Relapse – 123

Where have I been? Where am I going?

Things were getting better. Almost normal, it was nice…

Tense and time, they test me still – the burden is heavy this time.

Our trip to Japan had refreshed us for a year. 2016, the year of our renewal was short lived… After graduating from therapy on my own choice and moving forward with personal projects and events – I felt stronger. I was making choices for myself again.

We both were doing so well. I could almost forget about the fear of triggers or the waxing and waning of my chronic pain waves. I was falling into a new normal.

Slowly stress would creep up on me, slipping her fingers through the cracks and into my fears. My new position arrived on lipservice and lies – broken promises began to show their colours as I was denied a position I thought I earned. Only to have everything taken away from me, all I could do was watch as everything I worked for began to fall apart, there was nothing I could do because I had already lost my “power”.

Finally, as a last kick, I was denied full payment for my hard work. Work that stressed me to the point of breakdown. Payment I earned fairly, all while feeling like a failure, losing my grip on myself in the empty event parking lot- letting my friend and coworker hug me as I tried to hold on to what little strength in myself I had left.He was equally stressed and upset and there was nothing either of us could do to save it.

So I walked away. Months later… Knowing I may never see all the money they owe me. Knowing all my ideas and future projects probably meant nothing to them from the beginning.

One.

Knowing I may never bring anything I envisioned to light. I settled my heart, wanting nothing else except to find peace-  I did my best, I met people I love and care for. That was enough of an experience to push me forward despite the embarrassment.

It should have been. I should have kept moving forward despite the stress; because it was something I enjoying doing with friends I love, for the country and culture I love. It was just one stressful thing – I could jump the hurdle soon. I only need to push a bit more and be a bit more patient with everything…

Until the accident happened, and everything spiralled down out of control, again. Only this time there was no warning. Rear-ended and caught off guard. The noise of the accident, bumper on bumper – blacking out – it triggered me; but the whiplash, minor concussion had me in the hospital on a painful spinal board for hours. Later it would turn into severe back/shoulder/neck pain and constant headaches. I wasn’t broken yet…

Two.

What is “Chronic Pain”, again? Why couldn’t I just move forward in my life with the pain I already learned to live with, why did the accident have to make everything worse? How many more years of physical pain do I deserve? How horrible was my past life, how many more karma cycles must I endure the price?

Physiotherapy. Registered Massage Therapy. I’m told to get them both.

“You need time to heal.” Right? WRONG!

Instead, the ICBC Physio “Doctor” assigned to help me recover, assaulted me… he pulled down my pants to massage my bare ass… what part of my ass is healing the pain in my back/neck/head? How can a doctor in a position of authority and trust, try to see through my open hospital gown to my chest. Nothing felt right. Nothing feels right since. Is this what it feels like to break again?

Three.

How many more times must I be a victim? How many more years of emotional/psychological pain do I deserve? How many more times must I register for a therapy wait-list? How many more times must my PTSD triggers relapse? I wanted to be better, but instead, I’ve fallen 3 steps behind again. 3 blows to my healing soul, 0 protections against the darkness of my mind.

My body aches every day, I struggle to smile with such heavy thoughts drowning me out. Calling doctors offices give me anxiety now. I have panic attacks thinking about making appointments or getting on buses to get to those offices – I feel heavy and burdened.

I hate my life right now. But more than that… I hate myself.

私は引きこもりなりました…
体が痛いし、いろいろと重い考えとつらいよ。
ちゃんとがんばりたいなのに、最近元気ない、
何もできない。
やっぱり自分は嫌い、穴があったら入りたいよ。

もし自分はいないのに世界が続くのよ、でしょう?
私わ消えるがいいと思う

これらの言葉ですらいつか消えてしまいます

一 二 三

 

 

 

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10 days

I’m 10 days away from flying back to Japan with the love of my life. 

Just two days ago I was still reeling from the high the mere thought of returning HOME gave me. 

So why am I depressed today?

Why do I feel like I can never go back? Like something will stop me in the end. Expecting the worst. 

And then there’s the fear. 

The fear of all the possible triggers I don’t even know I have, because I haven’t returned to Japan since the rape. The final month feels like a blur. What have I forgotten? What will I remember?

The fear of having a flashback or a meltdown while we are supposed to be having fun or in a public setting. Ruining special moments because my brain is out of control. 

