Farewell, Summer of 2018

I’m not sure, whether that is a rather common side-effect of seasons changing, but I am feeling a sense of loss these days. And fear, very deep fear. But I’m digressing at the outset.

For the past two years I have camped in my home folks’ house. I had lost my former appartment due to my landlord needing to occupy the space I lived in and so I got the termination note. Having depended on welfare checks since 2009 for reasons of disability and incapacity finding another abode and then actually getting to move in has become nearly impossible for people of “my ilk.” Although I don’t consider myself anywhere near those whose routines and appearance started the stigma with disabled or unemployed citizens and don’t come across as disabled – which is a problem in itsself as I’m being met with high expectations, the latter I often can’t meet due to the disability -, landlords don’t discriminate in that regard according to my experience. At first I thought of asking friends whether I could stay with them for a little while – and one or two actually made that offer and in a tone of voice that gave me reason to believe that they were sincere. In the end, though, I didn’t feel comfortable placing such a burden on them and had my piece of humble pie by asking home folks, whether they’d be able to accommodate me for a while. Generous as they are, they let me move back in for free, even gave me an entire unused floor in their house. But needless to say that having to ask in the first place doesn’t work wonders on your self esteem. Anyway. In the face of much larger problems, self esteem or pride and any such luxurious ideas aren’t much more than a side note – one that has to be discarded in the light of the hard times I fell on and the lack of real support from the system in getting myself out of it again.

So I brought my stuff, unpacked just as much as I thought I’d immediately need and didn’t reckon I’d be there for two years. After I had landed back here, word must have gotten out among friends of old and I was given the opportunity to reconnect with some and even make new friends along the way, most notably with some very talented musicians who had then started out at Vocational Music College Krumbach, my hometown. In other words: I went from having become a recluse on account of my situation to an at least half-social being again – which was a very welcome and actually much needed side effect of moving here. So I’m very grateful for that and I’d socialize as often as my supermeager means allow for (generally maybe twice per month at most, unless we meet in private and when it’s an affair where I’m not expected to bring gifts, like a birthday or such). And now the bulk of my new friends have all completed their diplomas and move on, taking the next step in life and leaving Krumbach. Under different circumstances, one might maintain some contact and go see each other here and there. But I don’t have a travel budget, so in being realistic I don’t guess I’m going to see any of them anytime soon, maybe never again. So there’s that.

But that’s not all there is to it. The part that gives me serious trouble is that I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ve got any good emotion left in me that I might get to rekindle given better circumstances and the right people. Here’s why: Tonight I got to see my new friends again and we’d actually play some music together in their rehearsal room downstairs. Musicians’ jargon is “to jam”, meaning to say we just got together and improvised on a whim. I do remember how I’d religiously devote any spare moment in my teenage years to improve on my instrument – main instrument guitar, second piano/keyboards, some singing – and how I couldn’t imagine anything more important on Saturday afternoons than getting together with the band and rehearse for little gigs in the vicinity. Naturally, we’d cover popular music on the radio, but went on to writing original material in the end (and ultimately won a regional battle-of-the-bands contest with a professional studio production as first prize win). The excitement of bringing the songs I loved to life with a band was always enough to keep my mind busy and also give me the feeling of being part of something, something good.

As we jammed along tonight – and the music flowed naturally and we kind of “clicked”, musically speaking – I was expecting for that “religious”, all engulfing feeling to come back full throttle – when it didn’t. I mean, eversince making friends with these guys I had dreamed of such an opportunity and finally upon their leaving it manifests! So I should be grateful – and I am, don’t get me wrong. But on the other hand…. it’s as if something inside of me is broken so bad that I don’t seem to get to repair it – or reinvoke those feelings of a nurturing kind, feelings that were powerful enough to let me rise beyond and above my C-PTSD and its large number of almost impossible to handle symptoms that I’ve been dragging along for all my life, almost since day one. That trick doesn’t seem to work any more. Ok, even here, you could go and say: “Alright, we all go through that at some point. What’s lost is lost. Find something new and move on.” Fair enough. Where? And what? And how? With very limited resources and very independable ones, I’d have to say.

