Of course I am talking about the masks that we wear.
You know the ones.
The ones that hide the truth about what makes you who you are.
We wear them out of fear.
Fear of judgment. Fear of isolation for being unique. Fear of discrimination. Fear of abuse. Fear of processing challenging emotions. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of awareness.
Fear… every human has a unique blend of it that they subconsciously allow to manipulate their intended outcomes.
We wear invisible masks to avoid facing our fears. Masks that are so well hidden that they become personality traits and isms that we develop to cope with wearing the masks in the first place! (Tricky!!)
Fear based decision making and reactions are a problem within the human experience. When we move through life unconscious of how our fear based actions and behaviours are contributing to our outcomes we are truly letting our natural conditioning guide us.
If we are both unaware and undisciplined in our response behaviours we find ourselves suffering with central nervous system based symptoms like anxiety (over load of the CNS), depression (fear based/living in the past/ unable to imagine a bright future for yourself). As well as every auto immune disregulation process under the autoimmune umbrella that is not from a structural abnormality. Ie: pcos, ibs, chronic inflammation, adrenal problems like cushing syndrome, gut issues, brain fog, loss of motivation to name a few. Then we get stuck not being able to understand why, and not being able to break the patterns. All because they are outside of your awareness, and stuck inside a layer of masked behaviours and isms that we’ve created to survive or perhaps even thrive.
It isn’t until we finally take off all of the masks and look at why we wear them in the first place that they can give us the knowledge we seek so desperately to understand. 🙌🏼 it is HERE where you come to find your answers.
All of those quotes about the answers being within you… THIS is what THAT means!! 😘
The healing begins when you take off the mask and find your awareness of why you put that mask on in the first place.
Once you do that you can decide if you like that mask for any reasons that truly serve you, take the wisdom; but leave the mask!
We all have this looming anxiety about the vulnerability of being unmasked, for others being able to detect our flaws if we admit to having them.
Society teaches us not to get caught with our masks off; and conditions is with the fears of being different, or seen as different. We often endure some form of punishment that keeps us masked and hidden and “in line”.
If we do manage uniqueness and authenticity we risk being singled out as different.
Fear of being yourself ought not be a condition that you love or live by, in my opinion.
You are perfect, just the way you are. Show the world your authentic unmasked self.
The more I get caught with my masks off and embrace the vulnerability, the more authentic and meaningful my interactions with others become. We make deeper connections because of the vulnerability and awareness present when people are authentic.
Don’t let society, or even fear keep you with those masks on… take them off one at a time and at your own pace.
You deserve the joy of being your authentic unmasked self.
Go get caught without your masks on… and see what awareness can really do for you.
I can allow for three days grace, through trial and error I have found the magic number for me.
It is 3.
My specific window of tolerance for not following through with my self care baselines is three days. I’ve deemed it my three days grace.
This means that I know that if I am feeling unwell, and need to take a break to process emotionally, I can comfortably allow myself three days grace. Three days to process, feel and heal through whatever I am processing. I can release myself from all of the super hero shit I usually manage to pull off.
Let it go for three days.
From experience… trial and error, and practice.
On about the third day of lacking responsibility for progress is when the anxiety- depression concoction that is cptsd starts to become intolerable and too challenging to ignore. The mom guilt, the regular guilt, the not enough stuff, all that comes to the forefront if I skip out on the self care for three days.
Three days. That’s how much grace I allow myself.
That’s it. That’s how close to burn out my body still is as I pace my way through and level up by clawing back at my energy levels. Some of us are only days or hours away from burnout, and some of us are in the thick of it with a side of fatigue and the bitter taste of the last two years of the world being on fire have us all in the same burnout boat.
Three freaking days is all it takes to alter my mood and turn me into a #hotmessexpress! My hormones go haywire, and the system initiates a stress response, immediately followed (for me) by a trauma response cascade.
Any more than Three days of the emotional guilt rollercoaster plus the emotional considerations that chronic illness is suffocating my life those thoughts and feelings come back in three days. With the stress of it all… back some of the symptoms that I loathe, like nerve sensitivity, and widespread inflammation, pain, tension headaches, tightness, ibs, nausea, all the fun grief spiral stuff. Full blown central nervous system temper tantrum symptoms, also known as centralized sensitization syndrome symptoms begin for me in three days.
All become very prominent, and increasingly more uncomfortable if I am not meeting my baselines for self care.
This is because my baselines literally keep the symptoms away, because I have designed them specifically to regulate my central nervous system. I use trauma informed self care practices.
I’ve designed my life and my baseline routines on purpose; to meet my basic needs first. On the daily I manage my symptoms and create opportunities to grow.
I utilize my routine for self care that I use to manage my symptoms as medicine. I had to incorporate pacing I’ve taken all of the information that I have received from the professionals that I have encountered and I cultivated their recommendations into a lifestyle that reflects my values and it allows me three days grace, which for me means : the freedom to rest when I need it- without causing issues with my other conditions. I put the advice into practical practice into my life, and had no choice but to learn pacing as part of my post traumatic growth strategy.
With patience and dedication I see results, more and more every single day.
Pacing, and learning it, and respecting it like the delicate bomb that it is is integral to healing success. Pushing too hard makes me crash, not pushing enough keeps me in my anxiety and depression symptoms. It feels like it takes precision and dedication to find this sweet spot.
