OK, in attempts of putting things of the last few days and two weeks in a broader perspective – something I had to teach myself as far as getting by in life – I am arriving at a number of tentative conclusions.
1. I am still suffering from an aggravated vulnerability as far as getting triggered. The latter currently seems to be presented as an irreversible damage as part of the outcomes of early and later repeated childhood trauma, followed by experiences of abuse (I challenge and object that finding, b.t.w.). This comes as a partially devastating realization, in particular so as I have been following an agenda of removing as many triggers as possible. While isolation and solitude have ensued as consequences, my top priority was to be calmer, more settled, more peaceful. I am not sure any longer, whether this strategy really worked out for me. Let’s say it did and it didn’t in parts of 70:30 I’ll tentatively say.
2. Finally overcoming my fear of reexperiencing the very initial childhood trauma from going to hospital in order to have a long due surgery performed on me, reminded me of how I have been coping for the most part of my entire adult life: By overcoming those fears, one by one and everytime I experienced it. The latter came at the expense of latent anxiety often culminating in panic attacks throughout the day and especially at night, in particular in or following an atmosphere of intimacy. But I had managed to lead a self-sustaining life. In other words: I had not allowed anxiety and damage to rule me, but chosen in favor of empowering myself. I feel the need to get back on that road in order to get to socialize more and the latter coming from having exhausted my resilience in terms of experiencing isolation and solitude for the past six years.
3. As far as 2., there is one major fear: What if I experience getting bullied for my condition again? If it were a commonly accepted disability, technically speaking I could sue the asshole doing so. But as my/our condition is not recognized as a disability in my country yet – or anywhere else as far as I know -, threatening to sue as a last resort falls through. No. 3. is actually something, I haven’t managed to find an answer for, neither for myself nor with commonly recommended therapies like CBT or DBT. But I have to (find answers) as getting bullied has happened and is fairly certain to happen again as soon as I “mingle” on a more constant basis. I have learnt to defend myself very well, but I’m not sure about whether or not I’ll manage to regulate myself to the point where my responses are socially and commonly acceptable. I might not, in which case I’ll get singled out again from whatever context or situation the getting bullied happens. This is a major problem and fear. It puts me into a spot I have trouble accepting for myself. After all, trauma is an emotional injury disrupting the sense of self and integrity. If I’m to heal from that, restoring and defending integrity as well as getting at eye’s level with any regular Joe or Jane is part of the recovery – or so I’d think. Finding the right leverage in standing up for myself will be crucial. I haven’t done a good job with that in the past to be all honest. Or when I did, I often times lost anyway for I had no lobby or alliance backing me up, the latter probably from being perceived as “weird” or different. I can’t even know the reasons as bullies aren’t exactly known for explaining themselves very often…
4. Emotional “hygiene”. I seem to close in on the insight that management of emotions – and along with that management of thoughts – is crucial. In other words: I will be well advised to see to it I take in as many positive stimuli as possible. I also think – and know so in part from experience – that the most healing properties come from positive experiences with people in general. The latter goes hand in hand with my realization that receding to a safe niche doesn’t seem to work out for me as a long term solution. While finding safe and quiet places has had beneficial effects on my overall and more or less permanent state of hyperarousal, while finding some solitude and quietude has helped me to recharge my batteries, it doesn’t seem to provide healthy grounds to operate from on a long term basis. After all, human beings are social animals and I’m no exception. Quite on the contrary: I seem to have identified for myself that communicating is essential, in particular in terms of managing anxiety and hypervigilance. The more I talk with people – ideally in non-confronting, mutually friendly ways and manner -, the greater my sense of confidence and being self-assured. I also think, I have made progress in modulating responses to known stressors, at least in part. Situations of the unknown, where I have no way of quickly assessing the “threat potential” – and the latter by way of an instant cognitive/intellectual analysis instead of on the gut level -, have left me either producing a full fight-or-flight-reflex associated with common physical symptoms like e.g. accelerated pulse, sweating, labored or accelerated breathing, moist palms of hands etc. etc. or left me in a state of “shock paralysis” also known as the “feigning death” phenomenon from higher developped animals. Modulating those outcomes by way of cognitive intervention seems inevitable. I have done some practicing in that regard and believed to have progressed there. Mind you – all this happened without standardized inpatient or outpatient therapy as the latter have become largely inaccessible to me. I found out for myself (yeah, patting my own back there for a sec, why not? ;))
