Tuesday, October 3, 2023. My thoughts hurt me, literally. When I experience my worst migraines, any mundane thought causes a knifelike, slicing, stabbing sensation in my head. It makes me wince. It makes me cry. It makes me crawl on the floor, begging for mercy. I put my adjustable bed in a seated position to lie upright, wearing my blackout eye mask and earplugs, and visualize a room with plain white walls.
Those not practicing meditation may need help understanding quieting the mind. You can try it, and you'll see. The mind is an endless river of thought. The more you try to slow it down, the faster it flows. That's why I developed my mantra. Today, when I tell my friends, "I had a plain white walls migraine," they know I am saying it was evil.
Thin-Gorgeous-Extremely-Successful S has a similar visualization for her migraines, except her walls are black. I find this curious. Why did I gravitate to white instead of black? The black helps Thin-Gorgeous-Extremely-Successful S because migraines often cause light sensitivity. She wants everything to be as dark as possible, including the room she imagines. But my metaphorical room has always been white. The walls, the floor, and the ceiling are plain and they are white.
I like to believe this means I have a hopeful spirit.
Underneath all the years of pain and struggle.
Even though I always plan and prepare for the worst, I still hope for peace and light.
Did you know that excitement and fear are the same feelings - physically, they have identical sensations and symptoms. I always wondered why I wouldn't say I like significant events like weddings, parties, and celebrations - anything planned and expected to be fun because these types of events are - you guessed it - exciting.
"Excitement and fear are closely intertwined in the brain.
They share the same physiological reaction: the adrenaline that courses through the body when a person is scared is the same as when they are excited.
The difference is not how the body reacts, but how the mind interprets the experience."
Since starting trauma therapy for my PTSD in June, I have learned much about why I am the way I am. The puzzle pieces of my life are fitting together. I no longer think I am disabled beyond repair. I am less confused now. I am more curious about future possibilities. I get it now. I understand why I cannot organize coherent thoughts when triggered. I get the concept of "being triggered" in the first place. I am learning about the nervous system and just how damaged mine is. I have rarely lived in the ventral vagal, where your body and brain can experience joy, groundedness, compassion, curiosity, and openness. Instead, I have lived in pain, panic, fear, anxiety, worry, and concern - the trademarks of when the sympathetic nervous system is activated for fight or flight response. I have also been stuck in a dorsal vagal - depression, helplessness, shame, and feeling trapped. I am less afraid now that I know what's been happening in my body. And, more importantly, I am less ashamed.
I do not believe that this is my fault. Let me say that again.
I did not cause this. I did not choose this. I did what I had to do to survive.
Humans are incredibly adaptive. But sometimes, adaptation needs to be corrected.
As it turns out, The Music Tarot is my lifeline. Trauma-Therapist J wrote in her therapy notes very early in our work, "Use Lorie's lyrics." She realized my lyrics explain, interpret, and alter my memories for the better. Trauma therapy teaches your body and brain to reframe a traumatic experience. I have done this for decades through my songs, but I didn't realize it until now.
The song I am currently recording vocals for is Surrender and Release / The Hanged Man. I picked this song to be released 20th because it reflects my current state.
I am switching it all up.
My stuck nervous system, the devastating grief, and the loss of my past have gone on long enough. My old ways don't work anymore. I am surrendering myself to trauma therapy. And it is working.
We use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), among other treatment modalities. My brain is responding very well to EMDR. It is a very psychic process for me. When Trauma-Therapist J puts me on that bilateral stimulation train, I observe sounds, words, and memories. Sometimes, they repeat and morph into more profound insights. As an example, during one session, we focused on helplessness. I learned at a young age that no one would comfort me in my sadness or grief, so I became very cautious about asking for help. In this session, I heard/saw, "The more you ask for help, the easier it gets [to ask for help]."
"Go with that," Trauma-Therapist J said and led me through the next pass of eye movements.
The words repeated and transformed, "The more you ask for help, the easier it gets [to live and enjoy life]."
We enjoy our sessions, unlocking these insights from where they are trapped in my brain.
I finally returned to my job at the beginning of August, but I cannot work full-time due to my disabilities. Fortunately, I was approved for long-term disability benefits to cover my lost wages from my shortened work schedule. I am very unsettled by the disability insurance claim process. Primary-Care-Provider-Doctor A and Trauma-Therapist J are authorized to discuss my care, so I know I am in the best hands. These two professionals get me. At last, I understand why my body behaves the way it does. I know why I can't "think myself better." I understand why I am "different." It's not so much that I am different - I am a person who has experienced severe, complex trauma throughout their life. Traumas of multiple origins. Layers of traumas. It's not going to be a fast turnaround to get me better. I may never return to full-time status. I may be best working a reduced schedule. Only time will tell.
My head still hurts way more than I want it to. I am optimistic that my migraines will decrease in frequency and intensity once my sympathetic nervous system is less activated. Until then, I continue to rely on my plain, white walls. Only now, when I think of them, they aren't just a migraine mantra anymore. They are a simple, little glimmer of hope.
End of 21 - Plain White Walls