Infantile amnesia: Gauging children’s earliest memories

Uhm – I think, I have to disagree with these findings. By employing a technique of self-inducing mild trances, I was able to access memories that happened very early in my life,  including the sensorial “output” associated with them (smells, sounds, tactile sensations). My memory produced very specific memories and partial – sort of “worn off” – experiences that I accessed much later. However, I realize that I don’t have good ways of delivering proof for these findings, as the hospital records are no longer available and as I can’t interview anyone, who was involved in those experiences back then, and crosscheck my preliminary findings. Will a sense of intuitive accuracy count for anything? Let’s just say that what I found feels real and conclusive to me and helps to make sense of the larger part of my later experiences when growing up. Actually, when thinking of those early experiences and later ones – which are documented b.t.w. – they both only make sense and the pieces fall into place by acknowledging those memories coming from these trances and by walking the pathway of emotional memory backwards. In other words: The equation of my own phsychological development becomes complete, when factoring those “forgotten” pieces of early memory in. If I had the means and team and could access all relevant information, I’d conduct a study challenging the below linked findings.

Infantile amnesia: Gauging children’s earliest memories.


An Intermediate Resume

*Sigh*. I really have to do the heavy lifting by myself. All by myself. Again. But that’s the way the world works, I understand that. OK then. In wrapping things up, let’s take a hopefully final look back once more:

I am sensing that a long period of introspection, analyzing, in part emotional regression as a guidline and emotional GPS of sorts, and in general a time of investigation is coming to a close. I get the feeling that I have looked at all the outcomes of my past very thoroughly and my feeling also is that I have identified every single aspect that led to said outcomes. This moment feels very similar to a situation some 28 years ago, when I underwent four months of inpatient treatment – to no avail and without one single finding, in other words: A complete waste of time. And afterwards I simply “flipped a switch” and took my life into my own hands, by ways of what concepts like radical forgiveness and complete accountability seem to refer to. But the part then I was never all that happy with was that it seemed to include staying in denial over some things that had taken place, no matter from what angle you looked at them. It felt like I wasn’t giving myself due attention for the being I was to begin with. And in doing so, I later found that I was actually perpetuating the betrayal that had taken place very early.

This time, however, is distinctly different: First of all, I learned to trust myself in being able to depend on myself as my own caretaker of sorts, and in doing so depend on my own intuition and analytic mind as opposed to handing control over to the experts, who have let me down time and again in the process. And second, I felt compelled to do better than simply “put the past behind me” by going into and staying in denial about said past or the very crucial aspects of that past. I felt that I owed it to myself to sit down and really look at all the things that were and still are painful and hard to deal with.

