Archives for posts with tag: PTSD

A couple of triggering events happened today.  One was related to my past sexual trauma.  The other was more recent – the living situation.  They combined to make a big soupy mess inside me.

The first call to the regular hotline helped me realize I needed to do something else to release the pressure.  Thankfully, my aunt was available to talk.  The immediate issue was express my anger so I could accomplish the rest of my errands.  Talking with her and making a plan did that.

Accomplishing the other tasks and some self care (groceries, aromatherapy diffuser, walking meditation), I finally made it home.  Instead of being able to relax, though, everything started to feel more intense.  But I wasn’t sure what was causing the problem – the living situation or the past anniversaries.

So I called the Crisis Text Line instead.  You can learn more about the history on Wikipedia here.  You can go to the actual website and read how the text line works before trying it here.  The Crisis Text Line is a non-profit organization and free.


Texted the phone number with a request.  Receive an automated response

Shared some information; received an automated response and took their questionnaire.

Received a text from a trained volunteer.  Text chatted with the volunteer for about an hour.  The volunteer helped me feel less alone and made some good suggestions.  I tried the suggestions.  They helped a little.  Offered some suggestions and reasons for those suggestions.  The reasons made sense, so I tried knitting again – even knowing it might be triggering.

Then I texted STOP to end the session.


For people who prefer to send text messages and have a service plan with either a lot of minutes or unlimited minutes, this is a great option.  The first response time is quick – within 4-5 minutes – unless you send a message during busy times.

My volunteer responded within 3 minutes after I finished the questionnaire.  Her responses, while slow in coming, were empathetic and respectful while also professional.  I explained the situation.  She offered empathy and suggestions.  I explained how and what I felt.  She reminded me I am not alone, and it’s okay to feel what I feel.

I explained about what strategies I have tried and why I felt frustrated.  She helped me get some perspective and try something I normally wouldn’t try.  Not because I don’t want to, but because physical tasks are usually not on my list when I am in pain.

The pauses between my responses and hers felt too long and anxiety provoking for me.  The generality of the suggestions and brainstorming did not feel as comfortable as when I talk to someone on the phone.

But then I didn’t share everything  that was causing the anxiety.  So that part also contributed to the anxiety.  My past experiences get in the way here.  For me, the act of calling and speaking to someone, verbalizing my feelings and experiences, is integral to the coping strategy of asking for help.

But the volunteer did help me refocus on the present and accomplish a small task.  One that did feel good and was distracting enough to help me reflect on what really disturbed me once I got home.


Yes, I do recommend this Crisis Text Line as a resource.  I would use it again in similar situations or ones where talking didn’t feel comfortable.

Plus, the Crisis Text Line website has a wonderful and carefully curated list of referral/resource organizations for anyone looking for more or something else.

I also recommend this for anyone who might feel uncomfortable reaching out or asking for help in more traditional ways.  Or is using a coping strategy/technique like this for the first time.

Making that first call or text is the hardest step.

If your experience has been different from mine, please comment and share.

Thanks for reading.


Categories make my head hurt.  I’ve tried to forgive and move on from the toxic experiences with my mother with some success.  What exactly she did to me, the words she spoke, fits into multiple abuse categories.  So many that I stopped trying to fit her into any one category.

Words like “Narcissism” and “Narcissist” are triggering for me because they hold a wealth of emotion, memory, and experience – all related to females more than males.

This post is helpful because the author understands Narcissistic abuse and often provides valuable resources to help others cope with the effects of such abuse.  It’s not a topic I’ve covered in therapy, but maybe it’s something I will soon bring up.

The author shares definitions of different types of Narcissistic Mother figures from Michelle Piper.  My own mom is a combination of about 6 or 7 of these types, not exactly, but close enough.  Some other family members and relatives are combinations of the other types.

Maybe this explains why I seem to always find or attract Narcissistic women more than men into my life and end up repeating patterns.  Sometimes I wonder if the sign on my forehead (you know the one) that says “Vulnerable to Narcissists!  Come and Get Me!” will be there forever?

