Dying with Open Eyes.

I had a conversation on the phone with my Mother the other day. I asked her about a photo album with pictures from my toddler years. I had meant to go over them in order to possibly find visual links to outcomes of trauma happening anywhere between my first and 10th week into my life. Somewhere into the conversation she noted about me that my behaviour as a child had been notably different from that of my sister’s, particularly when we watched something somewhat distressful on TV. My sister would turn away from the screen and crawl up my Father’s lap, while I sat there like the proverbial rabbit in front of the charging snake, waiting to be devoured for it’s too late to run. I’d be glued to the screen in a similar fashion with eyes wide open meaning to catch every second of action in a somewhat mimicked attempt of preparing myself to run or something. In other words: Abberant behaviour. I feel like this again today and every day. However, this time the scene I’m watching is not on TV. It’s real. And I’m the main character in it.

This time the imagined opponent is charging from within. Or from everywhere, I can’t even make out where the attack comes from. All I know is that I’m oscillating between being paralyzed with anxiety and agitated from oncoming panic or a fully developped panic attack. This has been going on for weeks now, if not months or even years. I guess, it’s been years, but I probably talked myself into diminishing the extent of the situation from moments of flattering myself into thinking I had control and learnt to manage the onset of a full blown panic attack. And now I’m losing what control I was able to exert. And anxiety and panic have been engulfing me for quite some time, alternated with times of complete emotional numbness. It feels as if my entire cognition and signal processing shut down temporarily so as to avoid an overload of stimulus. I get the feeling I was probably giving an accurate neurological account of what’s happening without really being aware of the underlying processes. It all feels like some preprogrammed temporary desensitization kicking in due to acute overload. And that wouldn’t surprise me, either. For the past three or four years or maybe even longer, my sympathetic nervous system or “anxiety circuit” in the brain has been firing almost non-stop. As a matter of fact, it has been firing too often for my entire life of 48 years, seeing as my early endured trauma – and retraumatization – was never identified nor properly treated. And eversince I’ve become disabled in 2008, the experiences with the medical and social support system have brought about a profound and overwhelming retraumatization, the nature of which revolves around feelings of helplessness, impuissance and naked exposure to hostile experiences that peaked at triggering “memories” of the painful intrusion into my physical integrity. The latter – I had made myself aware of eversince starting to analyze and investigate the entire scope and nature of the mess that I am as of 2009 going forward. I guess, I have been so impressed with Ed Gavagan’s story as he found plausible and oftentimes dramatic wording for an experience I will have gone through during the first weeks of my life. I may not have gotten stabbed like Ed. But there is no doubt in my mind today that I experienced something of emotional equivalence: I underwent two spinal taps during the first 10 weeks of my life amongst other painful intrusion. I can even “remember” the pediatrician saying something soothing to me before inserting the needle into my upper vertebrae. I put the word remember into quotation marks as technically speaking my brain hadn’t evolved to the point of conscious memory according to what developmental psychology and the neurosciences agree on as fact today. At this point, I will deviate from the thread for a minute by disagreeing on the scientific approach: From my own experiences along with some studying of Dr. Bruce Liptons ideas on the “Biology of Belief” as he coined it, I have become convinced that the feeling of “I” and integrity is by no means confined to the realm of the physical brain. It may be a bit of a stretch to extrapolate this idea from as little data as my own body along with Dr. Lipton‘s research. But I would tentatively like to suggest the idea that the notion of integrity and “I-ness” is established by an open system of stimuli coming from outside and being facilitated throughout the entire sensory and cognitive apparatus known as our bodies (of which the brain is only a subsystem and part of). Following this idea, I find it entirely possible, if not likely, that a sense of integrity exists from the earliest stages of human life, maybe even as early as from prenatal stages. I don’t have sufficient data or research findings at hand to support my idea in a scientifically acceptable manner, I admit to that. But coming from my experiences, it makes all the sense in the world to me. Because the empirical outcome is to such an effect that I took away major problems persisting throughout my life and existing to this very day, whose earliest onset go all the way back to these very early, almost initial experiences at a crucial time in everone’s life. Let’s leave it at that for the time being, hopefully inspiring someone to dig deeper into this idea. (And yes, I’m aware that infants usually distinguish the “I” vs. “You” not until later in infancy. Maybe trauma of the nature described above sort of “jump starts” that entire process. But this, of course, is mere speculation at this point).

Coming back to the thread at hand, this blog is about my running out of options (like some of the previous posts). It’s also about me saying that I seem to close in on the depletion of my resilience and perseverance, both of which I had to employ to simply get by and survive. My batteries have been running low for some time and it looks as if any shred of remaining charge was about to get purged. I have been dying a long and slow (emotional) death, going on for decades at a somewhat reduced pace, but having gained “momentum” over the past months. I should have had medication a long time ago, but my system wouldn’t tolerate it (with the exception of one substance I had prescribed for me in the beginning and which regulates serotonin levels. I become unable to pay for that particular medication and my health insurance doesn’t list it as approved medication and doesn’t cover the expense). I should have had inpatient care according to my doctors, but I wasn’t able to relay to them that this equals a major trigger and isn’t an option, hence. What is more, of the number of hospitals that I did scout, they were either not prepared to dealing with my condition or flat out turned me down on account of limitations in my health care plan, which doesn’t allow for more than four weeks of inpatient psychotherapy per year (with the exception of a small number of hospitals my health insurance negotiated special deals with, but unfortunately, those hospitals weren’t tailored to my psychiatric needs). In other words: I’m going down, people. There are only two very small options left, one being an attempt to get Dronabinol on prescription in hopes that a) my system will tolerate it without producing major side effects and b) the medication being helpful in regards to the anxiety and panic attacks (and possibly also the depression). The other option is to resume some hypnotherapy sessions with a trusted therapist who has been treating me before and whom I had some good results with compared to all the utterly failed attempts at therapy with anyone or anywhere else.

If any of those two options don’t yield something in terms of at least minor relief, I just don’t know what to do any more. 48 years of more or less ongoing torture seem to have robbed me of everything that makes the human experience worthwhile. The small number of refuges that used to work for me have stopped working altogether or don’t yield enough relief and distraction any longer. I am isolated and incapable at this point. There currently aren’t any “tools” left for me to manage the permanent anxiety that has taken thorough hold of my entire being. I’m about to fold. Sorry.

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