Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Therapized Therapist, Part 2: Panic Station

Healing from PTSD is full of hills and valleys, but lately it's been all valleys. Whether it's stress, adjusting to new medication, a combination, or whatever, my anxiety/panic is on an high alert. When this happens, my brain releases the Thought Police. And since my amygdala (aka Thought Police Headquarters) probably takes up most of my brain, I have an entire brigade of police, trolling for any thoughts that dare step out of line. Any thought that doesn't follow the norm, any thought that is the remotely bit errant, will get caught. Once caught, the lights flash on, the sirens go blaring, and the Thought Police tackle the thought with enough force to be blamed (accurately) for committing police brutality.

Scary thoughts, overly emotional thoughts, repetitive thoughts... none of these are allowed. Can you imagine having a brain that wasn't allowed to have these thoughts? A brain that was only allowed to have peaceful, gentle and loving thoughts 24/7? Yeah, it's impossible. Our brains have thoughts more times than we are even conscious of - there are background programs running constantly. We have thoughts we can't control sometimes. That's part of having a functioning brain. It's normal and healthy.

My anxious brain doesn't buy it.

Now when I'm anxious it's difficult to let those errant thoughts go. It's difficult to slow down the fear and panic that sets in because of the thoughts and memories. I make these illogical assumptions that if I have these thoughts I must be broken/bad/no good/never gonna get better. It's torment, thinking that my brain will always be this way. That thought just fuels the fire.

I hate being in this place, but I know it's only temporary. With each second I have to practice letting go of my thoughts, giving the Thought Police a leave of absence, let them go holiday in Hawaii, drink some tequila and tan on the beach. Then maybe my brain could do its thing and heal a little more.

Sigh. Healing is now, I recognize that. But I just wish it wouldn't take so long. Luckily, I've been blessed with friends and a boyfriend who hold me up when I can't go any further. I just gotta keep holdin' on, practicing hope and waiting for the day when I don't feel like the world is ending.

"You've arrived at panic station -
Doubts will try to break you
Unleash your heart and soul
Trouble will surround you
Start taking some control."
- Muse, 'Panic Station'

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I started writing this when thinking about PTSD, then realized about halfway through that I was really writing it for someone close to me who is fighting an on-going battle with illness of a different sort. This is for them, with much love.


The terror hits you,
sinks into your bones, icy and harsh,
turning your blood to fire and ice.

You freeze as the fear consumes you,
your vision fills with vestiges
of horrors, catastrophes
and terrors, large and small.

Your eyes squeeze shut against them,
your body tenses against the barrage of potential pain,
and your thoughts race for a way out.

They find none.

Death seems inevitable, and not so much an earthly death,
but a spiritual one,
a death born of not loving others,
of becoming so lost in this pain
you can't see beyond yourself.

It's all you can do to hold onto hope.

But my dear one,
you must keep your eyes open to see it.
Hope is in Him, in His light!
Even in this blackness, it shines.

You must look past the shattered images,
breathe through the panic,
stand up against the deadweight of despair.
Can you see?

His light works through the cracks,
through the walls that seem to reach the sky.
His love consumes the fear that consumed you;
Nothing can contain His fire.

Look for His light,
even if all you see in the moment is a spark,
for that spark is part of an unending source
of light, of love, of salvation.

See the light, hold onto it with all your might,
even as the anxieties and lies assail you,
luring you to sink back
into their hopelessness.

Hold on!
They cannot consume or defeat you,
You, who are bright and beautiful,
a creature of the Divine.

Hold onto the spark.
watch it as it grows with your awareness,
glowing brighter and bigger,
until it becomes the Sun itself.

It will shut out all that scares you,
all that makes you cower.
It will burn so lovingly, so fiercely,
that in time it will be all you see, all you are.

And my darling,
if the darkness comes back,
never fear.

The light will save you.

Again, and again, and again.

A spark is all it takes.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Superheroes don't always wear pants.

It's true. Superheroes don't always suit up in cape and spandex. They aren't always noticeable when they spring to action, saving the bystander from certain danger. And from my experience this weekend, they can come in the most interesting of outfits.

Last night I found myself struggling - against my will as always - with PTSD symptoms out of nowhere (seemingly). They like to do that, attack you when you least expect it. What was supposed to be an awesome night downtown, turned into me crying in a parking lot with panic and all the fun that goes with that. Now before you pause here to get all sorry for me, please hold on for a second - this story is actually not about that at all. But I digress.

Not wanting to ruin everyone elses night, I called the person I knew would come to my rescue. I stood on Cesar Chavez feeling silly and sorry, when suddenly my hero comes pulling up, whisking me to the safety of a warm car and an empathetic ear. They listened to me, asked all the right questions, and took me straight to Whataburger for fries.

Before we went inside, they exclaimed, "Oh, I'm not wearing any pants!" I looked down and bursted out laughing at the leggings + reindeer t-shirt + fuzzy boot ensemble my rescuer was wearing. In their haste to come help me, they ran out of the house with their nighttime clothes on, not bothering to change into something more befitting of public viewing. "I just knew you needed me, so I ran out the door in this!" they said.

I laughed until I cried, thanking God for blessing me with such a beautiful, caring, and goofy sister.

My sister has always been there for me, saving me with her witty humor, strong will, and love as fierce as anything I've ever seen. I know that no matter what happens, no matter if she's dressed like Wonder Woman or a cat lady, she'll always be a hero to me. Though it would be easier if she wore pants next time.

"You be the anchor that keeps my feet on the ground, I'll be the wings that keep your heart in the clouds." - Mayday Parade