Then I remember how much progress I’ve made and the amazing, supportive people in my life now.  And I realize that the sign is fading.  Very, very slowly.  But fading.

Either way, I hope these definitions help you as much as they help me.  If not for a mother in your life, maybe a mother figure or mentor instead.

Thanks for reading.

Awhile back, I wrote a blog post on my other site about the effects of narcissistic abuse and the different narcissistic mother types out there, according to respected psychotherapist Michelle Piper. You can find this blog post here: After reading through Michelle’s website, I wanted to share the information she provides with my subscribers […]

via Narcissistic mother types — Courage Coaching

Yesterday was the first day all week that I left my apartment and the building.

Sometimes life is too overwhelming.  Thoughts stick in my head; refuse to leave.  Everything tastes funny.  My body feels off, but I”m not sure how or why.  My mind is foggy.  So tired, yet unable to sleep.  Everything feels wrong.

But then, it is March.  My mind tells me I”m supposed to feel sick and lethargic.  My body is trying to recapture those sensations through body memories.  Runny nose, allergies, blocked sinuses, colds, infections, and a swollen face are my spring norm.

Instead, the opposite is happening.  The herbs are working; all of the clogged up spaces around my eyes, nose, ears, and jaw are opening up.  Sure, it feels like a major head cold.  The sensations of stuff moving inside surprise and distract me sometimes, but they don’t hurt like in the past.

For the first time since childhood (maybe), the red, puffy, stuffy, tender places around my nose and cheeks are normal colored, smooth, and comfortable to touch.  As those areas drain and heal, so do other parts of my body – including the muscles that usually tighten and prevent me from being active.

Why does that feel so wrong?


From Google search of “Feels Wrong” images

Probably because I shouldn’t be feeling this healthy, happy, and good, not according to the rules the monsters drummed into my head.  I’m supposed to feel miserable and sick.  To gross out my peers and teachers with my constantly runny, dripping nose and sneezing.  To have to stay inside because of my colds.

How did I get that way?  Still can’t remember.  But the dreams share fragments of stories.

Between this and what I learned among family, my mind has been blown.  Literally.

Survival Mode

Next week, I go back to therapy and counseling.  IT can’t get here soon enough.

Until then, I’m coping as best as possible with the conflicting feelings and sensations inside me.


If you’ve read past posts, you’ve seen this quote before.  But it’s a good reminder for me right now.

Do as much as I can.  Remember to feel everything and let go of what doesn’t belong.  Keep on moving; there is an end even if I can’t see it.  Finally, backlash is OKAY; it mean’s I’m doing something right.  I survived backlash before.  I’ll survive it again.

Thanks for reading.

*REMINDER: please remember these are my opinions and not anyone else’s opinions.  Feel free to disagree, but please be respectful in how you disagree.  Thank you*

Disclosing Mental Illness

If you’ve read past posts, then you remember how I feel about labels and my thoughts about the term “mental illness”.

If not, here is the short version:
I do not believe PTSD or trauma-related mental health issues to be a form of mental illness in the same sense as say schizophrenia.

  • Schizophrenia has an underlying biological cause originating in one’s brain physiology.  aka the condition is not caused by outside experiences.  It could be developmental or genetic or a mix of influences.
  • PTSD and trauma-related mental health problems are caused by outside influences and experiences beyond an individual’s control and processing ability.  The brain and body adapts to these experiences by utilizing creative coping strategies that change the individual’s responses to stress.

Took me a long time to stop making excuses and apologizing for taking care of myself, but eventually I did.

Now I only share my past and my challenges for specific reasons:

  • Communication and team work for business purposes
  • Honesty when building friendships
  • When my symptoms might interfere with my ability to enjoy life and/or be productive
  • Discuss care with providers
  • Certain Legal and Human Resources situations

The rest of the time, I choose to be as “normal” as possible.  Why else create a toolbox of coping strategies and techniques for every day and special occasion use?

