Tag Archives: Lady Quixote

Trauma, And the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Psychiatric Take Down and Restraint

I wrote a version of this in a comment at Linda Lee/lady quixote’s Blog: http://ablogabouthealingfromPTSD.wordpress.com

Hi Linda,

Someone I met here in Brattleboro, really just an acquaintance, maybe 2 or 3years ago said, “get over it!” about the trauma I have experienced, and I found that enormously damaging just in itself. My “guide” Wendy, never tells me such things and she is fully committed to helping people who deal with great traumas. Another thing is that true is that global amnesia, such as I had and still have for a couple of weeks-long hospital stays in their entirety, (and I also have amnesia for other life experiences that were documented as having happened but are lost to my memory,)  this sort of global amnesia cannot be self-induced. You either can remember what happened or you cannot.

What I have found very helpful, and this may not be something you can or even choose to do, is this: I find that when my thoughts erupt or are triggered by something in the present, into a spasm of terrible memories, the resulting emotions and anger etc are so paralyzing and painful that I did consciously decide “I’m not going there, not until and unless it is safe for me to do so.” To that end, when I notice my thoughts turning bad, I immediately find anything to distract myself away from that terrible rut that trauma has clear-cut into my cortex. 

I know the emotions stem from the thoughts I think, and they constitute the story about them I tell myself. So if I try to tell a different story, like, for instance, “okay, that was my life then, but I am here now and if I  am happy now then all of my past including the trauma, has brought me here and I would not be here without it all, yes,  even the trauma.” BUT I fully confess that re-telling my story in a more positive way does not work when I am acutely triggered, so that is when distraction plays a huge role. 

In some sense, I understand that I cannot remain attached to my story of abuse and victimization, because in a  real way this will only lead me down that same trauma path, and even “attract further victimization and trauma”..But to explore these things requires a feeling of safety, which is not usually available, so I get relief from the thinking instead, by distractions and doing things with my mind that I love. Like studying or reading French, or listening to songs, because the verbal aspect of both tend to crowd out the insistent trauma memories. 

As Wendy says, it is a practice, like any spiritual practice, to know when your thoughts are headed down an unhelpful path way and to consciously decide not to “indulge” their wish to ruin your day! It does take a lot of practice to do this, and I would be the last to say it is easy. On the other hand, I know there is a safe place for them, for me to experience the memories and even triggers in security, and that is during my sessions with Wendy. She allows these to be as long as necessary for me to get through things, so they are usually 2-2.5 hours every time. But the thing is, knowing I can hold on and let things “in” in a safe place with her allows me to also decide NOT to let them in or to control me at other  times.

I hope this makes sense. It might not be your cuppa tea, and I dunno if you have a safe place/person with whom you could both process memories or at least let them out, but who also, by being a safe person, might allow you to go the distraction route. I myself have found it very helpful…and you know (I know you above all know!) how terribly I have been tormented by my memories of trauma.

The idea that even trauma memories are part of the story of our lives that we write or create and can de-create also helps me. Because I can decide, of, say, someone who brutalized me, well, in their story I was only a bit character, and they likely told and tell themselves something entirely different from my story about it. But I understand that these are all stories, all dramas, that are not really Truth…and if we can retell the story In such a way as to increase ours and the worlds happiness, that should be our aim. 

More to come about blame and being victimized but I have stuff to do and need to distract myself from the pain that even writing about trauma brings on. 

Love to all,

phoebe

“Schizophrenia or Suggestibility ” by David

Sorry. Sorry! mea culpa!!! i meant to introduce this post with this: “David” wrote me with the following essay about his experience,which I promised to post for him on my blog. It follows: 

” I saw Lady Quixote’s story printed out at the Hearing Voices meeting in San Francisco.

 

“What struck me was how similar was the story she told to my story. When I was a small child I did self hypnosis as a hobby.  Later as a young teen I met a senior citizen from the Unity Church who provided me a lot of books about new-age psychic topics. She talked with me about automatic writing and spirits. I did many of these things in hopes of becoming psychic.

 

“Through my high-school years I continued to be interested in these things but only when the college experience overwhelmed me did I become preoccupied with the voices in my head.  I would look for guidance in things as simple as where to walk.  Since walking to class was a prerequisite to attending class, if I was guided instead to walk in the woods, I failed at college.

 

“In addition, throughout my psychic explorations there were instances where there were definite connections between my mind and the rest of the world.  Although the number of true experiences were far less frequent than the imagined ones, they reinforced my beliefs.

 

“After I returned to my parents’ home I had the typical delusional experience of believing that there was a direct connection between the universe and what I was thinking and hearing in my head.  Unfortunately what I was hearing was based on what I thought abut myself and as I spiraled downward, I was told that I had to kill myself.

“After getting out of the hospital and the halfway house with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I returned to my parents’ home.  A few years went by with little change but I began to doubt the veracity of my voices and found that I could dismiss or ignore them.   They eventually faded away into the benign parade of inner thoughts.

“The thing that struck me after thinking about Lady Quixote and me is that there are some states of mind called schizophrenia that would better be described as suggestibility.  In the old days folks like us were seen as having been possessed by demons, and perhaps the exorcisms actually worked when the people believed strongly enough in prayer and calling on Jesus to drive the demons out.

“I think that it is a shame that this type of diagnosis has not been made by treaters because it would be helpful to folks to understand that they can be liberated from their troubles in a much more straightforward way, as  Lady Quixote was.

“Because, like her, I had some actual experiences that could be classified as psychic, having a diagnosis that labeled my inner thoughts as strictly delusional confounded matters.  The psychiatric community does not acknowledge that some of us have to deal with both real experiences and our overactive imaginations. They are trained in the practice of science, which is opposed to the various phenomena we call metaphysics.

 

“I am happy that my inexplicable experiences usually involve rather mild, not very intrusive thoughts, as opposed to noisy voices.  I try to practice good mental hygiene to keep the inner critic mostly at bay and avoid overstressing myself.  It has been about 40 years since I was troubled with my inner voices.

 

David”