For those of us who struggle with people pleasing and perfectionism, having the ability to give ourselves grace and space to rest is against beliefs that we have held for a long time! Learning the delicate art of pacing has tested and tried me like no other challenge this far!
Now that I have a grasp on my pacing needs, I am gifted this grace.
I don’t always have to be “on” and feel the weight of my perfectionism on me – this gives me some space to breathe and just be present.
Mindfulness, trauma awareness and authenticity all together hold space to create Chronic wellness for the win! But it is pacing that moves you forward. The seemingly insignificant intentional efforts in my self care routine keep me on pace. One day at a time I lean on my trauma informed self care, and I grow…. Slow as molasses it feels like, but it’s better than not moving at all. That is pacing.
That’s how powerful self care in this way is, without it- my symptoms return for me in 3 days. With self care, they are reducing on pace with my healing practices. ❤️
5 small acts of self care each day keep my complex ptsd symptoms manageable for me. 5, that’s it. And they are mostly things I need to do anyway! Like shower, and walk. If I can’t do 5, I do 3, if I can’t do 3 I do 1. If I can’t even do one I probably need a date with my therapist! ❤️ and those are simply my baselines, my own gauge for wellness, that I created, for me, by me, out of love
Our bodies thrive in consistency and routine because our brains love predictability. Predictably provides us with a sense of safety. When we become consistent with how we take care of ourselves and how we love ourselves, our bodies start to come alive and flourish because of that consistency. When we are providing ourselves with consistent self love, affection and attention to our needs are met. Having our needs met equals safety. This is what I call the rejuvenation-advantage. This safety heals your cells because your central nervous system is properly regulated, and can remain out of trauma response cycles.
Safety in this sense brings your entire system out of reactionary responses that mimic and replicate your survival mode responses, and bring you back into what is called a window of tolerance.
When we meet our own needs first, we expand the window of tolerance for everything; including other peoples’ bullshit. We are more accepting and tolerant.
When we really do the work that everyone talks about and get to a place of truly loving and appreciating ourselves, we see more clearly what we hadn’t seen before.
We see how we weren’t meeting our own needs, and we ensure they get met, by meeting them ourselves first!
I have my three days grace, as a safety net. I am grateful to have it.
The truth is that I prefer to feel better, I prefer to do those self love basics because my body is counting on me for consistency now. I prefer the discomfort of growth and I choose to pace myself through growth.
Self care is my wellness plan, and I am grateful to have three days grace if I need them.
There was guilt around resting for me, and this helped me place my need for resting in line with my desire to expedite growth for myself.
I like this balance. I thrive in this consistency. I’m so grateful for this knowledge, it eases so much of my chronic illness management stress.
I learned a long time ago that you can’t heal in the same conditions you were hurt in, and you can’t heal in chaos… you’ve got to grow through it.
Knowing that I have three days grace has kept me headed in the direction of health, with less crashes into ptsd, it truly is three days grace.
Many people are so burnt out and desperate for their basics that they have lost their grace trying to scrape together what they really need. We lose our grace when we lose our patience.
Do you know how many days grace you have?
It’s a good answer to find for yourself. It saves me so much chasing to know and understand that I’ve got three days grace, and accept that as my pace.
I wish you wellness and grace as you navigate your pacing. Work on your routine, find your baselines and grow from there. Understanding pacing is a key to understanding how to motivate yourself. The pace of my pace nearly drove me mad! This takes time. Pace yourself, embrace the journey.
I am regarded as a very patient person, but the task of pacing tested me like no other! Just keep moving forward to find your grace.
I am learning to cognitively re-master my trauma responses, and that triggers others.
I am actively working on the regulation of my whole body while I am triggered or in a heightened response state, and that triggers others.
I’m working with my sensitivities, and learning how to create safety where I used to feel unsafe, both physically, emotionally and in relationships, that triggers others.
I’m learning to integrate Calm where there used to be chaos, and feelings where there used to just be numbness, this triggers others.
Anyone who has healed from anything knows that it gets worse before it gets better.
It’s true for all grief.
It’s true for a breakup, or divorce.
It’s true for healing after most surgery.
It’s true for healing emotional wounds.
It’s true for navigating change.
It’s been true for the global shitstorm we have all tirelessly endured.
It rings true for all grief.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
I want to highlight this again, because it is so hard to navigate all of this.
While you are healing and as you learn and change people who haven’t figured it out yet will judge you, even openly criticize you for doing your own damn work.
You keep doing what you need to do to heal.
Hurt people hurt people. Remember that when someone throws shade, or outright intentionally triggers you.
Hurt people hurt people.
Awareness is the key to making it through, but it also makes us aware of how shitty and discriminatory people actually act.
Or,sometimes they isolate you because they aren’t sure what to do, so they do nothing.
Discrimination is when someone changes the way that they behave based on who they are interacting with. The same thing happens when people are being stigmatized, people have a separate set of rules for you, usually when something you experience is triggering for them.
Discrimination and the mental health stigma have walked hand in hand in my journey to healing.
I was surprised when they both walked through some of my closest relationships though…
That truly caught me off guard.
It all happens in various stages depending on how much intimate personal information someone, or a system has, and it happens more from people, or systems who aren’t present in your day-to-day life. People who don’t only see pieces, or see just what they want to see and fill in their own blanks with their own judgement and opinions. I noticed that it was never anyone close enough to have the whole story that pass judgement.