Preferential Treatment

*REMINDER: please remember these are my opinions and not anyone else’s opinions.  Feel free to disagree, but please be respectful in how you disagree.  Thank you*

Mental Illness does not make me “special” or “different”.  I am independent and able to make plans that allow for potential triggers and stressors, especially when traveling.

I do not need or want  preferential treatment when I travel.

Advance planning allows me to arrange my  travel plans to accommodate anxiety, panic attacks, triggers, etc. without having to disclose any information to airlines, bus station attendants, and other transportation officials.

When I make my plans, I expect them to mostly stay the same unless there is some kind of natural disaster or emergency beyond anyone’s control that requires change.

I don’t expect to have my seat assignments randomly changed last minute and for no reason.  Nor do I expect to have to talk with multiple representatives and disclose having panic attacks in order to get a seat assignment similar to my original one.

Yet that’s exactly what happened on American Airlines.  To make matters worse, some of the gate or counter representatives recognized me and were accordingly rude.

So, I stayed calm and professional while quietly repeating my emergency disclosure summary:

“I don’t want to cause problems and understand if you can’t help me, but I have panic attacks.  (This is what happened).  (This is why I am asking for an accommodation).  Any help is appreciated, and I understand if you can’t accommodate my situation.  Thank you.”

In this example, I need to sit in an aisle seat on airplanes.  Doesn’t matter where on the airplane or how cramped the seat is as long as I have an aisle seat.

Everything else can be accommodated.

Coping Strategies

I have none at the moment.  The whole fiasco still pisses me off and probably will for a while.

All I can say is that I’m grateful that a panic attack did not occur at an airline or on a plane.

Yes, I did have a few emotional moments.  But anyone who was awake for 40 hours and had to make 3 connections on 4 planes would have some emotional moments.

Practical Adaptations

  • Don’t fly United Airlines
  • Save up and apply for TSA pre-check
  • Start an air travel fund for emergency trips
  • Travel during seasons that don’t require heavy layers
  • Pay extra to fly on JetBlue or a similar airline instead
    • JetBlue has provided the best flying experiences so far

Reflection Questions for Guests (you don’t have to comment or share unless you want to do so)

  • In what situations do you share information about your mental illness?
  • How would you feel about being forced to disclose such information?
  • How do you feel about receiving preferential treatment?  Why?
  • Would you disclose your mental illness status if it meant getting preferential treatment?  Why or why not?
  • What coping strategies or safety plans do you have in place to cope with stressful situations like travel changes beyond your control?
  • Do you think having a backup plan and coping strategies would be helpful in situations like this?

Thanks for reading

I planned to write a follow up post about coping strategies for air travel when everything goes wrong.  That ways my Thursday/Friday experience traveling home.

But I’m too tired.  My body and brain ned to decompress before the work week starts up on Monday.  After crossing 3 time zones in 1 day and being awake for about 40 hours straight (including airplane naps), every part of me just wants to rest.  Our sleep deficit has not been this bad since before moving here.

Happy Sunday to anyone in the Northern Hemisphere.  Happy Monday to anyone in the Southern Hemisphere.

May you all take time for sleep& self care today also.

Thanks for reading.

This weekend I’m flying back to visit family

It’s an unexpected trip, and one I am not too excited about.  With everything that’s happened, I really need some down time.  But I also need to be mindful of the work vacation/sick day policy.  This year, my goal is to stay within the acceptable limits of time off instead of going over by accident or necessity – aka big move or panic attacks or triggers or unexpected family stuff.

Family trees

This was taken back in grad school; branches and leaves remind me of my family connections

My grandma had bad accident late in January, and I couldn’t visit then because of the moving situation.  She is not getting any younger and doing well with recovery/rehab, but I still feel like visiting sooner instead of later is important.  More important than taking a vacation or personal down time to recover from recent experiences.

At the same time, I also need to take care of myself.

