A lot of my posts are filled with positivity, light and love because that is how I choose to live my life. I'll never apologize for that.
However, amidst positivity, light and love I also believe in experiencing the full range of human emotion. I believe in being angry, in throwing crap when you want to, in putting boxing gloves on and going hard as a motherfucker, in crying, in raging, in saying shit and fuck, and in having complete and utter breakdowns. I want my life to be beautiful, open, and honest and allowing myself to feel my feelings and let it out is part of it.
I've also been reflecting on how important it is to continuously find your voice and use it; to be honest with yourself and the people around you. To surround yourself with people that bring out your best qualities. To lean in to those supports and stand in what you believe. To find those parts of yourself that need nourishment, and to love them hard.
So I'm using my voice today to shine a light on something that I'm sure a lot of people struggle with, but never talk about:
Three hours ago I had an enormous panic attack
I have panic attacks resulting from something called Complex PTSD. If you don't know what it is, Google it
If you do know what it is, Thank you for educating yourself
If you have it- you're a complete badass, lets talk.
I've worked hard enough on myself to the point that I don't meet all the symptoms for CPTSD anymore- but I do (often) still have panic attacks. Quick background on the panic attacks I have- they are completely debilitating. I have them because I experienced violating, horrific, coercive things at the hands of multiple people I trusted, in private and public places I thought were safe across a span of 20 years.
You wanna know what happens when that happens?
Emotional and Physical Fuckery.
When trauma happens across a span that wide, as means of survival the person will sometimes naturally learn to disassociate- this is what happened with me. This isn't necessarily a bad thing- Disassociation can be immensely adaptive for a period of time because it allows that person to endure the unthinkable and unimaginable (which I did).
But-it can also pave the way for panic attacks (and a lot of other wondrous things) later on in life.
The nature of trauma and its effect on the body is so intricately layered that I won't begin to get into it right now, but- for a quick example:
Under extreme stress/trauma the hippocampus in the brain can fail to process what is happening as an integrative whole.
As a result, the sensory elements of this experience are left unintegrated and are therefore prone to return during flashbacks when some sensory elements of the trauma are activated.
So- for example- just say someone sexually assaulted you over and over again for twenty years in a damp parking garage that smelled like gasoline.
Ten years later if you walk through a parking garage or smell gasoline that could send your body into a panic attack even when you're safe and nothing is happening because those sensory elements are re-activated
Are you still with me?
Anyways. If you have panic attacks, you know what I'm talking about.
If you don't- Be thankful because no amount of swear words stacked together will even begin to cover how much they suck.
So in the aftermath of this panic attack, I want to say that I am pissed off.
I'm pissed off because today- right now- it feels like I am so different than everyone else.
Scratch that- I actually feel different than everyone else all the time. True story.
I feel like I'm living in a bubble, and even though I can see people and interact with them I can never truly connect with them or let them in. It's a very painful, heartbreaking feeling that is hard to put into words. And let me say that this is a feeling I have- its not necessarily my reality. It just feels this way sometimes. But this is a thought my brain goes back to often. Knowing the stats on trauma survivors, I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.
However, at the same time I am determined to not live my life in this bubble. How can I view things differently? How can I push back. How can I keep fighting? I get knocked down every day and I always choose to get back up and I'll never stop doing it because I'm stubborn.
So in lieu of this I want to say to you: Instead of continuing to wish that you weren't different- trauma or not (because we all have our shit)-what if you embraced it?
You are who you are and the difficult experiences you have gone through have given you a lot of pain.
But I truly think that surviving that pain and learning how to rise above it is what turns people into extraordinary humans.
The things I have gone through have been excruciating- but living through them and learning how to speak to them and navigate them has been life changing and empowering on a cellular level.
For example, I don't live my life on the surface anymore. My painful experiences have given me an immense amount of depth.
My scope of empathy and understanding is so much larger than the average persons.
Because I have seen and felt immense pain I also now have the space to experience an otherworldly type of Joy (which I actually have). What I have endured has given me an inner fight that can't be taught or learned- which I am so, so thankful for.
The list goes on. And on the hard days I have to write this list out to remind myself.
This is how I choose to embrace my different.
I want to encourage you to do the same.
Let me tell you that I whole-heartedly believe that your Pain is your Power. What we survive, shapes us.
Step into that.
Step into it and keep moving forward.