Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal

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Armadillo

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2021, 11:56:08 PM »
When you realize how different you are from other people...how do you balance trying to fix it, accept it, or grieving it? Is there an order?

My memories are so impoverished. There's only spatial orientation. And sometimes some facts about what happened or what was said. Sometimes intrusive sensations and visual, sound, or smell hallucinations or flashbacks. I don't even know which they are.

Once a few months ago my mom was in the hospital and I was at her home sifting through old photos. I found several of me as a teenager in the home we lived in for about 4 years when I was 14-18yrs old. I did not know where the pictures were taken. I did not recognize my home. I recognized where I was in other photos even as a young kid in relatives house I rarely visited.

Sometimes my brain gets so confused I can't find my way to a freeway entrance I've used for 22 years.

Sometimes I can't make my hands form easy shapes without thinking very very hard and physically manipulating my fingers into the shape (like for kundalini yoga)

I have no visual memory. I don't know what my bedroom looked like as a teenager though I can feel the shape. I can't imagine a calm scene or my kids faces.

When I look at the world I don't log visual information other than physically sensing where things are. I see exactly what is there but nothing more.... there's no integration. My son talks about how he looks at the world and sees patterns. I can run errands in the same town for 4 years, every week, and still not understand how the four main streets and shops fit together and get so turned around. Friends arrange paragraphs of text in their heads or rotate objects in their minds or imagine a painting or hear music.

I remember being in high school geometry. I had spent hours trying to make sense of a problem but just couldn't. I gave up, thinking there was something wrong with the book. When we went over the problem in class, no one else had any problem with it. Cause it turns out when they looked at the problem they saw a shape and they could then calculate the angles. I just saw a mess of lines.

I also feel so guilty because I have a reputation for being really smart at work and in personal relationships, but inside I struggle so hard and I don't understand how to reconcile how I experience the world with how people experience me. And then I just feel so much like an imposter. One day they will figure out what I've been trying to say. My brain doesn't work right. I'm not smart. I have a certain set of skills but even those are very unreliable. When I space out, freeze, disappear, don't make sense people interpret it as proof that I am smart and so busy and work so hard so late. I'm only so busy because I can hardly function most days. It takes me 5 hours to do something that should take 20 minutes. 

I want to understand it. I want to figure out exactly which cells are going awry, which parts of my brain aren't exchanging information so I can figure out how i can fix it.

Then I feel guilty because I should just be accepting it, just like if I were blind. Or had lost a limb. It's just the way things are. But maybe I can fix it.

I bet the tapping thing that Eidolon posted about would help me grieve instead of trying to figure everything out...but I somehow don't have the motivation to learn how to do it, I'd rather read neuroscience textbooks for an answer on how to fix it.  :whistling:

« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 02:00:41 PM by Armadillo »

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sanmagic7

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2021, 03:47:21 AM »
hey, armadillo, 

congrats on your mother's day decisions.  well done!   :thumbup:

unfortunately, i don't know if we can fix all of it, but that doesn't mean we don't keep trying until we come to some breakthrough about it.  i have no doubt that as you keep moving forward, you'll figure it out.  love and hugs :hug:

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Jazzy

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2021, 12:03:15 AM »
Wow Armadillo, this is some heavy stuff here! Primarily, I hear you that this is difficult, and you are struggling with it. I really relate to what you write about here, especially regarding shapes, images, memory and high school geometry. *shudders*

You said "I'm not smart", but I think you are! You also said you have a reputation for being smart, so maybe you are, but your trauma is just interfering with that. I expect that is true for all of us, to some degree.

Because you asked some questions, I'll share my thoughts on them. Of course, they are just my thoughts, and you are free to disagree or disregard them. I apologize in advance if your questions were meant to be hypothetical (I'm a very literal person!).

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When you realize how different you are from other people...how do you balance trying to fix it, accept it, or grieving it? Is there an order?
How do you balance it? Well, I believe that balance is the key to most things in life... so that's "the million dollar question", so to speak. I can't really answer it, unfortunately. I expect everyone has to find their own balance as well, so even if I had the perfect answer for me, it may not work for anyone else.