As I had no other blueprint to follow, I started by ordering books whose title and abstract sounded as if they might have some bearing on my situation or shed some light as to its underlying causes. As I’m always interested in solutions to problems rather than dwelling on reasons for them, I started with the more therapeutic of self-help books and gradually went to those sounding more analytical. Amongst other sources, initially the most help I found with were David Servan-Schreiber’s New Medicine of EmotionsSusan Forward’s Toxic Parents […], John Bradshaw’s Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Elain Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person Workbook, and most importantly and most conclusive Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child (Revised Edition). In particular reading Miller’s book left me without a doubt that I come from a dysfunctional family, at least where the emotional basics are concerned, and that everything Miller describes in her book applied to my history to a T. On top of the emotional distress of abuse and partial neglect – i.e. there was severe verbal, emotional, some mild physical abuse, the most devastating of outcomes coming from a fiendishly “clever” combination of all three to really drive the message “You’re no good to me at all” thoroughly home – I have suffered severe traumatization in the earliest weeks and months of my life, like painful and intrusive medical explorations like e.g. two spinal taps, intrusive treatment like artificial alimentation, exposure to physically torturous care like being fed formula when in fact I turned out to be dairy intolerant – the list goes on. All of this happened in a situation of abandonment and an almost quarantine-like situation (no physical contact with bio family at the time and visits to the closed section were only allowed once a week). What is more, there were further detrimental experiences not too much later, like e.g. I was left in my grandparents’ care for about 2 weeks and at an age, when I already and consciously remember the experience as one that left me wondering, why “they” – as in caretakers – seemed so set on getting rid of me, whenever an opportunity came up. And then then there were plain retraumatizing events, like e.g. a throat surgery at age 4, when I was taken to the hospital, had to spend the night by myself again while being in limbo over what surgery on the next morning might exactly imply for me and how I might feel afterwards, knowing that I’d wake up alone. In particular this experience will probably fit the bill of a specific repeating traumatization by all accounts and as far as I was able to find information on, as it sported all the qualities of the early hospitalization: Abandonment in an unfamiliar, potentially “dangerous”, unfriendly environment with only few facilitating qualities, like e.g. how the nurses related to me and such. In particular the moment right before undergoing anesthesia I will never forget and I have a very clear, specific memory of the nurses’ attempts of putting the sedating mask over my face (this was at a time when IV anesthesia wasn’t around yet and masks with gauze tinged in chloroform were put on the nose and face). I had a full blown panic attack and started to fight them, which in turn had them push me down into the operating chair very hard, with three nurses trying to restrain me, while one forced the mask on my face. “They’re going to kill me, that’s that.” This distinct thought was on my mind. And then I passed out. When I woke up,  I felt intruded upon, violated, betrayed, shattered – and utterly helpless again. Not to mention post-surgical pain, which was almost secondary or tertiary when compared to the emotional injury. In remembering this moment now, I think this was the first time that I had a distinct feeling of betrayal towards my caretakers. Of having gotten betrayed and given up upon by those who should have been there for me and protected me from harm. In this very moment and when writing these lines, I think I realize for the first time that this might have been the exact moment when the already frail bond of attachment broke. I guess, I silently disenfranchised them from being any good as guardians, as the guardians of my emotional being. The now happening, instantaneous physical “marker” that knocks all the wind out of my system as I type these very words seems to physically confirm this finding beyond any trace of a doubt [on a side note: The concept of physical memory isn’t acknowledged in the scientific community at large and at this point according to the referenced source. I would like to make a case in favor of such a concept, though, including latest findings in epigenetics and in particular a study conducted at Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, which proves lasting modifications to DNA reading in victims of childhood abuse, where abuse includes neglect, e.g. ]. I’ve been meaning to find the very point of when things started to go sideways in my personal history and alas, this is it! You could also paraphrase this less dramatically by saying that when looking at these early experiences through the lens of my adult self, I’d have to say this was too much for me to take and process and it all happened too early and at a time when I hadn’t acquired sufficient coping skills just yet and when my emotional rearing should have seen nurturing and reaffirming actions in order to build those very coping skills.

In addition to an already bumpy path of emotional rearing, I don’t remember any help in processing these early and later traumatic events in any way I can remember. Maybe this is where partial emotional amnesia or rather repressed memory as described in relevant medical literature is located (however, the earliest of trauma happened before my brain had evolved to the point of being able to store conscious memories; see study and thesis on body memory above). But the bottomline is this: The already frail bond with my supposed caretakers seems to have broken at this very moment. Because when I get down to it, I don’t feel emotional attachment with them. Obligation maybe, a perceived obligation to surrender to formalistic behaviours as how a child is supposed to treat their caretakers. But I don’t feel any sound emotional bond. Never have. And from recent experiences, I must conclude that any attempts of rebuilding it or building something new have failed. It takes two to tango. And that tango ain’t happening. There’s no more point in fooling myself here and in that particular regard.

So most of what came afterwards felt like getting bullied on a more or less ongoing basis. You might say, this is a biased, one-sided account of things. Fair enough. But for one and when considering a healthy emotional development, the personal subjective experience is all that matters at a particular time and as any expert in psychologic development will readily confirm, and second I put some checks and balances in place for myself. From doing so, some current experience with the parties involved prove it to me and anyone taking an interest that I haven’t made those things up or that I was overreacting to them. Having some very sensitive boundaries crossed from early on was a part of my rearing and that’s where the dysfunction – not to mention abuse – is located.

