Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Post-Nap Writing Session 1: Panic Attack

You find yourself in a room with a man from your past. You do not know or remember how you got into this room, whether it is a hotel room or part of a house. The only thing you know is you’re with this man. Now, this man never reveals his face. But you remember, from some long-ago memory, his skin, like polished leather. You two are lying in bed together. You are dressed; he is not.

He starts to touch you but not in a way that implies he is merely after sex. His touches are soft, careful, sensual, like the way a friend comforts you after a breakup or a death in the family. He slips his hand under your shirt and settles on the space between your bra’s ending and your waist’s beginning. It’s an unusual place for a hand to rest but you don’t move it; you don’t say “no” or “stop,” or even get up and remove yourself because you’re comfy there. You know to run from the stranger in the streets, the Boogeyman behind locked doors, but the homie you comfy wit? Nah fam, he not gon hurt you. He’ll just make you a little uneasy at most, nothing to worry about…

And then you wake up.

When you awake, you still have the image of him in your mind, his fucking gentle hands memorized, and suddenly, you can’t breathe. You’re gasping for air and clutching your chest as the fear rips you apart. You try to remember your surroundings instead of focusing on how a short slumber undid all your wonderful. And then, the memories—your actual trauma memories—start flowing through your damaged hippocampus and you can’t stop it. The thing that hurts the most is this:  it’s the gentle touches, the warm embraces that kill you. 5 years of fucking PTSD and it still gets to you. He still affects you.

You will live through this.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Panic Attacks Make Recovery Worth It

I know how to stop myself from having a panic attack.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work.

On the days that it does, it makes recovery seem like within the reach of my fingertips. On the days when it doesn’t, on the days when I hide in my bed, under my bedsheets, hiding myself from the world, recovery seems like some kind of sick joke someone would tell to just be a jerk. Like telling someone who’s drowning to just “think happy thoughts” or “you need to fight harder against the waves; that’ll save you!”

Panic attacks make recovery worth it. When you’re not fighting an enemy, the victory seems… stale like crackers that have been left in the pantry two months past their expiration date. Panic attacks aren’t always hyperventilating, hands covering, protecting ears from triggers or familiar faces, eyes covered to hide sounds that remind you of the things that your nightmares are made of.

Sometimes, panic attacks look like a silent scream in the middle of a prayer session. Contortions as you silently fight against your body, wanting to let it all out but you can’t because you’re in public and you have to control yourself. You wouldn’t want others to think something’s wrong, now, would you? Of course not. Don’t be silly. So, you hold it until you get alone and then you can let it out. Silently scream or actually scream into a pillow… or the air.

Sometimes, panic attacks look like an open chasm of broken tears. The kind of tears one would make when one steps on glass—barefoot—in the middle of the night. Almost as bad as stepping on a Lego. Almost.

Panic attacks aren’t always hyperventilating. Sometimes, they look like anger. Sometimes they look like numbness… like void… like nothing. Sometimes they sound like you picking a random color, maybe blue or red or magenta, and naming everything you can think of that’s that color to trick your mind into thinking: “You’re not crazy. See? You have control. You can still recognize colors, cars, shoes, books and… purses and… blankets. Anything to forget the touches, kisses… angry, loud, cacophony of voices… see? You’re fine. You can recognize the TV and your lamp that’s on your desk. And the tea bags. And the books that are scattered all over the room. And the car outside. And the green grass outside your window. You’re not having a panic attack if you’re in control, right?”

I know how to get rid of a panic attack. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. The days where it doesn’t… are the days I fear. They do nothing more than validate the thought in my head that I don’t actually have control, that I can’t get better.

One day, this’ll be over. and I’ll be happy again. And won’t automatically look for the negative things in a good situation. One day, I’ll be at peace. No more fear or panic to control me. One day. But until that day comes, panic attacks make recovery worth it.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Your Support System isn’t Your Therapist, Your Therapist isn’t Superman

Dear Lovelies,

It’s time for some tough love and hard truth pills. Here’s the reality of the situation: Your support system isn’t your therapist; your therapist isn’t Superman.

We all know recovery isn’t linear and there are ups and downs, twists and turns, and even resting places on this journey. There will be days when we are not only our own worst enemy, but are a fire-breathing dragon to our friends and support system who may never tell us we are because they love us and want to protect us.

This week has been difficult for a variety of reasons. I’ve struggled with the temptation to self-harm. I’m having to force myself to attempt to process my hard-to-identify emotions, while dealing with my spiked symptoms and destructive behavior, along with depression and anxiety. This is not an easy task. Part of the reason why this is so hard is because of stress. It is also partly due to the fact that my “dark night of the soul” times happen at night when none of my support system is available because they’re sleeping or busy. So, I’m on my own here, which could either be scary or motivating, but that depends on me.

Take Responsibility for Your Mental Health

I don’t mean to sound invalidating but truth of the matter is that your recovery process is your process and your responsibility, no one else’s. I think that’s a pillar missing in the mental health community. Everyone emphasizes having a support system and reaching out to a friend or therapist when you’re in need—and yes, having community and a safe place to take your mask off is important—but what happens when your go-to friend isn’t available to talk you down off the ledge and/or your therapist leaves the office to go home and decompress from his clients? What then? Are you going to let anxiety and depression whisper sweet lies in your ear as you struggle to sleep?

