The “Little” Girl That Cried Wolf

As I was listening to songs on youtube a song suggestion came up. I have heard the name of the song but never actually listened to it..When I did  broke down. The song is called “Alyssa lies” by John Michael Carroll. It is a song about a little girl named Alyssa that is being abused at home and is based on a true story. Everyone thought she was lying even the Teachers despite the proof of her bruises. She was crying for help, but that help came to late.

The song hit me hard because from the first day I started School I had obvious signs of abuse and neglect my sister did too. My sister went to the nurse in 3rd grade and showed the nurse a mark on her neck. When the nurse asked how she got it she told them the truth. My Mom had burnt her with a cigarette as a form of punishment. When they called she said she was just picking at a scab from a bad mosquito bite. The case was dismissed. I remember the day my sister got home from School that day. My Mom verbally bashed my sister calling her every name she could think of.

I always had issues in School since I started because there was so much trauma I was exposed too. I remember in 1st grade when I started PE and the Teacher was a male I was terrified! I thought because he was a male he was going to molest me. I did everything I could to get out of PE from self harming to being curled up frozen in fear every time I entered the gym. Why?..Years prior to this I started being molested by 3 people. Yes as sickening as it sounds at 4 years old I was an object of neglect and sexual gratification. In 1st grade I experienced my first panic attack when it was almost PE time. I went into the bathroom and had my freaked out. I heard the screeching of chairs as fellow students and my Teacher came to my aide. That incident was overlooked. I wasn’t asked WHY that had happened, even if they did I wouldn’t think to tell them I was being molested. I thought it was “normal” because it was done by adults..even by Pediatrician in front of my Mom.

2nd Grade is where the song “Alyssa lies” hits me sooooooo HARD. After years of sexual abuse, neglect and dysfunction taking a toll on me I had a severe panic attack during class. The Teacher left the classroom to get something. I ran to the door and looked down the hall, she was out of sight. I started shaking like a leaf and couldn’t breathe all my classmates gathered around me as I laid on the floor grabbing on to arms and legs of my classmates BEGGING and crying for them to the nurse because I told them I was dying. Just then the Teacher came in and told the students to go back to their seats. I was sitting on the floor crying and shaking. When I saw my Teacher a sense of relief came over me. I grabbed onto my Teachers arm waiting for her to help me..But she didn’t. She told me to get off the floor and return to my seat. Waiting to see what she what she was going to do next I sat in my chair. Thinking she was going to help me by asking what caused my panic or comfort me. She went to the front of the classroom stood there in silence a few seconds. She pointed to me and said to the class “I think it’s time I tell everyone about the story of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

My heart sank. The Teacher told everyone I was being a liar and when something DID happen to me nobody would believe me. At that time I didn’t realize I had Complex PTSD, this was back in the ’80’s and I was just be a “pathological liar” from that moment I hid everything that was happening at home and in my head. The torment and jokes about me occurred everyday from that day forward. One day in 3rd grade a boy I liked turned to me and said to me “You are so ugly you should just kill yourself”. I wasn’t sure what or how to kill myself or I would have. I was bullied for my snacks and school lunches. Little did anyone know that that was the only time I ate. At home my “Mom” had me eat food off the floor, the wall and even from garbage cans.

I get upset because I wonder how many Teachers are overlooking the signs of abuse in children everyday around the World. I WAS Alyssa..but I had survived by suffering in silence. I cannot even begin to explain the evil I endured during my childhood. Living since age 4 with PTSD symptoms. I thought well, maybe everyone has horrific images (intrusive thoughts), etc.. So I hid it. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until 2014 when I broke down to my Husband and told him everything I suffered with and hid since I was a child. I still live with a tortured brain even with all the meds and treatments I have done for years. The last therapist in 2016 was convinced I was “demon possessed” and was in my face screaming that I was not LJ that I was a demon. Even rubbing anointing oil ALL over me and her office. That was the day I said FUCK therapy.

I will never escape my tortured brain..during the day I take my medications and continue to fight my Complex PTSD symptoms, but sleep is also dreaded because I have vivid nightmares. Living with PTSD is a full time job. In 2014 I saw a Psychiatrist and she said from reading my notes from the therapist that the fact that I was alive was a true testament to my strength and she has never encountered so much trauma and lived to tell about it. I am thankful despite my disorder that I am alive..2 of my brothers couldn’t shake the childhood trauma. I had 3 brothers now I have 1. 2 of my brother killed themselves..one in 2002, the other in 2009. My last remaining brother lives with PTSD and tries his best to fight for his life. Between suicide attempts and drugs I am not sure how long I will have him. My sister lives her days as if nothing is wrong and said her “PTSD is gone” but she broke down to me on the phone 3 weeks ago with memories of being tied to her bed and tortured among other things that happened.

I know this blog piece turned out to be a novel, but it has been months since I have written. People need to know that PTSD is also NON military..for those with non military PTSD getting help doesn’t come easy like it does for vets. I am so in debt from therapy, psychiatry and inpatient hospitals stays I have a lawsuit I pay monthly because paying $10 a month was not suitable for them. I also have medical bills from side effects of medications. I know so many like me are in the same boat. Hopefully one day there will be a place for us civilians with PTSD to turn too. Awareness matters!! If I would have known that PTSD could be non military I could have received help sooner.

