Please welcome Trish Hurtubise to the Wounded Warrior blog.
Trish Hurtubise is the Founder and Editor of the web site Mental Health Talk; an eclectic collection of stories and wisdom from people who experience mental health issues. MHT is often called by visitors “a valuable resource” for all things related to mental health. Please stop by if you are experiencing mental health challenges as it is Trish’s intention you leave the site feeling better understood and connected to a courageous tribe.
This is Trisha in her own words.
Denial, Killer Beliefs, and a Secret Weapon
In July 2008 I asked: “What is my diagnosis Dr. S.?”
“I evaluated you as having Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Finally a diagnosis! I had been using alternative therapy since the psychic shock in early 2007. However my mental condition had become worse; slowly spiraling down into depression, flailing around in psychotic bouts, to only sit very still in terror, hoping to hide from the powerful black mass I could feel slowly eating me alive.
It was an alternative practitioner who convinced me to go back to allopathic medicine—he felt I was psychotic.
I trusted him.
I arrived home to look up C-PTSD on Wikipedia. The diagnostic criteria seem to fit but with a gaping hole where I felt psychosis should be.
I didn’t trust my psychiatrist. She was old-school and thought I was too rational to be psychotic (but I had to be or the black mass would consume me. Couldn’t she see that?)
I concluded I did not have C-PTSD; it was an umbrella diagnosis by a psychiatrist who didn’t like to put labels on her patients.
I forgot about my evaluation and focused on getting help with my anxiety, depression and eventually (I convinced Dr. S.) my psychotic states.
Fast-forward to April 2011: I am reading the letter Dr. S. has written to file with my disability application. She has documented the last 3 years of my experience to support her evaluation of C-PTSD. She writes about my gruesome visions of my death.
Something clicks: my visions are my flashbacks.
Jump to May 2012: No longer struggling with psychosis or depression, and taking medication and using techniques to manage my anxiety, I am in recovery. However I still have mental and physical symptoms that no one can really explain, and all the work I have done so far has had very little effect on them.
I decide to look up the symptoms of C-PTSD on a web site known for its content related to everything PTSD.
As I read the information, 95% of my symptoms are staring me in the face.
I become a believer.
Some of us take the long road in our journey to finally have a term to help describe our experiences.
Not always because of misdiagnosis.
Sometimes because of denial.
Your trauma is related to what?
I find it hard to talk about the trauma—not because it triggers me (anymore) but because people’s eyes glaze-over when I describe it.
First off, you have to have some acceptance of the paranormal.
Secondly, trauma related to the paranormal is not openly talked about.
Thirdly, experiencing the trauma again and again through a specific type of energy work for a year and half after the initial shock…
Well this is usually too much for the average person’s brain to comprehend.
I understand completely. When the trauma occurred, I found it really hard to comprehend too.
So much so, I had a nervous breakdown.
I was once told by a person who works with PTSD survivors--a survivor herself--that “While we are each individual in our trauma, we are universal in our PTSD experience.”
I am not alone, regardless of never connecting with someone who has experienced a similar trauma.
Am I safe right now? How about now? What about now?
Now in the midst of processing the extent of C-PTSD on my life, I find the beliefs I’ve formed out of trauma is the biggest hurdle in my recovery.
Beliefs engraved in every fiber of my being as my defense against the reality created by vivid and graphic memories of terror.
Beliefs such as I cannot handle uncertainty, I must stick to the same routine every day, I must be in control of everything, everyone must love me, I am dying.
I think these beliefs keep me safe because I believe if I do not abide by them, I will die.
I know these beliefs keep me, and my world, small. They create a hyper-vigilance so
extreme I spend a good part of my day cutoff from the stimulus around me.
I do my best to honour these beliefs for keeping me safe, even though I question what safety really is. I have tried to dislodge them through energy work and my body goes into distress.
They exist because my most primitive survival mechanisms are now based on them.
Surviving versus thriving? Which one would you choose?
It is not enough for me to just survive my day. I don’t plan to let the wisdom that has come from my experience be shut-in by silence. I plan to live my message and life to the fullest.
I’m studying my beliefs. This involves learning their strengths and weaknesses as well as their effect on my body, mind and soul. They show up in very physical ways—primal fight-and-flight energy stored in my body that was not released after trauma (the powerful black mass I felt during psychosis). I do this through connecting with my intuition via words and symbols and creating art from that--a process I have learned that channels my sixth sense into something empowering and grounds me in reality.
I also use EFT with a trained practitioner to shift the primal energy very gradually.
I am gently challenging my beliefs. I challenge their validity through action; baby steps to prove them otherwise.
I am rebuilding the skills I need to form new beliefs and counteract the existing ones. I focus on nurturing my self-esteem, reconstructing my self-confidence, renewing my faith in my divinity, validating my self-worth, being present, and surrendering to exactly who I am and what I am doing in the moment.
I know who I am. This allows me to envision my future based on what I have to give versus what I can do within my mental and physical limits. Focusing on the giving,
I always find a way regardless of how rough the terrain gets.
My secret weapon
I tend to it with the care of the Mother. Then I practice it with no excuses. I will continue to practice it every day for the rest of my life.
I know this for certain because it saved my life and I tend to be pretty disciplined when it comes to practicing lifesaving techniques. This diligence comes with the PTSD territory.
It gave me life too—a new life that is sensual, fulfilling, and blessed with gratitude.
You deserve this as well.
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