This Is My Brain on PTSD, Eighth Edition

So I saw my bartender ((Psychologist. Whatever.)) again, and he’s pretty awesome, he remembers stuff. Sessions go a lot smoother than they’ve ever done for me elsewhere, but then again, he does have a background in the type of trauma I have, or something.

Anyways, we talked about work, and the holidays, and how things have been tough going of late. Until the very last moment when I couldn’t deny it anymore, I didn’t think that Thanksgiving would hit me this hard. At the moment, outside of work, life feels empty, as if nothing matters anymore.

It’s strange, actually; I’ve felt depressed, I’ve felt frightened, I’ve felt manic, I’ve felt frightened, but empty is somewhat novel.

I don’t know what the guy does that’s different from the other people who’ve been my bartender in the past; as far as I can tell, we just talk about stuff. He asks questions, of course, they all do, and his questions don’t seem all that different from the ones others have asked in the past. Perhaps it’s just that he seems to take an interest in my current, relatively uneventful adult life, extrapolating from events now to influences in the past, as opposed to dragging me back to the drama of my childhood again and again until I “discover the true meaning” or I reach the ideal endpoint of extinction. ((There is no true meaning in abuse. PTSD is not “gotten over” by merely thinking about it, and brute-force extinction therapy is not always successful. Yeah, life is not like 99% of novels out there.))

(I actually suspect that when I was with less experienced psychologists, they were simply fascinated by everything that happened in my childhood. It’s like a nigh-infinite barrel of monkeys, and entertained them so. On my dime, of course.)

I think my current bartender does his best to let me live in the present and just be aware of connections to the past that drive some of my thinking, and how to adapt that sort of thing, which I think is a kind of cognitive therapy or something, but he never said as much to me, so maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. All I know is, this is pretty cool for something that still tears me up inside.

Anyways! So.

I realized as I talked about work and how I felt, that part of what makes the holidays so awful to me is not merely that they bring back memories of the past, or that they bring back feelings of the past, or that my parents are still effective boogeymen to me. These things are indeed awful. I mean, the immersive flashbacks, which I call waking nightmares (with different levels of lucidity during such)… those are bad, but I can surf those kind of things a little bit by reminding myself that it’s in the past, that these sensations, while real, are not reflective of present events. This kind of effort is like trying to drive while you’re drunk, in the various degrees of drunkenness that are available—you can adjust, but after a certain blood alcohol level, you really can’t, and in the end, even if you don’t end up in an accident, you’re still drunk.

But the most awful part is that my fear crystallizes when I feel that my parents are far more likely to try to get at me. They would save such a thing for a special occasion….

You know. Like holidays. Birthdays. High-profile holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Starting the New Year. Starting the Chinese New Year. Stuff like that.

I actually wasn’t aware that my subconscious ran in that direction. It makes a horrible kind of sense, and one that I’ve never consciously thought about… or if I had once, it was years ago, when I actually was on a hot run (and trust me, a lot of days and experiences flow together during those times).

So what do we do about it?

I haven’t the foggiest. Although knowing that it exists so I can remind myself that it’s irrational is probably a good first step.

Though, like any fugitive, I know that it’s not completely irrational….

Anyways, I’m going to make TONS of APPLESAUCE. I have 3 lbs of Winesap apples, and 6 lbs of McIntosh, because I am a crazy person who has a new Apple Peeler Corer Slicer.

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2 thoughts on “This Is My Brain on PTSD, Eighth Edition

  1. that it’s in the past, that these sensations, while real, are not reflective of present events. This kind of effort is like trying to drive while you’re drunk, in the various degrees of drunkenness that are available—you can adjust, but after a certain blood alcohol level, you really can’t, and in the end, even if you don’t end up in an accident, you’re still drunk.

    I do exactly the same thing for depression. It’s unremittingly difficult, because you’re using the very same brain whose outputs you’re deprecating to evaluate yourself. The only real upside is that it works better than any other approach I know.

    But the Applesauce Solution, like the My Style Studio Solution and the Bento Solution, is the right one. Live in the present, and make that as happy as you can. Make things. Do things with your hands.

    And keep blogging, so I can keep wishing you well. I’ll be here throughout the holiday season, cheering you on.

  2. Hi abi,

    Thanks for the support! :) I really appreciate it. I’ll keep doing things with the hands, things that I don’t get used to enough for my brain’s background processes to start taking over (it’s why I have a lot of recipe books, with some really complex ones in hand).

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