I think I’ll spare myself and inclined readers going into any further personal details at this point. Let’s just say that with the help of the above mentioned books and in employing my “emotional GPS” as I keep calling it as well as some compassionate fellow travellers here and there and a lot of reading online into a host of available material, I think I’m safe to say that I have undergone a serious, meticulous investigation into all the causative experiences that I was exposed to. That list is a fairly comprehensive one. I also think, I’m safe to say that anyone with only a part of what I went through would have had lasting issues from them. My bag is well laden with not only one thing that went wrong, but in retrospect and in wrapping things up, I think it’s closer to saying that everything that could have gone wrong actually did, only sparing me from directly life threatening experiences later on – I wouldn’t be able to rule that out for above mentioned first weeks and months as there are no hospital records left to check as to whether or not there might have been life-threatening complications at some point. Again, telling from my “physical memory”, i.e. how my body still responds to physical proximity in general, regardless of whether or not I am familiar 0r even intimate with the person, telling from this response I have to conclude that something grave happened at some point. I guess, I will never know.

So – where does that leave me? Well, for one, I’ll follow up on an appointment with a trauma treatment center in my vicinity. I have never received a reliable diagnosis to this day. Medical terms of varying disorders were thrown at me in abundance, but I never got the feeling that those who have been assessing me so far really got the big picture of what I’ve described above, let alone set it in perspective with particular regard to all the symptoms and possible co-morbidities coming from all that, some of whom have proven to be pretty resistant to whatever treatment I have or haven’t received so far. In other words: Noone but myself has ever gone to the trouble of taking thorough stock of exactly what happened. So this needed to happen first and I’m hoping that this appointment in about 6 weeks from now will give me some confirmation of my own findings along with an outline and ideally a roadmap of what to do next. However, when thinking about this “taking inventory” process and particularly when thinking about potential treatment, I get this eerie sense of having exhausted all currently existing and available options already. In other words: I can’t help but get the feeling that I have afforded myself all diagnosis and any effective treatment there was in the world. And that I am most likely to have to continue to do so. In simpler words: I am afraid I will have to accept that I’m damaged to a lesser or bigger degree in very vital areas of one’s emotional health. And that I have already found all available ways of compensating for this damage. This in itsself wouldn’t be so bad, after all. It would be something to be proud of, right? But what gets me time and again is this infinite abyss of feeling lonely with all that. I know for a fact that I’m not, at least after having found Kimberly’s blog and her surprisingly similar approach to identifying the emotional injuries suffered and – more importantly – finding effective ways of treating herself. I am aware that other people have undergone horrible things in their lives. I’m aware that suffering seems to be a so far inevitable part of our earthly journey. OK. But this profound sense of detachment from everything, everyone – even myself at times – is a really bad show stopper and has proven to keep me from tapping into my full potential in just about any area of life. Even if I forgive myself for maybe not living up to the possibly available expression of whatever talents I might have – and that’s by far the easier part -, the roadblock to a greater sense of peace is that whenever I come out of this self-imposed seclusion and socialize with people, I find it hard to share their feelings with just about anything.  To be more precise: This is beyond disagreeing on particular positions with regard to shared aspects of all our lives, like e.g. politics, culture at large, societal issues etc. No, it’s not just that. For there is a real difference between them and me – contrary to what scientific assessments often refer to: Not only do I feel distinctly different from most people, I actually am different seeing as I come from a history many won’t be able to relate to and as that history has – so far – left me in a place, where certain basic experiences still feel way too scary and dangerous to ever let them near me any more.