The fear of seeing him would be the first thought to most minds- but that doesn’t scare me as much as the memories do. 

Is that weird?

I know my boyfriend can protect me from him physically, but he can’t stop a flashback – there is no safety in the depths of my mind. 

I’m tired of the nightmares and the crying. It’s exhausting not being able to sleep soundly. 

All I can do now is try to dream of Ikebukuro – my safe place – and hope my brain will eventually comply and bring back the high. 

10 days. 

Childish thoughts

I’ve come a long way. 

Not having sessions with my therapist doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. I am currently transitioned from one on one therapy to both group therapy (interpersonal processing) and one on one psychotherapy and medicine trials with my psychiatrist. I’m finally ready to begin to face the real world again and test myself. 

I’m ready to start the next chapter in my life, it excites me. 

But I’m still teetering on the edge, not quite ready -or able- to tip over into the “normal routine” of life. 

Been keeping a mood journal, it helps me reconcile with my triggers faster. The flashbacks and panic attacks are shorter in duration. It still sucks to have them, especially when I still learning what my triggers are and why they manifest- but I can bring myself out of the state eventually on my own and that means I am gaining ground. 

Ive also have been trying to keep myself busy. Volunteering my time to help a friend promote and organize events for her new business. If only to forget I’m not in Japan.  I’m being helpful – or so I tell myself – even though it hurts sometimes (both physically and mentally). It’s stressful but rewarding. 

I don’t want others to worry about me anymore. I want to stop my childish jealousy and feelings towards those who get to go back to Japan. I want to work for real and support my boyfriend so we can move to Japan, together. He’s truly the greatest gift the universe could ever give me. 

Still working to fix my sleep hygiene, insomnia is a tough bitch. 

The vivid memories are possibly the worst. Like a watered down version of a flashback.  It doesn’t get me into a state of black out panic like a flashback can, more like an unexpected movie playing vividly in my brain.  I am often unable to concentrate on anything except the memory, while the rest of the world continues on without me. I’m so zoned out into the memory, I can actually see it.  It’s creepy but it doesn’t affect me as strongly, it just brings about the insecurities and the “why game”. 

Then of course I’m constantly asking people to repeat themselves – like I’m deaf and can’t understand them. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the mundane and simple things around me. 

Just force an apologetic smile and pretend.  Pretend my smile is always genuine. Pretend I’m fine. Pretend I want to be here. 

Ever since Greg committed suicide last year I’ve been trying my hardest not to have those thoughts. Trying my hardest to be compassionate to myself and stop feeling so worthless. That’s a hard habit to break. 

I feel like a failure – I’m stuck in Canada with mental and physical illnesses and I am unable to pursue my goals and dreams in Japan. And it’s literally tearing me apart from the inside out. 

“When are you coming back? I thought you would be back by now!”

Me too. 

This wasn’t my plan. The possibility of becoming a rape victim before I even left Japan didn’t cross my mind. (But really who does?) My goals didn’t include climbing the mountain that is trauma recovery. This wasn’t supposed to be my life, my dream. 

It’s a fucked up long-ass detour, yes, but I know I can’t let it stop me or what I want to do. One day at a time and I’ll find my way back. 

I’ll be ok. I’m already better. 

The hardest part is convincing yourself. 

Long ride

After losing yet another long time friendship, to what feels like nothing and absolutely pointless reasoning – I lost the urge to write more.  

I’ve been battling the depression side of PTSD for the past 5 months. Trying to convince myself nothing is wrong with me. I’m a victim, a survivor, living with chronic pain and PTSD.  I’m not a terrible person. 

“Why did the two girls I considered as sisters just give up on our friendships so easily? Especially relationships that have faced harsher battles than petty internet drama. Why did she turn her back on me when I had already reached out to one of them about my PTSD out of pure trust of our strong friendship over the years? All the money me and my family has spent on her out of love and support when she was jobless and couldn’t pay rent, and has yet to show any thanks or payment back?  

Am I the only person with feelings? Am I the only person who hurts when a friendship ends? How can they be so cold? Why do I apparently feel emotionally hurt so much stronger than others?”

I think these destructive thoughts and more- until they make me sick. 