If there is also generational healing at play that makes healing more complex because the family unit is in the midst of learning, and all at various stages, awareness levels and with differing stamina’s for this type of work.
I didn’t imagine that someone going from what was seen as extra high functioning mom, rig wife with a great career- to experiencing a medical trauma that flipped a coin sending me spiralling into cptsd (very openly) would have given people everything they needed to decide that I was not welcome, but it did.
It was probably really challenging to witness that coin flip from the outside as I rapidly sunk into illness, chaos and utter shock and confusion, alone feeling like I’d lost everything because in that version of my reality I had. I had lost my career, and some key relationships crumbled, then my marriage began to teeter on the edge of failure with the decline of my mental health.
I was a mess, on all levels.
Imagine what it was like to experience it all, abandoned and alone.
Being called too much, or told that the inward focus that I had taken on was selfish.
Nothing that I scraped together to accomplish was ever seen as a win. When I accomplished something huge for me it was always clouded with judgement. All because of the huge juxtaposition of me being capable of doing so much MORE when I was well.
No one ever really slowed to consider that impact on me.
Going from high functioning to bed ridden so quickly scared the shit right out of me. I was terrified that I was dying. I was living in that fear and it was making me sicker than I already was.
When I finally found the trauma link, I finally found my answers, and with the right answers I was able to ask the next level and layer of questions.
Childhood trauma healing was the answer to many of my debilitating symptoms.
I found the limiting beliefs I had stood by and honoured and looked really closely at them and where they came from. Then I chose. What to keep, and what to grow from.
I had lots of growing to do, and more to come.
The truth is that I was never allowed to authentically exist without judgment, stigmatization or even discrimination. So I had to practice authentically existing, feeling feelings that I was taught to repress, surpress or otherwise disengage from. I have been healing from this, slowly, and painstakingly.
From early in life I was conditioned to believe that my worth and value were tied to my capacity to serve others; regardless of the cost to me. I was to show up within a certain standard, or not bother showing up at all.
That is what I had replicated in my relationships, and I needed that to stop so that I could break the cycle within me.
So when I found myself in bed I made the choice not once, not twice but 1,000,000 times that I was going to show up authentically to save my life. Over and over I had to actively choose authenticity.
I’ll show up authentically, and love myself through this.
That’s what I decided after I gathered some more courage after growing pains knocked me down. Over and over. Growth, pain, lesson, integration, knowledge.
The juxtaposition between healing and healthy for me somehow gave people a right to dismiss me. That pissed me off.
The thing about me is that I’ve got an attitude problem, and the sharpness of my tone can be a bit poignant.
Authenticity somehow provides ammunition for all of the guilt trips, the shoulds, the personal monologues and soap box speeches about “what’s best” or their colourful yet fear based presentations about “worry” aka judgement about the DECISIONS that I have for myself; that are helping me heal!
The decisions that I make for my health, my lifestyle, and my emotional well-being are my own to make. My body is my body and I get to choose how to heal it.
If my chosen approaches don’t make sense to you, that’s fine, it’s not your body so don’t concern yourself that deeply. You see, you don’t have authority over me.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again stop doing this to people who have the courage to attempt healing every single day. We need your support, not your judgment, and certainly not your advice, abusive concern or judgemental worry.
When people have done this to me I have felt judged, shamed and even like I have to defend my right to sovereignty for myself. I have the right to make informed decisions about my health; regardless of anyone’s opinion.
Stop guilting people.
Stop shaming people.
Stop isolating them with your fucked up versions of love!
Stop standing on your ignorance and trampling on my freedom to choose for my body.
Just STOP, please.
My healing and the ways it transpired for me triggered people. I am learning that the jealousy and envy can make even seemingly supportive people treat you like crap. These interactions often include unsolicited advice, judgement and misdirected shame because someone else is triggered.
Me choosing to dance this dance without prescription medications triggered people to learn the steps to their own dance.
My choice to blog about my whirlwind of a journey triggered people to muster the courage to journey along their own paths.
Me retracting the over-extensions of myself triggered people who benefitted from my over giving to view the importance of my relationship to them in a new light.
Me deciding that I can’t always be the only giver in relationships triggered people, and broke most of those relationships.
Me speaking my needs and setting healthier boundaries in relationships triggered people to begin doing the same.
Me asking people to ALSO be held accountable for their OWN behaviour triggers people because accountability feels like an attack to those who don’t ever practice it. Keep practicing, I promise there are humans who have space for the authentic you.
Me acknowledging ways abusive behaviour is present in relationships triggers people because no one wants to be held accountable for their own damn actions these days.
My symptoms trigger people. In good ways and in bad.
My presence triggers people. I am getting comfortable with not being able to please everyone.
Watching me battle with pain and chronic illness triggers people. It’s a helpless feeling to not be able to “fix me”.
There is nothing that I can do to not trigger people sometimes.
So I carry forward anyway.
I do my dance with as much courage and vulnerability as I can muster. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one second at a time if needed. Knowing that I will face judgement. Knowing that I have many complex ptsd moments ahead of me in my life, and that I have the grace to not let my illness rob me of my life. I will not allow the ignorance or neglect of other people to debilitate me ever again because my healing triggers others to heal.
My healing is proof that healing exists; and my healing journey triggers others to desire healing for themselves.
To desire chronic wellness.