I think, I may have used that phrase before, “stranded in life”. That’s where I’m at, that’s where I’ve been for the past 10 years. I just don’t know what to seek out any more – or where. My former survival strategy was to set a goal, assess my resources, attain missing qualifications and skills if necessary and then – go for it! That’s how I’ve been living most of my adult life. For the first time, I seem to have run out of ideas as to what goal might even be worthwhile pursuing. Music was my first dream. And I still can’t entirely let go of it for some reason. But when I’m at it, when I’m actually doing the darn thing, it nowhere near moves me as hard any more as it used to. And I need it to do that for me, because just being functional and showing up takes an all resolved effort on my part. I’m not even addressing the real humdingers here like diligent practice and discipline and all that. No. I’m talking about the mundane things like not exuding an air of danger to peers by letting on my hypervigilance and such. Handling my body, learning to navigate it all anew after learning of food intolerances, things of that nature, in other words: All the stuff other people don’t even have to spare one single thought on.

I did have quite my share of fun tonight, admitted. But only to be able to be there and deliver, I have to go a number of extra miles compared to other people. In other words: I have to work for the mere ability to be there and not stand out negatively. Nutrition, sleep, regular body functions – they’re all a constant problem that needs managing. In one phrase: There is no such thing as spontaneity for me any more. (on account of the symptoms and now in addition to that on account of the precarious living situation). I’ve learned to fight alright, but this time it seems that the opposition I’m facing is too much to handle for one person (and mind you, I have been handling it for some 10 years – on my very own). But more importantly, I seem to have lost sight of and connection with all these things that make life worthwhile in the first place: Love – for anything for starters by the way, we’ll get to the “people” or “significant other” part later… Actually, yes. It all boils down to love. I seem to have lost love somewhere along the way. And chuzpe, the go-getter sense. And I have no clue how to get the latter back, much less the first.

This – is – a – scary place to be in. Can’t recall having been in a place like this ever before.
Ideas?

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Psychedelika: Halluzinogen ruft eine Art Nahtoderfahrung hervor – Spektrum der Wissenschaft

Unter dem Einfluss der Droge DMT fühlt man sich wie angesichts des herannahenden Todes

Source: Psychedelika: Halluzinogen ruft eine Art Nahtoderfahrung hervor – Spektrum der Wissenschaft

Here’s an article on recent findings at Imperial College London, where Robin Carhart-Harris found that DMT induced hallucinations and near death experiences (NDEs) are most likely one and the same as the nature of both experiences is fairly identical (minus seeing deceased loved ones).
I’ve arrived at this very conclusion myself a long time prior to the release of this study and after thoroughly comparing reports on DMT induced “trips” with accounts of near death experiences. We know that DMT is at play at birth and in the process of the dying brain. No need to invoke a “supernatural” world at all. Yup. Sounds legit to my ears.

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What I Hope To Find through Clinical Therapy

Recently, Kimberly Callis shared an article on The Mighty, a mental health platform where survivors of varying mental health issues meet and publish. This particular article listed and described 12 common symptoms a person with CPTSD has to deal with on a daily basis.

I had to go “yup, been there, know this” with almost every line of this brutally honest write-up, particularly when Lilly Hope Lucario talks about the somatic impact after a triggering situation. In my case, sleep is the humdinger in the room: The slightest noise when I try to fall asleep or even when I’m sleeping “soundly” not only brutally wakes me up – it puts my body in “high alert” mode instantaneously – and keeps it there for hours. Actually, it’s not so much the noise as the vibrations coming from it, say a W.C. lid falling down hard, a door being slammed or just something toppling over etc. I am pretty sure that my early experiences on the planet with pediatric hospital have “emblazoned” this somatic response on my nervous system. I’m actually almost sure of it as a period of hypnotherapy brought up images from that time – but months after I had ceased to see the hypnotherapist. Very specific images, but more importantly the feelings I must have felt at that time. A similar thing happened when I got retraumatized in 2009 from a brutal panic attack that had me wake myself from my own screams. On the next “morning”, only hours after the event, I had the strange feeling of being a four-year-old again – or even younger. Bottomline is that I felt completely exposed, vulnerable and helpless – then and in 2009 at age 44….

My thinking is this: As an infant being hospitalized in that pediatric clinic, nurses would come to my bed to get me to the doctor, the metal railing goes down, the bed rattles a little, they pick me up and take me to the pediatrician, who’ll then perform painful and highly intrusive explorations on me – without any anesthesia or sedation. So when I am awoken by such noises, it’s not 53-year-old me that wakes up. It’s the infant at two weeks who finds himself in a hostile environment again with noone there to protect him from what’s likely going to happen, i.e. something traumatizingly painful.

