
I have noticed that there are so many ways that we cope without even realizing we are coping. That was the astonishing or shocking part to me. The fact that we all are sitting around coping as best we can, kind of just spinning around all of our cycles as we go, making them all move more quickly as you build upon them with the entanglement of reasons why you think that you can or can’t do something… creating, you guessed it… excuses.
My life only began to change when I stopped making excuses for myself, when I started challenging my excuses disguised as “reasons” for my apathy.
Excuses, are you using them to cope? Coping is sometimes required, but coping is not thriving it is important to intend to tip the scales to healthy resourcing over unhealthy coping when you can.
I am striving for thriving, with healthy coping strategies, not excuses and harmful things.
I try not to let excuses or coping be the death of growth these days, wherever I can. It is a learning process.
The gap between where you are and where you want to be. The gap between who you are and who you want to be.
The inevitable gap.
The secret is that YOU are responsible for building the bridge over your gap.
I was searching high and low for help, someone who could direct me through making sense of all of the nonsense.
I had a few pretty good ideas about how I didn’t want my life to look, including what was at the time, my reality. Being in my bed during my pain cycles or staying heavily medicated so that I could participate in normal daily activities was not the way I had originally planned to live my life. If there was a way to get out of that situation- I was going to find it.
I was living the life that I wanted to escape, and much like anyone who is faced with a huge shift in perspective with a trauma, mine was that I was forceably removed from my career, and my life, placed firmly in my bed to chase a mariot of symptoms with zero resources or funding, or real help available to me.
I was left to bridge the gap, without the energy to even get out of bed, let alone shower and take care of myself…. when I have children and a life to tend to.
As a survivor of abuse, feeling helpless triggers something far deeper for me emotionally and then there are physical symptoms and consequences that follow for my body.
I have been living this life for a year and a half.
I haven’t been just laying down and waiting. I have been fighting and advocating for myself through both the medical and mental health systems as well as the insurance company that funds my long term disability.
I have been learning, and researching ways to bridge the gaps that I have. I have also been relentlessly searching for helpful help that is available, with zero funds, symptoms piling up oh, right, and a damn pandemic, you know just to see how skillful I really am at this balancing act called life, with both of my hands tied behind my back.
I have had to battle hard against my past to bridge the gap for me emotionally, shifting to more emotionally intelligent ways of responding to situations- rather than reacting.
I am learning how to bridge those gaps. I am using cognitive behavior therapy techniques to bridge those gaps, to change the beliefs that I thought I had about myself. This is gritty work, soul work when you take the time to do it with your wholeheart.
I was looking for a way to help myself, because frankly, I couldn’t wait any longer.
I found a podcast by Brooke Castillo. She is a Master Life Coach, she teaches coaches how to coach- first themselves, and then other coaches. It was called “how to feel better”. It is the first podcast that she created, and I listened to it- and kept listening to everything that she has to offer.
Her teachings offer ways to coach yourself from the root causes of your issues, and build self-confidence and resilience in the fact that the emotions that you experience have reasons to be there. She does a wonderful job of explaining the map to mindfulness in a way that doesn’t feel like she is trying to sell you something. Her podcast is totally free and touches on important cognitive basics, that I was surprised to find I was doing to myself. Not only does she offer suggestions about what might be wrong, she also offers the solution that fixes the root of the issue.
Listening to her podcasts let me know that I was not alone in the things that I was experiencing. Although she doesn’t directly dive into the mental health aspect of things at first, self help really is mental health maintenance or mental health insurance and she does encourage mental health as a way to literally feel better.
For me, my whole health depends on me bridging the gap for as many things as I can every single day, and my mental health is no exception, consistency is literally the key to my wholebody wellness.
If you are a science nerd like me and want to dive into the pain science behind Centralized Sensitization Syndrome, or even just the basics of chronic pain science you will begin to see the patterns of how small steps of consistency create upward trends in feeling better that are long term, because they actually regenerate brain cells and neuroplasticity.
I want to break all of the cycles that are within my control, that are no longer serving me and learn to manage myself better around the things that are out of my control- and not worth my energy. That was the goal that I made for myself.
From my bed I started to establish the gaps that I wanted to bridge.
There were so many gaps. I am growth focused, so I am always willing to learn.
I faced as many of them as I could handle at any given moment with every single scrap of energy I could muster… I progressed forward- at a snails pace…and far from perfect… but forward.
I faced the hard conversations with my husband, over and over again, until we got through to each other what we each needed to hear- that alone almost cost us our relationship. But we inched forward.
