Monday, November 7, 2016

It all takes time.

I already know what I need. 

My first clue that a need is not being met is resistance and anxiety – what am I resisting? When do I become anxious? Processing what I am feeling about something takes longer than the awareness of resistance.

It has taken time to learn the words and phrases to articulate why the space I create and hold for myself is valid.

It has taken time to learn that, much like in the body, stretching one's comfort zone too far too fast results in injury. Growth must be gentle, and the mind will tell you what you can handle as the body responds to damage potential with pain.

It has taken time to learn that the shitty jobs I worked as a teenager and the shitty “sense of urgency” those bosses drilled into me increased my anxiety which led me to be less effective, less creative, more stressed, and less natural in my own skin.

It has taken time for me to be able to label those positions (minimum wage; in fast food, in corporations, in temp positions; being told I should feel grateful for being allowed to exchange my humanity and sanity, piece-by-piece and minute-by-minute, for $8.25 an hour) abusive. That's what they were. That's what they are.

It has taken time to give myself permission to let myself feel what I feel, and learning to express those feelings without framing them apologetically is an ongoing lesson.

It has taken time to figure out how to fit meeting my needs into meeting others' expectations. (Pro Tip: oftentimes, you can't. Hold the line anyway. This is what doctor's notes and diagnoses are for – to “prove” to others what one shouldn't have to prove – that one's experience is one's experience. To qualify what what cannot quantify.)

It has taken time to realize that I wasn't so broken when people started treating me like I was. It was being treated that way that broke me. Luckily, I heal really well and can regrow bits like a lizard.

It has taken time for me to learn that it is okay to resist something and figure out why later. That saying “I don't want to,” saying “no” is reasonable. The why doesn't have to be obvious if I can identify I don't want to do something.

It has taken me a long time to be able to integrate into my daily life the truth that discomfort and danger are not the same thing.

It has taken time for me to forgive myself for not noticing the passage of time, for being a “freak,” for being unable to focus or, alternately, unfocus. 

It has taken time to discover my superpowers. This happens when they are mislabelled as disabilities.

It is taking time for me to believe myself when I defiantly shout that I am worthy.

It is taking time for me to unlearn internalizing the abuse I have experienced and unconsciously reinforcing and repeating it.

It has taken time to learn that my living space and my internal, mental and emotional space reflect one another and a feedback loop of chaos and destruction is far too easily triggered.

It takes time to heal, takes time simply to be.

I already know what I need. I need patience for myself, the love and patience of others, and time.

Just give me time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On boundaries

I have written about this before. So far, writing hasn't helped me untangle it fully, and I'm looking for input, looking for discussion, hoping said discussion and input will lead to a stronger sense of where boundaries should lie. Because...

Because we use boundaries to protect ourselves. And that makes sense. But when we protect ourselves too much we keep other things out - good things. And I know people who lose out on a lot because of their Very Strong Boundaries, so it seems to me that having Very Strong Boundaries is not always a good thing. A big titanium wall would be a very strong boundary, but it would block out the view and prevent friends from coming over for coffee.

And maybe you, like me, are afraid of friends coming over for coffee whenever they wish, because some friends track mud all over the floors of your Inner Sanctum and use all your dishes and leave you exhausted with a lot of work to do and only go away after eating all the cake and drinking all the wine (which is extra-douchey since you offered coffee.) And so, in these cases, those perhaps are not Friends, no matter how much they tell you they are. And I have gently edged people out of my life before, people I loved and cared for, because although I had fun with them I also found them exhausting in the truest sense of the word - time with them depleted my resources to a near-null level. And it took me ages to see that that isn't friendship, no matter what supports are offered or what commonalities there are, no matter the occasional bouts of uncontrollable laughter.

Not everyone with whom I share common interests has to be my friend. Not everyone I care about has to have access to me. I get to choose.

But where is the line between self-protection and self-coddling? At what point and to what degree should I let people in who exhaust me? There are some people who ultimately only take from me, and there are some people who probably experience me the same way. Does it even out? If I only give of myself to one person and only take from another, does that balance it? Or are the balances supposed to be found within each relationship?

