Please allow me to put it in a nutshell for all of us (how overbearing of me…): Someone else always has that, which you desperately need. And they’re not inclined to give it away for free.
Initially, my intuitive idea about healing from (C-) PTSD was: Find those aspects in yourself that don’t resonate, identify them as outcomes of the condition and not germane to your original make up as a person. Peel away those dissonant layers and aspects one by one. I convinced myself that in doing so I’d eventually lay bare and become the person I should have been from the start and minus the detrimental outcomes of traumatic experiences. Makes sense? It made sense to me, I told myself I had a plan.
Now that I seem to have progressed with this endeavour, I seem to find that the process strangely begins to feel as though I was living my life backwards, while making progress “back to me” at the same time. In other, even more confusing words: I’m moving forward by moving as far back as possible while not discounting experiences made and hopefully insights gathered further along the road I have travelled.
Ironic, isn’t it…?
(But more importantly: I’m doin’ the very best I can to get to that point where I actually feel a connection with just about everyone I meet. Or feel at all. If that made any sense)
Below article was written for parents raising children with attachment disorder. I think the tools conveyed and explained here might also have strong benefits for anyone living with PTSD as the felt sense of safety is also very impaired and keeps our nervous system in an almost constant state of hyperarousal. But see for yourself, if so inclined.
Fear can be a predominant motivating factor behind much of our lives. Instead of having a clear idea of what we want and making decisions that move us in that direction, which will most likely involve some risk and discomfort, all too often we make fear-based decisions that limit us and our happiness. While these choices allow us to avoid that uncomfortable, anxious feeling, they don’t usually end up providing any real opportunity for growth or forward movement toward our goals. So, we stay safe. Comfortable. Stagnant. Your Brain Is Wired To Be Fearful Fear is produced when your amygdala,
In the truest meaning of the word, I think he’s a hero. Most of us are. And I think, we should not feel guilty to give ourselves credit for that.
And here’s another hero of mine.
I am dazed and I guess in a state of shock over the news of Susanne Preusker’s passing. (she decided to end her life on February 13th 2018). Before I carry on I must issue another strong trigger warning especially to victims of sexual harrassment and/or sexual violence. I am writing this in order to honor Mrs. Preusker’s incredible accomplishments in dealing with the outcomes of major trauma. It is also an attempt for me to come to terms with her decision to end her life. I guess, I really am in shock and devastated over this turn of her journey.
I came across her story some four or five years ago when grabbing a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room to pass the time until I’d get called into his office. I don’t recall exactly what it was that made me pick this particular article. All I remember is that only a few lines into it my attention was completely fixated on the story at hand as I knew right there what this was going to be about: Trauma and its multifaceted results. (and I guess in retrospect I was longing for hearing about others, thus hoping to come tobetter terms with my own history)
Mrs. Preusker had been the leading psychologist at a major state penitentiary in Bavaria, Germany, working with some of the most dangerous criminals there are: Murderers and perpetrators of sexual violence. On the day that her ordeal was about to happen she was in great spirits, looking forward to getting married in about 10 days and determined to end the day a little early. One of her “clients” asks for an impromptu appointment with her, which she agrees to.
Her “client” is a convicted perpetrator of sexual violence and a murderer. She has been working with him for four years and generally attests to a bright outlook for her client believing that her work with him has “fixed” him and allows for him getting rehabilitated. Unfortunately, her assessment turns out to be completely wrong as he relapses into his violent behaviour with her right after entering her office. It takes seven neverending hours until corrections officers manage to regain control over the situation and liberate Mrs. Preusker from the brutality of her attacker.
Following these horrific experiences Mrs. Preusker (naturally) becomes unable to continue working in her former position. She develops severe PTSD in the aftermath and takes years to return to a semblance of a life that might appear “normal” on the outside and to the unassuming observer. However, her strength in confronting her perpetrator in court as well as her unrelenting stance of not letting him get away with half-assed, mumbled excuses and in addition to all that her courage to publish her story in a book ultimately sees her accomplish an incredible post-traumatic growth (or so I thought). Overcoming triggers one by one, reclaiming an ever-growing space of independence and autonomy, sticking to her truth while slowly allowing herself to become vulnerable again – she did it all. If I had to put her post-trauma story into a nutshell, I’d have to call her the “poster”-lady of post-traumatic growth for want of a better expression.
It devastated me to learn of her decision today to end her life a few days ago. I chose to post this as there is literally no information available on her in English and to honor her accomplishments and contributions to raising awareness regarding the challenges a person living with (C-) PTSD has to deal with. My heart goes out to her husband and son, whose incredibly sensitive and intuitive way of supporting her healing are no less impressive. R.I.P., Susanne Preusker.