I wanted to actually break cycles of anger that I had left from my childhood.
Be a better Mom, a better wife, a better me. Those were my wishes from my bed. I wanted desperately to be whole body healthy, and to feel better so that I can get back to being a Mom, wife and get back to work and into my life.
I started to listen to the podcast, and I started to connect the dots for myself. I started to un-learn and grow through the things that used to hold me back.
Over the next few months, I was finding the courage to have conversations with people that were supporting me.
I had the courage to speak my needs, and speak my authentic feelings and share terrifying experiences that I was re-living during what some people define as a spiritual awakening, or cognitive dissonance if you want to keep it psychological.
I was opening up to people in ways that I had never experienced opening up. I was sharing, I was elated to feel myself again, alive and connected on deeper levels.
I had cultivated motivation, and seen the growth that I could accomplish with mindfulness and determination.
I shared my authentic experiences and was told that I was no longer welcome with people that once welcomed me with open arms because of the experiences.
This year is my gap year I suppose. Considering I just finished high school last year as an adult, I suppose it is ironic enough to fit nicely in the juxtaposition that is my life.
I didn’t realize that the gap would be so jagged and messy.
I didn’t realize that being authentic would be the hardest-best thing I ever did for myself.
I was vulnerable- and shamed for it, and the crazy part was I didn’t care. I somehow knew that figuring out how to take care of myself was the most important thing.
The thing that helped me feel better the fastest, and safest was mindfulness and self awareness.
I was left alone in the depths of my old experiences, dredging through all of the lessons that I had been too afraid to see before. I went and found them all-brought them into the light,(with the help of some professionals when I was in crisis, but largely on my own) and used them all to build the foundation of the bridge that will one day stand tall over what feels like this huge gap of mine.
I have been using this gap year to build bridges to the things that I want in my life. I have been learning and building as much as I can, as often as I can through my pain cycles.
I want to build bridges to better health physically, as well as mentally. I will wade through whatever comes my way, willingly now, to contribute to the building of the bridge.
One of the things that I started to do really early on in my journey was simply looking at things in the sense of what they are doing to serve me… are they hurting or helping?
I concluded very quickly that things like eating potato chips in my bed was hurting.
Drinking all coffee and nothing else until 3 pm is probably not a good thing to do to a human body, I put that one in the hurting pile.
As I watched the pile of things that I was doing add up, and be so heavily weighted in the “hurting” category- I decided that mental health was a top priority still…. it was still the answer.
I needed to prove for some strange reason that some of my issues could be as “simple” to fix as adjusting a few mental health habits, healthy whole food, and exercise.
What I ultimately have been able to accomplish in the past year is to identify where I need cognitive behavioral therapy, looked at it from a causal coaching perspective, and I have really been able to put together a number of pieces of this big bridge I am building literally by simply practicing being uncomfortable for the sake of positive change.
I have been lessening the gap between who I am and who I want to be each time I make a choice that is helping over hurting.
I am still waiting for surgery and my pain is cyclical- but I have decided to not let that stop me. I have decided that when my number is finally up to have the surgery to take away the physical pain… I want to have my hormones in a condition where I do not need to rely on medication.
When I started my journey I truly didn’t understand the concept of the gap between who you are and who you want to be, or what you are doing and what you want to be doing… it can apply to any goal. Any situation where you are in one place and you want to be in another.
There will be a gap, it is inevitable, and that is where the magic actually happens… if you let it.
There were some amazing things, and some not so amazing things accomplished this week.
I had really high and unrealistic expectations of myself, but that is pretty normal for me. This time I had a coach and a real solid plan that should technically work (and will work for a person who doesn’t have a severe anxiety issue).
It seems I am forever reconciling between my abilities and my expectations, looking for some balance and consistancy.
I started off the week with Monday being Day 1 with my coach. I had my plan for the week, and had taken the time on the Sunday to do the shopping and the meal prep to be successful with the eating routine. I weighed in with her at 202 lbs. I did the photos in the bathingsuit! You know, the whole deal! Monday was a pretty great day! Probably wins the prize for the best day last week!
On Tuesday I said goodbye to THC. I did laser accupunture to relieve my body of the mental and physical addiction to thc. I managed really well with walking and focusing on my nutrition plan. I was triggered into deeper anxiety with other circumstances of the day, like appointments and people not respecting clear boundaries of mine. I walked twice and took extra measures to take good care of myself through Tuesday with grace. My body was vibrating with anxiety that I was unable to fully calm.