Is there an order? Well, there is an order that works well for me, but again, different people process things in different ways. I think you said you worked in research? So, maybe this can be a little research project, for you to find the order that works best for you... although, if you don't like your job, that may be a bad approach for you to try.  I'm going to use the term "it" in the following paragraph to refer to "how different you are from other people", but the same approach can be used for anything.

For me, it is best for me to accept things are how they are. This doesn't mean giving up, or not changing them in the future, though. It just means recognizing and understanding the current state of reality. After I accept how things are, then I look in to what effect it has. Then I grieve or otherwise emotionally process it and the effects of it (some big things I need to process, then look at effects, then process effects). If it is a thing that can be changed (even if doesn't seem like it. E.g. "I can never change because I can't imagine it" is different than "My friend can never change because they're no longer in this world.") and it, or the effects of it, are not acceptable to (healthy for) me, then I try to change it in time.

I hope that may be somewhat helpful for you, but if not, that's okay too. Either way, I'm sorry to hear that things are so difficult. What you said about the freeway entrance sounds like it is having a big impact on you. It's good that you are acknowledging that, and looking to improve it! Good job. :)

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I bet the tapping thing that Eidolon posted about would help me grieve instead of trying to figure everything out...but I somehow don't have the motivation to learn how to do it, I'd rather read neuroscience textbooks for an answer on how to fix it.

I totally get this! Based on my own experiences, I have a solid idea on why this is, too. I don't want to share it until it is better developed though. I'm also not sure your journal is the best place, even if it may connect well with you as a logical oriented person. I will post it somewhere at some point (hopefully in the near future) though, and provide you a link, if you would like.

For now, if you are open to  a suggestion, I would say to listen to your mind. If you want to try tapping (sounds like you do a bit), then try tapping. If you want to read a neuroscience textbook, then do that! Ultimately, I think it best to do both, if possible, although one may work out better than the other for you right now.

I realize this is (yet another) long message with advice in it, which I'm trying to do less of... but I hope it is helpful for you. If not, please let me know.

Above all, I hope you're feeling better soon. I think you're doing a great job! Keep up the good work! :)

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Armadillo

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2021, 12:14:06 AM »
Thank you for your long reply and your advice. I DID ask for it and am literal, too. So thank you! And you made me smile, too. I'll love to hear your thoughts on the part about not having motivation to learn tapping when you are ready to share it. :) Thank you!

I do struggle a lot with the "I'm stupid" thought so much that this is the single most upsetting thing that comes up in therapy and I will deal with things that on the surface are so so much more difficult, apparently to avoid this one. Not intentionally it's just I end up so dissociated we can't get to it. Weird. Its actually the topic that made my therapist realize a year into the relationship that we are dealing with trauma. Thank goodness because backing off of CBT and working on other therapy approaches has been the best thing for me.

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sanmagic7

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2021, 06:03:42 PM »
i hear you about using different approaches in therapy for trauma - lots of people have found, me included, that cbt just doesn't get to the heart of the problem.  just like the 12-step programs are meant for addictions, they don't address the trauma behind the addiction.  i'm so glad your t realized you have trauma issues and changed the course of your therapy. 

that 'stupid' thing is so ugly.  i mean, it's obvious to me you're not stupid - you write coherently, understand what others write, ask pertinent questions and give from your heart in just the right way to the rest of us.  i understand, tho, how some of those core messages can get stuck within our minds because they've been placed there by others when we were too young to know otherwise.  recognizing it, tho, seems to me to be a huge step in being able to go after it and get it settled for yourself.  for that i give you all kinds of credit.

sending love and a hug full of perseverance and acceptance. :hug:

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Jazzy

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2021, 01:22:51 AM »
I completely agree with everything snamagic has said! I couldn't have said it better myself. In my experience, healing from trauma requires a different approach than traditional therapy, and I believe that it is crucial for us to get that "different approach" for us to be able to truly heal. I don't mean to say anything negative about more traditional therapy at all. It is an excellent tool, and very helpful for many things, it's just that trauma is a bit different than non-trauma.