Thanks for reading,

-LJ

 

 

 

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Who I am

I was born in 1978 the youngest of 5 siblings, and child of 2 dysfunctional parents. Shortly after I was born the house my family lived in went on fire by “accident”. Everyone safely got out of the house. But, When the fire dept asked in anyone was still in the house and my Mom said NO. My grandma pulled up saw the fire and rest of my siblings outside but asked where I was my mom said”She couldn’t remember where she put me.” My grandma told the firemen I was still in the house they broke through my window, where I was laying in my crib crying in a room full of smoke. After that I was given to my grandma while my siblings went to family on the other side because our parents were neglecting us. My Mom went missing for 2 years into a psychiatric hospital and I have no clue where my dad was, that whole time line never gets discussed in my family.

I was raised by my grandma until I was 2 years old than sadly given back to my mother, my parents had since divorced during  the time I was in her care. My grandma was the ONLY person that gave me love, stability,manners and great memories..In 2015 my heart shattered when she passed away alone in a nursing home in NY. Growing up the youngest of  5 was tough, I seemed to get the brunt of everything. To this day my Mom says she was sorry she had me, and that she had too many kids. From as age 4  I was molested by various family, neighbors, and even  by my pediatrician in front of my mom. Both of my parents were batshit crazy so even when my Mom had primary custody I still went to my dads on weekends. With my Mom I was starved and neglected, she did want she wanted and didn’t care if we saw or heard. She would have sex in front of us. She never made us go to school and we were always being investigated by the school as to why we were always absent. I secretly hoped I would be taken away because it was torture living in such dysfunction. I always wore rags and I was always being sent home from school when I got to go because we always had head lice. The only reason I like going to school was because I knew I was going to get a meal. There were times so bad at my house that I was cry from hunger and my older brother would go find stuff in the garbage can to feed me. I have eaten food out of a garbage, of the floor and even off a wall. Hence the reason I have severe OCD food contamination issues as an adult. When I went to my dads he was more torturous and would make my siblings watch graphic horror movies and porn. During horror movies he would grab me by the neck and force me to watch graphic scenes as he laughed like the devil. A lot of my intrusive thoughts began at the age of 4 when he would expose me to violent images. He tried to choke my brother to death in front of me. He would make his dogs attack me, anything evil he could do, he would. After we would have a tortorous weekend with him he would always bring us to Mc Donalds on the way home which made all the torture worth it because I knew I had food. I would keep my happy meal in my room for up to a week at a time so I knew if I was hungry there was something for me to eat.

In 1st grade I had my first panic attack, I went into the bathroom in the classroom and closed the door. I panicked and started banging on the door screaming for help, I heard the screeching of desk chairs as my classmates and teacher came to my aide. Going to school was always traumatizing for me because I would get made fun of, just to be tortured at home too. In 2nd grade my teacher left the room to get something down the hall. I was in the classrooms with my classmates and I began to have a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe I ran to the door called for the teacher but she didn’t hear me. I collapsed on the floor crying, shaking and begging someone to get the nurse. Everyone just stared at me. Finally the teacher came back in the room and told everyone to get back in their seats including me. She said what I did was “cry wolf” and she told everybody the story of “the little boy that cried wolf”I was humiliated!! That day I accepted that what was happening to me was not normal, so I hid it and ALL my symptoms of PTSD from then on. I went to school until I was 16 then dropped out because I couldn’t take the bully’s anymore everything I did they made fun of. They even told me to commit suicide because I was so ugly nobody would ever love me. I tried commit suicide several ways from age 12-16 but I was never successful.

Things got better when I left school and I got my first job at 16, I still had been horrifically tortured by my brain, I hid it since I was 4 years old so I kept it tucked so I wasn’t a freak. I started working at an ice cream shop straight away after dropping out of school. During my teen years I had padlocks on my bedroom door because my brothers started using heroin and they would steal and sell whatever I had, which was not much. Suffering inside with all the symptoms of PTSD and depression I still kept all those secrets of intrusive thoughts and flashbacks inside of me.  I have had various traumas too many to mention but the worst time of my life was when 9/11 hit. A few weeks before my brothers best friend died from an overdose, he was like a brother to me. Then 9/11 happened. 9/11 was very traumatic for me as it was for many. I felt like I was going to snap. A friend in north carolina had asked to move in as a roomate in a really nice 3 bedroom house he bought to help me escape the trauma.. I gladly left I had to get out of NY I couldn’t shake the images I saw from the site, spotlights on the site, the smoke coming from the site and the sound planes hovering overhead trying to keep my city safe.

