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Topics - bring em all in

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Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Brain damage?
« on: May 23, 2017, 07:57:20 PM »
I've been away from this community for quite a while and have missed it terribly, but I've felt so bad I haven't done much of anything. Lately my memory and ability to focus/concentrate has been even worse.

I truly feel brain damaged. Even when I remember something or figure something out my head hurts, and it's different from the sinus and tension headaches I've experienced in the past.

I'm trying doing things that are supposed to help develop/sharpen brain function, but that has been frustrating. One thing I've tried is playing an online game where they give you six letters and you make as many words 3-letters or longer. I've missed making words such as" men, omen, ton, ego, earn, out, front, brake, and many others. I used to be an English teacher, and when I was in the 7th grade I tested as someone with a second year-college vocabulary.

I just worked up the courage to look it up (reputable sources such as NIMH and Stanford University- NOT Wikipedia!!) and anxiety/depression, bipolar, and PTSD can be associated with changes in brain function. It can actually change the way the brain works/doesn't work by changing its physical structures.

The good news is neuroplasticity, which means that the brain can be rewired and function can be restored in certain situations and conditions. But the sources don't say how, they just convey the protocol of their studies and the results.

I'm not sure whether to address this with my PCP or psychiatrist. I'm only 53 and hoping this is not early onset Alzheimer's.

Does anyone have experience and/or knowledge about mental illness and brain function? Especially about how to develop/sharpen brain function? I can't see getting back to any kind of work until I get better from this.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Totally overwhelmed
« on: May 03, 2017, 07:50:33 PM »
I was active in this community but haven't been lately. I've been overwhelmed sharing deep-seated issues and memories with my T, alternated between manic and depressed, and experienced numerous bouts of verbal (and, sometimes to objects) explosive anger. I can't even my PTSD in my sleep as the dreams persist in shaking my psyche.

My T and I have discussed the pros and cons of inpatient, and my psychiatrist recommended day-hospital, but those options do not fit with my situation (plus I've already done day-hospital three times in the past 14 months).

To pile it on, I just received a letter from the IRS saying my 2015 taxes were incorrect and I owe close to $2,000 (due May 10). My tax preparer is looking into it, but I am so totally overwhelmed. The urge to drink has come on strong (I haven't had a drink since July of 1985) as well as the urge to jump into a deep body of water (I can't swim).

I will do neither. If I haven't done it by now I never will. I have a previously scheduled appointment with my T tomorrow morning, and I can hang on by my fingertips.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / "Crushed"
« on: March 02, 2017, 07:00:11 PM »
I've been away from the community for a while and I missed it. My T encouraged me this morning to comer back, and here I am. I just feel so overwhelmed by so many issues. I've posred before that I often think/feel in song lyrics, so here's where I am today:

"You don't dance with your broken bones
You don't sing when you're all alone
You don't fly when the air's so thin
And all this weight is closing in

Hey, this is the taste of freedom, yeah
This is how it feels when fate picks you to get
Crushed beneath the wheels
Crushed beneath the wheels
Crushed beneath the wheels

All the things that you've learned this far
Could not have prepared you for where you are
So take your compass and face the east
To the ruins of the temple and the wrath of the beast

Hey, I said, the evening is falling
Like a hundred tons of steel

Now and the we get
Crushed beneath the wheels
Crushed beneath the wheels
Crushed beneath the wheels

If I could do it, I would gladly bear your pain
But I know anything I do would be in vain
You must believe me when I say this all will pass
But for the moment your poor heart must feel like glass and

I say, hey, this is the taste of freedom, yeah
This is how it feels when fate picks you to get
Crushed beneath the wheels
Crushed beneath the wheels
Crushed beneath the wheels"     Peter Himmelman

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / What can I say?
« on: February 23, 2017, 11:26:13 PM »
Had the worst (longest and most intense) raging incident of my life last Friday. It feels like something broke or shorted out in my brain. My T noticed the difference in my affect during our session this morning- eyes closed when speaking, slow, dream-like speech. I always feel bad after blowing up and embarrassed and ashamed when speaking about the,, but not this time. Not feeling anything. Don't feel like doing anything.

Had to deal with a rude and combative Social Security Administration worker on the phone this afternoon. This seemed to snap me back to real a bit. Then I finished my online application for disability- I was supposed to "save and exit" so my attorney could review the information before I submit it- but I inadvertently hit submit instead.

To quote Charlie Brown- "UGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Everything I touch...."

A voice inside me pleads, "Can I PLEASE be excused from the rest of my life?" The answer is no. I have responsibilities and my wife needs the disability retirement benefits, which will cease when I die. And the attorney says I should get approved for Social Security disability as well- a logical conclusion since I'm a hair's breadth away from being inpatient at any given time.

So, I'm trapped in this life running out the clock.

Just having a difficult day- as Samuel Beckett wrote, "I can't go on- I'll go on." And the pain, self-loathing, and frustration are morphing into a sense of unreality and numbness once more...

Had T session this morning- pretty intense.

Trying to complete apply for disability with SS online- keep getting error message. Anger begins boiling, I let off some steam with a grrr and tossing pen on my desk. Wife tells me to stop it. So I close off the pressure cooker-like I've done for over 50 years.