I recently moved after a violent and near-physical fight with my old man. For reasons too numerous and detailed to elaborate on here, I’ll just say I had to “camp” at my old folks’ house for two years, a situation which health professionals dealing with trauma survivors call “in close proximity with perpetraitor”. The situation took the shape and intensity of a full blown retraumatization. I was shaking for the entire rest of the day. Nonetheless and needless to say, I had to get myself out of there, so I packed a few things and immediately rushed to the apartment I had found and rented a while ago (but not properly moved in yet for lack of basic utilities and furniture). First night there, I wake up from a panic attack so hard, I hear myself scream (see above, 2009). Lay awake for hours on end, briefly fall asleep again. Nightmares to end all nightmares. The point being: I had experienced a triggering situation and it sort of “reversed” my 53 year old “me” to that helpless infant – in an instant. After all the studying of CPTSD I have done, I believe that the nature of a triggering situation is exactly that: A situation, an experience that mimicks one or more properties/qualities of the original trauma and thus takes you right back to that moment so that your soma, your body finds itsself right in that original situation all over. All this is not new and well understood in the mental health community and among professionals. I can’t help but be “amazed” at the infallability and immediacy with which this happens time and time and time again.

Over the years, the physical/somatic responses of my body to such threats have solidified, meaning to say: From one trigger and somatic response to the next, the neural connections in the brain sparking a survival reflex have become stronger, thus making it harder from one time to the next to “modulate” those somatic responses (by way of e.g. self-compassion, self-soothing, that sort of thing).

So, eventually and after years of battling the system, I might get to receive specific in-patient treatment soon. There’s only one thing I hope to come out with and that is a method of reversing that die-hard conditioned reflex when experiencing a situation that sends my body right back to being that helpless infant! Anything else I benefit from will certainly be a welcome bonus. But to get to sleep soundly and healthy is my prime objective as I find myself utterly exhausted from only one week of being in the new environment. I need to sleep!

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Life-Impacting Symptoms of Complex PTSD | The Mighty | Stoning Demons (Trigger Warning)

Found on Kimberly’s excellent blog (but originally from a different source):

This is an excellent article about Complex PTSD symptoms. It is important to know that time and therapy, within a supportive environment, can bring healing in all of these areas. Post traumatic gro…

Source: Life-Impacting Symptoms of Complex PTSD | The Mighty | Stoning Demons

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Ayahuasca, Near Death Experiences and the Brain

How does it feel to die and be resurrected?

Source: Biting the Bucket with Ayahuasca – Craig Hunter – Medium

After reading the article I’m more convinced than ever that so-called near death experiences are a phenomenon brought about by DMT, believed to be produced in the pineal gland in humans and massively flooding the brain – and entire system – during the process we so poorly call “death” (when by all accounts it seems to be a process like everything else we encounter during our lifetimes). The features of both experiences just seem way too similar in my understanding.

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Life

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the brutality of it: Life. I don’t – no longer – think, I’ll ever be – or can be, actually – comfortable nor living with a sense of innocence. Not even get half-fixed, to be brutally (!) honest. Ayee! My luck.

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Ayahuasca Let Me Walk Again (w/ Major Trigger Warning)

November 2010. I had awoken like any other morning — late, swearing, and still stoned from the night before. But on this particular morning, I found myself pinned to my bed by a throbbing pain…

Source: Ayahuasca Let Me Walk Again – Trips Worth Telling – Medium

Over the past five years, I’ve read, listened to and watched a large number of personal accounts from individuals who have embarked on their journey with “Mother Ayahuasca” as indigenous people call the medicine. I think I can say firmly that this one here might be the most poignant as well as compelling one. Although I can’t imagine where Mee-ok took the courage to self-administer the brew in a solitary setting, the fact that she did tells me something about the degree of despair she must have felt (in particular when learning her story of illness and tragic past).

