Sleeping soundly: that was years ago. That PTSD plays the old movies all the time. You’ve been down so long and so thoroughly deflated that Hurtin-Broken-Forgotten-Frozen-Angry is your middle name. You would like to be able to reinvent yourself, but you feel resentment and anger and isolation and despair where possibility and goals and overcoming obstacles with confidence or a child-like faith and optimism used to befriend you near a glistening, cool waterfall in your fecund imagination.
Your health changes in this isolation. Alone like this, when perhaps you nurtured others, how to take care of yourself? When your friends turn out to be fair-weather friends in your only time, ever, of needing a touchstone? Maybe you were their champion forever, in your silent or fun-loving ways, in your generosity. . . and now you feel shamed, cast aspersion upon? Or, on the other hand, maybe you do not have the energy to connect. With anyone.
Every day is a challenge, on your island of despair. Chances are you feel victimized by events you had no control over. Chances are the emotional, psychological, and physical trauma can start a unfrolickingbelievably long arc of thudding dominos into financial woe. More victimization. More voicelessness.
Perhaps this began as early as childhood. Perhaps it was touched off again in war; in marriage; in domestic violence. With poor lawyering or medical misdiagnosis. With violation of your civil rights. Wtih grand larceny. With wrongful termination.
You’re not crazy. But the depression can fog the window, taint the view, until the entire planet seems like hell, and you may think you alone with a few others who are Conscious see this.
You may notice, like I did, the atrocities are not just individually unfrolickingbearable, but like Hans Castorp in "Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann, the protagonist--you--are experiencing what ishappening on a local, national, even global scale. In other words, everything sucks in your life, and the deceits on our national stage, the violence of this world are just bigger versions of the basic suckingness
Maybe you don’t think that deeply. (A post-grad writing prof who once suppressed my writing to the dismay of someone in my class, then shocked us all again on a different occasion cancelling the slated class. Reading a quote from Aristotle saying, “mastery of sustained metaphor is a sign of genius” he then read my paper to the stunned class about having my breasts examined at the Raj Ghand cancer center in India, in which all kinds of internal events happen to the writer related to adolescent sexuality and Caucasionness and you-name it. . .a humourous long winded Mark Twainy-kind of piece.). I may think too much, and coming out of PTSD, I may no longer be as masterful. . .and maybe I write fiction.
Bu, whatever way we think, our hippocampus will indeed shrink if we don’t heal ourselves of this PTSD. We have to DO SOMETHING when our broken places cannot be hidden any longer, even from ourselves.
So let's think about the here and now. Let's just the once write down some goals "as if" he trauma has no hold. As if financial constraints don't count becausethey don't exist. As if we were our own loving parent or Creator inventing a pathway out of the maze
- What does your day look like Now? Imagine. Dare. Go ahead. We are just playing here.
- Begin with waking up. What are you grateful for? Some sleep? Breathing? Your teeth? Your pet? The ability to pee? The ability to somehow ambulate, to somehow make your coffee or tea? To have water to bathe in? A sink? Some type of shelter? Looking out the door/window at something green, or being able to find a place outside to listen to the sounds of life? The ability to use your Mac, or the local library, where there are humans, resources, librarians, devices to borrow (sometimes a laptop), movies, documentaries? The ability to stretch your mind, distract it? To stretch your arms, do some shoulder shrugs, situps, spinal twists? Not Yet? It’s okay. Can you think about improving your breath and posture five percent a day, improving anything at all? Start small, becoming awake to the details of your freedom a POW or prisoner would never experience. This is easy. Yes, even for you.
- Journal this incrementally increasing gratefulness for a week. Two. Three. Add things in. Become grateful for whatchagot. Thank a higher power; there is One.
- That’s plenty for 2 weeks, or a month. Smile into the microwave while you are giving thanks for having one. Raise your arms and spirits. Make your canine jump for joy. Jump up and down when nobody’s looking. Get things moving in your system. Thank God for soap, for sheets, for anything you got.
- Make your meals nourishing. Cut out junk food; shop in the outside aisles of the grocery store, where Real Food is. (eventually, we can’t be friends if you continue to load white sugar, flour, sodas and artificial sweeteners–all non-foods that do nothing for your joy potential, into your poor colon)
- Get a Daily Detox tea. Even if you love coffee, drink this another time. Sans sugar: find a local, raw honey. This is good for voice improvement and immunity from colds, even asthma for some. (It contains the local pollens)
- Drink more water, and this can be in melons, cucumbers, fish, grapefruit, celery, you get the point. “Eat” your water.
- Layer in some writing–all in one notebook–if you can.
- Do a daily check-in: mood___diet___exercise____goals____urgent to do
- (no more than three calls, appts to make, events to schedule, if you’re getting up from Ground Zero). Be your own manager of executive function. Be as precise as you can.
- Above all be consistent in rising and retiring, in eating and the other fundamentals.
- Start with ten crunches on the floor, feet up on the sofa. If you live in a gazebo, find a way. If you live in a car, find a way. You can frolicking do this!
- When you get depressed, recall something of beauty. Smile at it. Brush your teeth, floss them, be grateful for them. Drink some water, with apple cider vinegar or lemon if you can. Stay hydrated. And be grateful to you for this self-care you’re starting. Believe it or not, you will bite into life again.
“he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”