We All Just Want To Be Healed

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We all just want to be healed. Regardless of what type of traumas we survived as children or adults, or which illnesses we have been diagnosed with, the end goal is the same. We want the pain and the burden of guilt and shame that we have carried for a lifetime to be eased. We yearn to somehow lessen the effects of our traumas that we drag along like a ball and chain, be it with medications, therapy or a combination of both. We’re looking for our piece of happiness and a sense of peace, but it seems that at some point in time, we all hit our “breaking” point and perhaps that is what starts us on our journey down the seemingly elusive path of healing.

The road to healing is unpaved, unstable and full of unseen hills and curves, yet we trod along, often taking one step forward and falling three steps back. We may see some progress and then suddenly become overwhelmed with emotions which send us spiraling down into the darkness of depression, yet somehow with the lure of being healed, we eventually manage to claw our way back up to continue our fight. This cycle of ups and downs may slow down our progress but as long as we advance in a forward motion, we will get there eventually…or at least that is what my therapist tells me.

As much as healing is the ultimate goal, I struggle with two major issues down my path, the first being, what exactly is healed? The concept is not only completely foreign to my mind but also seems completely unattainable. I can imagine it would be like the weight of the world being lifted off your shoulders, or like being able to have days where your mind does not perpetually attack you and send you into a state of emotional frenzy for minutes, hours or even days. I picture fewer tears, less ups and downs and less fear. I imagine rising in the morning and not having those instant few moments of wishing I hadn’t awoken. I picture a more emotionally stable life with healthier relationships and positive choices. Is that being healed or a fantasy I have created of what I wish things could be like?

What is often forgotten on the path of healing is that in order to get there, I have to give up my two best friends, in my case, depression and anxiety, both of which have lasted longer than any one person or thing in my life. Even though I despise the depths of the darkness I am pulled into, there is a sense of comfort there simply because of familiarity.  I have been wading in those waters for so long I no longer know the feeling of walking on dry land. I would have to walk away from the safety of my passive suicidal thoughts, the one thing I can control. I may not be my illnesses per say, but they have certainly been with me long enough to become a small part of my identity, regardless of the obvious negative aspect, and I am supposed to just lose pieces of me and trade them in for the unknown?

The same applies to my negative coping mechanisms. I have been in weekly trauma based therapy for over a year and have been taught many new, positive ways to handle different situations. I have learned different techniques to recognize where my emotions are coming from, that perhaps they are a trauma response from the past. I have been shown how to try to regulate the impulsivity associated with BPD. I have listened, learned, read books and done worksheets and yes, have even taken a few steps forward. However, learning and putting into practice are two different things. When I am of rational mind I am calm enough to remember these methods and perhaps even put them to practice, but when I am emotively driven, the new habits are kicked out the door by the old ones which have become instinctual. They may not be the healthiest ways to cope but for me, they are tried, tested and proven. They have helped to get me through the hardest of times from the earliest of ages. They have kept me safe and alive until this very day, and again I am expected to surrender them and replace them with methods that in my mind are yet untested and unproven.

The path to healing involves a whole lot of uncertainty and blind trust. It means being willing to lose those parts of you that have provided safety and comfort for all those years. It requires an open mind, an open heart and the aspiration to learn. Don’t get frustrated with not making instant or even quick progress, as it takes hours and hours of practice to replace a negative coping mechanism with a healthy one, which will take patience and dedication. All of these twists and turns on my path of healing have tested every emotion and reaction possible, they have pushed me back as I am struggling to step forward, yet I continue on. I am not yet at the point of replacing all of the old with new and have found that as long as I have the comfort and availability of the old tucked in the back of my head, then the new seems a little less frightening. It’s like wading into the deep waters but knowing there is a lifeboat within reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dread of Losing My Sanctuary

 

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I have lived in the same place for 13 years now. It is a small, cozy apartment in a historic house in a quiet, old area tucked in the suburbs. Over the years I have made it as much my own space as possible. It is well suited to my needs and most importantly my budget. When I first moved in, it took quite a few months for me to feel just physically safe. The blackness of the backyard, the creaks of the floors above and the surrounding sounds kept me alert at night for months on end, and despite me being surrounded by my possessions, it was well over a year before I started to feel the emotional safety I desperately need. Having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and major depression, I tend to isolate myself from people and places as much as possible. When I am alone and safe, I can be me without worrying about others reactions or feeling insecure I can cry, scream, shout, be in the silence or do whatever it is that comforts me at the time and I don’t have to deal with the anxiety from the stigma surrounding mental health.

My house is being torn down for property development.

Very often, survivors of childhood trauma have difficulty finding a sense of both physical and emotional safety. For me, it comes out as an intense feeling of uneasiness in public places and increased anxiety in social situations. My mind and body have become hyper-sensitive over the years which leads to me feeling like I am always looking over my shoulder, keeping my senses and emotions on high alert.  Most survivors have created their own place of safety, whether it’s at your therapist’s office or your home, a room in your home, it is a sanctuary; the one place you can just be you without fear of stigma or judgment. It is a space that provides you comfort, ease and a sense of peace.

Nobody enjoys moving. It is a big change and causes anxiety and stress for many people but when you have the addition of a mental illness to the situation those feelings increase tenfold. There’s the organizing, the checklists and the packing. There is the packing and unpacking of the truck and organized chaos while boxes are being carried to their according spaces. There is the hassle of having to dig through stacks of boxes to find the simplest of necessities and the frustration of not being able to do so. You desperately want to unpack everything, find its place and put it away as soon as possible in order to gain some control over the chaos that has become. Chances are you did not pack your home in a day so it is somewhat unreasonable to expect to unpack within the same time frame. Sure, you can relax somewhat now that the biggest part is done, but that does not necessarily put you at ease. For me, there is the stress of getting to know a new area, with new neighbors and new landmarks. There are the new creaks and noises to adjust to while I lay in bed at night. There is the gradual acclimation to the new places and spaces that I have filled with my décor to turn the new into the comfortable.

The specifics of when I will have to move are one big unknown. I have a rough idea in my head, but the fact that it is not concrete, leaves it out of my control, and has me at great unease. I have about four months to save for first and last month’s rent plus moving expenses, and that is even if I can qualify given I am on Long term disability right now. I have made countless lists of what needs to be done, down to the smallest detail and am as prepared as I can be this far ahead of time, and yet my anxiety spikes and my depression spirals down every time I think of it. Quite simply put, for me, it is far too much change. It requires time to adapt to a new environment but being able to make it a safe place, a sanctuary could take months, and that leaves me emotionally vulnerable, scared, depressed and anxious. I understand that I will have with me the things that make my home comfortable, but for a survivor, feeling comfortable is far from feeling safe. It means I have to deal with the loss of my safe space and a period of limbo until I can create a new one.

So in the meantime, I can do little other than wait. Wait and hope. Hope that the fear and anticipation won’t push me deeper into the darkness. Hope that my anxiety does not continue to snowball into a million negative scenarios and enhance the issues from my BPD. Hope that things will work out the way they are meant to be. Those thoughts however do not seem to be easing my fears.  Change is inevitable.

 

 

Just A Quick Note

I wanted to sincerely thank everyone who takes the time weekly to read my blog. It really does mean a lot to me and is very humbling. I try to post weekly but wanted to  inform you that for the first Monday of each month I have been asked by a good friend and fellow survivor to be a guest blogger on his site, so if you are still interested in reading you can find the posts at mindbodythoughts.blogspot.ca. My regular posts will be on here except for the beginning of the month.

Be well and stay strong.