I have wondered countless times, whether partaking in a ceremony might help me heal, but so far, haven’t taken the plunge. However, as I have no access to conventional trauma therapy in an outpatient setting and don’t believe in most conventional modalities any longer, it’s been long dawning on me that sooner or later I may have to overcome my fears or concerns regarding psychedelics and somehow scout out a way of getting access to them as well as identifying and establishing a safe setting. I’d prefer a clinical environment if at all possible and have exhausted any options of participating in MDMA-assisted therapy through MAPS.org. (Although their phase III round of clinical trials has expanded to multiple sites in the U.S., access to treatment is currently limited to U.S. residents and from the area that the particular trial takes place in. So no luck for me, so far. I’m hearing that compassionate use modalities might start somewhere in 2019. I have no idea how to pay for the trip and how to support myself while being there, so I have to hope that compassionate use might come to a country near me). But having to wait until some time in 2019 or beyond sounds too daunting as I’ve been holding out for so long and under very difficult circumstances.
Anyway… I put this story out here for you to hopefully be inspired should you consider going down the path of psychedelics as a tool to foster healing for yourself. I wouldn’t recommend an approach as Mee-ok took, but the potential of this incredible plant medicine seems huge. (Make sure of a safe setting, though, if you can and find out about risks as well, so you can make an informed decision).

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Dissociative vs. Psychedelic Drugs (Trigger Warning)

I had a very, very interesting conversation with someone tonight, who has had infrequent experiences with DMT (smoked). We got into talking over antinatalism, a philosophy that basically contends that procreating is per se an immoral act as it is less painful for the individual person – or sentient being, if you extend the idea to wildlife and all sentient beings – not to have been born altogether, an idea which I found a compelling one on first read/listen. Exactly! It’s been my feeling all along that life – or conscious, self reflecting awareness including its own annihilation upon death – is nowhere near a “gift”, but rather a cruel joke of the universe! That person I had this conversation with had posted a link to an article on antinatalism on their Facebook page a while back and I had commented on it, basically along the lines of what I’m saying here: Yes, they – the antinatalists – got it right! I would have been better off to not have gotten shackled with conscious awareness and all the “perks” that come with it, like knowing that you were given said awareness, but knowing at the same time – or at some point – that you’re going to have to concede it upon death. That’s cruel, isn’t it? It’s like giving your child that special treat they’ve been pining over and going “OK, you can have this for [insert amount of time], so make the most of it, bask in the pleasures it gives you as hard as you possibly can, because here’s the thing: I will take it away from you never to have it again in t minus [insert amount of time]!” I’m not even a parent, never have been and still know that this is bad parenting and plain old cruelty! You just don’t do that, right? To me, consciousness and conscious awareness are very similar: Hey, there, individual, I – actually we as in: Your Mom and Dad or your Moms and that doctor and their test tube or your Dads, that Doctor and their test tube or maybe even just your Mom/Dad and the Doc and that test tube – gave you life, which means that all things going “well” you’ll have conscious awareness somewhere down the line, you’re going to hang on to it for another while – provided you don’t suffer cerebral trauma at some point – and then… boom! The lights go out for all eternity! You call that a gift?! Not in my book, folks! So, when I learned the term antinatalism through this new friend’s Facebook posting, I now had a word for something I’ve been feeling all along: Consciousness, sentience, having been born is not a gift. It’s a cruel, cold, heartless joke of the Universe! Or as another friend once put it: Consciousness is a virus. And “god” is an asshole. Can’t object to either of those statements.

We then went on to discuss NDEs, as I had admitted to my new friend that there was a time, when I obsessed over them after having gotten brutally reminded in 2009 of an experience I had at age four by way of getting retraumatized when reading up on NDEs and more particularly the criticism pertaining to them. I seem to have dissociated from that experience for all my life until it was forcefully recovered from the recesses of my memory that night in 2009. As I instantaneously remembered all the details of the experience by getting prompted through said reading up that night and all the visceral distressing sensations flooding my system I collapsed and had to be hospitalized. In the days and weeks that followed I deemed this experience so early into my life to be a distressing, “meaningless void“-type of NDE as recounted by amongst others e.g. Nancy Evans Bush.

But something never gelled with this explanation I gave myself. There was always a hunch that it might have been the drugs administered prior to surgery that brought about an experience, which is also known as “ego death” or “ego dissolution” in some psychedelic experiences or under the influence of ketamine, also known as the “K-hole“. (Terence McKenna, a popular “psychonaut” of the LSD-/drugs-/Hippies-hype-era talks about ego death here). Well, I can’t thank my new buddy enough for enlightening me on the fact that “dissociative” drugs like ketamine – and the one I was administered prior to that surgery at age four – are profoundly different in their “trip” quality from psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, LSD or DMT. I try to put the difference in a nutshell (and as a side effect briefly recount the experience I had at age four):