My internal family system - sort of

How I see myself…still alive and thriving as I connect my inside and outside worlds

Hence the hotel.  And spending a few days working and connecting with positive people in my network.  I hope it balances out visiting people on my mother’s side of the family too.  And potentially running into my father, brother, mother, etc.

My Self Care Kit goes a little like this:

For flying

  • Warm comfortable outfit
  • Aromatherapy inhalers my friend made me
  • Wireless noise-cancelling headphones + charger/cord
  • E-books/music saved on my phone + phone charger/cord
  • External Battery for electronic devices (fully charged) + charger/cord
  • 1 carry on suitcase + 1 personal bag/backpack
  • Empty water bottle; chocolate/snacks
  • Crystals for grounding, serenity, protection, and mental clarity

For Family

  • Crystals for grounding, protection, courage, and mental clarity
  • Warm, comfortable clothes and accessories in my favorite colors
  • Personal computer with cord for distractions or grounding
  • Chocolate and other grounding stuff
  • Extra warm layers in my backpack in case the house is cold

For Being Where I Grew Up

  • Restaurants with reasonably priced comfort food
  • Room service for times I don’t want to leave the hotel
  • A plan for getting around town – aka public transit card, GPS, and rideshare apps
  • A plan for getting to and from hotel, airport, and work with minimal anxiety
  • Soothing kit that fits in my purse for environmental triggers
  • Fully charged phone with hotline and support phone numbers in case of emergency

And an ESCAPE Plan for everything else.

Things for ME to remember:

  • CBT will help me stay grounded in the present
  • DBT is my best, most effective communication tool
  • No matter what, I am an adult now and can leave ANY time I want
  • Safety first always
  • Travel light, but stay warm
  • Connecting flights are scary, but doable without checked luggage
  • Cramped, middle airplane seats are scarier, but necessary for my budget (sigh)

A wish that my family will be repaired someday…like the branches of these trees

Wish me luck!  Next post will be coming from a hotel and/or a family member’s house.

Thanks for reading!

**CORRECTION RE Krav Maga below**

AWMA – Martial Arts & Trauma (all photos credited to the AWMA blog)

One of the best experiences in my childhood was taking martial arts lessons.  The other was warrior training in my other life.  Tae kwon do taught me inner strength, resilience, meditation, discipline, and self defense in a protected setting.  Warrior training did the same, but with punishment instead of positive reinforcement.


The link at the top of this page is an article from the AWMA that describes how martial arts can be used to treat trauma and help victims/survivors empower themselves through learning how to protect themselves and trusting their bodies again.

Martial arts is also a relatively safe way for victims and survivors to channel anger and feelings of violence from something scary and negative into something useful and positive.  I wish I still had that outlet, but my body can’t handle so much activity right now.  Plus my instincts are too close to the surface.  I fear losing control and hurting people too much to try.

Finally, finding a safe place to learn and practice is not always easy.  Not many instructors are trauma informed and/or willing to let someone with my kind of history take lessons with students.


That doesn’t mean others looking for a physical outlet or activity more active than yoga or dance can’t try taking lessons.

For people who are comfortable with some or limited physical contact, I’d recommend Judo, JuJitsu, Tae kwon do, or wushu.  Maybe even boxing or kickboxing.  These are physically active, but don’t require a lot of sparring or extreme health until advanced levels.

**Edited to reflect guest comment: The amount of physical contact in Krav Maga classes depends on the instructor and the studio.  Thank you for the Correction**

For people who are less comfortable with physical contact, I’d recommend boxing, tai chi, and/or qigong.  Most of these trainings are in groups with limited or zero physical contact.  The pace is also different and can be better tailored to different levels of physical fitness.

Kung fu is great for many levels, requires limited physical contact, but is physically intense.  Maybe it’s the right option for you, maybe not.


There are many other styles and types of martial arts out there.  Plus things like boot camps, dance groups, cycling, and so on that may work better for you.  Or even paramilitary/wilderness/survivalist training will work.

What I shared above are examples of the styles I’ve tried and practiced in the past with different levels of success.