This chapter of healing has been about neutralizing triggers; and responding in new ways. I am proud of this work. For my mental health this has been integration practice. Hours and hours of cognitive behavioural practice with complex ptsd symptoms as guidelines for window of tolerance. This is intricate work, it absorbs energy and motivation to move forward. It is tireless, seemingly unrewarding work.
Until… finally it all compounds in the right balance. Don’t give up. Keep loving yourself first. ❤️
Wellness for me means keeping my over active central nervous system regulated for long periods of time.
This was a mountain of a task from my bed… but now; I am fully equipped for any pain cycle, any anxiety attack, any hormone plummet, anything… I’m ready.
I am navigating the secondary layers of trauma and integration the lessons as I move through them with the tools I have now.
Yes, healing triggers others.
I’ve said it all along, my intention with what I share, what I teach and what I write is to be someone else’s survival guide. I couldn’t find the combination that I needed. I hope to be that for someone else.
Love yourself first, and then trigger others to love themselves first too.
Finding authenticity has been a golden thread through my healing journey, and in my opinion it is part of the work.
Authenticity for the experience of my journey to whole body wellness is what I decided that this blogging adventure is all about for me.
It is about me having the freedom to share, and finding the courage to tell my authentic story, what is real for me.
It’s about learning vulnerability safely for me, it is healing for me to be able to write what I believe is important from where I stand on my journey. I know that this vulnerability has already served so many on their own paths. This is why I write.
My writings are long, short, emotional or informative- but they always provide me with an opportunity to grow and share an inside perspective of my journey and truthfully, I am building a legacy of healing ❤️🩹 one day at a time! One healing story at a time.
We tend to believe that healing is something that we do in hiding, and alone.
Society and ignorance have made it this way, just know that you are not alone.
I want to change the common perception of growth because no matter how messy it all feels… progress is progress and growth is a win! Take some time to celebrate, because you are doing amazing things.
One of the most important pieces is being aware of just how amazing you are. How much you have already done, and knowing that the work you are doing is going to help you feel amazing again.
One of the most vulnerable things anyone healing has ever done is ask for help.
Asking for help is one of the most potent combinations of authenticity and vulnerability! (Mark that down at the top of your grateful list if you’ve ever asked for help)!
Then keep that knowledge. The knowledge that asking for help is the right choice for you. Hold it close to you, and use it to deflect the shame, resentment or anything else that surfaces, like the colourful and various forms of stigma.
When someone seeks help slaying their personalized demons, they are almost always shamed by someone close to them, or they feel the guilt/ shame of needing help and end up being the source of their own sabotage.
Stigmatizing or projecting shame or guilt onto someone sabotages them, and what they are trying to accomplish. Don’t accept this as your truth, or let it be a belief that limits you.
When we are in a trauma response cycle we need to be reminded of how we belong and have purpose before we can even begin to rationalize a situation.
I didn’t have a diagnosis, so I was frantically searching for the answers I needed to help me help myself.
I didn’t have the capacity to process/ filter interactions while I was in crisis; and I wasn’t making it out of crisis mode very often in that stage of my healing journey.
I did the only thing I know how, I was authentic about how I felt, and that I needed help.
Succumbing to asking for help, then battling through the gauntlet of a system broke me down even further.
For a moment all my progress halted and put me into a deep spiral causing regression. It was compound trauma and I was in crisis from attempting to heal my childhood trauma mostly alone.
I was attempting this while I was in chronic pain, from mostly my bed, when I had only enough energy to shower or bath before I had to get back into bed. I was fighting for my physical and mental health simultaneously.
Healing is painful and for me it got really messy before it got better, that is simply the truth.
People who are choosing to heal, choosing to do the “work” are attempting the act of courage that changes the trajectory of their life.
They are attempting what feels like an impossible goal… the goal of feeling emotionally well and balanced in health and relationships, especially the ones that they have with themselves.
So much of the extra suffering could have been avoided if there was access to appropriate mental health support.
But it wasn’t only the system that I needed.
The system is where we go when we don’t have the support we need from our communities.
I needed support from the people that claimed they love me.
I needed to be authentically me, and be loved for my messy parts.
I needed to have my healing respected.
I needed to be allowed to be in transition from who I was to who I wanted to be.
If you are here, just note that you are good enough right now. Be who you are now, even if it isn’t who they expect you to be.
Authentically show up as you, today regardless of what anyone will say or think.
I started doing this and it changed the way I was healing because it changed the way I was thinking about myself. It helped me find authentic love for myself and establish my purpose.
Decide for yourself how you want to show up in your life and what authenticity means for you then live by that. Celebrate living by that.
It started with the decisions to heal, learn, fail fast, and live my awesome life NOW.
Don’t make yourself small.
If you are too much, they can go find less.
Be authentically you, the you living your highest intentions. Be the you that serves you best and stop seeking any approval but your own.
Love yourself first my friends, loud and hard and with authenticity… love yourself first and pour from your overflow.
Love does not isolate, it does not judge, it does not discriminate and it certainly doesn’t stigmatize.
Love does not attack and abandon.
Love does not allow someone to suffer alone.
Love does not create obstacles to itself, it is people who create obstacles to love.
Love is a thousand choices that we make.
Love is a commitment to how we show up for each other.
Love is the effort that goes into understanding someone on a deeper level.
Love is connecting in the present moment with the other person, holding space for them.
Love. Everyone will have their own definition of it, some of us were told that colourful forms of abuse are love. Some of us endured neglect because our adults were engulfed in surviving; and they themselves had never experienced authentic love.