My male friend and I got to NC I felt a sigh of relief I was away from the trauma and candlelight vigils on every corner. When I had gone into my room for the first night in my new place my friend asked me where I was going. It became clear I was not going to be a roommate. I was raped and tortured by this asshole for almost 2 months. He did everything he could to break me down even making me holding his hand when he went to the bathroom. I didn’t have a cell phone I couldn’t call anyone for help I was trapped. One night as I was sitting with the psycho his phone rang, it was my Mom. My brother Danny had killed himself. Stuck in one nightmare and brought into another one I went in the bathroom and had a panic attack, I was so close with my brother he is the only one that understood me mentally and now he was gone. My brother had moved to florida right before he died so we had to go down there to the funeral. In shock and totally detached I became numb and went with the flow. I was so sick from knowing I would have to say goodbye to my brother and see my dad, its been years. The sick evil bastard “My dad” actually kept what my brother used to kill himself with. After the funeral on the way back to NC I hatched a plan with my mom to get me away from the psycho friend without him being there. While I waited to be rescued I was subjected to more disturbing events, the psycho I was staying with made me watch videos and look at pictures of how my brother had killed himself. When I had mentioned leaving I had a gun down my throat, I was either going to get away or die trying I couldn’t take the torture and pain he made me endure. My family dropped me in NC and went back to NY but my oldest brother came and got me when psycho was at work..I was on my way to ny and I was FREE finally. When I got back home to NY I had to go into hiding because he said if I left him he would “snap” so I had to hide my car at other peoples houses and I stayed in hiding in my moms apartment for about 2 months. But I was and I still am always looking over my shoulder.

After my brother Danny died I felt like my brain snapped. I ended up in a hospital in NY for being suicidal. They diagnosed me with OCD and depression and sent me on my way with a script for paxil. I still never felt right but I kept hiding it. I spent most of my 20’s being a hermit only going out to work and back. I began to socialize in chats on my phone and thats how I meet my husband in 2006. We ran away to Oklahoma in 2007 and got married, shortly after we were married I got a spider bit and an er doc gave me meds to kill the toxins but they didn’t check if I was pregnant so the medicine killed my baby and I had to have a d&c. We tried for another baby and in January 2009 I had my son Colin. A week before I was about to give birth my mom called me and told me my oldest brother was found dead from an overdose in a hotel room by my brother Jeffrey. I had to be numb about his death because I was about to give birth, time went on in Sept 2011 I had Jacob. I kept hiding my disorders, even from my husband. IN 2014 I finally came clean to my husband about my symptoms.If it not had been for laureate I don’t think I would ever got diagnosed properly or get the care I desperately needed. In 2014 I was diagnosed with complex ptsd, depression and severe ocd.I have been getting treatment at laureate ever since. I entered the IOP as suggested by my psychiatrist dr Y.  I have been through many therapists and medication but since I have been in IOP it has given me hope and I finally feel like I am getting the treatment I needed.

Carrying The Weight Of The World

I try to keep my shit together, but I am busting apart at the seams. 2016 is the year of “breakdowns” for me. Life just gets SO overwhelming! I try to be the best person I can be, but YES I breakdown. June 2016 was the month of Hell for me, don’t know why but I couldn’t get my shit together. I went to my Psychiatrist on Thursday shaking and having panic attacks in her presence. She tried to convince me to go for inpatient treatment and honestly I should have. She said she wanted aggressive treatment to help me…and keep me alive. After a script for 3 sedatives a day and a high dose of Zyprexa she sent me on my way. I could say and never look back…but I did. As a Mom I can’t even fathom the idea of going back into the Psychiatric Hospital but I knew I needed too. I have done that before, my kids have seen me in there. I am trying to HEAL myself and NOT damage my children in the progress. I have had 2 stays a Psychiatric hospital in the past 2 years.

I was put back on Zyprexa..of all the countless meds I have been on my favorite for sure. With a sane mind comes a price..it’s called weight gain. I have to sacrifice the health of my body to save my brain. I am so tired of the battles of mental illnesses they FUCKIN suck! It’s a draining battle between Complex PTSD and severe OCD. I obsessively think about my PTSD symptoms. I am like a hamster on a wheel that keeps spinning and spinning and SPINNING. I try not to lose my shit, but I do. I often look at others and wonder what their lives are like..how they go about their day and if they battle like I do. The thing with being mentally ill is you can’t look at someone and know what they are battling.

Sometimes I wish I could go to a treatment facility to clear my head and get the help I need, but as a Mom my kids come first. Being mentally ill and a Mother is very draining. I try to be the best Mom I can be while battling everything in my brain. I don’t want my kids to look back and remember me being mentally messed up, I am so afraid I will damage my kids. My goal and hope is that by using my voice today I can help FUTURE generations be free from the shame and stigma. I am so tired of this battle, but somehow every day God gives me the strength I need so I am thankful for that.

  • LJ

Completely Disconnected: My PTSD Is So Complex!

As I write this blog I sit at my computer chewing on pieces of ice trying to “ground myself” nothing seems real. What is torturing me is called “dissociation” or DID “Dissociative Identity Disorder”  …it is a symptom of having Complex PTSD. I have been through at least 6 major trauma’s over the course of my lifetime starting at age 4.