If you find a school with instructors who teach using a philosophy of self defense and mindfulness, you will learn a lot more than kicks, punches, submissions, holds, and ways to fight.

Those lessons helped me build a flexible structure to fall back on even at my worst moments.  Maybe they will help you too.  Either way, I hope you click on the link and decide for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Facing Past Fears

This year, I spent 3 months living in emotionally and verbally abusive situation beyond my control.  3 months because that’s how long it took to acknowledge the truth of my situation, go through the proper steps, and find the courage to get out of the situation using legal and banking resources.  The two individuals involved in this situation acted and treated me like the female figures in my past – maternal, care-taking, educational, authoritative, peers, and bullies.

Before this, in spite of all the work I’ve done to heal and trust outsiders, I’ve never really shaken the belief that I don’t deserve help from legal services, government, financial services, etc. or that asking for such help is a viable option.

The deal is done.  I spoke with the attorney.  He listened to my story; reviewed the documentation, and agreed to help me.  Within 1 day, the letter was written, lease broken, and freedom on the horizon.  The financial situation is not asa good as I want, but a bank loan will help with that.  Fingers crossed that the loan goes through in time, so I can make the necessary payments.

2018 Resolutions & Goals

This year’s resolution is simple.  It’s five words:






What this means…

Live, laugh, prosper in safety and good health.
Not just for me, but for my loved ones, my enemies, and others in this world.

Be vulnerable and my authentic self as often as possible
No matter how much it hurts.  No matter what challenges I face.  Because in finding and expressing my authentic self at all times, all parts of me integrate and work together as on whole person no matter the stress or triggers or whatever that comes my way.

Work towards improving my physical health
untangle the connection that confuse pain with any other sensation I feel when moving or active.  Then maybe start biking and feel more physically confident to travel and do things.  Accept and view my body in a positive way instead of a neutral way.  To not automatically connect my physical body and appearance with my past and instead connect it with my present.

Feel more comfortable with being an adult female and accepting aspects of my personality related to the trauma aka sexuality
I’ve abstained from sexual contact for almost 18 years and have no desire to try it again any time soon.  But I’d like to be able to acknowledge and accept my sexuality without being triggered or automatically connecting sexuality to abuse.  I’d like to feel comfortable in my own body/skin, accept my appearance in a way that is body positive instead of body neutral.

What are your resolutions and goals for 2018?

Thanks for reading

This is one time when I wish I had already upgraded my WordPress membership to a Premium account.  Then I’d be able to link to YouTube videos too.  But, the alters really want to get this post out now, so here goes…

TV as a distraction & affirmation of Good winning over Evil most of the time

I admit it.  I love watching certain procedurals and investigative TV shows.  They remind me that the justice system really does work more often than not, and that some police and/or law enforcement are trustworthy.

What I am not comfortable with is how many of these shows portray people with DID as serial killers, murderers, victims of their mental illness, or violent criminals while not portraying how they could also be victims of crime, witnesses, or minor suspects who end up helping solve the case instead.

So why discuss this now?

Because we’ve been binge watching/listening to Criminal Minds Seasons 1-12 and watching episodes of Hawaii 5-0 as background noise to distract from a noisy neighbor.  In Hawaii 5-0 only one alter in the system was a murderer.  But the way the psychologist described how the different alters appear to people seemed off.  Not all of hosts are submissive or appear submissive.  Not all of the protectors are violent or take on the worst characteristics of their abusers.  And I’m not sure that in every case of DID, the host is not responsible for what the other alters say or do.

And generalizing like that could cause more damage to how people with DID are treated in the outside world than anyone realizes.  As for Criminal Minds, the diagnosis is used as information in the profiles with respect and sensitivity, but most of the characters with DID end up being murderous or some other type of dangerous criminal/victim.

What We All Wish for

That these procedural shows and others treat DID and other so-called trauma-based mental illnesses with the respect, acceptance, and sensitivity NICS has done with PTSD and PTS for civilians, active duty military, and veterans on its show.  Not that NCIS is perfect because it’s not.  But many of the recent episodes dealing with trauma and trauma-related issues have been treated with care instead of being disregarded or looked down on or considered unreliable witnesses, etc.