And how do the answers to these questions affect community and responsibility to one another? Given how social human beings are, the whole "Nobody can make you feel ____ unless you let them." is in many ways a blatant lie that is used primarily as a way to distance oneself from certain responsibilities we have toward one another. I reject the idea that we don't have a degree of responsibility toward one another's feelings and wellbeing, but also reject that that responsibility is limitless and should not be based on our individual capacities.

I am feeling my boundaries out carefully, slowly, and responsively. This whole topic came about because I felt today, reading articles about the victims of the Orlando shooting, that I had the responsibility to look at each one of their faces and feel something for each one.

We have to protect ourselves from having perpetually broken hearts, but we have to let ourselves use those hearts in the first place. And, knowing myself, out of fifty people I probably would have been able to be friends with one of them - real, come-over-for-coffee-but-you-can-have-wine-too friends. And I would have maybe not particularly liked a couple for silly reasons. Out of a random sampling of any fifty humans, that's usually how it works. And I didn't know any of the dead, and you have to know someone to like them.

But you don't have to know someone to love them. And so I spent my morning looking at their faces, loving them, wondering what their favourite colours were or who they most respected and why, what their favourite songs were. I don't get to do this for everyone who dies due to a hate crime. I don't get to see each face. Instead I am overwhelmed by numbers and statistics, and they mean something and mean nothing at the same time. But each one is a human being. Each one's death diminishes me, especially due to the nature of the death - because it was brought about by hatred, which is a sick inner disease of the boundaries - wherein the protection of the self, based on fears, is bastardized into control, into hatred, into terrible action.

And realizing that we all have the capacity to be monsters makes me want to love the hell out of everyone, because I don't have to like everyone, but everyone definitely deserves love.

So where do I stop? How do I stop my heart from being eternally shattered?
I force meaning from the meaningless. I resolve to fight. I resolve to be gentle with myself and others. I try harder. And I cry a lot, because no matter what I do my heart is bound to be broken again and again, and that's maybe part of what it's for.

So - how to balance? How to know where the boundary should truly lie?

So this is my boundary: that I choose to love everyone, even though it hurts, because it is necessary.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Assembling my religion

Okay, maybe not so much a religion. According to this, what I am assembling is something entirely different. But it has prayers, and saints, and a philosophy, and ethical teachings and whatnot.

So what do I believe in?

I am still asking myself that all of the time.

I believe that this life is not all there is. 
That could imply an eleven-dimensional deity, or that each individual human is an x in the giant cross-stitch of 4D existence but we're all manifestations of one consciousness that is connected "underneath", or that there is an "afterlife" (although I don't believe heaven and hell are anything but creative descriptions of what we can build in this life depending on our choices, and who the heck wants to walk around on gold-paved streets anyway?! Tacky. Not to mention uncomfortable on bare feet.)

I believe we are capable of understanding one another if we try hard enough and don't give up.
I do believe that there are very different worldviews and ideologies out there, but I also believe that we start in the same tabula rasa state and, if we can find that place together, letting go of everything that has been painted onto us, we can find each other.

I believe that we are not beautiful and unique snowflakes.
BUT I believe that we all deserve love, and we should all offer grace, and if we take care of each other everything will turn out okay.

I believe in grace.
I believe in working hard to let go of judgment. I believe that if I had exactly your genes and experiences I would have made all of the choices you have made, the same mistakes, experienced the same successes. It helps to go back to the "we are actually all one consciousness experiencing itself in different ways over space and time" to have real compassion for others.

I believe that balance is crucial and trying to control is harmful.
We need to learn, and we also need to play. We also really, really need to let go. Control and trying to control things (my worst failing) is the opposite of being. When we try to control others, or anything that we can't, we become miserable and small, and I think we all owe ourselves better than that.

I believe that the way you breathe can change your whole day.
And not just because if you stop breathing the day gets much shorter for you. Breath can change your energy levels, pain threshold, anxiety, and even altar your awareness. And if something as simple as changing your breath can do all of that, you're probably capable of greatness.