‘Dissociation: An adaptive defense in response to a high stress or trauma characterized by memory loss and a sense of disconnection from one’s self or surroundings’

I remember the first time I experienced dissociation, I was 4 years old going through a traumatic sexual assault. I felt myself float out of my body and was above my tiny body witnessing myself being attacked. It was like watching a movie..Nothing seemed real. From that day I have had problem trying to FEEL. I will go days, weeks and even month stuck in dissociation. I go for therapy every week but doing EMDR is always delayed because I can’t stay focused and present in the room which would cause EMDR to be ineffective. I try grounding techniques which help keep one in the present. I feel captive to my own brain and I am trying to live my life as best as I can. There are times when I was thankful I couldn’t feel..Like childbirth for example. With my youngest I had an elective c-section, my child ended up in NICU. While most Mom’s were still in bed resting from their surgeries I was on a hike across the hospital to see my son on NO painkillers because I couldn’t even feel anything from being dissociated.

What is the difference between PTSD and Complex PTSD?

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Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders include:

  • Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
  • Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
  • A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
  • A lack of a sense of self-identity

The symptoms of dissociative disorders depend on the type of disorder that has been diagnosed. There are three types of dissociative disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):

  • Dissociative Amnesia. The main symptom is difficulty remembering important information about one’s self. Dissociative amnesia may surround a particular event, such as combat or abuse, or more rarely, information about identity and life history. The onset for an amnesic episode is usually sudden, and an episode can last minutes, hours, days, or, rarely, months or years. There is no average for age onset or percentage, and a person may experience multiple episodes throughout her life.
  • Depersonalization disorder. This disorder involves ongoing feelings of detachment from actions, feelings, thoughts and sensations as if they are watching a movie (depersonalization). Sometimes other people and things may feel like people and things in the world around them are unreal (derealization). A person may experience depersonalization, derealization or both. Symptoms can last just a matter of moments or return at times over the years. The average onset age is 16, although depersonalization episodes can start anywhere from early to mid childhood. Less than 20% of people with this disorder start experiencing episodes after the age of 20.
  • Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by alternating between multiple identities. A person may feel like one or more voices are trying to take control in their head. Often these identities may have unique names, characteristics, mannerisms and voices. People with DID will experience gaps in memory of every day events, personal information and trauma. Onset for the full disorder at can happen at any age, but it is more likely to occur in people who have experienced severe, ongoing trauma before the age of 5. Women are more likely to be diagnosed, as they more frequently present with acute dissociative symptoms. Men are more likely to deny symptoms and trauma histories, and commonly exhibit more violent behavior, rather than amnesia or fugue states. This can lead to elevated false negative diagnosis. – https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders

There are times when being disconnected scares me, like driving for example. I will start to have a panic attack because I know I am in a car driving but can’t register that it is ME doing it. Don’t worry, I don’t drive very often and when I do I am usually alone. The causes of dissociation typically include trauma, often from prolonged trauma, such as abuse, in childhood. The stress of war or natural disasters may also cause dissociation. Dissociation is more common in children, which is why this particular behavior is often developed in childhood. But can be carried on through adulthood I am exhibit A. Dissociation is a universal reaction to overwhelming trauma and recent research with indicates that the manifestations of dissociation are very similar world wide.

My therapist has told me that when you dissociate that the “switch” in your brain for fight or flight gets “stuck”. It’s like a “false alarm” for an emergency. Even though the fight or flight response is automatic, it isn’t always accurate. In fact most of the time when the fight or flight response is triggered it is a false alarm – there is no threat to survival. The part of the brain the initiates the automatic part of the fight or flight response, the amygdala, can’t distinguish between a real threat and a perceived threat.

The treatment for dissociation is usually: EMDR, Hypnosis, Grounding techniques and/or medication. I am currently working on treatment for DID with medication and therapy. I have never really discussed my DID symptoms out of embarrassment, but I came clean 2 weeks ago and I am working healing in that aspect of my Complex PTSD. If you have symptoms of DID I assure you are NOT alone…I am right there with ya!

  • LJ

Mourning The Loss Of My Former Self

I am going on 2 months being PTSD free after 33 years. In a strange way I am mourning the loss of my former self. “Mourning: the period or interval during which a person grieves or formally expresses grief.” Everything I knew about myself was gone. I am beyond thankful I am not battling every second of every day, my healing has been hard work, a lot of research and determination. The moment I was healed I literally felt like I was born again. Everything in the World seemed strange and so new..but very exciting. I have never known life without PTSD.

*Trigger Warning* I wanted to give you all a trigger warning because I know some of what I write may affect the readers with PTSD. I am not going to go into details about my traumas, but just because I have been there I wanted to give a heads up!

My trauma began at 4, at least that was the first incident my brain can recall. I have always felt strange or off. I just figured it was the life I was given. I had my first panic attack when I was in 1st grade, I somehow got locked in the bathroom in the classroom. I started to bang on the door for help and my body went into full panic mode. I heard the screeching of chairs as classmates and the Teacher came to my rescue. When I got out of the bathroom I was so relieved, but confused and embarrassed by what just had occurred.