My therapist helps. Differentiating between owning my own feelings vs owning the feelings of others has been a struggle. Owning what is mine and what I can and can’t control has been eye opening. I was owning so many emotions, judgements and feelings that weren’t mine to personalize. 

Money is just money in the end. And the friendships weren’t that important to them in the end. I have to accept these facts.  I have to be okay with the hurtful things said on both parts, including my own words. Nothing changes the past, and the past doesn’t gaurentee friendship. 

After facing the feelings with those girls in therapy, I was able to find some clarity. 

I have a billion other things I need to focus on instead of people who clearly don’t give a damn about me anymore. Why waste my energy and tears on people who just tore me down or threw me away, in the end. I can’t change how they act or feel; that’s their emotions and anger, not mine. 

I can only change how I feel and control how I act; so I forgive both of them, now.  

There’s nothing else I can do for them, and I deserve the peace of mind. It took me a long time to find the forgiveness, but I remembered I loved them, flaws and all – and that was never wrong. 

There was nothing wrong with me feeling hurt, and there was nothing wrong with them terminating the friendship If the feelings were no longer mutual. 

They were the sisters I didn’t have, and  so I can only wish them the best. They deserve nothing but love and calm in their lives. I hope they find it. 

I’m okay with saying goodbye with a smile and love in my heart, even if alone. Because the love was real. And I am happy to own that emotion instead. 

Now I’m focusing on reclaiming my confidence in public settings. I’ll be starting group therapy in June… I’m scared af about it to be honest. 

Being around people I don’t know sends me into anxiety attacks. Extremely paranoid of loud belligerent idiots on transit, especially. Makes getting around Vancouver emotionally and physically painful at times. 

Nightmares are still every night – sometimes my rapist finds me in Canada and I wake up crying and physically exhausted. I’m always running away, always terrified. I don’t rest when I sleep, clenching my jaw without realizing gives me tensions headaches when I wake up. 

Health is declining again. Insomnia, fatique, vertigo. Symptoms are endless. Although the pain is definitely more manageable than a few months ago. 

Ridiculously emotional lately. I don’t know what all the tears mean; sometimes I don’t even know why I’m crying. 

Feels like the road to recovery is endless. Can’t wait to find myself back home in Ikebukuro. 

It’s been too long.  

Transition

Fatigue cradles me in her arms. The journey of finding self is exhausting. Yet strangely peaceful.

I feel my old insecurities shedding from my body. Less accusations and assumptions, more forgiveness.

I’m still scared, rather jumpy at times. The fear and anxiety indicted from loud strangers is a completely different battle than the inner nightmares I deal with every day.

One battle of control over my physical body reactions vs the battle of the voices and emotions inside my head.

Two sides of the same coin.

I’m ready to let the fearful girl die. Rather, I want to be ready, but who ever knows when healing is truly over?

I’m facing another fear tonight;
My doc is fast tracking my tests after checking two small lumps on the right side of my neck. With my night sweats and constant low energy, all tests will be done tonight and tomorrow. (Blood, chest X-ray, ultrasound)

That’s enough to get anyone nervous, I suppose. Obviously I’m hoping it’s just a cyst or something benign; but the dark fears in me scream out during times like this. You smile and try to convince yourself it’s nothing of huge worry; simultaneously on the inside you’re screaming in fear.

Breathe.

Find love.

Find peace.

Feelings are feelings

Earlier this week someone reminded me that when two people change, their friendship should change with them. The friendship (or relationship) needs to grow with two people as they both have their own identities and feelings too.

In this realization and the realization that I need to be honest with people about my feelings, I faced a hard truth.

Feelings are just feelings, not facts. That doesn’t make it wrong to feel, but it can cloud the truth. It’s easy to get swept away with strong emotions. Especially anger or hurt.

This week has been a roller coaster of friendship. First, I reconnect with an old friend whom I once thought was completely gone for good. Then, I completely lost another friend (more like a sister after 10+ years) who I could never imagine leaving me so coldly.

Yet here I am, and I’m okay with it.

The person I love and miss is not the same girl I am trying to reach out to. She is not the girl I spent weeks of school breaks with, the net sisters that would book flights to see each other, the sleepless nights of RPing until morning. Good memories, but just that. Only memories. We are both very different people now. And that’s okay.