I believe that everything I believe is subject to change pending further experience.
Scio me nihil scire - "I know I know nothing." is probably one of the best and most important lines ever spoken. I need to internalize it, and recognize that I am merely doing my best with my ideology from my own limited experience situated at this point in time.

That's the beginning - the framework. I wanted to record it somewhere so as I develop it further I have something to refer to.

What do you believe in?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Openness in the face of the fishbowl

Being honest about all of the aspects of trauma work, of healing oneself, can be pretty intimidating, especially once you start to have an understanding of who your audience is, and are publicly posting links to your blog entries on Facebook.
I have a little castle in my fishbowl. It is made of glass.

There are a lot of sources of judgment out there. Oftentimes the people who should really know you best and support you most seem to have the most difficulty with where you are at. And by "you", of course, I mean "me," and "I".

So why am I doing this? Why am I writing openly about my process and experiences?

There are a few reasons:

One is that certain people close to me, although on the surface aware of the stigma surrounding such things, and fully able to articulate how unfair and messed up and counterproductive the existence of that stigma is, experience the peripheral effects of that stigma and are embarrassed by it, challenged by it, or just plain tired of dealing with the things my brain does.

And I get that. I really do.

Because if you are having difficulty by association, imagine what it feels like to be the person directly in the beam of said stigma day in and day out. Imagine what it feels like at 300x magnification and not being able to just walk away from it. Imagine never getting a break.

Being the contrary sort of person that I am, I respond to judgment and condescension (intentional or unintentional), well-meaning paternalistic "shoulds", and misunderstanding with being more open. If we as non-neurotypical folks can bring our truths into the light of the mainstream, then folks who are neurotypical may come to better understand what we go through, and stop holding us to impossible standards and start seeing us for our strengths; as humans rather than "illnesses".

I am not ill. I am not broken. I am wounded, yes. I am struggling, yes, but the struggle is more often with the reactions to my Is rather than my Is itself. And struggle is that human thing which brings about personal growth - struggle is in and of itself not a bad thing. Struggle is a material you can build with if you are lucky enough to have the right tools or know how to make them.

I have learned to reframe PTSD as PTSI: Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. The reasons for this change are listed on the linked website, but for me they are simple: What I have is not a disorder. It has brought disorder into my life, yes, but a car accident does that to a person, or losing one's job, or to a much lesser extent, running out of coffee. But "disorder" has come to erroneously imply something permanent, mysterious, and destructive.

What happened to me changed the structure of my brain, and it can be changed back. PTSD has more in common with a broken leg that was improperly set than it does with a chronic illness or a disorder: It is painful to repair, and that repair takes persistence, and requires a solid support structure, but none of these are reasons to avoid repairing it when its current effects in my life are negative.

The anxiety, ADHD/I, depression - these are all symptoms of PTSD, which is in itself a symptom of a brain incorrectly programmed, in response to genuine dangers, to subsequently perceive danger where there is none, or where danger is within acceptable parameters (ie, walking alongside a busy road is theoretically dangerous, but socially "normal," whereas having a panic reaction to said traffic is not.) I am totally comfortable walking down a busy road, but experience anxiety triggers that are both physical and social and very much dependent on the specifics of the situation.

My work is twofold right now: working on healing myself, with guidance and patience and grace for myself from a better-informed position, and working on healing everything else: the societal misconceptions that keep the mainstream less or entirely inaccessible for people in my shoes, the judgments that keep us down, the misconceptions that see us rejected, marginalized, underestimated, minimized, and misunderstood because we have bones that did not heal correctly and, metaphorically, make us move in a way that nobody outside of this experience can understand.

The way we are seen needs to change. The way we are treated needs to change. As long as I live in a world where I feel I have to seriously consider the ramifications of outing myself as experiencing ADD or PTSD, it will not be safe for most people to seek healing. When someone is filtered out socially for being currently unable to engage in said society in the specific way arbitrarily decided and imposed by said society, what is that but fundamental inequality?

And what is inequality if not wrong?