Called SS- wait time 45 minutes. Left call back number.

Holding the anger in- brain cells boiling over and about to pop- but I won't let them.


General Discussion / Vicarious feelins through music
« on: January 26, 2017, 05:09:08 PM »
Much of the time I cannot verbalize my feelings. However, I have a large "library" of music and a song for practically any "occasion." It seem like I'm most in touch with my feelings when listening to music. Sometimes I wish when someone asks me how I'm feeling I could just say a song title or lyric- "It's not dark yet but it's getting there." "I wish I was the Warrior King." "I was in the house when the house burned down." "He's just an excitable boy." This would be an exercise in futility unless someone knew the same (sometimes obscure) songs I do.

I'm struggling to write a semi-autobiographical novel (titled, of course, Songs for All Occasions. In one scene the main character goes through an entire therapy session speaking only in song lyrics.

I guess vicarious expression of feelings isn't the best way to feel/communicate, but it is feeling and communicating nonetheless.

As for today, right now, coming through my headphones: "Mother did it (The Wall) need to be so high?" Pink Floyd The Wall album.

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Please help and support me...
« on: January 25, 2017, 10:27:04 PM »
I appreciate the love and support I find from this community. I have literally never in my life said or written to anybody, "Please help and support me," but I am now. My last therapy session wound up triggering something that triggered something else and so on until it felt like falling down a rabbit hole. I've journaled about it for two days, shaking and trembling, alternating between going numb and feeling excruciating pain.

I want to discuss these things with my therapist next week- I'm looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. I am afraid that when the time comes I won't be able to. I know that this community will support and strengthen me without my asking, but for some reason it feels vital for me to be vulnerable enough to express my need explicitly.

As always I will be checking in throughout each day, reading and responding to other posts and adding to this one.

I want you all to know how much strength and support you've already given me!!!!!!!

Having an Exceptionally Difficult Day / Shut it Tight
« on: January 17, 2017, 10:08:56 PM »
I'm wrestling with so many memories and demons it seems insurmountable. There's a song by T-Bone Burnette in which he sings of his paradoxes and confusions and vows, "But I'm not gonna quit until I'm laid in my tomb- and even then they better shut it tight!"

I'm adopting that as my new motto!

***Possible triggers***

Quotes from Robin Williams as the character Sy in the movie One Hour Photo:

1.   “When people's houses are on fire, what's the first thing they save after their pets and loved ones are safe? The family photos.

2.   "Family photos depict smiling faces... births, weddings, holidays, children's birthday parties. People take pictures of the happy moments in their lives. Someone looking through our photo album would conclude that we had led a joyous, leisurely existence free of tragedy. NO ONE EVER TAKES A PHOTOGRAPH OF SOMETHING THEY WANT TO FORGET."

3."New parents go photo crazy."

4."And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this: I was here. I existed.... and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture.”

There are NO PICTURES of me before the world had to cart me into an operating room (at around three to four months of age) to begin the excruciating but futile process of trying to fix my cleft lip and palate to make my appearance socially acceptable. But at least they successfully repaired a baby so broken and deformed that he could not properly take in enough nourishment.

The fact that there are NO BABY PICTURES of me makes me VERY sad and angry, and talking in therapy and journaling about this has not taken the torment out of this truth. I get misty-eyed as I want to see that boy as he came into the world, to know that he was acceptable and valued enough as he was to be photographed. I want to look upon him with love and acceptance- and then maybe able to do the same for my adult self now.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think if I could see myself as that baby I could learn to accept all the traumatic surgeries (including one with the anesthetic not working properly) I endured up to the age of 16, the embarrassment of being pulled out of class for speech therapy, the severe bullying I endured as a student and then as a teacher, painful orthodontal interventions, a lifetime of sinus trouble and hearing difficulties, and the stories from my mom about how nurses in those days didn't dare leave a mother alone in a room with a newborn cleft lip/palate baby for fear that she'd harm him.

She told me was I was young that doctors think maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of having a baby with a cleft lip and palate, but she denied that as the cause.

 She told me to "forget what the kids at school say" and that "In India being born with a cleft lip and palate is a sign you are special and destined for great things. I knew it was a false claim at the time. Now, via the wonders of the Internet, I learned that almost all parents in this cohort of India blamed the
birth of a CLP child on a curse or an act of evil spirits and similarly, retribution for past sins.

And the effects of being born with a cleft lip/palate is but one of the causes of my PTSD.

Today I had my most severe and longest episode of verbal raging and violence against objects (almost punched a hole in a wall). Scared my wife and me very much.

Talking, crying, raging- nothing resolves my feelings on this issue, and today has been a most difficult day indeed.

General Discussion / Do these treatments for PTSD really work?
« on: December 29, 2016, 11:04:18 PM »
I saw a neuro-psychologist today and he presented options for dealing with/overcoming anxiety resulting from my PTSD.
One was “emotional freedom therapy,” (EFT), which consists of tapping the body on certain meridian points-like acupuncture/pressure. There are several books on this and he said a therapist in his practice teaches it.  A Psychology Today article claimed it is one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. There are books and videos that purport to teach this technique as well.
Another was Low-level laser/light therapy (LLLT). Several websites claim it is very effective in dealing with anxiety and depression.
Has anyone had experience with either of these, or with regular acupuncture? How effective/ineffective was it?