Wednesday was a good day compated to Tuesday. I was having chills, and I usually get chills when my anxiety is creeping up. I focused on my meals and ate as much as I could understanding that I will need to ride a few waves of emotions while I detoxify my system, as well as the emotional shitstorm from the day before was still settling.
Thursday I cleaned the house in the morning and it all went downhill from there.
I couldn’t eat.
I walked twice to try to calm my anxiety.
By bedtime I was so wound up that a small tired statement from my husband put me into a full blown panic attack- ugly crying on the bathroom floor kind of panic attack. (I dont know if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting my husband, but he is a damn Saint). He takes my hand and gets me up. He leads me to our bed where he comforts me back to reality- or at least to the point of exhaustion where I stop crying long enough for my body to slip into sleep.
Friday I spend the day exhausted and really working through what had happened for me emotionally the night before. I had the painter in my office- So I was not able to use my office space to calm down like I usually do. ( My office is seriously my favorite room in the house.)
I spent the day working through some deep emotional things with my soul sister!
We helped eachother reconcile what was happening in the present moments with what was going on in our heads from our pasts, helping eachother see the progress that we forget we have made.
She understands growth and trauma setbacks. She understands the realm of physical symptoms that I experience, because she shares some of the same issues. We joke about sending eachother therapy bills, because we are THAT supportive of eachothers authenticity.
After our conversation, I was able to put together a healthy dinner to-go to take with us for Family Date Night. We did tacos on the beach at English Bay… our favorite family date night spot this summer. We really enjoyed our evening with the kids. We even stopped for gelato at the famous gelato shop on the “way” home. (It is out of the way, but well worth it)
My husband and I crawl into bed after a long exhausing couple of days, and I fall apart again.
I feel so guilty for falling apart.
I battle with being enough with my condition. I have times where I hate that I have to deal with all of this, that it all feels too heavy to carry. Friday night was one of those times.
It is the moments like those that terrify me that I will just be too much for my husband one day. One day he will decide that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his forseeable days picking his wife up off the bathroom floor.
Before I was chronically ill- I never worried about my husband not thinking I was enough. Now it seems I need constant reassurance.
I know that these are just the bad days, but I would really like to have less of them. I often catch myself getting really negative when I am not capable of doing the same things I used to be able to do.
Jason has worked with me so much in learning what I need from him, as I eliminate my old mental habits and patterns. We have learned by trial and error, the intricacies of caring for me in cycles of pain that create CPTSD cycles mentally. It is tricky to navigate.
Jason comforted me to sleep on Friday night and I woke up again on Saturday morning in tears.
At this point Jason and I had a serious talk about what wasn’t working. We realized that the anxiety was not just going to get better. That the THC was still required to control my anxiety while I get my hormones balanced.
3 days into an anxiety attack all I can do is cry in the fetal postiton. All this does is trigger my cptsd responses. We said enough is enough. Anxiety like that is damaging to my body. It creates adrenal fatigue symptoms, those are like exhaustions big brother… adrenal fatigue is no joke.
I succumbed to the fact that I do need to medicate my anxiety.
Also- it is probably not the best idea to just stop taking anxiety medicine, of any kind, just you know, for the record. (I can be a stupid smart person sometimes!!!)
I instantly felt the anxiety lift. I was able to stop crying and pull myself together by 3:00pm on Saturday to go and throw some Axes! Jason of course asked if I wanted to cancel going on our axe throwing date… I didnt want to cancel, I thought it was way more important that him and I go and have a little fun together. So we did!
Sunday we slept in a little bit and I worked on re-arranging my office space. We watched a little football and had a relaxing day at home.
The ripple affect of the first week has extended into week two for me as cycles do.
So all in all week one did NOT go as planned.
I could not remain off of THC, however the laser therapy treatment that I did knocked my tolerance down significantly. I am now using a 1/4 of the amount to have the same level of effectivness on my anxiety. Due to the nature of the drug, and all drugs, your body builds up a tolerance to them. So, even though I am dissapointed that I am not free and clear, I am happy that I found a healthy way to keep my tolerance low.
I did manage to lose 8.6 lbs last week, I was on track to lose more than that- but went off plan Friday/ Saturday and Sunday.
Week one wasn’t successful in the ways that I planned, but I think this way is what was needed.
I am proud of how far I have come, setbacks and all. Progress never needs to be perfect… I need to keep reminding myself that.