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A guide for loved ones

These past two months have taught me that listening to someone who has PTSD talk about what happened to them is a challenge. I have received many surprising emotions and reactions from both friends and family since coming forward with my trauma: Understanding, sympathy, love, and support of course, but on the opposite spectrum- it can be overwhelming, insensitive, frustrating or upsetting.

Both myself and those who love me share these reactions to my trauma. Its not a comfortable topic for daily conversation and certainly not easy to listen to. So, since I’ve been reading through my homework and external links, I’ve compiled some points that stood out to me.

I’d like to share them with my readers of course, but mostly for the friends and family that read this. Hopefully these notes can help those who care for me understand a bit better.

  • She needs to talk abut it. It sucks to hear about it. Try to remember that living through it was worse. Now, because of PTSD, she is going over and over it in her mind. Reliving the horror everyday. This is what is making her sick. This is the poison that is eating away at her. Telling someone is like washing out a infected cut. It stings, it burns, it grosses out people, but it is the only way to get rid of the poison.
    Her greatest need is to tell what happened. Her greatest fear is that if she tells, she will lose your love. You probably won’t understand what it was like and she may have done things you both know are wrong. She is afraid of being judged. She has already lost a big part of herself to this trauma. She can’t stand to lose you, too. And if she tells, maybe she will.
    It will take a great deal of courage for her to talk about her trauma. So please listen, and don’t judge her. She is still the person you used to know. But she has been hurt, big time, and she is trying to piece her life back together. In time, she will see her actions clearly and make amends if necessary. But right now, she needs to tell someone and not be rejected for the telling.(1)”
  • PTSD symptoms include;
    -Re-experiencing symptoms(flashbacks/nightmares/intense intrusive memories), they can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.
    -Avoidance symptoms (“emotional anesthesia”/distant/numb/avoidant), staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience.
    -Hyperarousal symptoms (being on edge/jumpy/angry outbursts/hypervigilance) are usually constant.(4)”
    “It’s important to remember that the person may not always have control over his or her behavior. Anger, irritability, depression, apathy, mistrust, and negativity are common PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to turn off. With time and treatment, they will get better, but it’s a gradual process.(3)”
  • “Their memory is seriously impaired. This is not amnesia: in fact, it is almost the opposite! The trauma comes back, bursting into awareness, when it isn’t wanted or welcome. This “hot memory” lasts minutes to hours and may be clear or altered, like a dream. It is very disturbing for two reasons. The person with PTSD becomes flooded with something frightening, or disgusting, or tragic. And she or he may feel entirely out of conscious control. Often the trauma comes back in subtle ways – a fleeting feeling, a vague sense of dis-ease. This may not be terrifying, but when it occurs frequently it changes one’s whole sense of being the person they once were. Unwanted mental experiences can also include nightmares. The worst memory symptom is the waking nightmare, the flashback. This is as vivid as reality, and may actually seem like reality. (5)”
  • They need your love and support. They need comfort and your reassurance. What they don’t need, at least right now, is your advice. What they will never need is for you to judge them.
    Do not criticize your friends’ choices. They may have made some huge mistakes, but they don’t need you to point that out to them. They will come to that realization on their own. Or maybe those “mistakes” were the best options they had under the circumstances. They’ll figure that out on their own, too.(1)”
  • Be patient and avoid harsh remarks. Stay away from telling your friend or family member to get over their problems.(2)”
    “A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past, stop talking about it and move on. (3)”
  • Accept (and expect) mixed feelings – As you go through the emotional wringer, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings—some of which you’ll never want to admit. Just remember, having negative feelings toward your family member doesn’t mean you don’t love them.(3)”
  • “It may be hard for you to hear what they have to say. They may have experienced things you don’t understand, things you’ve never heard of or thought could happen. They didn’t think those things could happen, either. But they did. That is why they have PTSD. They are struggling to make sense of what happened.
    It will hurt you to hear how they were hurt. It may make you cry. It may sicken you. It may make you angry. It may overwhelm you.
    Stop them when you have had enough. It was awful for them and it is awful for you to hear it, so realize you will reach a point of overload. Tell them you need a break. Reassure them.(1)”

(1) http://www.heal-post-traumatic-stress.com/
(2) http://casapalmera.com/ways-to-support-someone-with-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/
(3) http://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/ptsd-in-the-family.htm
(4) http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
(5) http://www.giftfromwithin.org/html/partners.html