PTSD and Sudden Triggers…

PTSD and Sudden Triggers…

I guess I should write about this as it’s affected deeply me for weeks. I was sailing along doing well as far as my PTSD. The severe flooding I experienced in 2012 after being fired from my job for reporting workplace violations seemed to have resolved. It was a good thing because I still haven’t found a new therapist. I had one and hit it off well but my insurance won’t cover her. Something about she has the wrong type of accreditation; she’s an LCPC as opposed to a LCSW. In the Western Mountains of Maine there aren’t many choices unless one wants to drive an hour to see a therapist. I’ve found my insurance company reasonable in the past so intend to ask them for a reconsideration. I was just so busy between getting my German Shepherd’s blog up (BTW that’s not her picture up there), traveling for her weekly treatments and grad school beginning at the end of July with a required (10) day stay at one of their campuses.

Then out of the blue an email crossed my path about mid August. The story was so horrific that I was triggered immediately.  I mean, I could literally feel it  spread through my body ~ both cold and warm at the same time. The abuse this 4 year old girl suffered was very similar to what I had endured. Although I never thought my name was Idiot, I had been called it many times. In the past if I was triggered that intensely I withdrew for a while until I could get my emotions in check. However because of my dog’s medical issues I had veterinarian appointments so hiding out at home wasn’t an option. Dogs are very important to me as I never really knew unconditional love, no make that love in any form, until I emancipated myself and adopted my first shelter dog. It’s been a dog that’s gotten me through some of the worst times of my life so not keeping her appointments wasn’t  an option. Then in the past when I’ve been emotionally fragile due to triggers I’ve found solace in the Catholic church but this summer I’ve taken, for lack of a better word, a sabbatical from it  for several reasons. It’s a small parish where everyone knows your name (like Cheers ) yet they are mean, spiteful and unkind. So much so that the previous priest asked to be reassigned. He was replaced with a granola priest who I’m convinced will have the parishioners out there planting a church garden next spring. Plus he stares at the ceiling and speaks in a dull monotone (he’s only 40). Yet the parishioners fawn over him like  high schoolers at a prom. I was in the departing line one time and heard the couple in front of me telling him how wonderful it was to have a priest that, “Is one of us”. They were referring to him being a native of Maine whereas the previous priest was, God forbid, a transplant (like me). Then next up our diocese settled a sexual abuse case from many years ago and it came out that they would have settled earlier but  wanted the victims to sign a confidentiality agreement to never discuss the abuse which the now adult victims vehemently refused to do. If anyone has read some of my past posts, then you know I had a similar situation where I wouldn’t sign that type of agreement. I was flabbergasted as it was my understanding that the church was no longer “covering” up sexual abuse by priests. Guess I was wrong and it left me very unsettled.  So seeking comfort in the church wasn’t an option either.

Instead I’ve thrown myself into writing Sasha’s blog, sometimes for 8 hours straight.  It had originally been a Facebook page where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is simply not the venue for me so I deactivated my account. Since Sasha’s medical journey began in March 2016 that’s where I started the blog. Yet, when I’m not taking her to the vet I ignore people and stay home. I don’t have a lot of friends. Strike that. I have one good friend and some acquaintances. I haven’t talked to my good friend since I read about this abused child. I just don’t feel like engaging in banal conversation. Perhaps that makes me sound terrible but I’m trying to focus on what’s best for me for once instead of doing what other people expect of me. I never liked making small talk anyway but especially when I’m upset.

I don’t know if anyone has read the article about this poor child but here’s a link  to the horror she was subjected to.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I still haven’t figured out how to put a share widget on this page for my dog’s blog but when WordPress Live Chat comes to life again on September 26 I’ll try and remember to initiate a chat before 7pm ET. I usually forget about it till long after that. Or, maybe I’ll just order one of these books. Seriously I’m a fan of the “Dummy” books.

I am going out on a no-dog related adventure next week. My iPhone 5S must have known Apple was launching a new one because it died ~ as in deader than a doornail. I’m a visual person so want to see the size difference between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The only thing I DO know is that if you opt for monthly payments through Apple you get Apple Care free. Verizon has a similar deal. Whereas if you buy it outright you get nothing, nada, zilch.