In 2nd grade my Teacher went to go get something down the hall and left the class, I had a MAJOR panic attack. I felt my sense of safety was taken away as she walked out the door. I couldn’t breathe, I was shaking like a leaf and crying. The whole class congregated around me by the door as I started to go to my knee’s begging several classmates to bring me to the nurse because I felt like I was dying and couldn’t breathe. At that point the Teacher came back in the classroom and pushed through the students to see what was going on. I saw her and an overwhelming sense of relief came over me. She helped me up, I looked at her like she was an angel. I got an evil eye in return. I didn’t know what was going on, so I didn’t know how to explain to the Teacher what was happening. She told every student including me to go back to their chairs. The Teacher went to the front of the classroom and told ALL of us the story of “The little boy that cried wolf” I was humiliated!! From that moment on I decided to hide all of what I know now were PTSD symptoms.

I didn’t get officially diagnosed and treated for PTSD until 2014. I let everything I was experiencing out to a former therapist I couldn’t take it anymore. Two of my brothers died tragically I didn’t want to be next. I suffered in silence out of shame and fear of people thinking I was “crazy”. In 2014 I knew the names of things that haunted me all my life, they were called triggers, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and hypervigilance, etc. When I had a name what I had battled my whole life I felt a sense of relief, I wasn’t crazy. I have heard of PTSD but always thought it was military related. When it sunk in I had PTSD it felt like a life sentence was handed to me.

I had/have an amazing support systems from so many people, including from up above. I never ever thought I would live life without trauma, but I do. PTSD was a huge part of my life, I didn’t like it but it was the only life I have ever known. Now that I have been healed I am dealing with a mixture of emotions for my 33 year battle. I try to name my emotions to understand how I feel, but overall sometimes trying not to feel is the best thing for me. I am just thankful I have made it through the storm and can just dance in the rain. I am proof that no matter how long you have battled PTSD, being healed IS possible. I have written about what helped me overcome my battle with PTSD in former blogs and feel free to refer to them. Not everything that worked for me will work for everyone but there are sooo many different effective forms of treatment. I did not respond well to and did not like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) but love EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques/Tapping). The stigma of mental illness needs to be broken. There is no shame in having PTSD or asking for help. You CAN overcome PTSD. Stay Strong!

  • LJ

Help Heal Yourself By Thinking Like A Therapist!

I felt very compelled to write this post, because a lot of my healing from PTSD began when I started thinking like a Therapist. I wanted to share this with you all. I know some may be in therapy or other forms of treatment, but I also know that some are not willing to go for therapy. But thinking like a therapist is something you can do in your own home. I am by no means discouraging anyone from going to therapy. This step will just help speed up the progress for those in treatment, and also help others that aren’t ready to go to someone for help and they sit at home in hiding. For a LONG TIME, most of my life, with Complex PTSD I was in hiding, and there is nothing wrong with that. My concern is that those like my former self they NEED help but don’t know where to begin or they feel scared, ashamed, etc… also, therapy can be costly.

I had PTSD since the age of 4, though I only started therapy in 2014. I STILL have countless bills of debt to prove that. When I started going to therapy I was wishing away my week to get to my appointments, looking at the clock frequently during therapy wishing for more time..I just wanted to be fixed! I know how extensive treatment for PTSD can be, I lived it. I have had a few previous therapists, they were very sweet and tried to help me. But I knew myself better than anybody. I am a pretty stubborn person, I am Sicilian and Armenian. I knew that playing with play doh during a session or acting like a bird would NOT work for me. After having a few therapists tell me I “Knew more than them” I asked myself WHY I was wasting my time and money. I had a therapist tell me she’s never heard of “Complex PTSD”, really? I have had therapists stare at me with a blank look on their faces as they scramble for something to help “fix” me. I had one every time I asked for a technique to use she would hand me a photocopy of stuff she had taken from her therapy books.

I have done years upon years of research about PTSD, it was all about the stats and mostly talk therapy like CBT (Cognitive behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). When you are living with PTSD every second feels like an eternity as you brace yourself for the next trigger, flashback, etc.. Then at one of my more recent therapy sessions it hit me. My therapist went and grabbed a book from her shelf looking for a certain technique for dealing with my intrusive thoughts. As she looked through the book I jotted down the book name. If that book was how she was helping me I NEEDED IT! I have battled a LIFETIME and didn’t want to wait any longer. The book she grabbed of the shelf was “Get out of your mind & into your life”  by Steven C Hayes, MD what she was using was ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) with me which I had never heard of before. When I got home I went right to Amazon and ordered that book. Since I had her “Therapists manual” I didn’t feel the need to go back. Every session was $120! I bought the book for $21.95. I went through and read the book and applied what I had learned, but took small steps so I didn’t overload my brain. The knowledge was addicting!! That inspired me over the course of the year to order other books to help myself. I was thinking like a therapist with every book I bought and read, it was like being handed the key to unlock the torture of my PTSD. I got other books like “use your body to heal your mind” by Henry Grayson and “The trauma treatment handbook” (Protocols across the spectrum) by Robin Shapiro.