On the Other Hand….

We are all grateful that shows like these are addressing issues of trauma, anxiety disorders, and other issues that usually get brushed off in mainstream television.  In spite of some errors or (in my opinion) erroneous generalizations, these shows also portray main characters with abusive or traumatic incidents in their pasts as admirable, compassionate, strong, ethical, successful individuals at work, in intimate relationships, and with family.

Final Thoughts

While I am upset about how people with DID get characterized in many of these shows, I am grateful that people are interested enough in learning about the disorder to use it as part of their episode plots.

Darkness and Silence really wish we could upgrade sooner instead of later because then they can FINALLY write their post about SSA Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds.  For any male survivors of sexual assault/abuse, you might want to look up his story line and watch Season 8, Episode 18 in particular.

Thanks for reading

Full disclosure: The individual mentioned in this post is a friend of mine.  While I try to stay unbiased in all of my reviews, this one might not be as objective.


I have been interested in essential oils and aromatherapy since 2007/2008 when some serious skin conditions convinced me to switch from conventional cleaning products to green cleaning products.  From conventional body care to plant and essential oil based products.  I read some books, did internet and database research, and listened to interviews about the wonders of “natural” products.

Some of the interviews mentioned local practitioners knowledgeable in aromatherapy.  The practitioners shared information about essential oils, but did not put much value in aromatherapy.  Then authors started publishing recipes for home made cleaners and diffusers using essential oils.

So I experimented with these recipes and stopped investigating aromatherapy for other purposes.  But I kept my ears open for more information and educational opportunities.


I was still interested, but did not have the time or opportunity to explore at the time.

Fast Forward 10 years

Quite a few different practitioners mentioned aromatherapy to me once they discovered my sensitivity to chemicals and petroleum based products.  Then a friend of mine (Corey H.) mentioned she was finishing her certification to become an aromatherapist and was looking for case study volunteers.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try using essential oils and aromatherapy with minimal risk.

She sent me some intake questionnaires and instructions for sending the information back.  We corresponded a few times for clarification and decision making about what symptoms to address.  Then she sent me a special blend of massage oil for topical pain/anxiety/PTSD symptom management.  That was in October.

The massage oil arrived around the time my body hurt a lot and I got sick with a cold.  I used it on my head and neck at first.  Then tried it on my arms and shoulders.  My back, hips, thighs, and knees were next.  The ideal time for me was after a shower or just before bed unless there was acute pain during the work day.

The scent helped me stay grounded when I felt myself slipping into dissociation.  The oil itself helped my muscles relax and activate again.  It was scary at first because I didn’t recognize the sensations in those parts of my body; they had been numb for a long time.  But then I noticed my feet changing position and my balance improving.  My knees hurt less, and my inner thigh muscles started flexing and relaxing – something that hasn’t happened in over 15 years.  When I used it on my abdominal area, my digestion and breathing improved.  And some of the bloating/swelling from muscle pain and body memories went away.

As  this trend continued, I started to use the massage oil less.  Not because it was less effective, but because I started to feel anxious and overwhelmed by the new sensations in my body and needed a break.  The positive changes have continued and still help me move better, experience less pain, and manage the body memories better.

Another Case Study

As part of her final coursework, Corey is doing a case study about how aromatherapy helps survivors of trauma and is looking for more volunteers.  If you are interested in learning more about how aromatherapy can help with trauma or mental health, check out Corey’s website: .  She has information about her practice goals and current case study.  Or contact her through this email address:

But please, only contact her if you are seriously interested in aromatherapy or in participating in her case study.

Final Words

Even if Corey wasn’t my friend, I’d still recommend her as an aromatherapist and aromatherapy as a coping technique for mental health symptoms.  She has been professional, compassionate, respectful, thoughtful, and supportive throughout the entire process.

So if you are interested, here is Corey’s information again:

Thanks for reading