It's so great that you've begun to recognize the importance of this "I'm stupid" thought. I believe that is a solid foundation for further work. (I'm assuming you don't want to keep thinking you're stupid. :)) Great job on that!  :cheer:

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Jazzy

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2021, 02:04:10 AM »
Armadillo, I see you mentioned your progress in therapy in the 1,2,3 thread, and wrote about it here in your journal as well, so I want to make sure it is adequately covered. I'm concerned my brief reply before is not what you were hoping for.

It's already bed time for me, so I can't write out much, but it's important to "take a minute". I think you've done a really good job in identifying the big ticket items for yourself. I also think it's good to give yourself time to breathe / a break before they become overwhelming. It makes sense that you would deal with things that seem more difficult to others, to avoid the things that are more impactful to you. I think you're doing such a great job overall, and you're making notable progress!

I don't see anything about the worksheets here, but I wish you all the best with them, and I hope they help.

Hopefully I didn't miss anything important, sorry if I did! :)

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Armadillo

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2021, 07:12:02 AM »
Thank you Sanmagic and Jazzy. Your kind words mean so much and I very much appreciate your reminders to go a bit slow to not overwhelm.

I actually do want to keep thinking I'm stupid. But I also want to be healthy and know that's not a healthy thought. But more than that I want other people to think I'm stupid because then when they see how I am they won't think I lied.

You know it's just looking back I was just traumatized and dissociated and terrified through school and I just couldn't concentrate or even stay awake. I remember sleeping intentionally through class because it was too stressful to stay awake and worry everytime the classroom door opened or an announcement came over the loud speaker that it was going to be bad news for me. I truly was terrified of that. But my teachers didn't see this. I wasn't acting out.

And then I couldn't sleep at night because i was listening for my mom to not be ok. So how could i really function?

And then all this dissociation that has carried forward that causes my brain to not work right, even now that the danger is past. So I know I am smart in a way to succeed despite all this difficulty but then I also know my brain doesn't work right and other people don't see that. They don't know I'm just blank in here most of the time.

Writing is pretty easy I can write while I'm dissociated. But being put on the spot to speak is not ok. And writing takes me a long long time.

Eh I'm dissociating and rambling time to call it quits.

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Eidolon

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2021, 03:55:02 PM »

I actually do want to keep thinking I'm stupid. But I also want to be healthy and know that's not a healthy thought. But more than that I want other people to think I'm stupid because then when they see how I am they won't think I lied.

You know it's just looking back I was just traumatized and dissociated and terrified through school and I just couldn't concentrate or even stay awake. I remember sleeping intentionally through class because it was too stressful to stay awake and worry everytime the classroom door opened or an announcement came over the loud speaker that it was going to be bad news for me. I truly was terrified of that. But my teachers didn't see this. I wasn't acting out.

And then I couldn't sleep at night because i was listening for my mom to not be ok. So how could i really function?

And then all this dissociation that has carried forward that causes my brain to not work right, even now that the danger is past. So I know I am smart in a way to succeed despite all this difficulty but then I also know my brain doesn't work right and other people don't see that. They don't know I'm just blank in here most of the time.

Writing is pretty easy I can write while I'm dissociated. But being put on the spot to speak is not ok. And writing takes me a long long time.

Eh I'm dissociating and rambling time to call it quits.
:hug:
You are smart and talented. Maybe the dissociation is there because you're not quite ready to feel yet- things may not seem safe and that's not stupidity, that's a survival mechanism from childhood. Maybe the real fear is knowing you're smart and not living up to perfectionist expectations? It seems like you're dealing with the inner critic as a way to protect yourself. I could be wrong, though. Blessings.

