Normal service will now resume.

A week ago yesterday, I traveled to London to meet up with a large group of friends, all of whom I love, and many of whom I have never met before. Including one of my best friends. This is the way so many groups and friendships work, much to the horror of my parents (well, mother), who simply cannot get their heads around how you can care so much for people you haven’t met. I didn’t meet one of my bridesmaids until she came down for my wedding, and I love her like family.

It was a lovely get together, and I found myself saying “nice to see you” rather than “nice to meet you”, because all these people were people, and are people, I know, rather than strangers. We’ve known each other for years and we all know the details of our lives are safely stored in these friends.

I had to start the day at 5.30am which is a killer of a time anyway, but completely evil when you have to be on public transport by 6.30. The only way I managed the whole day was to have a nap in the corner of the conference room in the middle of things, and it is a sign to our friendships that people only thought about throwing yarn at me, rather than actually doing it.

I’m still recovering, which is part of my radio silence lately, the other part owing to every item of technology I own, leaving me unable to access WordPress…. Much twitching and swearing has ensued.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to gather another rare condition to add to my list (you know where any form asks for existing medical conditions? I have a book), and this one really has managed to terrify me. It’s called Dunbar Syndrome, or MALS, and is quite a critical issue to be dealt with. A ligament is compressing one of my major arteries which leaves me at risk of several issues. I will be having a consultation with a surgeon quite soon, and surgery not long after, from what I’ve been told.

It’s not the fact there is another condition to deal with that has scared me, I’m used to that. But what has scared me is that rather than my ‘usual’ chronic issues, this is acute, and needs dealing with immediately. The fact it is involving an artery is terrifying me. Right now I am just very scared, and feel out of touch with my body. I feel frustrated that after all the years of saying I have abdominal pain, something has been discovered accidentally which shows I am in danger. I keep looking at LittleCrafter and not knowing what to do or say to approach this.

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Planet

Sometimes I feel intimidated by the world around me. Knowing it is full of human beings and animals who have thoughts and wishes and plans of their own is so much to process, that even just being a tiny particle in that image feels like too much weight to balance. Somewhere on this planet, there is someone thinking, dying, being born, travelling, writing, reading, arguing…. So many things happen in a second. It’s a lot to get my head around, and then when I add into that my fear that I will never contribute enough to justify my existence, it is even more.

My self confidence is higher than it used to be but is still low; I can be aware of this fact without being able to adjust it, or at least this is where I am standing with things at the moment. I so want to be a useful entity to this planet. But how much is what I do every day actually worth? Does it have a use? How do you measure what something is worth at all? A conversation which makes someone smile isn’t worth the same as a Nobel Peace Prize. Or is it? Because surely individual lives and their value is not the same, quantifiably, against acts of humanitarian goodness?

All of these thought try and straighten themselves out in my brain, figuring out where I sit on this planet of ours, wondering if my planetary worth is the same as my self worth, or if they are muddled up together.

I love this world, and I try to love those I’m with on this planet, and those I’m not with. Obviously, I think it goes without saying there will always be arseholes, and I feel no obligation to love those who can’t be loved for whatever reason. I know there is a lot of thought about trying to love everyone, be it from religious groups or those simply advocating peace, but whilst I don’t generally consider violence to be the way forward, there are some I just do not want to, and choose not to, waste my energy and love on.

We all have a responsibility towards this planet, and caring for it, and contributing towards it meaningfully. But how much is what I can offer worth?

Food for thought.

via Daily Prompt: Planet

Doubt

I touched yesterday on where my sense of self was at, or more where it was wobbling. And I am finding myself doubting almost everything I do, think, say, move…. You at the jist. I had a new pair of glasses arrive yesterday, which I loved online, and when they arrived. But they are dramatic frames, and I doubted putting them on my face. Did I have the confidence to get away with them? Would people laugh at me?

Maybe it is ridiculous, but I am finding doubt is at the very centre of myself. This fact infuriated me, and clashing with myself is a regular occurrence, with my determination and doubt shouting at each other, leaving me immobilized. It is so frustrating how much doubt creeps in to every single moment. For goodness sakes, I want so much to be the person I know I can be without doubt. 

It is a journey, of course, a process and progress. I know I can’t rush it. Every dip and mound along the path are essential to get me to a place where my form of peace resides. I am finding the focus and goal of peace helps subside the doubt for a few moments, but I need that to become sustainable. 

Doubt is a vicious little monster that knaws away at peace, strength, security and happiness. Those latter things need to become the mindset and regular sense of where I am at. Need to quash that doubt. That monster needs scaring away. 

Too many projects, not enough hands

I’ve been working really hard in a crafting sense lately, and having added it up I have eleven different WIPs on the go. Maybe this is sensible and maybe it is foolish, I veer between thoughts about my disloyalty to my projects, wondering whether what started as logic might have gone too far; one CAL, one project for on the go, on project for when I’m watching TV, one I really have to focus on with no distraction….. Can you see the sense behind the weirdness?

It’s been hard to try and stay focused on one thing lately. When my mood dips, and my PTSD spikes, my attention span is very limited. This is backed up by science, rather than me just making excuses, which I know some people understandably believe.

It’s not so much that I’m feeling awful as an entity; more that I’ve been prodding my deep thoughts, and exploring my soul, for a lack of better description. There have been thinks I need answers to, and the first answer is that they can only come from me. People search for years, by themselves or with spiritual guidance, to find internal peace, and some form of daily calm. Learning how to sit with yourself, even in you more uncomfortable state, is something I’m practicing. Forgiveness might not be my style, but acceptance would really benefit me.

I know this sounds rather like a tangent, but the mind, body and soul are all so connected and entwined, that when one part is struggling, the other parts struggle too. So as my mind works through all the pain and difficulty of trauma therapy, my crochet is feeling out of balance.

Then there is the fact that I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to make everything I’d like to, even if I was at full strength, physically and mentally. I’ve started on Christmas gifts, but there are decorations I need to do, I’m considering doing a craft stall at a Christmas fair, so I need to prepare for that. I have things to finish now, long term, and as-they-grow. Finding some form of balance with which project I’m working on, and making sure there is love going into it – because if craft doesn’t come from your heart, where is it coming from at all? – to ensure an item that needs to be made is both a ‘need’ and ‘want’ to work on.

Oh gosh this all sounds rather negative, but it’s not necessarily so. It’s just the way life works out sometimes, and I do love each and every project I make. Sometimes I just wish I had another dozen hands.

And a fortnight laying next to a pool.

Long time, no type

It’s like words are evading me lately. In my head, I can string together something perfectly coherent. But when I sit down to write, there’s a total lack of input coming from my brain to my hands. On top of that, I’ve been feeling really awful, with the period from hell. I’ve been undergoing years of gynecology investigations with the final decision being I was too fat to investigate further. Which is always helpful. As it is, I’ve now lost over half a stone, and I’m hoping this will help me argue for things to be looked at again. However until then I can only work on the last know train of thought, which was endometriosis alongside PCOS. PCOS has been confirmed by previous surgery, ultrasound and blood tests, but of course there is no blood test or non-invasive confirmation of endometriosis, so it is a bit of guess work. Very painful (and bloody) guess work.

This period has utterly knocked me for six. I’ve almost slept for a week. It’s been so exhausting, so entwined with bone deep fatigue, along with very heavy bleeding, that being curled up with a hot water bottle (or three) is about as glamorous as it gets. I have watched a lot of trashy TV. I have done some crochet, but even that has been hard work. There has been much scrolling through facebook, Instagram and WordPress on my phone. And the amount of fruit and herbal tea I have been drinking has probably doubled my water bill.

On top of all of that I am trying to deal with Vodafone being a bunch of utter arseholes (separate blog post if they keep annoying me, which will go allllll over social media too), trauma therapy hangovers, parenting, decision making, adult responsibilities…. It just seems endless. I would very much like to go and live in the middle of the woods for six weeks. In a cabin with endless yarn and tea, obviously, but without anything I actually HAVE to do. Is that called a holiday or giving up? Not sure. It won’t be happening regardless, but a girl can dream.