I met with my therapist today and we spoke at length about my inner critic. As a child I've absorbed messages from my parents and school bullies that I have internalized. These days I often respond to others as though they are repeating these negative messages. Sometimes they really are, but other times I'm viewing what they say through the prism of my inner critic- the one who says I am  ugly, mentally and socially defective, and who tells me the world is never a safe place and I can never let my guard down.

I'm reading about the inner critic in Pete Walker's book. My therapist says getting through to the inner critic can take a long time. How many of you have managed to alter/negate the inner critic? How long did it take-or is it ever really silenced?

General Discussion / Medical trauma
« on: December 24, 2016, 09:41:20 PM »
*****Possible triggers???*****

I didn't see this listed under causes of CPTSD on this forum, unless it comes under "general," but I see nobody has posted there since September.

Part of my CPTSD stems from being born with a cleft lip/palate and having numerous surgeries from near birth to my mid-teens. Anticipatory fear and the physical pain aftermath made for chronic traumatic experience. Especially the time the anesthesia didn't work right. I could not move or speak or feel pain, but I felt pressure on my face, the sounds of the instruments, and the things the surgeon and nurses were saying.

Having cleft-lip/palate also led to severe bullying in school, as children mocked my physical appearance and my speech impediment, as well as teasing me for having to leave class for speech therapy through sixth grade. It was so pervasive and yet when I complained my teachers said I was being overly-sensitive and "letting normal teasing get out of hand."

So I learned to stuff my anger and internalized the kids' criticism. After years of bullying I wanted to tell them, "You can stop now! I can beat myself up, thank you very much!"

To this day I earnestly, viscerally, believe that I am ugly and broken and "not a part of the human race." I'd like to be, and I can intellectually tell myself the kids were wrong and I don't have to feel this way anymore, but my self-image is unshakably negative-impervious to any and all rational efforts to budge it. Quite a few things have happened in my adult life that have actually served to confirm my negative self-image. But I know some of this comes from being self-conscious and emotional flashbacks.

One time when I picked up my wife (now ex-wife) from the dating service where she worked, I was asked to move from the lobby to a back room because they didn't want women coming into the lobby and thinking they might get matched to someone who looked like me (this was overtly stated-not a misinterpretation by me). Last Tuesday my car was in the shop. After two hours of waiting the service manager insisted I take a loaner car and come back when the car was done. He said, "because you have been inconvenienced enough." What I heard was, "We don't want someone who looks like you sitting in our waiting area all day." Of course what I "heard" was nonsense, but such is life in emotional flashback land.

Meditation, reading about self-esteem, therapy, medication, affirmations, etc... all roll off my self-image like water on a duck's back.

Have any of you made the journey from self-loathing to self-acceptance? If so, how did you do it?

General Discussion / "The Warrior King"
« on: December 22, 2016, 06:37:12 PM »
Lou Reed had a song by this title which speaks to my feelings today. The lyrics speak of "power omnipresent/undiminished uncontrolled/with a massive violent fury/at the center of my soul." I feel this rage but will not act on it, so it brews and festers inside.

What options are there between physical raging and just letting it fester inside? I sound like a madman when I verbally rage. I'm sure if I was in my right mind I could think of something- but I'm not.

Yes, my inner critic tells me that as a result of being born with a cleft lip and palate that I am ugly. Outer critics have confirmed this. Constant bully when I was a child confirmed this. Kids pushing their noses in, calling me "Pugnose," and mocking my speech impediment told me I was not like other kids, and was not "one of them." As a teacher, I had numerous students bully me in the same way. One sincerely asked if I had been a boxer. Another asked me, "Why do you talk so funny?"

When I was married to a woman who worked at a dating service I was in the lobby waiting for her to finish her shift. She came out and asked me to one of the back rooms because "the manager doesn't want women coming in and thinking you are someone they might be matched with."

Others tell me I look "normal" or okay and say I'm overly sensitive to my appearance. I'd like to believe them, but I can't.

I think I'll skip ahead in the book to the inner critic chapter, but I'm afraid my inner critic is not only stubborn- it's correct.

Throughout my life I have been engaged in the all-or-nothing thinking Walker's book. People fit in two categories for me- those who reject me because I'm ugly and socially inept, and those who feel sorry for me. My therapist says to perceive compassion, but I viscerally feel pitied.

You know the saying, "It's better to be feared than loved?" My inner critic has an unshakable motto of its own- "Its better to be despised than pitied." I get angry when people make fun of me and/or reject me, but I really can't stand it when people feel sorry for me. I don't want to be this way, feel this way, but talk therapy and journaling and positive affirmations have been futile. The best affirmation I could come up with in an affirmation-writing session at a Day Hospital program in a mental hospital was, "Maybe I'm not quite as bad as I think I am."

How have some of you dealt with an inner critic that seems impervious to change?

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