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No significance to this cat picture other than I like it so much I used it as my screensaver at most of my jobs.

 

Amazon Shopping *Hint*

Amazon Shopping *Hint*

Fellow bloggers I’ve had quite an eventful afternoon and want to “share” what technique worked best for me in resolving a large mistake on Amazon’s part. Here are the steps:

  1. Send them an email
  2. If no respose within 24 hours use Live Chat or Phone Help
  3. If you are prone to burst of profanity avoid calling them 
  4. Attempt to reason with them using Live Chat
  5. If they give you a less than acceptible resolution take yet different action
  6. Flood Twitter with tweets to @AmazonHelps (I also used @Amazon just for kicks)
  7. Get your Twitter friends to RT
  8. This last step was my personal deal breaker!
  9. When @AmazonHelps responds to your tweets and /or LiveChat ~ mention their drones. Repeatedly and in different scenarios.

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My dog had to go on a different food because of the medical treatment which is reversing her blindness. The disorder is endocrine based and to my surprise, sweet potatoes are full of phytoestrogens. Since she was on a Sweet Potato & Fish kibble I had to change it. I cancelled my auto-ship with Amazon the end of July. They confirmed it via text and email. Yesterday I found a box which UPS had delivered with one bag of dog food (my auto-ship was always at end of the month). Today I received a text from Amazon that my other THREE bags of dog food were on their way. Amazon also included my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste order which I had NOT cancelled. So all totalled they deducted over $210 from my bank account and I was furious. When they failed to respond I used the above tactics but kept tossing in their drones. Example:

Within one hour I had this:

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The resolution to my shopping experience…

Taking The Plunge…

Taking The Plunge…

I started this blog to chronicle my AT hike which I realize now was just an attempt to escape PTSD ~ something I had under control until 2012. I’ve made a few posts about my abusive childhood but like so many of us, life got in the way. The death of my “heart” dog Callie Ann, a beloved friend’s suicide and the multiple medical problems of my beautiful German Shepherd Sasha. In the process I found it necessary to end a somewhat long relationship with my therapist, a LCSW. I found another one I liked only to learn my insurance won’t cover her fees because she’s a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) as opposed to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Insurance companies and even states vary I’ve learned so in my downtime I might write an appeal to my health insurance company. Until then, I’m just going to dive in; get it out of my head. For me words are a catharsis. I use words to give shape to my experiences. Words help me “see” who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going. Words help me understand. They are a coping mechanism of sorts, a means of expression through which I can separate the good in my life from the not so good.

Initially I thought it best to blog in chronological order but upon reflection have reconsidered. It would be intensely painful and some days my stress management ability is in overdrive and other days ~ not so much. Instead I’m going to write random entries; if a memory comes to mind I’ll write about it and see where it leads.

Just going to plunge in  because essentially I’ve had:

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I know, I know ~ not related but its a German Shepherd!

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A brand new key ~ or not?

A brand new key ~ or not?

 

Had my initial session with the new therapist today and she’s very nice but ………………………………………It’s so damn hard to start over. It took nearly 10 years for me to develop enough trust in my previous therapist to bring up my childhood. Starting anew was more intimidating and stressful than I had envisioned. Plus when she asked me what brought me there today, I really had no clue what to say. Anxiety of course but over which thing? My trial in less than one month? Jury selection next week? The almost four years of depositions, mediations and mud-slinging that it’s taken to reach this point? The fact that the defense attorney wants to eviscerate me because of something that happened when I was a child? Or the fact that she can even introduce it? The suicide of a much-loved friend less than one month ago? The grief over the death of my beloved dog in November? Or the medical issue my German Shepherd is currently facing? Or maybe it’s just the constant growing fatigue coupled with absolutely no desire to do anything. The bone aching fatigue that develops after years of watching nearly everything you attempt  morph into clusterfucks of what seem like behemoth proportions.