But I have tried. I have been in romantic relationships and they all failed, one after another including my marriage. And b.t.w., for a very simple reason as I have come to understand: I am ill-equipped in the realm of all things emotional that go beyond skin deep, beyond social code and etiquette. I can’t meet a significant other’s emotional demands as my own were never met to begin with. In other words: I have nothing to offer in that area. Nada. Blank slate, whiped out stock. On the contrary: I am needy in that area myself. And let’s just say that having relationships with women compensating their own particular deficiencies by employing a helper syndrome are … a bad idea to put it mildly. Nothing I’d need to reexperience, that much has become obvious.

A similar thing – relationships ended unilaterally – often happened in the career context. I truly am an emotionally disabled person in regard to the basic emotions and how to express or deal with them in a healthy way. So this is where I stand: I must acknowledge and accept the damage first instead of just staying in denial over it as I did some 28 years ago. I will then need to allow myself some grieving over those parts of self that I lost early on as suggested by Alice Miller. I think, I’ve already gone about some of that work in recent years, maybe all of it, I’m not sure. I have also begun to set boundaries. Then I sabotaged some of that progress and I now am in the process of reestablishing said boundaries. In regard to bio family it’s becoming more and more evident to me that this will ultimately result in complete separation sooner or later as the very building blocks of a healthy attachment were taken out very early and not exactly put back in place later on. Kimberly says “Sociopaths are different. They can never be healed.” I had to be reminded of that. And painfully so, of course. But ok. I have enough on my plate to save whatever can be saved of myself. Let them do their work and if they resist or fail, it’s not my fault or problem. Not any more so. What’s bugging me of course – and I’m afraid this will be another thing I’ll never really succeed in overcoming – is that I don’t seem worth it for them to step out of their – sick – comfort zone. For once, they could and should have done something for me and me alone. But no. I guess, 48 years of waiting and fighting for this to happen can pass as being long enough a time of trying, right? I thought so, too. So that’s another “must do”: To let go of the idea that they’ll ever meet me half way. Even this I’ve tried – with the help of a therapist who said to work based on Miller’s concepts. Jeez. I should take his ass to court over how terribly he let me down. Maybe I will.

Which brings me back to the introductory exclamation. *Sigh*. It’s on me for the most part. Again. Thanks for nothing, God! 😉 (For now. Finding gratitude will be the equivalent of my “graduation” in – or from – life.) My next steps will be in assessing the “onboard equipment” I’ve been provided with in order to promote and further my healing process. And then to evaluate which of those I might specifically use in what specific area of injury. Looks and feels like a full time job to me 😉 But a rewarding one, as Kimberly often stated.

P.S. Another important step will be to assess the support structure of compassionate or understanding friends and other close human beings that is in place. I tend to overlook this when focussing so hard on my internal resources in an attempt to become self-sufficient in the best meaning of the word.

Trust, Loneliness and PTSD « Stoning Demons

Kimberly describes really well what it is like to live with chronic and complex PTSD and how the experiences from which it originates have instilled a pattern of pathological distrust. I couldn’t agree more or add anything substantial to what she describes so accurately: Trust, Loneliness and PTSD « Stoning Demons.

Breakthrough or Fallthrough? The Outcomes of Trauma and Crisis in Plain English

I had an extended positive blog in mind, one that might uplift me and others when I or they come back to reading it over. I had one in mind that would talk about 2012 being my breakthrough year that marks the end of the down low stretch of the past five years. One that talks about peaks and valleys and how I thought to have come back from the valley and now almost inevitably experience an upturn. It was supposed to be both reassuring to me and others in a similar situation. Because there are people like me, people who not only don’t take life all that easy, but who actually have a hard time for a reason. Or multiple reasons, most of which to do with our pasts. Our early pasts, our formative years, those years, when a child’s brain and actually their entire being is like a sponge, absorbing all those firsts in order to internalize a concept of what the world is like. It is during those years when we learn, what we’re made of, what those immediate ones around us are made of and what the initially peripheral sphere of experiences is like. In those formative years, we fill our DNA-imprinted template with actual experiences in order to manifest what our personality later in life will be. Those first few years make the persons and personalities of us, which we’ll most likely remain to be for the rest of our lives. Sure, other formative experiences may occur, possibly harsh blows to the course of life we’ve embarked on, “destiny” if you will, like e.g. losing loved ones or undergoing dramatic changes of a different nature that will leave a mark on us. But no other time in life will ever be as important and critical as those first few years, when we’ve basically come into this world as an almost blank slate, which life will write its chapters on.

