Monthly Archives: May 2016

Thank you so much.

Hello all!
This blog is a hard one to write.
Blog #280. Over 3,000 readers and over 40,000 visitors…
I truly can’t believe I had that much to say, to share, to enjoy with each of you.
It’s been wonderful.

I have needed to make the very difficult decision to stop writing the blog for several reasons. The main reason being the amount of time that I dedicate to it. I spent a lot of time each week researching, writing and thinking about this blog. I enjoyed every minute of it but sadly, it is not a source of income for me (or anyone that I know).

Money was not a huge factor until my husbands workplace burned down 6 weeks ago. We are now very strapped for money, finding it difficult to afford even the necessities and while I know that we are still more fortunate than most of the worlds population, something needs to be done.
My husband is looking at leaving the island and getting work somewhere else for at least a few months to help get us on track again and that is obviously a huge move. I also need to focus on earning some money so the burden does not sit on his shoulders alone. Thankfully I can sell my artwork but I need to devote a lot more time and energy to that.

For any of my regular readers that would still like to keep in touch, I run a private/secure/closed support group through Facebook. It is a nice small group and it is totally separate from other posts on Facebook. No one can see what you share. If you’d like to be a part of it, please go to
and ask to join.
Heather’s C-PTSD Facebook Group
Send me a little message so I know who you are okay?

If you’d like to keep in touch via email, please contact me by using this contact form.

To anyone that is disappointing with this decision, I am truly sorry. I have never been a person who feels that money is more important than everything else but when you are at risk of losing your home, things must change drastically.

I hope that you will take a moment to sign up to get emails about my artwork and perhaps even share it with friends. I could really use the little extra boost in traffic.
Heather’s Tangled Art

I want to wish each and every one of you all the very best from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for coming along on my journey for the past 2 years. I’ve learned a lot, appreciated the support, and felt good about being able to share what I was so lucky to have a chance to learn. My intention from the beginning was to take what I learned in hospital and to “pay it forward”. I feel like I have done that and I am proud of that accomplishment. Now it is time to take all the kindness, compassion, and care I have received through each of you in here and pay that forward in a new way.

Many hugs,
Heather and the Helpers
Heather

Interesting Article.

“The effects of childhood sexual and physical abuse lasts a lifetime” – Scott Mendelson MD – Huffington Post.

The effects of childhood sexual and physical abuse last a lifetime. Abused children may grow up to be adults prone to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other psychiatric disorders. They are more prone to suicide. However, in recent years we have learned that abuse does more than wound self-esteem and break the spirit. It can damage the very substance of the brain and how it functions.

A major way by which childhood abuse can disrupt normal brain activity is by diminishing its capacity to handle stress. Stress is more than the worry and distress we experience when the circumstances of life push us beyond our limits. The body’s response to stress is a complex biological mechanism. When the brain senses that the body is being taxed beyond its usual capacity, it initiates the stress response by releasing a substance called corticotrophin releasing hormone, or CRH. CRH stimulates the pituitary gland to release ACTH that, in turn, triggers the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol marshals the body’s resources to provide the extra energy and endurance to meet the demands being placed upon it. Once, this might have been escaping an angry mastodon. Today, it would more likely be getting used to a new job, a nasty divorce, or recovering from surgery.

The stress-induced switch into physiological overdrive is designed to be brief. In fact, among the many things that cortisol does in the body, one of the most important is to feed back to the brain and start to shut the stress response down. Cortisol does this by binding to specific receptors in the brain. Cortisol fits the receptor, like a key in a lock, and turns the response off. One of the problems in those that have suffered severe, childhood abuse is that the brain’s turn-off switch for the stress response is disabled

A study published in 2009 in the prestigious journal Nature Neuroscience revealed part of the reason why adults who were abused as children have abnormal stress responses. The grim details of the study included comparisons of the brains of individuals who had committed suicide vs. those who had died natural deaths. Among those who had committed suicide were some who had suffered severe childhood abuse and others who had not. It was found that among those who had suffered abuse, there were fewer of the special cortisol receptors in the brain that allow cortisol to turn off the stress response. It was further found that the section of DNA responsible for maintaining adequate numbers of these receptors had been methylated. They were no longer in full operation.

When the stress response won’t shut off and cortisol levels remain high in the brain, bad things can happen. Whereas bursts of cortisol help bolster the brain’s supply of glucose and chemical messengers, sustained high levels of cortisol can cause damage. Cortisol diminishes the brain’s response to the chemical messenger, serotonin, while it enhances the response to norepinephrine. Persisting high levels of cortisol also decrease levels of Brain-derived Neurotrophic factor, a substance that is necessary to maintain and replenish neurons in the brain. These and other changes alter mood, disturb sleep, heighten anxiety, and cause irritability. Consequently, the individual becomes more prone to Major Depression, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders.

3 Cups

PTSD & STRESS – PTSD Stress Cup Theory

The PTSD Cup Theory

Fullscreen capture 8072015 21703 PM-002

This explains why people with PTSD, cannot cope with the same amount of (brain) stress, as people without PTSD.

‘Brain Stress’ is anything the brain has to do for us to function.