To some, being “loved”meant being controlled, or being burdened with adult responsibilities, or even actions “for your own good”. This is not love, this is survival, this is trauma, this is abuse. Intentional or not, no one truly escapes their upbringing, and it’s psychological impact based on what you received or didn’t as a child.
As we all walk the path of life, I think it is important to define love for yourself in a meaningful way. To let go of the definitions that you choose not to replicate; because you know better, we have better information.
Define how you want to live, and how you want to love for yourself and then live by what you decide.
I decided when I was young that when I had the reigns to my life I would do things differently; and I have.
I am so grateful for the era in which I get to live my life. The access to information I have today gives me advantages that generations before me only dreamed of. If I have a biological, medical or psychological question I can use the internet to ask the 1000 questions that could never fit into a medical appointment. Then I ask the important questions once I get there, and get better answers. The accessibility to the information that we have now truly had a huge impact on my healing, because it has given me a base for self advocacy, and that is part of what has saved my life.
It was in this research that I was able to put together my physical and emotional symptoms and connect it all back to self love, and the love and support of safe and healthy community as the best healing tools for basically any ailment. But it is in community that every aspect of healing is expedited.
We are not meant to be isolated, our basic needs, especially belonging are alive in us and especially when we are “at our worst”.
When a human is behaving out of character for them, or maybe even having a temper tantrum, they need belonging and acceptance in those moments. Not to be driven away and invalidated left with a layer of aloneness in an already chaotic state for them emotionally.
Leaving a human in emotional distress alone and isolated is cruel, because regulation comes from experiencing examples of regulation in central nervous system safety. The fastest way to regulate a central nervous system is to bring a regulated one near it. That is a fact. This is why babies calm with touch. It’s all in the regulation.
Belonging and community are key healing factors, you don’t get the full affect from the healing until you have integrated into community and truly hold a sense of belonging in your heart, that is healing.
That is feeling whole, that is the definition of a fulfilled life.
I’m so grateful to use the same technology that saved my life to spread my self love knowledge with groups of people, in communities where healing is encouraged and feelings are welcome! I am creating High Vibes Lifestyle Society – a community for cultivating self love for the greater purpose of healing.
The truth is witnessing and supporting someone is a challenge, and almost always even the people we love don’t know how to support us the ways that we need to be for this type of growth and healing. Find a healthy community that supports, understands and holds space for your journey.
Love does not isolate, criticize or judge- those are all personal reflections of the human projecting them upon you. Remember that.
Self love is never selfish. Sometimes it is all we have left.
Broken people isolate, judge and dismiss the feelings of others. Hurt people hurt people, that is not love it is just a circle of hurt.
Healing is far from glamorous! It is painful, chaos, confusion, self doubt, balance, rejection, stigmatization, tears and panic attacks, and everything in between.
The transitions from surviving to recovering, to healing, to stabilizing, to growing to thriving have been the wildest, profound, and fulfilling moments of my life. I called on myself to stand up in ways that I had never done before; because I needed to change my circumstance.
I wanted to live, not survive, that is until I found out about thriving in post traumatic growth.
This meant that I needed to change how I was showing up for myself in my life. I had to find the literal strength to live (from my bed), the desire to recover (through complex trauma, stigmatization and isolation), the motivation to do the emotionally treacherous labor of love that goes into healing and doing “the work”. (While navigating chronic illness)
It wasn’t until I decided that I was living no matter what that the impacts of the changes began compounding and forming the foundation that my growth will be based off of for this chapter of my life.
The amount of time I spent researching, learning, solving, creating, setting goals, writing, journaling, and then strategically creating action for myself to be sure that I was not over-extending my energy and creating an adrenal crash became my purpose. My health and living my life became my purpose. My healing became my purpose. Post traumatic Growth became my goal.
I made it my mission to learn my way through this and get myself to the best possible health before I begin to endure the next phase of my healing. Whether that be a physical component, or a mental health component or a combination of both- as all things are. The trauma informed approach that I use now addresses both the physical and emotional components of my basic needs.
Healing, the beginning phases, are the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, and I honestly wish someone would have given me a heads up that what I was experiencing was normal! Healing hurts, but it is worth it. Consider this your warning!
What I learned along the way is the “work” is never really finished; the hardest parts subside as you heal and release the grip that trauma has on your life. That’s the reason we heal!
The characters in this chapter of my life at the time shamed me and isolated me for the emotions, reflections, and very sensitive and intimate vulnerabilities that I expose during my ptsd episodes, which were activated for an extended period of time. The life I knew was taken from me because of my cptsd symptoms and how I chose to take my journey.
This happens and is part of the process. People who don’t want to understand will criticize, judge and provide unsolicited and very harmful attempts at their version of “helping”. They mean well, or think they do- the damage they cause usually confuses your own process with this injection of “shoulds” from others.
It isn’t usually until someone is through something that they are comfortable sharing their experience… and even then people shy away from anything big- in fear of being emotional or needy, and being isolated or stigmatized, like I was.
Part of my healing path has been this blog, for this exact reason. I share before I butterfly on you, I share so you don’t have to feel so alone in your journey. I share while I still feel the emotions.
I want anyone navigating their path to Health to know that everything you are experiencing is normal and relative to the experiences in your life. There is no shame in healing… it doesn’t belong here regardless of what those close to you do or say, you have the right to choose your own healing path.
Healing was necessary for me to survive, but I believe it is the path for everyone to thrive!!