Too bad, if the natural flow of these early years is disrupted with experiences we’re not yet equipped to deal with. Like e.g. being abandoned, given up for adoption, possibly being abused in some way, be it physically, emotionally or even sexually, by peers or – worse – by care takers (“care takers” isn’t necessarily restricted to parents or adoptive parents. It could be medical personnel for example). If that happens, we are prone to internalizing those experiences about people in general. Instead of being nurtured, cared for, protected and treated as the most valuable “thing” there is in the entire small universe of our first weeks or years, we’ll get a taste of the brutality of the world and the need to find efficient ways to survive it, even in situations that appear hopeless to us. When I say “hopeless”, I actually mean to express “overwhelmingly terrifying” and as such with a feel to them that appears to be life threatening. This is what a traumatic experience feels like: It is a situation that attacks and threatens the very integrity of whatever idea of the world you have so far. It is irrelevant whether or not an actual threat to life is involved or not. What’s important is that the experiencer of the situation will experience it as a situation that is capable of disrupting everything you thought was right – or at the very least common and known. A situation that defies logic, fairness, manageability on every level. A situation that shakes not only your physical being or your emotional one, but is apt to take all preexisting ideas about your world apart as well. A situation that has you go “crazy” for a short while – and possibly after. Such are some of the qualities of trauma from the experiencer’s viewpoint, i.e. my personal viewpoint and from personal firsthand experience. (On a side-note: I consciously refrain from using the wording “victim” or “sufferer” as it implies a value judgement in my opinion and as the very wording puts the experiencer in a disempowering place, thus singling them out and diminishing the gravity of the perpetrator’s acts). And I’ve had many pronounced experiences of that nature only weeks into my early life. They went on for months on end, with no relief in sight and without any hope they might ever change. I think, it is not being too dramatic to say that my small emerging world was pretty much completely destroyed right after I arrived on the planet. The outcomes of this I’ve been dealing with for my entire life. And I’ve turned 48 two days ago. Even myself, I can’t help but wonder, why in the world I’m still here and why I haven’t prematurely ended this nightmare of epic proportions by committing suicide. And rest assured, there were many times when all I wished for was for it to be over and done with. Once and for all. Finish line and then the redemptive infinite nothingness of neverending unconsciousness. But I trudged on, following an uncanny, at times masochistic curiosity that seemed to be set on wanting to find out, whether there could be something else but this dungeon of hell that my life oven feels like and has been feeling like for long parts of the journey.