I had such a thirst for knowledge because my decision to think like a therapist was paying off big time! I would cuddle up in my room and read, a lot more comfy than sitting on a couch next to a box of tissues. I would apply the techniques I had was reading about in the books. I even took it to the next level to research about trauma therapists, I found a man named Bessel Van Derk Kolk the top trauma therapist in the World. He wrote a book that is next on my list called “The Body Keeps Score” if you google him you will find his articles with some amazing answers about trauma that you may have been seeking during the course of your life with PTSD. I even went so far as to research Quantum Physics to understand how my PTSD brain worked. You know when they say “What you speak is what you get” that is VERY true. Quantum Physics proves that! When you speak words they may just be words to you, like “I can’t do this”, “I’ll never beat PTSD”, Etc.. but according to quantum physics the neurons in your brain are taking that in and changing those words into truth, which is holding you back!

There is a lot of trial and error when it comes to what helps one heal from PTSD, but there is something that will work. I’ll say it again, I am not anti therapy I have learned a few helpful things in my journey with it. If you get discouraged with one therapist, try another and grab a few books or do some google searches on self healing. I see an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapist to work on the remnants of my life with PTSD. The negative cognitions are gone, now we are working on the positive. Like I had wrote about in a previous post “My EMDR Experience” EMDR has been a very effective form of treatment for me in addition to “thinking like a therapist”EMDR is to be done with a licensed therapist. That is not something that you can do at home.

I hope this post will help others as it has helped me come this far, but it has taken a few years and a lot of determination. With the therapy techniques you may find in your reading or research don’t push yourself to hard, healing doesn’t happen overnight. I would love to hear your feedback or answer any questions that I can. You can email me or follow me on Twitter by clicking on the icons by my name on the top of this post. Stay strong every day you are one day closer to being healed. You are not alone!

  • LJ

Lost Inside Myself…The Battle With Depersonalization

This is one area of PTSD I felt needed to be touched on, Cause I have battled it myself. It’s the one things I didn’t know that was stemming from PTSD, maybe you even battle it and I have just given it a name. This has been called the “Unreal” sub type of PTSD, it is called Depersonalization..

Depersonalization refers to the experience of feeling detached from one’s own life as thought what you are living and experiencing is a dream or movie that you are watching from the outside. It is often a reaction to trauma and can be one of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In other words, people can experience depersonalization after being in an earth quake, a combat situation as in Iraq, a major hurricane, a severe auto accident or any related types of disasters. It is common for those who lived through child abuse and domestic violence experiences while they were growing up to experience depersonalization even though the original traumas occurred a long time ago.

I remember the 1st time I encountered depersonalization during my battle with PTSD. I was about 4 years old going through a traumatic event. I felt myself detach, I felt as if I was floating above my body watching the trauma happening to me like I was watching a movie. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I was thankful for it at the time because it helped me through that traumatic event as well as others I have gone through in my life. The problem was I was STUCK in it.

Symptoms of depersonalization include:

  • Feelings that you’re an outside observer of your thoughts, feelings, your body or parts of your body, perhaps as if you were floating in air above yourself
  • Feeling like a robot or that you’re not in control of your speech or movements
  • The sense that your body, legs or arms appear distorted, enlarged or shrunken, or that your head is wrapped in cotton
  • Emotional or physical numbness of your senses or responses to the world around you
  • A sense that your memories lack emotion, and that they may or may not be your own memories

Most of my life I have been numb being stuck in depersonalization, I couldn’t explain how I felt to others because I was certain I was the ONLY one going through this..Even after I got diagnosed with PTSD I still had no idea. I once told a former therapist about my experiences with feeling like I was not within my body, she looked at me clueless. It took many years and the RIGHT Psychiatrist to find the answer. There were times when I would be having a meal with family and friends when sheer panic would overcome me. I saw the food coming to my mouth but I couldn’t register that is was my own. I have tried to hide this for sooo sooo many years, I swear I should win an award for acting “Most Normal” in life while being tortured inside my brain with PTSD. There are times in my life that I have turned to depersonalization to help me through, like losing my Grandma. My Family and I went to see her last year to say goodbye to her because we knew she was going to pass away. I had to detach to get through it, as I was saying goodbye to the human I loved beyond words I remained emotionless like a robot. I couldn’t let myself feel the pain of knowing it would be the last time I would see her. I told her I loved her which I did feel, just couldn’t express it emotionally, I was shut off.

Years upon years of dealing with being detached started to wear on me, After several years into therapy and on/off many medications I just wanted to FEEL, But my brain wouldn’t let me. I started to get more frequent panic attacks, I began to withdraw even more than I already was with my Family and Friends. After I had been told I had depersonalization from my Psychiatrist I went to several therapists desperate to find the CURE for it. There were no right words someone was going to say to make this stop, no magic pill, but I did what I could which was using grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can be very useful when we feel really distressed, particularly when the distress makes us feel very unreal or detached, or it feels like we are in a different situation to where we really are. My comfort came from cozy blankets, scented candles, different flavors of coffee pretty much anything that I could see, touch, taste, hear and smell it helped me (basically using the 5 senses). You can google “grounding techniques” to find some that may work for you. I also had DBT911 a free app on my phone that helped me through tough times. The best form of treatment for my depersonalization was DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) which deals with mindfulness, distress tolerance, for example, and EMDR helped get to the root cause.