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Armadillo

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2021, 01:10:49 AM »
Definitely protection you're absolutely right. And also just incongruency between how I experience myself, always being told I was stupid and lazy or made to feel that way, or being told I  wasnt living up to my potential (without those teachers knowing how hard I was working just to stay above water), and then once I got out of that negative environment and all the sudden having my brain work better and people thinking I was smart out of the blue except I didnt know my brain was working better I was just confused why I was doing well in school and work and I just thought I was tricking people somehow and that's why they thought i was smart? I'm only figuring this stuff out over the past few months so what i understand hasn't really trickled deep into my brain.

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sanmagic7

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2021, 04:30:35 AM »
hey, armadillo,

i think you hit on a difficult truth here, that you've only been seeing this issue for a few months and haven't had time to process it yet.  profound, and maybe a core issue to boot - which can always take more time.  please, be patient with yourself, ok? 

when i was very sick in mexico, my hub was doing everything for me, and i found myself enjoying not having to live up to the expectations of doing for others, being 'productive', taking care of everyone, etc.  those were all messages i'd received since i was little, and lived up to them until they broke me.  it was difficult to stop living up to them, even when i really wasn't capable of carrying that weight around.

one day i realized that if i got well, i was afraid people would expect everything from me again, and that was overwhelming until i figured out i could put different boundaries out now - i was nearly 60, so was coming to that quite late in my life.  i also decided having to wait hand and foot on an invalid wife was not what my hub signed up for.  these 2 realizations helped me choose to begin treating those old messages differently, and i began recovery in earnest.

what i'm trying to say is that we all come at those old messages, the damage of their trauma on our minds/brains, and find the energy needed to tackle it all in our own time at our own pace.  it's different for everyone, because no 2 people had the exact same experience, emotions, perspective or spirit.  that you are recognizing such tremendous amounts of neg. crapola which has run your life is a giant step in a healing direction.  i think you're doing really well, but i agree with eidolon that you may be dealing with a survival strategy, a protective measure.  when you're feeling strong and sure enough about your self, it may not be needed anymore.

sending love and a hug filled with time and patience.   :hug:

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Eidolon

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2021, 09:53:38 PM »
Definitely protection you're absolutely right. And also just incongruency between how I experience myself, always being told I was stupid and lazy or made to feel that way, or being told I  wasnt living up to my potential (without those teachers knowing how hard I was working just to stay above water), and then once I got out of that negative environment and all the sudden having my brain work better and people thinking I was smart out of the blue except I didnt know my brain was working better I was just confused why I was doing well in school and work and I just thought I was tricking people somehow and that's why they thought i was smart? I'm only figuring this stuff out over the past few months so what i understand hasn't really trickled deep into my brain.

Be gentle with yourself in your recovery, Armadillo. It may have been their expectations keeping you hyper-vigilant and distrustful of yourself regarding your abilities. Being given conflicting beliefs (on the one hand, being told you're lazy and on the other that you're not living up to your full potential) would be hard for anyone to cope with. Maybe try rewarding yourself when you do things that make you proud or feel better? I still think it's a protective measure, but, just in case.

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Armadillo

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2021, 12:12:49 AM »
I haven't wanted to let myself feel hurt and anger about how my mom's behaviors have harmed me past and present. I've resisted so hard because acknowledging those would make it impossible to continue to take care of her.  But slowly over the past few years it's seeped in anyway and I'm now at that point where I can't continue in a relationship with her. And I am ok with that now. I am ok with the potential consequences. I feel minimal guilt and shame...a little of course. Well I guess I need to clarify for myself, it isn't that I've felt the hurt and anger yet, it's more that I have learned to be mindful and notice my symptoms and what has changed is I am now SEEING the present day impacts her behaviors have on me, including really intense dissociation and an inability to really be present for my own family.

Last week I did a decision making worksheet to see if I should try to slightly increase contact now that my symptoms are a bit better after a few months of very minimal contact. And the score came out +160 versus -120 in favor of not increasing contact at all, even just responding to text messages with more than 2 word replies like "all good."

So I no longer have a need to protect myself from feeling those emotions because the consequence i was trying to protect against already occurred. I know I can't take care of her. I can't be in a relationship because she causes harm to me and my family.