I fight for myself, yes, but I also fight for everyone else. If outing myself in this way educates a couple of people, and changes a couple of minds, then the world will be a slightly better place. There's no harm in that.

Monday, July 20, 2015

8 ideas for Time Management with ADD

One of the major challenges I have experienced with ADD symptoms is the impatience of others. For someone who perceives the passage of time it is impossible to understand what it is like for those of us who either have the cacophony of a thousand things happening at once or one single thing that eclipses all of time and space while we are engaged with it. 

I often joke that for me, "Time doesn't exist. There is light, there is dark. There are store hours." It's effectively true. When I sit down to write, everything else disappears and the only thing that pulls me out of my trance is the annoying sticking of my Delete key (I spilled beer on it a couple of months ago and it never fully recovered.)

When someone tries to get my attention while I am writing, I will often react in frustration and annoyance, because my thoughts are sweeping through my head with such speed that a moment's distraction can derail the entire article.

It is the same thing when I am trying to do my makeup, get dressed, wash dishes, have a phone conversation, jot down a grocery list... you name it, anything can interrupt a task to the point that I have no recollection of what I was just doing, but am left with the uncomfortable awareness that I have forgotten.

It's a huge pain in the ass, not just for me, but for my friends and family.

I have been reading a lot of articles on ADDitude in my ongoing search for solutions that will allow me to live a productive life that doesn't screw up everyone else's existence. Before I was diagnosed with ADD I put my symptoms down to being "the creative type." The Creative Type is expected to be disorganized, confused, discombobulated. Right? Right. So, being unable to be anything else, I tried to turn it into a badge of honour. "It's okay, Self," I would say when I missed yet another appointment, "this happens because you're a Creative Type."

And at first that sounded good. It helped me to build some self-esteem, because I had something to build it on. But the associated problems of never quite connecting properly with The Rest Of The World were messing up my life. I fell back into thinking myself unworthy, unfinished, unable, unready. I was trying so hard to just do the most basic things on time - wake up, get ready, go out... my friends would talk about waking up twenty minutes before work and getting there on time, and I was thinking, "How the hell do you even wake up in twenty minutes?!" Everyone was a god of time, and I was an ant of "Oooh, shiny!"

Trying to be like everyone else was a nightmare. It was like being a sloth in a community of egrets being scolded all the time for not flying right.

I fantasized about being rich. "If I had money I would hire a PA." A Personal Assistant would be able to remind me what I was doing while I was doing it, remind me of appointments, encourage me, keep me on task, make me lunch (I don't get hungry and often forget to eat when occupied with other tasks) and generally provide the walls that the house of my mind so desperately needed in order to define its own space. A personal assistant could do for me what other peoples' brains do for themselves.

But I was not rich, and not organized enough to be especially employable, and came to internalize the frustration I felt from others - "WHY can't you just be like everyone else?" I would scream at myself in my own head.

Strangely, the abuse didn't further my lofty goals of Getting Things Done.

It took years before I was diagnosed and prescribed medication to help guide my brain. The medication isn't working the way I gather it's supposed to, per se, but the dosage I am on makes the difference between being able to set alarms for myself and forgetting in the middle of setting alarms that I am currently setting an alarm.

So now I have begun to develop a list of Things That Work. I have to put a lot of time into getting and keeping myself somewhat organized - it takes me probably about a day out of each week to line things up, go over them repeatedly, and try to remember crucial appointments and details of the coming week. Here is what I am doing right now that appears to be helping:

  1. Repetition
    I have the calendar on my phone, the paper calendar on my wall, a rewritable calendar (that I admit I am not currently using) and a post-in between my computer monitors that says what I am doing today and what I am doing tomorrow. Admittedly, I go through a LOT of post-its, and this is bad for the planet, but I need hard copies of things because screens seem to glance off my brain even more than words on paper do, and I am triangulating what best works for me.
  2. Reinforcement
    I get all my appointments on cards to begin with. While looking at the cards, I add the appointments to the calendar on my phone. When I get home, I try to remember to look at my phone and add the same appointments to my paper calendar. I am very forgetful, so this doesn't always work, but gradually my capacity for recall is increasing, and I am forgetting fewer appointments.
  3. Checklists
    I make a LOT of checklists. In a single amble around my apartment I can come up with about a zillion things I believe I need to do right now oh my gods, so writing them all down, reviewing them, and removing the ridiculous expectations ("paint my room" will not fit into a day when I have literally anything else to do, and I have to recall that so I don't set myself up for defeat.) is the best tactic I have come up with so far.
  4. Forgiveness
    I have to remember that, just because someone else can do something, it doesn't mean I should be able to, too. I have to be kind to myself when I have not been able to accomplish the tasks on my list. celebrating my successes without punishing myself for my failures will over time create a more zen atmosphere and lower my anxiety, which will in turn increase my capacity. If I love me and am patient with me I will just keep on getting better!
  5. Setting the timer
    The timer on my phone is less effective than a PA, yes, but it is waaaay more affordable. A series of alarms and my use of the timer app has helped tremendously over the last week. I now set my phone timer for 7 minutes when I shower (I otherwise have a tendency to forget that I am showering, that I am doing so for a reason, that I have somewhere to go, that I do not have a rocket car to get me there with minutes but in fact will be taking a bus that only goes every half hour and takes a long time to get anywhere.) I set it for a LOT of things. I set my timer for laundry, dishes, the time I have allotted for gaming, the amount of time I will give myself to get dressed, etc. I set alarms for the time at which I need to put on my shoes, the time by which I need to be leaving to make it to the bus stop... if not for a series of alarms and timers going off I would probably be lying on the floor in my pajamas crying about how hard Adulting is right now.
  6. Padding the margins
    One of the drawbacks to having no real sense of time is not having a clue how long an activity will take me, even after having done said activity a zillion times. This is impossible for neurotypical people to understand, but is something I have no choice but to work with - I can't build with Lego I don't have, so I build with the Lego I do. One of the ways I screw up my scheduling is by thinking I can schedule things back-to-back, completely underestimating how long the bus ride will take, that I may need debriefing time or a coffee in-between, or that I even have to get from one place to another and do not as yet have access to a handy transporter pad. So. I have taken up padding my time. I try not to bite off more than I can chew. I try to leave buffer zones between items in my schedule. It is hard. I can't pack anywhere near as much into a single day as most folks, but if I try to be as efficient and effective with what I have rather than trying to work with capabilities I don't have, I will be a lot happier and more productive. So I try to think about how long a thing will take me, then add a span of time to each side of my estimate, then add an unnecessarily long gap between things, and so far it appears to be working.
  7. Self-care
    Self care is important. When others are impatient with me, I need to find patience for me within myself rather than internalizing their expectations. When I let the expectations of others effect me it makes all of my symptoms worse and triggers anxiety attacks. Sometimes I can only accomplish this by pulling away entirely from others and letting my mind wander for a bit. I have to let myself off the leash, but also set a timer for that so I know when to come back. Every time I let misunderstanding make me feel bad about myself doing my work gets a little harder. The heavier the load, though, the more important it is that I find a way to carry it. I am the only person who can love me enough to support me through learning these new skills, largely because I am the only person who has no choice but to stick with me through the work. ;) So I write myself affirmations, I buy me chocolate. I read articles by other persons with ADD to get a sense of solidarity. I am awesome, and powerful, and I can do this.
  8. Let go
    There are some things I simply cannot expect myself to be able to do at this time. If I set out two overarching weekly projects I may be able to complete one of them, and so maybe in order to keep myself inspired I should set out two and then choose one instead of expecting myself to complete both. Letting go is difficult when you feel an underlying sense of perpetually freefalling through all of the things you can't quite remember or finish. Neurotypical people will not be able to understand what my world is like without, perhaps, staying awake for several days straight then taking a ton of speed while several different TV shows play loudly in a room full of screens and five people dressed in blinking lights do impromptu interpretive dance to soundtracks playing only in their own heads. If I could set this kind of thing up to inspire empathy I would, but I fear the high risk of successful lawsuits. Given that nobody is going to be able to understand my challenges, I have to find a way to let the feeling of isolation go. Either I ignore the pressures and progress at my pace, or I fall back in defeat and cease to grow. The rapids of external expectation are difficult to navigate, but if I want to get anywhere at all I have to be satisfied with progress that seems slow to others. This is my work, and I can't rush it.
The last year of my life has brought me a lot of hope. I understand my difficulties much better now and have begun deprogramming the internalized negativity that has built up over the last 30 years or so. As I work to untangle the knots of trauma underlying my symptoms, so I have to work to best use what resources I have to greatest effect. The top-down effect of working with my symptoms and the ground-up work of targeting their causes are a daunting combination of tasks, but I am giving myself grace to work at my pace, backslide, try new things and succeed, try new things and learn that they don't work, and meet my own needs as I go. I don't think I'm going to fly through this process, but if I do that will be wonderful.