The first time I felt ATTACHED was in February 2016. I had gone in for sinus surgery, I was really nervous but I knew I could “detach” or so I thought. I went into the hospital trying to convince myself that the person getting surgery was not me, and it wasn’t really happening. I changed into my gown, laid in the hospital bed when a nurse came in. She pulled her tray along side of me and told me she “Needed blood work”, I told her OK..Until I felt the pinch of the needle. I could FEEL, I started to have a panic attack because my security blanket (my ability to detach) was taken away as I prayed for but I needed it at that moment. The Doctor came in and gave me something for anxiety not knowing it was the first time in my life I could truly feel. I stayed strong before and after the surgery I had come too far to give up.

Since the surgery I have had minimal issues with detaching, it happens once in a while as it should because what is happening is your body is going into a fight or flight mode which is a normal response to a threatening situation. I like to take things one day at a time these days. No matter what you are going through there is a treatment for you, never give up! You are not alone in this battle.

  • LJ

A Poem From Someone With PTSD….

**Warning May Trigger**

A Poem from someone with PTSD…..

Living with an open wound to which the World can’t see…

Masking my pain with make up and medicine to hide all of the misery.

They say that time is healing, and things will be okay…

But they do not understand the torture my brain endures every single day.

They say PTSD is like a tattoo you spend a lifetime trying to remove..

I am tired of hiding my battle from others, I have nothing more to prove.

The World can’t see that behind closed doors I have severe panic attacks…

Moving another day forward just to have major and draining setbacks.

If others could see into my mind or live a day in my life they would wonder how I’m still here …

Living with the same unbearable memories every single year.

Trying to keep your face brave while you are being tortured inside…

In the middle of a conversation with someone wishing you could just run away and hide.

Living life up to the expectations of people on social media just isn’t real…

Live your life the way YOU ARE despite what others may feel.

People ask me why I zone out so much and why I don’t seem “Here”…

It’s because I am fighting off a trigger, intrusive thought, or something else I fear.

Unless you have a PTSD brain you could never truly understand…

The battle is 24/7 and we are not just living in La La land.

  • LJ

Be Who You ARE!

Most of my life I have felt like an actress, suffering inside mentally but playing “normal” on the outside. There is nothing worse than being someone you are NOT! We seem to try and conform our lives to perfection in person and on social media, that’s not life. Growing up in New York I would hang out in the city a lot, go to clubs, concerts, etc.. cause that’s just what girls did at that age..but I hated every minute of it. Nothing was more tortuous on my brain and body than the sounds of cranking music overloading my brain at a club, my body being cramped in a crowd with countless people. The last time and final time I went to a NYC club I stood near the bathrooms, going in and out of the bathroom trying to get relief on the sounds of bass filling my head. One of my friends joined me in the bathroom and told me “Just leave! You’re cramping my style” I stormed out of the club shoving people out of my way, hit the train station and headed home..Alone at 2am.

I love New York, it will always be my home state. However that state also reminds me of who I wasn’t. When I was there I was suffering so bad mentally and trying to smile through my pain wondering what was wrong with me. Most of my trauma occurred in New York, everything was a trigger..a reminder, I went through periods of depersonalization to help me get through each day. Inside of me is a country girl at heart that longs for a log cabin in the woods, a very wounded introverted soul, a much quieter life outside of New York is what I wanted. For 29 years in New York I suffered in silence, I played the “party girl” did things outside of my comfort zone and things that were outright damn stupid just to fit in. When I left New York it was like a weight had been lifted and I thought I was FINALLY free to be who I was, but the torment of my brain came with me and the act of “being normal” was continued in my new state. When I got properly diagnosed with Complex PTSD in 2014 it was like being handed a life sentence but I was thankful I had the name of what has tormented me my WHOLE life. I decided at that point I was no longer going to hide who I was and what I battled.

My life became REAL, my sister even cut me out of her life for telling others I had it, she wanted to continue to play “normal” even though she had it too. I decided to use my voice to raise awareness for PTSD, I spoke out about it to everyone I could in person and on social media, many never even knew you could have PTSD non military. When you tell people you have a mental illness you find out REAL quick who will be there for you and who won’t. I have lost “friends” and “family” for being who I was. Some people want things sugarcoated, they want to appear perfect and have a cookie cutter life. Never hold back on being who you are because you are worth more than you know. YOU are here for a reason…be yourself! Don’t hide in shame or feel the need to “play normal” there’s nothing better than being yourself. I take each day one day at a time, I came from nothing and I am thankful for everything I have. If people are not accepting of your disorder you need to cut people from your life! You only have 1 life to live..Please live it happy.