This will include all we do unconsciously, like our internal organs working, breathing, moving, food digestion etc.

It also includes good and bad stress we deal with daily. Good stress, being anything the brain processes not causing negative emotions – eg taking a shower. Bad stress being anything that does cause negative emotions, like naughty children, noise (big PTSD stressors).

Cup/Diagram 1.

This shows the daily good stress, everyone’s brains deal with daily.

Cup/Diagram 2.

This shows the added bad stress, everyone deals with daily. As you can see, there is still room left for added good or bad stress, before the cup ‘overflows’.

The cup ‘overflowing’ – will be when the person can’t cope emotionally and becomes irritable, angry, tearful etc.

Cup/Diagram 3.

This shows the added PTSD brain ‘stress’ – a PTSD brain is dealing with – added to all the normal good and bad stress everyone has.

There is very little room left for any added good or bad stress, to occur.

Which is why people with PTSD don’t cope well, with added stress and can get very irritable, fast and quickly over minor things.

This is described a being when the ‘cup overflows’. In order to reduce this overflowing, no stress can be occurring, so the ‘cup empties’ a little, back to having room for daily stress again.

I know when my cup is overflowing, as I start to become irritable, and I know my coping capacity, reduces, quickly and stressors like noise, irritate me more than normal.

I have learned to reduce my daily activities, have relaxing time, and not plan too many things in one day.

I have learned to have relaxation time before anything anxiety/stress raising, and have relax time afterwards.

Along with all the breathing, mindfulness strategies, this is how I have learned to manage my ‘cup overflowing’.

I have to do this, because if my ‘cup overflows’ continually, my mood lowers, my emotions increase and all my complex PTSD symptoms then increase as a result, which results in complete incapacity, to cope and can become life threatening. PTSD – is a life threatening disorder, when severe.

It is why I always say, you will not learn to manage your PTSD well, if you have a busy, stressful daily life. Which cannot always be avoided, I understand, but it is essential for PTSD management, to have the least stressful life possible. Especially if the PTSD symptoms are severe, and while first learning to manage them.

Mother’s Day

This is a tough evening for me. “Mother’s Day Eve”.
Sadly, I know I am not alone so I wanted to send out an article written for Psychology Today that just might help.

“When Mothers Day Hurts”

And another.

“Not All Mothers Are Loving and Kind”

My heart goes out to each of you who feel this pain and absolutely breaks to know so many have suffered.

I also want to mention ALL mothers.
Perhaps you are a Mother yourself.
You might have been a Mother but lost your child.
Sadly there are also many who strive to become Mothers and just can’t.
Then there are those who choose not to become Mothers for all the right reasons. Kudos to you too!
And to Mothers who gave the biggest gift to a loving family through adoption or surrogacy.
Then there are those who are in mourning for the Mother they lost.
The foster children, the ones that fell through the cracks…
For those who had children but feel like it all got messed up even though you tried your very best.
And Mothers who are mentally ill. What a HUGE extra challenge.
Let’s not forget the pet Moms. You crazy creatures. 🙂
And to anyone who I have forgotten…
Do something special for yourself tomorrow and celebrate you just being the woman who you are. Sorry to the men, I’ll get to you on Fathers Day. 🙂

And to my children wherever they may roam, I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Hugs to you all!!!

Co-consciousness

I am trying to open up a bit more about my Helpers these days and they are enjoying the attention. I’ve also been trying to reach some new places with them. Mainly co-consciousness. If you are unsure of what that is, don’t feel too badly. I only just found it out myself a few months ago. 🙂

Co-consciousness for a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is the ability to share space with an identity plus the main personality (host). It is not an attempt to integrate another part, it is an attempt to work alongside them.

For so many years I heard voices but I did not know what they were, who they were or what the heck was wrong with me so I attempted to ignore them all no matter how loud or insistent they got. When you’ve never known a different life, you can also misconstrue the meanings of certain statements and assume that others are in fact just like you. I thought when people said they had thoughts running around in their heads or that they could not sleep with all the issues on their minds, I assumed they heard voices too. Eventually I realized the difference but that did not help me to understand, it just served to make me feel insane.

I was in hospital (2013) before I was finally told what those voices were and I was so confused about how to speak to them. My nurse suggested I just try talking to them which sounded insane to me after actively avoiding them for 40 years… but I tried. Well HOLY CRAP BATMAN! They heard me and spoke back to me. At the time only one voice rose above the rest as distinct and seemingly always present. That turned out to be whom I called Julie but whose real name was Reilyn.

Reilyn was the only Helper that I was ever co-conscious with. I knew she was there and she always knew what I was doing. She knew what everyone in the system was doing. I affectionately called her “the gate-keeper”. Over the course of the first year I realized that I had some power over when Helpers came out and very gradually lessened the amount of time where they were in charge. I doubt I will ever completely master it because I do not have enough energy to constantly be “on guard” every moment but I was able to make a few deals, put some rules in place, and create a less chaotic life for myself.

I am at the point now where I am trying to work on becoming co-conscious with other Helpers. A few are thrilled and join me happily but most are hard to reach. It will take me years of hard work to get it all worked out but I feel they are all worth it.