5. Self-empowerment vs. asking for help. I’ve always found experiences of self-efficacy to have larger healing potential than needing to lean on someone else. While I seem to have learnt the latter as well – for reasons of having exhausted all other options -, I still lean towards saying that self-empowerment and self-efficacy are superior to other forms of managing the condition in terms of their outcomes. This is my personal opinion and experience and everyone is welcome to hold their own positions on the matter. However, as our western societies seem to promote a “do it yourself/provide for yourself” course of action at an ever-increasing pace, in particular so in the U.S., but ever more radically so in parts of Europe and Germany as well and in complete oblivion of the elderly and needy in our societies, I seem to find advocating for self-help essential. And the latter also coming from experiences of having been let down or openly opposed and targeted by the medical and social system often and in crucial aspects. In hindsight, I must be thankful for apparently having followed a path of “take care of yourself” all along for the most part or else the shocking experiences with the system would have probably driven me into suicide. Truth be told, there was a long stretch of time and several occasions, where I had lost all faith, hope, spirit and found myself in a position of having exhausted all options, thus beginning to seriously contemplate an early exit. I realize that the latter observation is mixed in with depression and outcomes of the condition, yes. But how many times can a person cry for help from those authorities which are in place for that very reason and get turned away?! Or get denied much needed help?! It happened throughout this entire journey of the past few years. I now know for a fact that I’m not alone with that, but I was not prepared to the experience of the system making it extra hard for me and people with special needs in general. It’s the crime of the decade in my opinion and my personal experiences have jump started my political consciousness.
6. Employing the emotional GPS. I keep referring to emotional and more importantly physical responses as the emotional GPS. In simple language it’s meant to describe a process of becoming aware of any kind of response, emotional and/or physical of the bodymind to day-to-day experiences. In other words: Take a minute to reflect on things. Travel back to the experience and take a look at the setting it took place in and the personal outcome it produced. I’m aware that particularly the latter will be difficult bordering on impossible when one finds themselves in an environment of “punching the clock” or being a single parent or both. However, as one of my – more helpful – doctors said: Ultimately, your body will tell you what’s right for you. Spot on! We have forgotten to listen to our bodies and our physical needs from having been drilled into becoming this “human resource”, this quantifiable and ultimately disposable company asset of sorts. While I think I understand the economics behind this, I am also convinced that our current modern lives run counter to literally every human need we were born with. And emotions seem to have become this disposable luxury employers and bosses typically have no room for. Or if they do, then often in abusive ways. “Punching the clock” is never going to work for me – ever again. That much I have come to understand about myself. It sounds like a severe limitation and by all standards in place it is. Hence, some work will need to be done in getting a condition of (C-) PTSD commonly acknowledged as a broad spectrum disability. Because managing the condition has a victim of it preoccupied for a large portion of the time. In other words: We already have a more or less full time job – that of healing and rolling back the mess someone else have left us with. There can be only so much capacity left for dealing with other things. But I’ve digressed by now. The advocat seems to kick in ever more often as of late.
So what to do about the common asshole, who thinks we were weak, dumb and helpless? Guess, for starters and tentatively speaking it may suffice to let them know that they’re assholes. Self-modulation and impulse control will remain to be crucial in that area so as to keep ensuing trouble at a minimum. I don’t think I need an experience of getting hospitalized or jailed in order to know that I’m different from the bulk of people.
7. Laughter. Laugh as often as possible. I find this to be an excellent source of healing. And
8. Some and mild medication. I’m going to have to keep looking into that as a helpful means of managing utterly stressful situations, when 1 through 7 don’t yield enough “bang”. I am reluctant to go out and buy marijuana, as I haven’t been too lucky with the last two experiences both happening around 2004. I produced an allergic reaction and one of those getting me hospitalized for a night. I recall this experience as one of the most disconcerting ones so far and coming within close reach of the major panic attack in 2009, which had me pass out from too big a shock on the system. So medication is a tricky one and I have remained unsuccessful in that regard so far. Hopefully, we’ll find some medication that I can derive some alleviating effects from.