I’m so glad I made the commitment to myself to start when I did. I had a lot of work to catch up on.
I guess what I am trying to say is it isn’t easy; but if you find a way to be worth the effort it gets easier, and you will feel better. Post Traumatic Growth as a lifestyle feels amazing.
You want to live not just survive, so you can move forward and thrive rather than simply live.
It is possible. Find your path to post traumatic growth… or make one!
It’s okay to move forward now, even if you don’t have it all figured out.
It’s okay to be authentic, even when people don’t want to understand.
It’s okay to be relentless when it comes to taking care of yourself.
It’s okay to be less productive, but happier on the inside.
It’s okay to feel feelings, they alone can not hurt you, they are feelings.
It’s okay to be your beautifully imperfect self.
It’s okay if you are sad, scared and even telling yourself that you can’t.
It’s okay to hold new values while you release the old ones that are not helping you achieve your goals.
It’s okay that people start to notice that you aren’t the same anymore, that there is something different about the way you are now. That’s growth, you want to be different because you want to be different. People will notice.
It’s okay that the people that aren’t meant to grow with you find reasons to distance themselves from you. What you are achieving is finding space for yourself in your life. Most people don’t choose that, and when others do there is a jealousy that arises and creates chaos or distance.
It’s okay to be conscious about how the ego will make attempts to hide and mask the fundamental changes that would really benefit you, and choose to make those changes anyway.
You see, it is okay to choose your own adventure in life, in healing, in success. It is up to you to make the choices to propel you towards your dreams and desires.
Once you start to recognize that no matter what, it is okay, your life will change.
When you acknowledge the reality of your specific situation (ie: the obstacles that you may or may not have to face in addition to the regular life tasks), plus acknowledge that 50% happiness is considered a good human life, many of us find that we can achieve more from a place where we feel like we aren’t the comparative underdog.
When we feel abundant with what we already have we feel more capable and confident when we shoot for a more realistic expectations and goals. All together if you put acknowledgement of yourself and your specific situation you will be more fulfilled.
It is when we allow the opinions of others to make impressions on us that tell us that it is NOT somehow okay to follow our healing that we butt heads with those who love us. Mostly because your situation needs your expertise, not theirs. Your solutions, not theirs.
Your journey is your journey, and if anyone else is placing expectations on how you “ought” to be (insert unsolicited advice here).
You don’t have to listen to their unsolicited advice.
And, this might be an indication that you need to set some boundaries with loved ones around your healing journey, and how they don’t get to “expect” anything on your life.
It’s okay to come back to being your full, authentic self, or even to arrive there for the first time.
I have been experiencing it first hand since I was deemed disabled and unable to return to work. Stigma navigation is probably one of the most challenging aspects to healing outside of the actual healing part, and stigma is literally everywhere because hurt people hurt people!
My condition has been diagnosed as Centralized Sensitization Syndrome and complex PTSD I also manage chronic pain as a result. The condition itself is a hybrid of symptoms stemming from central nervous system dysfunctions, and adrenal issues that follow the dysfunctional hormone exchanges.
Since hormones are controlled in the brain, and the central nervous system is controlled by the brain; it made sense to me very quickly that it is largely a brain problem.
This made even more sense the more I understood about my conditions and how they connect.
Then I learned about the trauma link and the mind- body connection as I was learning about the central nervous system.
This solidified my understanding of my situation and condition, and allowed me to release the stigma for myself because it was out of my control, and I just needed to put in the work.
To be really really honest I was just elated that I was curable. I was worried before my diagnosis that is was going to end up being something terrible. The big c was a very serious consideration for how I was feeling.
I didn’t care that I had to travel the mental health path to get better.
I thought we had made some progress in removing the stigma of mental health.
I was very wrong when it comes to people in our day to day life.
I had a false sense of the progress, in a real way.
The stigma might be worse now than before in some ways, and in other ways there have been improvements… but many more improvements need to be made.
I had no shame about it at first with my false sense of stigma free ideas of how healing could go for me… I was wild and free and figuring it out.
I was excited- ultra extra excited about the fact that I was curable. I was elated. literally floating!
I was so elated that I was having cognitive malfunctions, illusions and hallucinations because my adrenals could not keep up to the cascade of hormones pulsing through my body.
And so the pendulum swung. The polarity that I experienced was confusing for others, hell it was confusing for me too, and in hindsight, it is perfectly logical for what I was medically experiencing, psychologically experiencing, and socially experiencing combined. “Right on schedule” one therapist said to me! And we laughed because I know logically that if you lose balance in all three areas something is likely to snap in a human. Add a stigmatizing society, and this is where we lose people to self sabotage or suicide.
I held on to my emotions in for so long that when they came out it was like a flood gate had been opened up.
When I finally got my diagnosis all of the fear came out of me at once, in the most bizarre ways; and for this I was stigmatized and removed from my community of friends. My whole family was.
I partially blame the meds I was on for some of the extra issues that just made everything “extra” anxiety, and obsessiveness and a desire to be understood by any means possible. Those are the side effects that amplify the worst in me. I’m a lot for people to handle on a good day sometimes, these were not good days.
In the months preceding the existential crisis I had I was depressed, anxious and living in constant fear.
