I originally wrote this blog post on a blog I will not be renewing the domain name for, so transferring to here. I have had weekly therapy with a trauma psychologist for 2 years now. I published my first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice in 2021.
Today I had a well overdue professional massage. Think it's been over a year since I had one last. If I could afford it, I'd have one every 1-2 weeks. There was a time when I would feel extremely anxious about any form of touch including kisses, hugs and sex. Or even someone standing too close to me. It still makes me feel anxious if there's any kind of conflict.
I've had a lot of emotional stress lately, which I recently had to be sedated for after I started going into manic episode and also my fight or flight system was chronically activated at a high level even when danger had passed. My bipolar 1 disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) feed of each other. I use the energy creatively if when it happens but if it starts getting out of control (which it can very quickly), then I ask for help.
I'm still feeling a bit anxious but I am a lot calmer than I had been this past week. I'm also feeling sad because I'm processing loss.
I find trigger point massage with someone I trust to be very therapeutic. I hold the tension in my muscles. It's painful at first when the the therapist works the areas that are all bunched up in knots but I just focus on the muscles releasing and they do. Then I feel so much better. I can do DIY trigger point massage but it's better with a therapist that knows what they're doing.
For me, healing has been a painful process. But I am no longer afraid of going through it. Although it can still be frightening at the time when I experience disturbing hallucinations when I'm starting to wake up and makes me not want to go back to sleep. My mind analyses what they all mean.
One of the key things for my self-care is getting enough sleep, otherwise the scary hallucinations and night paralysis and panic attacks are more likely to occur. I have learned self-management tools for anxiety - my biggest go-to is to slow my breathing down and focus on my breathing. If I feel sufficiently safe, I also focus on my body sensations. This is a technique called somatic experiencing which I've found to be helpful in releasing and discharging trauma. The idea is that trauma is from trapped energy of a flight or flight that wasn't released because one shutdown. Shaking and other body sensations can occur during the process of the trapped energy discharging from the nervous system.
I've also used DIY art therapy (painting symbolic abstracts) and journaling to help process and regulate my emotions.
After my massage today, I bought a little toy owl and a unicorn. I've previously bought a dragon, a kiwi and a cat. They all represent different parts of me. They are also like little friends as I find it hard to make friends because I self-isolate from social anxiety disorder plus PTSD and bipolar. It might seem childish for a woman in her forties to have soft toys, but they are like my pets as I cannot currently afford to have my own pets after losing my pets. It is also like nurturing my inner child. I used to have beloved soft toys as a child. Part of my healing has been to nurture my inner child and let her know she wasn't to blame.
Processional counselling from a trauma psychologist has been put on hold for several months because of a funding issues - they want the PTSD more differentiated from the bipolar even though for me they are intertwined. The trauma psychologist agrees that I have been doing my own processing and healing. She said not to go too fast though as it can trigger an episode.
It has been a long process to write my book Pet Purpose. I'm up to the fourth draft. I think about it everyday and writing my story in disguise in a cohesive whole is helping me heal. It has been important for me to have a voice when on more than on occasion I felt I could not have a voice. I hope to complete and publish the book this year. I hope that I will also be sufficiently healed to be able to cope with full-time work. But healing has its own timeline. I'm progressing and moving forward everyday, despite the setbacks.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).