Well, as you will have identified by my use of wording by now, the uplifting blog never came to pass this morning. It’s been pretty much exactly five years that I’ve been living in “solitary confinement” as a friend once put it, restricted to the narrow confines of my appartment and to days that follow the ever same routines I established for myself: Get up after only a couple hours of sleep most nights, do three sets of pushups, 30 a piece, push medication down my throat, fix myself two small bowls of cornflakes while the espresso machine heats up, have the computer boot in the meantime and when it did, sit down in front of it with my breakfast, going over emails and my social media sites or watching a funny TV episode on the web (I’m a sort of “King of Queens” addict ;). After that, I usually spend a few hours on random web surfing, manically absorbing everything that tickles my “thinking bone”, from the daily news to health related stuff, science, fringe sciences, previously also some esoteric pages, music, film, zeitgeist commentaries, blogs – the list goes on. Anything that holds my attention for longer than a minute is good enough. And then some outdoors activity like riding the bike, swimming in summer, running errands and the likes, if weather conditions permit. At the very least I go for a fast 90-minutes walk every day, regardless of the weather. Prior to times of establishing and following this routine, I’d regularly still put in some productive work – writing tech articles or doing translations -, but this came to an end quite a while ago. I have been officially disabled since 2008 and prematurely retired on account of it. I haven’t been doing any real productive work in years. When I say productive I refer to paid work with a deadline. Other than that, I’ve come back to dabbling in music, photography – and blogging of course. Like this one. It’s my way of trying to pull myself together and keep it together. If not for the computer and social media friends, I’d have succumbed to ongoing alcohol abuse and depression quite a while ago. I don’t mean to flatter myself as the self-started, disciplined “self-therapist”. On the contrary. There have been times – especially throughout 2010 and some of 2011, when I began to develop the mannerisms of an alcoholic. But yet another condition of the plethora of health challenges saved me from that, albeit in brutal ways: Hyperuricemia manifesting itsself in excruciatingly painful gout attacks that ultimately had me immobile and well on the way to becoming a full blown nursing case. When I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom on my own any more, I mustered all remaining willpower to go cold turkey from that. And I managed. I haven’t been having any alcohol in a year and only recently resumed some very moderate, occasional social drinking. And only then. There is no alcohol to be found in my home any more and I don’t purchase any for myself. Same goes for smoking. I had been a mild smoker with one or two small cigars at night along with my regular bottle of red wine (sometimes to be followed by liquor beverages), but gave up smoking along with drinking. The smoking I don’t miss, but the sedating effect of alcohol I do miss at times and sought to replace with available on prescription medication. However my system proved to be incompatible with the bulk of standard type anti-depressants, no matter what agent active in them. I suffered from the worst of side effects which almost proved fatal in one case: I was hospitalized on account of severe dehydration from “purging” for hours on end. When the ambulance arrived and gave me an injection, I near passed out and had a distinct sensation of dying. I clearly remember going “OK, this is it. You better let go now to make it easier for yourself” in my mind. This experience along with the worst of all panic attacks of my life in October 2009, which had me pass out, suffer a chin laceration and a concussion along with hyperventilating for about 2 hours due to immediate sensations of impending nothingness, were the closest I got to experiencing near-death over again. When I say “over”, I suspect that my body actually remembered the early trauma at the pediatric hospital I was being treated at for inhibition and maldigestion, probably bringing me within close reach of lethality then. When I say “probably”, a part of what went down then remains subject to speculation, as the hospital claim to destroy all records after 30 years. Since I started looking into restoring my health no sooner than around age 40, those 30 years had already passed and attempts of tracking hospital records down didn’t garner any results. But from what I do know through reports from my parents and the locally practising pediatrician at the time, they did perform two spinal taps, exposed me to artificial nutrition for weeks and all this in a semi-quarantined situation: Bio family was allowed in only once a week for an hour or so, but weren’t permitted to enter the same room and only allowed to speak to me through a glass window with a little sealed opening in it, much like those used in prisons. No physical contact other than with nursing staff. I don’t think one has to be a pediatric psychologist to figure out that these experiences weren’t exactly conducive to a healthy emotional development. Actually, a therapist once shared with me that there are four basic needs for all of us during infancy: Food (ideally breast-feeding), rest, touch, smell. I was missing all four for months on end and only weeks into my young life. This basic sense of trust most people take for granted – I never had and haven’t managed to rebuild from something else later in life so far. And while I’m typing all this, I’m well aware of how awkward and misplaced this will sound to other people’s ears coming from the “mouth” – or fingers – of a man going on 50…. However, it’s part of my recent decision to process some of this through writing about it and sharing in hopes that someone else will derive beneficial effects from it.