I was trying to figure out how to build my life back up from my bed, keep my marriage alive, make sure my kids feel my presence, and figure out how to get better while I wait for the system to call my number to meet my medical needs. All while living my life in adrenal fatigue living like a zombie, unable to shower or go to the grocery store without a special band around my waist. Agoraphobia was not far off, and the pain kept me close to my bed. The cancelled plans piled up.
Figuring my life out was chaos, and it required my full attention, and energy that I didn’t have. I gave finding out the solutions to my problems every ounce of my heart and soul.
Because of this I lost connections and friendships, attention was given to my health over spending time with my kiddos (the mom guilt!!) my marriage struggled because I was lost in finding myself and then I was stigmatized and abandoned by everyone but like three people for surviving it all the only ways I knew how.
And in the end, I offered apologies for any disrespect and opportunities for each person I love to meet the new me along the way and find restitution.
The people that love me and respect my journey celebrate my accomplishments with me; and those that don’t, don’t.
That’s what the stigma highlighted for me who has my back, and who really doesn’t.
The actions (or inactions) that people take with you will speak very clearly to you.
I noticed that people would rather see you “go away” then ever have to deal with acknowledging that they were shitty to you, or even to have to witness your struggle is too challenging for some.
If you are being stigmatized just know that it’s only hurt people who hurt people. Being stigmatized is equal to being abused and if someone is trying to hurt you like that… they must really be hurting inside.
Hurt people hurt people, that’s just a truth. I hurt people when I was hurting, we all do on some level- that’s why it is true.
Keep going on your journey, even if there is stigma, it will likely always be there… the world holds many hurt people.
Keep your chin up.
Don’t hurt people with your hurt, and move forward through all of the stigma and lack of understanding that the world has to offer.
Start looking at those who stigmatize you like bullies… hurting bullies and adjust your attitude and responses to that behaviour accordingly. Bullies often need boundaries.
Through the stigma, through it all… Love yourself first!
The exchange of vulnerability that I have to endure due to the current structure of the medical system is trauma inducing for me; every single time.
Every resource I need access to requires me to exchange vulnerable pieces of information in hopes of receiving the help that I have been begging the last year and a half to have access to might be what is hiding on the other side of this practitioner.
Its a referral gauntlet, an endless exchange of dignity for access to services.
As I alone, literally, dove into what my diagnosis meant for me and navigated my rights to choose the care I want to receive. I faced so many challenges and systematic obstacles to care. I fought them every way I knew how. Then when I was put down for fighting for my life I learned new ways to fight harder, louder and with more courage.
I had put the need to heal ahead of my former need to please everyone else first. I didn’t care what people thought of me anymore; I found the determination I needed when my health threatened my life.
I did the best, most self-defining, awakening work from the rock bottom of my “highly functioning” life.
I still have to exchange myself in unimaginable ways to obtain access to the care that I need to put my life back together to achieve full time health.
The emotional impact of needing this exchange has been devastating to my self worth- it was the high functioning part of me that actually saved my life.
It was my practiced ability to make sense of the nonsense and bring logic to the table as an option that many don’t even consider an option anymore that actually saved my life. Many people get caught up in the irony of ego and systematic structures rules for the sake of rules and traumatic intake processes for the sake of gaining access.
In the face of all of that I bring logic. Structured, fully processed logic as a personality trait and a trained trauma response all in one.
I can imagine what prostitution feels like, as I can liken the emotional process of giving over intimate pieces of yourself in exchange for something you absolutely need to survive.
Helplessness is the underlying feeling.
I have to give over every piece of me, endure emotionally invasive conversations that devastate me to the point of inducing my complex ptsd.
I am left alone after each encounter to pick up the pieces and reconcile the cost benefit of the exchange; which always feels like I get the short end of the stick when I spend the days after the appointments in a CPTSD fawning/ processing zone out from the adrenal crash coming down from the stress of the traumatizing interaction in my damaged adrenal processes.
What happens during these very vulnerable interactions is that I am forced to condense my very complex conditions into a 15 minute appointment that is mostly taken up with the practitioners questions. I leave feeling unheard, unseen and unable to access the abundance of care I need; due to structural reasons or staffing or wait times etc.
I have been a product of a series of unfortunate events, made more complex by the circumstances I endured rather that enhanced on the other side of the spectrum with the advantage of having parents who are healed or at least had found love for themselves as a baseline.
Following these very intense and often harmful conversations there is always a physical exam of some sort, and due to the nature of my pain and the condition of my body- it is often a thorough examination of my whole physical body including the inside of my vagina with poking and prodding at pain points in my uterus and around my ovaries from the inside of me; as they go through their trained modalities of intake for me to gain access to their care.
I exchange telling my trauma stories and full access to my body in exchange for access to care; then am left to process that emotional piece as well as the endurance of a breach of physical and emotional boundaries while I sit and wait for more access to the same kind of care often because the person I just saw needs to pass me along because I am so “complex”… so I get to wait for a specialist.
Or if I am really lucky, they do decide to take me on as a patient as part of my network of practitioners… So in order to follow this path with this specific practitioner I have do further exchange dignity for help. There is testing that they want done, or additional things that they would like from me to aide them in assisting me. It is its own form of torture and it becomes really challenging for me.
It initiates a trauma response for me on some level, every single time.
I exchange access to my whole being- emotionally and physically for access to care that I need to help myself save my life.
Talk about vulnerability.
This is the reality for people facing chronic illness. This is my reality as I attempt to gain access to medical support.
We exchange vulnerability for access, and get abused by the process along the way.
As I wait for the answer to the results of the meeting that determines if the medical care and treatment that was previously approved just in December is “still” approved and available to me I pick up the pieces of myself that are devastated that I am still having to beg for help from my insurance company at this stage of my healing process.
It has been a month since I have requested access to an approved practitioner to continue my care and continue to manage my medical conditions, and I am still waiting for another round of formal approval.
This is the way that people who live through insurance are forced to operate. It is absolutely cruel.
In order to get formal approval I have to exchange more personal information including them having access to my pelvic floor physiotherapist for her reports too- so they can read all about the progress my pelvic floor is experiencing get them a really clear picture of everything that is not really their business as insurance case managers who lack medical training or trauma informed training. Doctors are barely able to follow the complexity of my medical conditions with my help!!! But sure- here’s another form signing over access to every single piece of me…. Anything else I can do for YOU before you can open the gate to the care I need to survive?
Imagine as an adult having to ask permission to see your doctor, I don’t even have the right to book appointments with the practitioners that are part of my network of care without permission- Then being made to beg again for access to resources essential to my healing- that I had already fought for and had approved.
Help is on the way- but only once the process of me exchanging more dignity and allowing the insurance company that has the vice grip on the neck of my life even MORE access to the practitioners that I have been seeing on my own, and now the insurance company wants access to those practitioners too… the ones we pay for with everything we can spare (or sacrifice other things for) the ones that I have been waiting for independently for over a year- I have to fork over access to all of that too.
I have to jump through hoops and give over every single ounce of dignity and privacy that I have in order to continue to be approved. All while I suffer from the affects of the CPTSD and chronic pain that this type of fighting for my life create for me.
Then on top of it all; I have to have additional appointments with these valuable practitioners for paperwork before I can have access to them for my medical needs- it is absolutely a waste of my very precious energy, and theirs as well being inundated with paperwork for the sake of a process rather than using their time to help patients; seems a lot backwards to me.
It seems like the process’s needs go way before the patients needs here- and the process wins every single time- no matter what the known cost is to me and my body.
At what point do I get the grace to heal in safety with resources around me secure and available to me without me having to even ask?
When can I stop begging for access long enough to actually make progress?
How is it that I have to explain to the groups of people that are supporting me through this mess that I need to feel safe in order to continue healing, that when I don’t feel like I have authority over my life, or access to having my basic needs met as a human on an emotional level that I don’t really have a chance at getting better?
What does it take to survive this all?
Everything that I have. That is what I have given this battle.
Every ounce of energy. Every spare moment. Everything that I had at any given moment is given to this battle to survive.
I have spent nearly two years now figuring this all out. The progress I have seen for myself through this journey has been something that moves me to tears every single time I allow myself to think about the magnitude of my progress.
I am so grateful for my stubborn, or some might say determined nature.
I am grateful for the skills and education that my previous careers and life experiences have afforded me- because it was with those skills that I was able to find my way at least up from the rock bottom place I was left before all of this “help” arrived for me.
There were many many many days, weeks months of my life where it was only me who had me. I was the only one in my corner.
I think we all get like that sometimes, and it is in those moments that we are refined.
Those moments refine us; because they make us ask ourselves what it is that we really want.
What are you going to live for, like really live?
What does that look like for me?
From my bed I contemplated the answers, the real answers to all of these questions and any other questions that I had for myself.
This was the beginning of my journey to healing all of myself.
Prior to being forcibly removed from my life I had just been living in the façade that people are passing off as life these days. I was doing it, unconsciously and it took my life looking real bedridden-like for me to decide that I was going to be a more active part of my own solution.
I started to learn about myself in ways that I hadn’t really thought to learn about myself before.
Some might call it an existential crisis, and by definition they would be absolutely correct… but as far as existential crisis go, I faired pretty good, not bad… if I do say so myself. Considering of course that I like to expedite things, and the universe thinks she is funny- I got to do the existential crisis brought on my surgical medical trauma that triggered CPTSD from my childhood traumas all at once.
I decided I would live. Long before I knew I was curable, before I knew that I had a syndrome and not a disease.
When I found out I was curable was when I really took an even deeper dive into how to heal, what to do for myself as a whole to start seeing real tangible results in my healing progress.
I started with asking what and how I wanted to live the rest of my life.
Then I learned how to do each step as I went.
I did not know what I was doing, really. Only that I knew that I needed to wait, and that I was determined to make my waiting time as bed ridded free as I could. If I have the choice I will not spend the rest of my life in my bed.
It took me a long time to have enough energy to make it through the day without needing to rest. I still need to rest on really bad pain days- and I am even learning that if I rest BEFORE the point of exhaustion it serves me better than being totally depleted and trying to rejuvenate.
I had to learn about pacing for adrenal fatigue in order to learn how to exercise without hurting my body by putting it into an adrenal fatigue cycle.
I had to learn pain science to understand my diagnosis.
I had to learn about embodied trauma, generational trauma and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in order to manage my medical conditions.
I had to learn about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to understand the central nervous system better to help me manage my conditions.
I have to understand biology enough to advocate for the areas that have been abused, I need to protect my organs that have been riddled with damage from over processing.
Turning ptsd into post traumatic growth is a battle that I will choose to stand for every single day.
I chose growth a long time ago, and now I have progress that looks and feels like a post traumatic life is mine for the living!
The endless practitioners, the appointments and the bullshit will always come and go. Focus on progress, and you’ll win every time!