P.S. I feel compelled to add this as going over above blog entry has me fear that some readers might succumb to another wave of feelings of hopelessness as her story might invoke a sense of despair in so much as the condition seems impossible to overcome. And yes, agreed, I’ve felt that way myself many times and I have a very hard time not to concede to the grim perspective that another tragic fall of one of our fellow soujourners seems to paint. But on the other hand I have been following the work of Maps.org, in particular all their trials and studies investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances coupled with heavy-duty psychotherapy and particularly where they focus on the healing potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients suffering from (C-) PTSD. Even more specifically this interview/podcast with the now near-famous Rachel Hope on Amber Lyon’s Reset.Me instilled the firm conviction in me that there are modalities out there – and in the progress of being developed as standard therapy – that actually remove the condition and its outcomes from a person who had very unfortuntate experiences happen to them. In other words I guess I am trying to say: Do not despair! We’ve come this far. It’s only going to be another very few number of years until this kind of help will be available in a standard clinical or outpatient setting. Myself, I’ve been living with the outcomes of PTSD for 53 years and it’s taken away everything from me! (But I’m still here and willing to fight and keep looking for relief until I take my last breath). Do not despair. Please. Thank you.
I think I watched the movie “Gross Pointe Blank” – of which above clip is taken – several times in sequence, that’s how much I enjoyed it! To me, it perfectly describes the absurdity and superficial quality of High School reunions and all the embarassing moments the latter keep in store. The movie ramps up the absurd quality of these situation to the max by John Cusack’s character or rather: His character’s way of earning a living. (I say no more so as to not spoiler in case you haven’t seen the movie).
The above clip is taken from a scene in the movie when John Cusack’s character has more or less just arrived and tries to find his way around town, trying to identify what’s still the same or what has changed and (re-) acquainting himself with the “lay of the land” in a manner of speaking (and a friend takes him on a ride around town to help with the latter). In particular I chose to start this blog entry with said clip because of the time span. It’s been my “ten years anniversary” of knowing about (C-) PTSD and consequently learning that I had been living with it for all my life. (53 years to be exact, minus two weeks into my life as an infant).
I am a solution-driven person – or at least that is how I think I functioned until about ten years ago. What happened? Well. Probably “nothing”. I just felt that the severity of my symptoms had surpassed a point, where I could no longer be sure I’d be able to have some sort of “control” over my visceral responses of my body to mundane day-to-day situations. It is grace to the process of educating myself (next to other sources) that I now know these are called “triggers”. The aspect that makes these triggers such a heinous threat to one’s wellbeing is: They might or might not kick in. You never know. You can’t know. Because you can’t navigate life by foreseeing everything. (although some people claim they can. Uhm… that would be subject for a very different debate…)
I’ve talked about these things and their implications on this blog. I set out to journal my story of healing – or so I thought coming from the – granted! – rather naive place of believing that I’d be given the opportunity to _get rid of the symptoms once and for all_! Well, by and large, my overly optimistic assumption doesn’t seem to be that naive. Prior to learning of Rachel’s (his-) story I had reluctantly begun to settle into the idea that I was damaged from almost day one and that I’d have to deal with the outcomes to the day I’ll take my last breath. Well – maybe not? Or too?
After ten years of trying very, very hard to get proper treatment and taking on an insane uphill battle with regulations and legislation in my country – and in the process becoming impoverished, having some of my legal rights taken off of me and becoming socially isolated for long stretches of the way, it’s beginning to look as if I had exhausted my options. I don’t believe in conventional trauma therapy (that I only have access to via inpatient therapy which is a retraumatizing situation altogether…) – and for good reasons so, I’d like to add and add here again amongst others – and so far I have not been accepted in a phase 3 trial with MAPS.org – who look more and more like my last option.
So…. I think I’m on the brink of concluding this journey (at least the blogging part). What have I gleaned from my trip into the abyss of my being? Well… things that come to mind easily are: I haven’t “imagined” this, I’m not a hypochondriac. Next: I’m by far not alone with these experiences and their outcomes. Third: (C-) PTSD is a debilitating condition. It is nowhere near being too “touchy-feely”, it is NOT a personal choice we make at some point in our lives (when almost everything else is, b.t.w.). It’s the outcome of other people’s actions and we’re left to deal with them. On the brighter side: There will always be cold people and good-hearted ones. Some of them choose their walk of life in the realms of helping others who are subject to a very difficult trajectory in life. In short: I’ve met people equipped with empathy – and in some cases with lots of knowledge and wisdom to support it – and … the other kind. It seems that the other kind is at the helm of things in this world. In short: There is no room for being less than 150% productive, no matter the reason or circumstance. I had that insight down at age … 14.
Now what? I have no idea.
About to “book” an inpatient treatment. Feeling reluctant to say the least. Friend enquires: “What have you got to lose?” Let’s see: Time. (even more of all the quality I’ve already missed out on; money. Sanity – or what’s left of it. But most importantly: The “self” I’ve become through all of it. A damaged self, an “impossible” self to some, inconvenient to be around at the very least. But – at least I know that guy… Damn.
… and it reads: (Personal) History had one part. Experience the other. The result: It begins to look more and more like I have arrived in a place that there was no coming back from. That saddens me. The creator had other plans for me. (or did he?)