Whatever personal accomplishments I may have manifested for myself – and I’d like to believe that I could have fared a lot worse given my history – came from something I call “coping via cognitive intervention”. Just recently, I came across an online passage somewhere – I think, it was in the context of the recent horrible mass shooting in Newtown, CT and a discussion on Asperger’s – , where one patient is quoted sharing with this doctor something along the lines of this: “What you and other people do from gut feeling, I have to construct using my intellect.” I’m paraphrasing here as I haven’t retrieved the exact quotation again, but the point of needing to bridge the gap between intact instincts and the almost infinite sense of (emotional) emptiness and solitude a person like me feels inside for most of the time by using intellect in order to think up an appropriate response to pretty much anything in eveveryday life, struck me as “yep, been there, done that” – and naturally stuck with me. But can you imagine the stress level when needing to do so on a regular basis? And can you imagine what it’s like to be burdened with additional pressures the likes of which everyone comes across in their adult lives? Well – evidently, this is a rhetoric question. I don’t expect you to be able to imagine this. Frankly, you probably can’t as non-affected visitors of this blog will come from a different place, a different history, which makes it hard bordering on impossible for them to even imagine, what living with the outcomes of early-on trauma feels like. Suffice it to say: It doesn’t feel good for most of the time. What is more, there is limited choice in the overall design of one’s life. I used to live my life along the lines of what I had observed as the norm: You set goals for yourself and you go for them, more or less knocking down obstacles as they present themselves in one or the other way, depending on the make of personality and set of personal values. In retrospect, I was simply in denial over the limitations that my condition brought about. And around age 40, I had seemingly burnt all my fuel used on exercising resilience. And since then, setting goals for myself or even pursuing dreams can’t exclusively follow my own volition any more. The parameters of my life now have to respect certain limitations I can’t seem to overcome, but manage at best. In other words: I have arrived at the realization that my condition presents itsself in ways very similar to any incurable disease. Personally, I don’t like wordings such as disease or anything along those lines for similar reasons as I have stated above: They carry an air of disempowerment and even judgement to an extent, which is why I tend to reject such wording. On a secondary note, such wording seems to “cement” the condition and its outcomes, thus conceptionally ruling out healing. Another reason for me to reject this wording as I need to hang on to the option or hope of and for healing, even if only partial. When looking at my mind’s and body’s responses from an anthropological view, they are actually perfectly normal. What I’ve been experiencing throughout my life are more or less violent bouts of fight-or-flight response that get triggered over situations, which are stored on the physical level and which are reminiscent of the conditions associated with the early-on trauma. In other words: Situations that feel or look similar to the original ones trigger a more or less pronounced response of an acute threat to life, which the body responds to by switching to “high alert” or “code red” mode, which then translates into excess release of adrenaline and other neuro-transmitters used and needed for activating a full blown flight-or-fight reflex. So labelling such responses as a disease or disorder is misleading to me. The actual response may be inappropriate in the given situation, agreed. But it’s something we are hard wired for from existing conditions we had to survive in in pre-historic times. Being equipped with reflexes of this nature proved to secure humanity’s survival in the evolutionary competition of species. Hence, you can hardly call them a sickness or anything along those lines, can’t you?

Well… as usual… with that fleeting mind of mine – and this probably being so from the ebb and rise of latent panic or anxiety that’s present all the time, even when being asleep -, I’ve digressed. Forgive me for that. In coming back to my headline “Breakthrough or Fallthrough?”, I’m still divided. I guess it’s neither nor. I’ve managed to survive the worst five years of my life without going postal on someone or totally losing it over situations that had the worst nightmares come into being to a 100% in many cases and a close 90% in some other ways. I’ve lost my marriage, a good share of former friends, my career, all of my savings and any perspective I’ve ever built for myself along with any sense of direction. I can’t even be sure of what I thought to be personal strengths any more. Whatever life I had managed to build until then got wiped out in the process. I don’t think, I’m being too dramatic in my wording. I got reduced to a situation that forces me to ponder, of what nature the core of my being is – or how much is left of it. As I said above, maybe it’s neither a breakthrough nor a complete fallthrough. Maybe it’s just another episode of having managed without tearing down the very foundation I’m made from. In saying this, I realize, I haven’t arrived at an all blank slate, either. Maybe it was about time to start finding qualities in me I’m o.k. to give myself some credit for. Maybe it was about time to embrace myself along with the situation I’ve arrived at… ?