Your friends don’t really care about you; they only tolerate you to be nice. You need to be stronger. You don’t want to be the ‘suicidal friend’ forever, do you? If you tell anyone what you’re thinking/feeling, they’ll hospitalize you and it’ll be all your fault. You’re a burden. Stop whining, you’re making everyone around you uncomfortable. You’re so selfish.

Here’s the Truth of the Matter

Your best friend may be the greatest listener of all time, giving you empathy and compassion galore, but she will, at some point, have to take care of herself and her needs. Likewise, your therapist, despite his caring, gentle nature, may grow calloused of going around the same mountain with you repeatedly. They can’t save you.

Sometimes, you have to walk this journey alone. Learn to sit with your emotions and actually feel them. Color, draw, jam out to music or cook a meal. Avoid your triggers and desensitization. Change your thoughts (I know that’s a hard one). You are going to be okay, with or without a support system.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

There’s Always Tomorrow to Kill Yourself (Except Not Really-Psalm 116:9)

After I hopped out of the shower tonight, fully comfy in my pajamas, my eyes fell on my covenant ring and its corresponding verse popped up in my memory: Psalm 116:9. For reference, the verse simply states, “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” Just one sentence, one profound statement. That verse both strengthens and mocks me, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up a little.

A Covenant Made in Heaven and on Earth

On my 25th birthday, I decided to make a covenant with YHWH concerning not just my sexual purity, that’s what a purity ring is for, but all of me: good, bad, ugly, hence the term “covenant ring.” (For all you non-Hebrew scholars, those capital letters are used as the four-letter abbreviation for Yahweh, the Hebrew name for what we call “God.”) Specifically, the covenant I made with Him was that I would no longer self-harm, as that was a huge part of my life, and a destructive one at that. When I got the ring, which has a gorgeous amethyst stone to showcase my newfound royalty in Christ, I planned, and still do aim, to get Ps. 116:9 engraved on the inside as a reminder that I chose to live with Christ, to walk before Him and, you know, the rest of the world, until the day I die of natural causes; or in other words, I wouldn’t commit suicide in addition to the “no self-harming” clause. I’m not entirely certain, but I’m pretty sure I broke the covenant within the first six months.

The Relevancy of a Ring

I tell you that story, not to be random, but because it serves a purpose. I woke up late this morning, like almost noon, which is unusual for me, but is slowly becoming my new normal, as I did not fall asleep until 6:00a.m. I was up because I was having horrible flashbacks and in a heavy state of dissociation. For you psych majors and professionals, you know what that is. For those who don’t, it’s basically a state where your mind kinda separates from reality and you, potentially, lose a bunch of time. You’re basically a walking zombie and no, it’s not as fun as it sounds, but I digress. I can’t remember all of what happened this morning, but I do remember sitting on the kitchen floor, NF’s “Paralyzed” song blaring through my headphones, and an open bottle of Fabuloso adjacent to me.

Don’t worry. I didn’t drink it.

But I did inhale it. That I admit, which brings me back to the ring.

The Duality of Psalm 116:9

“I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” As stated before, this verse both strengthens and mocks me. It strengthens me in that it reminds me of the covenant I made; it mocks me for the same reason. In times where I am strong in Christ, it is a rock for me to stand on and say, “Look how far YHWH has brought me.” However, when I am in a low place, like I am this week, I whisper, in a teary voice so quiet I doubt even YHWH can hear me, “Please put me out of my misery. Please kill me.” It is a strange thing to desire death, even more outlandish to outright ask the Creator to do it for you; and yet, I have. And yet, He does not answer me. Let me rephrase: He does not snatch the breath from my body, but He does give an answer: No. In that, YHWH is merciful. He forces me to rest quietly in Him until He is all I see. It sounds peaceful and oh, so easy, but it is anything but. Trust me, you do not ever want YHWH to make you lie in green grass with your head on His lap. The end result is calming, sure, but the process is more like a wrestling match, especially when dealing with traumatic memories and suicidal thoughts you don’t have the energy or motivation to fight with the use of coping skills, or listening to worship music, or praying or reading the Bible. Nonetheless, YHWH is wise. Instead of granting me my insane wish, He holds me, cares for me, and sings over me with His love until all that remains are the remnants of sad, pain-filled, and dark thoughts, mere leaves in the wind.

Last Words

There will always be an attempted justification for suicide. Can you kill yourself? Sure. You absolutely can. Tomorrow. But for tonight, stay with me. Walk before the Lord in the land of living and see what happens. Breathe. I will not give you any Christianese platitudes or tell you that “everything happens for a reason” because it doesn’t help and could be wrong and potentially damaging. I’ve found many Christians say it because they don’t know what else to say and think they must be “on” all the time and give an answer to every problem, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to be honest. This is a painful period and even though I know it will end soon, it doesn’t negate the pain and stress I currently feel. I will honor the covenant I made, not because I necessarily want to, but strictly for the sake of it. This too shall pass.

Covenant Ring 2018