Perfect example. I did my income taxes this year, plain and straightforward like every other year. I e-filed in mid January, pleased that finally something went off without a hitch. The months passed and my refund wasn’t direct deposited. I finally called the IRS at the end of March and after a few attempts, figured out how to reach a “live” person only to be told the most ridiculous thing by someone they obviously hired directly from the unemployment line. He was truly clueless and I honestly think he was just pulling things out of the air. End result? They would send me a letter within two weeks. When it didn’t arrive I called again, this time getting a polar opposite response along with the “letter in two weeks” promise. Waited until the end of the first week in May and called again only now I was really mad. Spoke to a woman who had no idea why I had not received a refund, why it hadn’t been processed, why it was in the “Review” section but hey! I would receive a letter in eight weeks explaining everything. Eight weeks??? Oh hell no! That would bring it close to July 4. The next day I emailed my congresswoman’s office and after several days of back and forth emails to provide requested documents, they were ready to roll on it. The aide from the congressional office found out what the problem was (basically there was none), reached out to the Tax Advocate’s Office and within two weeks the refund was deposited into my bank account. This begs the question but why? Why does everything have to be a battle? Why can’t things go smoothly ~ not every time but once in a while? I’d definitely settle for that.

So as I sat here tonight pondering the whole therapist debacle the phone rang. It was my original therapist. I let it go to voice mail. When I listened a few minutes later the first thing I noted is that she was rambling a bit, unusual for her. She said the reason she hadn’t returned any of my calls was because she didn’t have any openings. I realize she only practices two days a week but since we’ve had an extremely long patient client relationship, a return call should have been in order, even if she didn’t have any openings. Especially after the two teary messages I left following my friends suicide. She ended her message by saying she has a cancellation for tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 PM and to call her in the morning if I’d like it. Now I’m really in a quandary because the thought of starting over with someone new wasn’t quite as appealing to me today in her office as it was when I wrote about it last night. She’s also in a town that for some unknown reason I’ve had an aversion to ever since I moved to this state. I know I know. How can someone have a hangup over a town? I have no explanation for it other than I do. Usually when something like that happens it’s because the person or object triggers unpleasant memories from my past which is something I can understand, and rationalize. But a town?

Not really sure what I’m going to do tomorrow ~ take the 5 PM appointment with the old therapist or not. Frankly I wish I could just run away from ALL of this the way I ran away from my traumatic childhood but this time it’s not that easy. I just want SOME of it to be over so I can try to get back to figuring out my life.

Stay tuned because I have no clue what I’m doing!

Feeling Liberated!

Feeling Liberated!

I’ve been seeing a therapist since 2002 when I had a PTSD trigger that almost debilitated me. Before I decided on my therapist, I tried two others. While I’m sure they were highly competent, not everyone is a good fit. Perhaps a patient is more comfortable with a therapist of the same-sex, the opposite sex or a different age group. Whatever the reason, I think an integral component to productive, therapeutic counseling is trust and confidence in your therapist.

Because of childhood sexual abuse, I felt more comfortable with a female. We were both in the same age group which I found helped me to express myself more proficiently. The treatment modality she uses for PTSD is TRI (Traumatic Incident Reduction) which I’m still on the fence about. However, compared to EMDR I prefer it because EMDR did absolutely nothing for me.

My therapist had a quirk that annoyed me however; she often didn’t return phone messages. I don’t mean one message but several. She was also lax about getting paperwork completed – another annoyance. However I was able to overlook these two issues because I felt comfortable with her and I trusted her, both keys to a successful outcome.

After several years of weekly sessions I felt that I had journeyed as far as I could at the time so ended our sessions for a few years. Unfortunately, when I reported an employer for violations and they retaliated by accusing me of theft, I regressed in a matter of hours. Although my former therapist had changed locations she was still accessible so I began weekly sessions again. I really felt like I was making progress. Not as fast as I would have liked but with the childhood I emerged from I’d probably need therapy for a century so was content with baby steps.