I do find myself posting on Facebook about  awareness or my battle with PTSD, just for it to be overlooked while someone’s picture of dinner gets numerous likes. We DON’T live in a perfect World not everyone will want to hear about someone that has PTSD, but to me someone speaking out about having PTSD is a real as it can get we need to raise awareness and stop the stigma. There are so many people that are suffering in silence feeling like I did, don’t waste all your years being someone you are not. I spent 30 something years being a stranger to myself, going with the flow. Life gets overwhelming when you battle with your brain every second of every day. I do say I am thankful I am the one that has PTSD, went through countless trauma’s….cause I was strong enough to handle it. I am here to help others, here to let people know they are NOT alone. Two of my brothers passed away. They lost their battle with PTSD, but I am still here and it is for a reason..to make a difference in the PTSD community. I made it through, and my words are read by many. I don’t want to be famous, I just want to be known as someone that made a difference in the PTSD community.

PLEASE feel free to reach out to me via email ljastoria@gmail.com, on twitter at @LJAstoria or leave me a comment. Stay Strong…

  • LJ

Advice for Family Members..Understanding My PTSD

Living with PTSD is hard, things vary from moment to moment. I wanted to share with all the Family members of those with PTSD about how to be supportive through my real life experiences during my battle with PTSD. I have been with my Husband for 10 years, he has tried to help me as best as he could, but there are ways he can help me!

Go To Therapy To Learn About Your Loved One’s Disorder:

I have had my husband go to therapy with me because my therapist can put what I feel in words better than I could. Also, he got to ask any questions and learned some techniques help me

Know Your Loved One’s Grounding Techniques:

My first bit of advice would be to know what your loved one’s grounding techniques are and use them during panic attacks. Grounding is used in therapy to help keep your loved one with PTSD grounded/in the present during a flashback or dissociation for example. I told my Husband grounding techniques and he will use them to help ground me during a panic attack for example. I usually end up snuggled up in my soft blanket smelling lavender oil and putting a cup of ice on my face. It helped relieve the panic attack, he reminded me to breathe and stayed calm as well.

If You Haven’t Established Your Loved One’s Grounding Techniques..Here Are Some Grounding Tips Try:

  • Bring up today’s newspaper on the web, notice the date. Read something fun!
  • Breathe slowly and steadily from your core. Imagine letting fear and worry go, evaporating along with each breath.
  • Trace your hands against the physical outline of your body. Experience your own presence in the world.
  • Call a friend and have a chat.
  • If you are feeling ‘stuck’, change how you’re positioned. Wiggle your fingers, tap your feet. Pay attention to the movement: You are in control of what your body is doing, right here and now.
  • Eat or drink something. Is it hot, or cold? Sweet, or sour?
  • Meditate, if that’s OK for you. Otherwise use distractions like television or music to help settle down.
  • Use your voice. Say your name or pick up a book and read the first paragraph you find out loud.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. Smile, even if that’s the last thing you feel like! How does that feel? What can you see? (If  negative thoughts come to mind, write them down to look at later but let them go for now. You’re anxious enough as it is.)
  • Write out what’s going on. Keep writing until you start to notice it makes a difference, lets some of the things you’re anxious about out.
  • Take a shower/bath. Notice the sensations of the water.
  • Write somebody you care about an email.
  • Imagine yourself in a familiar, comfortable place. Feel the safety. Know it.
  • Take a look outside. Count the number of trees and street signs.
  • Exercise. Jump up and down on the spot. Try some gentle yoga, or ride a bike.
  • Hold onto something comforting. Maybe a blanket or an old stuffed toy.
  • Laugh. Even if that’s hard. Just the act of laughing about something, anything can break that spinning out of control feeling.

When Your Loved One’s Are Going Through Medication Changes:

There are so many medications that can help your loved one with PTSD symptoms. My husband is all to familiar with the adding/removing/changing medicines. For your loved one with PTSD it is hard on them too, on top of battling mentally along with that comes physical side effects from medication. I have had some medicines that work great and some that have landed me in the hospital. I do at times feel like a guinea pig, but when you find the right medication it will be worth it. PLEASE during medication changes be patient with your loved one because it is a roller coaster at times.

Your Loved One Will Need Alone Time, Don’t Take It Personal!:

There are times when I tell my husband I need alone time, it’s not that I am trying to be hurtful. With PTSD your mind races and extra noises can add to overloading the brain. Being alone doesn’t indicate that your loved one is depressed, maybe they need a little personal space to calm their brain.

Know Triggers And Help Your Love One Avoid Them:

After I got diagnosed with PTSD I made a list of triggers for my husband in attempt to help me avoid them. Have your loved one write down triggers of certain items, sounds or places that trigger them. For some reason home improvement stores will throw me into a complete panic attack. Some things may sound silly but take them seriously!

Be Supportive Of Your Loved One At All Times:

Your loved one is going through so much ask what they need for you to do to help make life a little easier. For me it is my husband just sitting next to me. Sometimes its not just words that your loved one’s need. There will be good and bad days, take each day as it comes.

I hope some of these tips help your understand your loved one a little bit better. Your loved experienced trauma they didn’t ask for, always be kind and listen to their concerns.

  • LJ