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PTSD

I was diagnosed with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in 1997. This may sound strange, but, I am just beginning to really understand how much it affects me and my life every day. Well, sort of, not really. It is all just so difficult to explain to myself and near impossible to convey to others what I handle on a daily basis. In the past few years, I have gained an even broader sight into my own self, particularly, my anxiety. I am noticing that for the most part, I am experiencing anxiety symptoms all day, every day. I live in a near constant state of anxiety. What is even stranger to me, most people I meet would never know.

I came across this article on Facebook about PTSD. I had difficulty finishing the article because the symptoms were spot on. I will have to read it in short sessions. One paragraph at a time, slowly absorbing the accuracy, until I can finish. Why? Because I read it and I am overwhelmed with the realization that this, too, is me.

Suddenly, I experience anxiety. I practice breathing. I pace a little. I gain control and push forward with my efforts to stifle the spinning out of control feelings in my mind. I’ve been managing the whirlwind for most of my life. I am used to it. So familiar with it that I am just now beginning to see that not everyone lives like me. Any way, I stumbled onto this article and it struck home so I am sharing it. Maybe you will understand more. Maybe I will understand more.

Five Invisible Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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Out of Gems

Occasionally, I play those cheeky games on Facebook. I limit myself to one at a time because they tend to be time-consuming and you always reach a point in the game where it is nearly impossible to be successful without purchasing on all those special, sparkly gems that you need for all those extra game goodies. All those lovely unicorn trees and dancing water flower sprites inevitably end up being a requirement to complete a mission or adventure. These games are designed so that eventually you will need a sparkling pink marshmallow boat load of gems in order to be successful. In a cruel twist of fate, the world you were building suddenly comes to a screeching halt unless you dig into your wallet and surrender those debit card digits. There is always that small amount of money that you easily rationalize spending. “Pft! It is only a $1.99”, however, once you give into “it is only” then everything becomes a slippery slope and soon, you need more gems so you spend more money on precious glittery little gems to fill your cartoon kingdom with yummy flying magic dragon tarts.

Meanwhile, here in the real world, I live on a tight budget that does not allow for too many gem purchases. My household tends to allocated our money for more tangible items such as food or a place to live. I know that there our other households where twenty dollars a month isn’t a deal breaker but at my house, there are weeks where twenty dollars is the difference between eating or not. That is just my less than sparkly reality. I do, however, still enjoy playing a game every now and then.

More often than not, I have to stop playing in all those magic kingdoms because I arrive at that tipping point where I can not continue dwelling in my fantasy world without purchasing gems. I lose out on missions or special buildings due to lack of gems. The worse ones are the special missions for extra wonderful prizes in which I start the mission but find that I am unable to successfully complete it because I lack a sparkly boat load of gems. Eventually, I quit playing.

A few weeks ago I quit another one of these games. I spent weeks building a shiny, thriving city. I attempted special mission after mission, only to fail, repeatedly. My wonderful, carefully planned city became a futile exercise in wasted time. I invested hours planning, decorating, harvesting and selling all kinds of weird items only to run out of time. Every mission designed to only be successful if you purchase gems and use them to grow 300 boots on a tree in less than 24 hours. Sigh. Discouraged, I quit showing up every day.

A week after I abandoned my city. I was grocery shopping when it occurred to me that all these failed missions are ireily similar to how I feel some times. I feel like, years ago, I started out to build a life. I had huge sparkly, magical dreams. In hindsight, all those unicorn, marshmallow, glitter filled, sugar plum visions were fruitless missions that I was unable to complete due to lack of gems. All those elusive gems necessary to a construct a successful life, whatever they were, I was missing them.

Instead, I attempted to succeed despite where you are or what you have. I am not sure that has gone well. My kingdom looks more like a nuclear bomb went off rather than a joyful world of success. The moving to Prescott endeavor is a perfect example. I’ve wanted to move to Prescott for close to a decade, no lie. Finally decide to go for it only to discover that affordable housing for a family with pets is near impossible to find, let alone secure. I need a gem to finish this quest. I have no money to click and make one appear.

I am at the point where I have to ask, do I abandon this effort or do we pursue further?
Where are all the gems?

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine

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Connections

October 3, 2017 – Day 3

I am moving in slow motion this morning. I woke up with one of the worse migraines ever. Nausea, eyeballs hurt, dizzy, blurry vision and my head felt like someone was pounding on it with a sledge-hammer.  Iced my head for an hour, took some medicine and drank some coffee which is my magic combo for chasing away migraines. Currently, it is down to a soft roar of a headache. I am doing my best to function as much as possible.

I am also moving slow because of something I did yesterday morning. Typically, I keep my blog and Twitter separate from my Facebook page. Sounds silly, I know, but I do it. I do not let A know what B is doing or more precisely, what B is saying. There it is. I may honestly share my thoughts with a few but there a few folks that I just do not tell things too.

I have a problem speaking up. Sounds absurd because if we are close or I really click with someone, I never shut up. I could talk for hours. However, if the situation or person causes me anxiety, I clam up. Sharing my blog with my Facebook has my hands shaking and heart pounding. Tremendous anxiety at the thought of connecting the two worlds.

What am I afraid of? Rejection? Abandonment? Judgement? Maybe all of these or none of these.

When I five years old, I entered kindergarten like most kids. After two weeks, my mother receives a phone call from Mrs. Flood, my teacher. Mrs. Flood inquires if I am deaf and can I speak. My mother laughs and tells her, at home, I never stop talking. My mother thought that perhaps all the recent changes in our life had something to do with it. In the world of anxiety, it is known as selective  mutism.

Selectivemutismcenter.org describes the conditions as follows:
“Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.”

Me in a nutshell. I’ve battled this all my life. My most recent scrimmage was the job I just walked away from in a flurry of tears. It was a customer service job processing insurance claims on the phone. The closer it came to me getting on the phones, the greater my anxiety, the more tears and panic attacks until I simply could not move. Paralyzed by fear, unable to articulate my situation and fears so I had to walk away, crying.

Connecting Facebook, Twitter and my blog is something I have never been able to do because I either can not speak or the fear of people hearing what I think or feel or say is just too great. Seems so stupid doesn’t it?

In so many ways, I am still that mute five-year old girl and no body even knows it. I make excuses for a get-together or clubs or jobs or lunch dates. I never know when it is going to strike. I’ve spent the majority of my alone because of anxiety. Sometimes, it is so great that even simple things like paying the rent or getting a tire fixed is just too much for me. I must have help but help in a way that nobody knows they are helping.

It sucks. Anxiety so severe you can not buy a tire sucks. In one way, I do not want people to know. I just want to be normal. In another way, I wish I could explain it everyone so that they would not think that I was just lazy or using them or whatever ill thought they think of me when I don’t behave like they think I should. My own family doesn’t know severe it is. That’s terrible.

And so, now I realize how disconnected I am and have always been.
Connection. Yeah.

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine