(c) Laura Devlin

Azle: Dear Santa, Please may I have a new brain? Love Laura, a Compex PTSD survivor

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Azle: Dear Santa, Please may I have a new brain? Love Laura, a Compex PTSD survivor

Ho, ho, ho. Not.

Christmas is coming. It’s bloody well almost round the mountain, about to ‘sleigh’ my brain all over again. The annual dread of the ‘big day’. Memories, triggers, confusing feelings, remorse and more. Sound familiar? Heavens above, you are not alone!

No matter your religion, it’s impossible to not be touched somehow by the preparations and planning during this festive season. Where I live it is a dark and cold time of year and I look forward to twinkly lights going up in towns and villages nearby, thoughtfully decorated pine trees in windows to cheer up a chilly evening. There is an air of hope (for Spring mainly on my part) and I enjoy buying gifts for the children.

Today though, it’s Thursday the 12th of December, and we are getting VERY close to YOUKNOWWHAT. The children break up from school next Wednesday afternoon. We are 6 days and counting down to release from the exhausting routine of school drop offs, pick ups, after school clubs, weekend dance lessons.

My diary is worryingly empty over the Christmas school holidays. I’ve got the usual pantomime and ballet theatre trips booked, but that’s about it. Why you may ask? I’ve become an ostrich. My head is firmly in the sand. I’m in denial. I’m freaking out inside and don’t want to even look at my online calendar, because I’m overwhelmed by the emptiness. The contrast between my organised outings/activities and playdates booked for Christmas school holidays versus the Easter or Summer school holidays is polar opposite, basically.

What’s the solution? I need to come up with a new strategy! Fast! Here are my thoughts on highest priorities:

Priority #1 – Conquering the fear

Honestly that is not something a Complex PTSD or PTSD survivor can do alone. I have made up my mind to discuss this with my therapist at my next weekly session. Make sure you discuss this with your therapist or a close advisor too! We need to know how to counsel ourselves internally when we recognise an emotion arising in us that is going to send us into a downward spiral. Very very important.

Priority #2 – Self-care

What’s your goto self-harm? Mine is detatching myself from those whom I love and love me, eating foods and drinking things that make me unwell because I’m allergic or intollerant to them and when I eat them they prove a catalyst to my already declining mental state. Establishing your goto self-harm is very very important. You have to admit this to yourself with authority and some inner caring parent too. It isn’t your fault you do this. It is because of the things that have been said or done to you or things you have witnessed. You can (and will), and so will I (fellow survivor brother/sisterhood pact) put safety nets in place. Harmful items (consumable or non-consumable) will not be purchased and if gifted will be thrown or given away immediately; they will be locked away or given to a loved one or caring supporter for keeping away from us. We will find the things we go to for self-harm and turn them on their head. We will find alternatives that won’t harm us or those around us. Let’s do this! Also, nothing can beat getting out into nature – fresh air, living natural world and life abundant that pre-dates you by millenia and still exists is very grounding. Breathe.

“Good air in, bad air out” (thank you Dr John A King).

Priorty #3 – Communication

Don’t shut down. Don’t disassociate. Don’t give in to the dark side. Don’t be alone with yourself when you are feeling symptoms of your PTSD getting its claws into you. Be stimulated by the outside world, not in an overwhelming sense, but within your comfort zone and minimising triggers (shields up as per my last post). If you are on your own try to get out and about, try not to stay inside cocooned watching TV, listening to the radio or reading a book, but if it has to be make sure it is a programme or topic that is light hearted and that can make you laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Instead head to a cosy coffee shop where you know you’ll feel safe, listen to music on your headphones, take your laptop and watch something or be creative. Fix up a play date or a coffee/meal with a knowing and kind friend or relative. Most importantly tell someone if it’s not going well for you. I’m going to have to abosultely force myself to speak out if I’m going downhill. I’d rather go manic with tasks and keep myself busy, running myself ragged, than address the turmoil that’s going on inside my head at this time of year. Problem is, that method only keeps things at bay temporarily and the crash will inevitably come if some of the pressure isn’t allowed to escape. ‘Communication’ has to be my hardest one to crack. Perhaps you can help me out on this one?

Last post until January 2020, so I will see you on the other side darlings. I wish you peace, love and happiness (and lots of fun) over the festive season. Let’s all pick up the pieces together and be there for each other as PTSD survivors. Safety in numbers and all that! x

Whilst listening to ‘An Oscar Peterson Christmas’ – Oscar Peterson (RIP).

Azle: Dear Santa, Please may I have a new brain? Love Laura, a Compex PTSD survivor (c) 2019 Laura Devlin

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