My new friend said – from experience as well as from reading up on the subject matter – that dissociative drugs are mainly about that: Dissolving the “ego” and in the process leaving the subject with an experience that feels like there never was, is or ever will be anything anywhere near that which most of us deem to be “objective reality”. In other words: Dissociative drugs do exactly what their name implies: They dissolve any preconceived or learned idea about yourself and the relationship to your previous or present social context. Think of this experience like some”thing” telling you: “You don’t exist. Nothing ever existed. Nothing ever will exist. Because all there is, is – nothing!” And yet a strain of consciousness remains that enables you to put you through this rather hellish experience. The root cause of suffering here – to me – is this: Utter deceit! Everything you ever held to be true, you now realize: It was all a big lie! You can’t remember how you upheld the lie or when the lie came into being. But you’re left with the very distressing realization that none of it was ever true, nor will it ever become truth! I can’t think of a more painful experience to be honest. (and some of the mystics of ancient times report to have been through similar states of consciousness through fasting, meditation, physical discomfort to the max a.s.o. a.s.f.)

Mind you: In our “baseline” waking consciousness we fiercely hold on to that “ego” with all we got! Right? Think of the last big fight you had with your significant other/spouse/family member, when the heat was cranked up to the max with yelling, throwing of items and verbal abuse of some kind! Why? Because you were “defending” your idea of who you are at the core and that in the aftermath of the other person saying or doing something that threatened that very idea of self. No? Yes. I thought so. So, for all practical purposes and saying this in front of the backdrop of having gotten socialized in the “Westerners’ ways”: Ego death is possibly the worst thing that can happen to you! (Yes, it’s worse than death, because for all we know for sure and for now is that consciousness does not extend beyond a well functioning physical body; I know that I’m out on a limb here, but this would be a different debate altogether).

Ok, back to my new friend and our conversation: Based upon what I laid out above we quickly realized how similar some “hellish” NDEs were to a “K-hole” experience or the experience of ego death altogether. My kind new friend let me in on his wealth of experience under the influence of DMT, psilocybin and other psychedelic substances that the major difference between “dissociative drugs” and psychedelic ones is this: Dissociative ones end there. Your ego, your idea of self, your whole world gets wiped out. That’s it. End of story. Whereas psychedelic experience can sport an episode of ego death, but offer something else in addition to that: Blissful travels through unseen galaxies of colors, sights, sounds, possibly meeting alien or “supernatural” beings and all that often accompanied by a sense of “interconnectedness with the cosmos and all there is and was and will be”. I’m improvising here as I’ve never had a psychedelic experience in my life. (so far… ). In other words: The “K-hole” leaves you “feeling annihilated”, whereas psychedelics take you to “other dimensions”. (with or without a dissociative episode; I use citations marks here for my new friend and I agreed that these realms still only exist in our “intoxicated” brains as there is no testable evidence for said dimensions to exist anywhere else but in our brains).

Now…. having said all this, we also quickly established that the blissful types of NDEs resemble a psychedelic one almost to a T. (they got all those elements, like a feeling of leaving your body, hovering above a scene, observing it, your consciousness extending “out” and “blending” with another realm of consciousness, which some describe as “god” or “divine/angelic beings”, sometimes meeting relatives or Jesus or god him-/herself – and all or most of the former being accompanied by feelings of unspeakable bliss).

So… was it possible that NDEs are just that? Maybe your first, but pretty surely your last psychedelic trip before the curtain falls for good? We could only know if any of the really dead – those who did not survive their “brush with death” (NDE) – came back and told us about it. Yes, I’m aware that some people contend they had this happen to them – not in person, but through a “medium” or “channel”, yada, yada. I have to admit that I’m a sceptic and I very much appreciate being given the opportunity of testing incoming information through the lens of my own common sense, backdrop of experience and critical thinking. When employing the latter three – including my “NDE” at age four and particularly when adding it to the equation of personal consciousness – I can’t help but go: Hogwash! (NDEs, that is). But that, of course, is only my current, possibly temporary, very subjective assessment and judgement on the situation. The field of NDEs is a complex one and for reasons of fairness, find an introductory overview here on Wikipedia.

I know… it might be devastating to think that we really get annihilated upon death. For most this is an unbearable thought. I don’t think it has to be. For is infinite, eternal consciousness really such a “good spell” (gospel)? For real? Let this sink in, if so inclined. And sorry for going off into the deep end of things. (I get like that…)

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