Hannah (Hannah-banana) is one of the very special “Littles” that likes to come out now. It took her a long time to understand that I am an adult now and that I can keep her safe. Once she realized that, she began to come out to share time with me. This where I struggle though. Being co-conscious sounds great but when you have a 3-year-old and a 46-year-old in the mind at the same moment, we swing from wanting to curl up in a little ball, hide or run away to a 46-year-old willing to offer protection. We can go from wanting to eat nothing but cookies for supper to understanding that cookies are only for treats. We walk through Wal-Mart and suddenly want a hippo (which she eventually got) while trying to fill an adult shopping list that doesn’t interest a young child AT ALL.

The same can be true no matter what the age of the Helper that I am trying to become co-conscious with. It is not just a matter of sharing some time. It is trying to adequately care for more than one set of needs at a time and it can be confusing. One of the older men who has decided to share time (co-consciousness) with me is Oscar. If you recall Oscar the grouch? That is how Oscar sees himself and it is the reason he has that name so it seems.  Being co-conscious with Oscar so far is better done while at home ALONE. I can not for a moment pretend that I do not swear (I do) but not harshly or directed at others. When we share time, I will be thinking about someone with kindness and Oscar is there saying “Oh just f*** off! Go away! I hate you! Brat! Idiot!…”. He is not very nice but I know he is that way for a reason and he needs to be heard too. That gruff manner is his way of creating distance between himself and the potential of being hurt.

I am sure that over time we will all get better at working together and finding ways to behave in socially appropriate ways. It just takes time. I am hoping to find a way to do a blog or two next week while being co-conscious with another Helper so that they can express what they feel that they need to say. This site is half theirs after-all. 🙂

Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!

mind

Mental Wellness Week

Hello all! Thank you for your support, compassion and kind messages over the past week. Each one meant A LOT!

This is a week dedicated to mental health. Some people call it “Mental Illness Week”, others say “Mental Health Week”, but, you know me, I must be different and I choose to call it “Mental Wellness Week”.

Mental illnesses and mental health issues are so often at the forefront of conversations and in trying to get help out there to those whom need it the most.
Of course I support both of these conversation but I wonder what sort of world would we have in 20 years if mental wellness was taken seriously as well? Teaching our youngest children to our oldest senior how to better care for their mental wellness.

Rather than focusing solely on what to look for in society to point out the mentally ill person and help them before it is too late, what if we began to encourage positive mental wellness messages as well. How do you spot a person who takes excellent care of their own mental wellness? How do we take that model and teach it to those who’ve never understood or been taught how to or fell off the rails somehow?

A lesson such as compassion for oneself would radically change our world for the better. I know from my own journey and watching others going through the same journey that the people who are able to show compassion for themselves and can accept their humanness in all its glory and its gory are the same people whom are more able to extend compassion towards others.
I know for certain that I was a far more judgmental and harsh person when I had no compassion for myself. I didn’t have it for others either even though I thought that I did.
When I finally realized that I was just a human being with so many facets, I was able to start being more accepting of others as well.
Imagine a world where we show compassion towards ourselves and then for others. I can’t even think of how much that woudl change our world for the better.

And self-care. Remember being a teapot 2 weeks ago? The importance of keeping yourself full and taking care of your own needs so that you would have the ability to offer goodness from within yourself to others.
What if we began to teach children how important they are. Not due to any ability or level of cuteness but being a worthy human being just for being alive?
Could that child become a teenager that put their own needs for safety and wellness above the needs of a group? Could they make better choices about where to spend their time and who to give their time to if they only knew to put themselves before the boyfriend, girlfriend, groups or others?

Worthiness. Teaching people that they are worthy.
Worthy of a good life, worthy of safety and protection, worthy of being heard and believed, worthy of exactly what anyone else has emotionally…
Worthy even if they are not being taught that at home? How long could abuse last if the person being abused saw themselves of being absolutely worthy of a better life? Never blaming themselves or taking on responsibility for the other persons behaviour. Can you imagine?
Even as a very young child, knowing this one skill would have propelled me in to speaking out more and not stopping so quickly. If I’d known that I was worthy of better… wow.

There are so many life skills that we just do not often teach at home or at school. This is not done neglectfully. It is bypassed because most of today’s adults don’t know what mental wellness includes or how to go about getting it. I didn’t! As a parent, I never taught my children much at all about becoming or staying mentally healthy and well. I did not teach it to them because I hadn’t been taught it yet myself. This needs to change in my opinion.

Wouldn’t it be terrific to one day wake up and realize that we now lived in a happier world filled with people who really knew how to care for themselves and considered themselves worthy of such treatment?
Bullies woudl hold far less power.
Abusers would have a much harder time convincing someone that horrible treatment was deserved somehow.
Pedophiles would be at a huge disadvantage if there was no hidden need for them to prey on. Children would already feel special.

John Lennon sang “Imagine” so many years ago but I’d love to add to those lyrics. Just imagine a world where most people are mentally healthy and skilled while far fewer suffer mental illness because they can catch it when it starts and get help immediately rather than putting it off for days, weeks, or years.

imagine

Being human…

Human
I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. 🙂

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. 😦

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.