I haven't really started feeling the emotions yet but my brain seems to be loosening a little letting a couple small memories surface of a positive nature...

I got a memory of a sheep dog stuffed animal I used to have. I had a pleasant taste memory (eating apricot jam...same jam I've been eating for months, lol).

And most remarkable...I drive through the town my grandparents used to live in about once every couple months. For the past 20 years I have been trying to remember where they lived and couldn't remember. Yesterday I drove through town and wasn't even thinking about it and it was clear as day to me which freeway exit to take, and the name of their street. I didn't have time to see if I could find the house but I plan on going back soon to try to find it.

I'm really excited by the prospect of having memories return but of course a little anxious too. But I really want my brain to reconnect parts that are hidden from me and mostly I'm just feeling a lot of relief that I think I can get there.

I also meditated this weekend and had a mental image after 5 minutes,  which is exciting. I know meditation is NOT about striving to have certain experiences but screw that. I want to be able to visualize things. I hope meditation can help my brain gain that ability.  I would like to close my eyes and imagine a beautiful scene or see my kids faces.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 12:57:52 AM by Armadillo »

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Jazzy

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2021, 12:28:56 AM »
Wow, there is so much progress here! That's phenomenal. Excellent work Armadillo!  :cheer:

I've had a lot of similar experiences with school and home life, but I'm not sure it would help much to talk about it here and now. It sounds like you're doing good work processing all of that on your own. :)

I agree with the others, this is big stuff: fundamental topics that have had a lifetime of impact on you. Survival mechanisms may not always be the best, but they are important, and they're often better than the alternative. Even when it is safe because "the alternative" is gone, we need time to relearn how to behave in a better way.

I understand your guilt about your mother. It is important for you to look after yourself though, and when you're further along your healing journey, you may find that your score will change, and you may be able to have more contact with your mother while remaining in a healthy place.

I'm very encouraged to read that your mind is working better with other things (identifying the town) with all the work you've put in to improve your mental health. I've noticed that in myself as well, and it's really great. This may be a bit selfish, but it's also nice to see a similar result in another person. This helps confirms a lot of my theories about how the mind works, and how to help improve myself further.

Sounds like you're feeling a lot, which is great... and I also see that you're processing and understanding your feelings as well, which is great too!  :cheer: Keep up the good work, but also keep in mind that like the others said, part of "the good work" is to take things at a healthy pace.

Here's a little story you might find interesting about meditation:

In the specific form of martial arts I used to study (and still very much appreciate, just haven't been in a place to study it for many years), there are no grand masters left alive. The reason there are no grand masters any more is because part of the initiation is to boil a well of water with the power of your mind, through meditation, and no one has been able to do this.

Now, I expect many people won't believe anyone can do that, I'm not even sure I do myself.... but the point is that meditation can certainly be used with intent (to have certain experiences or otherwise), even though it is overwhelmingly used only to relax and calm ourselves in the western world.

Great job holding a mental image! That's a massive accomplishment!  :cheer: :cheer: :cheer:

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Armadillo

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Re: Armadillo's Not So Trigger Filled Journal
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2021, 11:57:15 PM »
Thanks Jazzy! For understanding and relating so well and for sharing the meditation lesson with me  that makes me feel better about striving.

****

I'm starting to get a little back to a positive spot after being triggered monday. It's amazing how a little thing like that can derail you for a couple days or more. All the shame and negative thoughts and self hatred come back...interesting way to protect myself, reminding myself how awful I am.

When I was thinking about telling my husband about being triggered I was really chastising myself and thinking how I couldn't tell him because so what? It's no big deal. But then I kind of heard myself in a small voice think "I wanted to go home and I couldn't get home." And that softened things a little for me. I didn't tell him but it still helped a bit. And even though I don't have a strong feeling of any particular incident there I remembered a handful of times that would have been an issue.

And even though I do feel a lot of shame i also can remember that I need to feel these things (scared, sad, angry) so I can also feel the joy and be present too which is what I most want. So when I get triggered, even if I feel stupid, I need to let the feelings come through so I can have those positive things I want.