The first thing that went awry was her session notes. She knew I signed a legal release for her to share her notes from specific dates with the attorneys involved in my whistleblower case. While I did not ask or expect her to withhold anything, I also didn’t expect her to make a random entry about my childhood – something we were not covering in therapy during this time frame. That was all the defense attorney needed and she ran wild with it, thinking the event my therapist had noted occurred when I was an adult when in reality I was 9. Her firm sent a list of questions and when I refused to answer, forced a hearing in front of a judge. They asked that he instruct me to answer and if I refused, that I be jailed. What she was asking for was a recipe for disaster because one of my worst childhood traumas occurred when I was 9. God was with me that day because the judge denied the request.

When I went for my next session I asked my therapist why she made that particular entry and she admitted it was an oversight. I was still angry at the defense attorney but respected my therapists honesty so as they say, life went on. A few months later I learned the defense attorney was still hell-bent on getting this information even though my attorney reiterated it was related to events that were literally decades old. I spent a panic filled winter because I knew that after 3.5 years, I would be given a trial date sometime in 2016. The defense attorney had waffled on the subject of settlement until she read that entry. After that it was definitely going to trial. My panic level rose when I learned the defense used a little known law to have my case moved from federal court to superior court. In essence, my trial will be in the town where I shop, walk, worship – you get the picture. Not sure how I’ve kept it together because I know as surely as the sun rises, the defense attorney will ask questions about an event that had zero bearing on what happened in the workplace in 2012. She is going to ask about the most horrific part of my childhood that I’d never shared with anyone other than my therapist. When I reached a certain age I left and never looked back. My own husband doesn’t know about my past! I asked my lawyer how the defense could do this to me, that I thought someone’s childhood was off-limits. He explained that the judge would make the decision as to how much latitude he would allow the defense.

I prayed, thought and prayed some more. With trial in a month I decided to tell my adult children and husband (a condensed version as opposed to every violent detail). I just didn’t want to take a chance of having them read something in the paper; I preferred it came from me. Telling my family, but specifically my adult children was never part of my life agenda as it had no purpose. Just because you give birth to someone doesn’t require that you share every detail of your life with them but in my situation I felt somewhat cornered.

At the same time my beloved German Shepherd, who is my Prozac with 4 legs, developed some major health issues which required treatment several hours south. I am a HUGE animal lover so opted to put my therapy sessions on hold for a few weeks so that I was free to travel with my dog to the neurosurgeon. The last week of my dogs treatment I planned to call and make a new therapy appointment when the unthinkable happened ~ our dear friend whom I loved like the brother I never had, committed suicide. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I was so grief-stricken that I literally didn’t leave the house, respond to emails or accept telephone calls. Suicide is always extremely difficult to process but when it’s followed by a complete lack of respect for the deceased or their life’s possessions it’s even worse.

I called my therapist and tried to control my tears as I left a voice mail. When several days passed without a call back I tried again. I was a wreck over my dear friend’s suicide but was unable to process my grief in a constructive way because of all the “craziness” in the wake of his suicide. I’d tried (6) times and was shocked when I suddenly said to myself “No more”. In the interim I made an appointment with another therapist who, although I’d only met socially, believed we could mesh well together. As an older gentleman in my parish says “I can feel it in my bones”. Heck, she returned my call! That in itself is worth points.

Before I can continue in my journey however I had to close out the chapter with the first therapist, a chapter that with the exception of a few years lasted over a decade. I called this afternoon and as expected, reached her voice mail. When It was time to speak I just calmly said that all of my calls had gone unanswered, even the two where I was crying about my friends suicide. Since she chose not to respond to them, I could only draw the conclusion that she was either no longer able or willing to be my therapist and as such, I had found a new one. I thanked her and hung up.

I thought I would be upset or at least heavy-hearted but in reality I was quite happy. While I like her very much as a person and to a degree will miss our sessions, I can’t help but think if she hadn’t admittedly made that “oversight” I might not be sitting in a courtroom next month, being questioned about things that should never be discussed outside of a professional therapist’s office.

However, at the end of this day, as I look forward to my first session with the new therapist tomorrow, I AM thankful for everything my original therapist did for me. Grateful for her patience, understanding, kindness and most of all for helping me find the key to unlock coping mechanisms that I never realized I had, coping mechanisms which I’ll carry forward in my journey. Thank you J.