My pain levels have been very high lately. I’m having to take a lot of extra pain meds which just cases more of a bother, because of course all meds come with side effects. My PTSD has been very bad since the MRI fiasco. Generally my patience with humankind is limited and I want to live in a bubble.

Dealing with PTSD is like constantly tottering on the edge of breaking point, waiting for one more thing to tip you over the edge, knowing that you can only take so much more, terrified not just of the world but of your own brain, and worrying your brain will get the better of you in the meantime. It is a horrible condition. It is like living through hell; you are reliving your hell every single day. Today I had a hideous flashback just from standing in a normal ‘standing’ position, that I’ve stood in endless times before, but for some reason my brain has decided that today it can’t cope with it. It’s a horrible thing to deal with. I do my best to find some joy and sunshine in every day where I can, but at times the clouds really do build up. I think maybe that’s why my words have disappeared; run off with the sunshine. Hopefully as we go into Autumn – my favourite season – they’ll return.

I do have a new pattern to share shortly, and another yarn cake arriving to test out and review, so do stay around!

When a medical professional has a traumatizing name

It’s not their fault. They can’t help what they are called, not what you are able to deal with. The world, sadly enough, is very often like walking through a tunnel of triggers smothering the walls. The process of protecting yourself is long and gradual, slowly becoming desensitized to it all. But in the meantime… What the hell do you do when face to face with a massive trigger is unavoidable?

Yesterday I had an MRI scan on my abdomen. This involved having a cannula fitted, being on the table with a flat board camera strapping me down over the area, and moving through a tube for what was definitely not the five minutes I was assured it’d be. 

What happened in my case though is a few things that just meant the day was a nightmare. I’m claustrophobic as it is, and struggle with sensory overload, so the noise and size of the machine is a struggle. It was also partially unknown, as whilst I’ve had MRI scans before, all of them have been neck a and head related. 

Oh,and I’m dealing with a period sent from hell itself, which means that with all my fine issues, I do not want to be anywhere except my bed with oramorph and hot water bottle.

It took twenty minutes and two people to fit the cannula. My veins like to move around, like typical EDS patients, but I think the stress of the veins and the delay caused made everyone a bit on edge. I felt very much like I was being blamed for it happening, and found my already anxious self stuttering apologies and attempting humour, which wasn’t well received. 

When the cannula was finally secure in the back of my hand (after inserted, it needed four flushes of saline to help push it in, that was DELIGHTFUL) I was ready for my scan. I walked from my chair to the room, still trying g to chat but feeling shaky after being poked and prodded for as I long. Marks on my skin stay for ages, so they were all spotted and messy. Excellent. 

Into the scan room and I felt genuinely sick. I managed to get onto the trolley okay, but it was at this point things all went downhill. Another man came into the room, put his hand on my shoulder gently to help me lay down, and said as strapping the camera pad over me, “Hello, I’m X, I’m just here to help”. 

Except, the name he said was my rapists name.

So here I am, laying down with something holding me down, with two men in the room, a cannula in my hand, utterly vulnerable, having just heard my rapists name as one of the people in control of the situation. And it was at this point my PTSD decided to go into full flow. I couldn’t run away. I couldn’t crochet. I couldn’t do anything except let the scan begin, try not to cry, count to ten and try to keep my breathing regular. Requests to hold my breath kept coming through, and I did everything I could to do what I needed to, but honestly 24 hours later I am not sure my breathing was regular enough to do what they needed. 

It felt like I was in there for hours. Each time the recorded voice came over -“breathe in, breathe out, now hold your breath” – I felt myself getting more hysterical. Every time the trolley moved I was desperate to get out. Yet I couldn’t press there button to escape because it would mean starting all over again and I knew I wouldn’t get back in the machine. 

It could be argued that I handled and fought to get through it. But it felt far more that I froze, was overwhelmed and didn’t have an option. I’m still feeling beyond words for how I’m feeling. Maybe I could have managed it better if he had had a different name. I don’t know. But I do know I don’t want another MRI for a long, long time. 

The sanctuary of tea

Not all problems can be solved, but a cup of tea can improve things tenfold. 

I remember first learning about tea, realizing there was a world of tea at my fingertips. Fruit tea, herbal tea, white tea, black tea…. Everything in between. Before then all I connected with ‘tea’ was milk,one sugar please. 

I do still love a good English Breakfast tea, am a huge fan of Earl Grey, but most of what I drink now is a variation of wonderful flavours that dance in my mouth. Cinnamon, acai, blueberry, chamomile, vanilla, rosehip, spiced apple…. I could list the joys for hours. Maybe it’s a bit odd to be so passionate about tea, but I find so much comfort in the ritual of making tea as well as drinking it. 

Right now I’m drinking one of my favourites, chamomile, vanilla and honey, and feeling more relaxed than I have done all day with a cup full of joy. I love coffee too (obviously) but I am very much in need of these tastes right now. They make me feel safe and happy and comforted, ready to try and deal with everything, even if I can’t completely face the world today.

The extra wonder of tea is giving an almost medicinal impact through a really horrendous period, and the awful pain I’ve been dealing with. What better to do than make a cup of tea when making a hot water bottle? 

Nightmares

There is an association with nightmares and young children, as if your brain suddenly stops creating these scenes when you are over the age of ten. God I wish that was true. Nightmares in adults are completely normal, and common, happening more when a person is stressed or trying to process whatever is going on in their lives.

So add into that the constant state of stress, fear and ‘alert’ that goes with PTSD, and it’s no surprise that we have them frequently.

It is normal – within the realms of trauma – to have flashbacks or nightmares related to the traumatic incident(s) you are dealing with. These can change in dynamic, but the essentials will be the same. It is also normal for an average dream to morph into a flash back, because hey, we can’t go feeling safe now can we. But what is also normal is unrelated nightmares. And they’re common too, far more common that the ‘average’ adult. Along with this, they tend to be very vivid, so you wake up feeling incredibly panicked, as if you have just witnessed something traumatic.

I’ve just woken up from two in a row where I was unable to ¬†use my lucid dreaming technique, which I’ve touched on before. One was a flashback, the other a ‘normal’ nightmare, involving in this case a traumatic scenario that I haven’t experienced. That’s another thing PTSD likes to do; it acts like a spounge and will take on everything it can about traumatic incidents to throw them out at you when most inappropriate. Because you can’t feel safe at any cost.

Tonight – or rather this morning – I had to get up. I couldn’t stay laying in bed after what I witnessed in my mind. And so I’m up, awake in my craft room, trying to keep my eyes open, because goodness knows I could do with sleeping some more. Or at least six pints of coffee. I don’t feel okay. I’m on edge, jumpy, waiting for something awful to happen; that feeling of impending doom that goes with having been traumatized, no matter how hard you work to shake it off.

The other side of having a PTSD nightmare is that feeling of being abnormal. I feel odd, weird. It’s hard to trust anyone to come near me, physically or emotionally. It starts off the same reaction as being exposed to a trigger does. I’m hoping, as it gets brighter, I can venture back to bed, though of course this depends on my brain.

One of the awful things about flashbacks in your sleep and having some details changed, is it sparks off the mind wave of “am I a fake?” and similar. Am I remembering it correctly after all?

In the time I’ve written this, the sky has lightened. It now looks like early morning rather than the middle of the night. It’s a relief, to have made it through one night mare, but hell I wish it could have been proved without witnessing any thing,

This has no title

There is so much in my head, but trying to segment it off into little tidy boxes with pretty name labels feels impossible. And so this is Untitled, Unnamed, Unformed. I feel the need to write however and this leads us to where you are reading.

There is so much going on in my life and in my head , it’s like being unable to catch your breath properly, no matter how hard you try. Every time I just start to sit calmly, something else pops up to keep me in alert mode, so I have to start from the beginning all over again. It is and endless cycle, and is so tiring to keep up with. I know I have mentioned this before, but I suppose it needs repeating if my goal is to increase understanding of PTSD in very way possible. 

I managed a little crochet yesterday, filled with the love I wanted in it, but found myself happy to walk away from it when I had finished the small project I had on my hook. Today I’m hoping I can find some of my fire for what I do; get that passion flowing. I think, having sat with it for a day, that it is steaming from how busy my brain is at the moment. With being so on edge, there just isn’t time for peace to flow, and you need some degree of peace to happen, even when using it as a relaxation tool. Crochet has such a major role in my life, that trying to locate the energy and love to devote to it is a sad place to find myself in. And yet I am stubborn as hell. I know this is fleeting and I will be back, hook in hand, soon.

There has been such a bombardment of triggers lately, with trauma therapy hanging over my head. And despite knowing it is positive and I will work through it, and I can cope with it, it feels like two steps forward, six miles back. I really had to fight to be able to access trauma therapy, so I will fight like hell to take e everything I can from it to improve my life. 

One of the problems with the complexity of multiple traumas is that there are so many opportunities to be thrown by life. So many ‘normal’ life things trigger me. Certain patterns, having a yummy bug/ IBS flare, words, looks, men in general, being touched on my legs, going to sleep…. I have two full A4 pages of triggers. That makes just functioning a challenging thing, and every day is a success of I make it to the end of the day. 

There is a cheesy, motivational quite that someone once said to me, and has stayed with me; “you have made it through 100% of your bad days, and that’s not bad going”. This is something I remind myself of when I need a boost to keep myself moving. Moving forward is the only direction worth going in, and I know I can do it. 

Crafting Block

Just like writing block, crafting block is a thing, and unfortunately as I do both, they like to hang around as a couple. Yesterday everything I tried to crochet was going wrong; yarn was splitting, the pattern wasn’t working, I couldn’t find my stitch markers… You name it. Today, I can’t find the motivation to crochet at all.

This is highly unusual for me, but it is infuriating. I tried fighting against it and crocheting anyway, and found myself so despondent towards what I was making, I hastily put it away again; those are not the emotions to have on a crochet project.

I’m struggling with writers block as well. There is a long term project I am working on, with the (now not so) secret hope of having it self published in the very distant future. There we go, I said that out loud, so now you are all held accountable for kicking my arse if I lose hope in it. Okay? Okay.

It’s weird, as I love both the crochet projects I’m working on, and my writing project, yet I guess that sometimes the mind can get so full of other things, there is no space for creativity. I’ll keep on trying, because I’m missing crochet as much as I don’t have the will to do it at the moment. Odd dynamic within my brain.

Even working out what I was going to write this blog post about was a struggle! I felt the desire to write, and interact with all you lovely people, and yet my mind was struggling to locate anything worth saying. Maybe that issue, and my opinion of my work, is at the heart of these blocks. God we’re getting very philosophical here.

So this afternoon finds me sitting here, in my yoga gear, writing this on my lovely craft room desk, with a cup of my favourite fruit tea, and the ghosts of my projects hovering around me whispering “work on me! Work on me!” whilst my brain responds “nahhhhhh”. It’s a bit like that teenage – or depressive – apathy, having an impact on the love I have for all I do. And I say that not in a woe-is-me style, but more an observation of my own brain, trying to unpick where it is at, so I can turn it all around.

As part of my recovery with PTSD, I am trying to fall as in touch with myself as I can. I admit to considering this a load of hippie rubbish when the concept was first discussed, and yet knowing myself as well as I do now helps hugely with the lacking of sense of self that PTSD brings. Which is why I know I still love both writing and crocheting, that I will get back to them, that I need to be patient and kind with myself, and wait for things to fall back into place. There will be a moment where my brain breathes a sigh of relief and says “okay, let’s go”, and I can begin again. I’m working on forgiving what feels like these failures as mere moments in my creative timeline. Maybe writing this will be enough. I’ll do this, do some yoga, finish my tea, and the creativity fairy can wave.

It’s annoying me but not making me miserable, as it has in the past, which I think shows the progress over the last few years, and even months. Despite it nagging away at my heart a little, I still feel capable to return when I’m ready, whereas previously it has started the all-or-nothing, black and white thinking, declaring myself a failure. I am not a failure, simply someone who needs some time off from my own brain.