Every day is a new opportunity to find out what I can accomplish and accept where I am at. I am working hard, and trusting myself, and taking one step at a time, and I am not going to look back except to see how far I have come and celebrate my accomplishments.

I can do this.

The origin story

So here we are.

I am embarking on a new adventure chronicling my learning and treatment journey through being an adult with ADD, anxiety and depression. Over the past few months I have been learning increasingly about myself and how my brain works, and have focused on trauma as a possible source of all of my symptoms. I will go into that backstory later, but for now, that context is enough to explain where I will be coming from with this blog, and it's anybody's guess where it will go to.

A little about me:

I am a 37-year-old white cisgendered woman (I mention this to frame my journey within my myriad privileges) with a "history of depression and anxiety," not to mention a history of being totally awesome. I was diagnosed with ADD last December (2014) after a couple of years speculating about the origins of my symptoms.

Several more-interesting-than-average things have occurred in my life to date. That is to say, "interesting" as in "May you live in interesting times.", ie: traumas. These go back quite a ways, to the point that I can't recall whether I was ever neurotypical despite having many clear memories of being five years old. I am currently working on the assumption that I once was, and that for me, my symptoms began with trauma.

"But, Otherkin," [not my real name, obviously. My folks are much nicer than that] you may be wondering, "Where did you get that idea?"

A few months ago I was in a counseling session when my therapist expressed, as an aside during a conversation about my difficulties at that time, that "often the symptoms of ADD are actually undiagnosed trauma." That stuck out for me, because a lot of the negatives in my life (diagnoses, negative experiences, failures) have made me feel utterly helpless. Having atypical neurology is invisible, and peoples expectations tend to reflect their own abilities. This can make life overwhelmingly frustrating for those of us whose brains do very different things. The expectations of others, and my inability to meet those, cause me anxiety that can lead to depression. Hearing that there was a possible identifiable cause was the first glimmer of hope that there might also be a cure. I want a cure.

Now, I am speaking only from my own context here. It is important to note that atypical neurology can be as much a thing to be respected and valued as to be railed against. Atypical neurology can be like a whole other set of superpowers - there are advantages, even for me. For instance, I can think incredibly quickly through possible outcomes of situations when I am not feeling emotional about them. It has often annoyed friends that by the time I ask for advice it's because I've thought through every option I can see, and suggestions are often met with an impatient, "No, I have considered that already, and it won't work because X. I am asking for new ideas." Not knowing which outcomes I've already explored in my head leaves other people at a loss when trying to present me with new avenues. One of my self-work action items is to learn patience with others as I need them to treat me with patience.

The advantages of having my own set of superpowers, however, are insufficient when compared with the advantages I see neurotypical people utilizing daily. If you are neurotypical, there is a good chance you can have a conversation in a room with multiple conversations happening. I can try, but the crossed streams of audio bombarding me from every direction confuse me tremendously. Even if there is art on the walls where we are, or the floor is intricate, or there are people walking by the window, my attention can slip from my current interaction to other sights or sounds and I easily lose the thread of what is being said to me. This is not due to a lack of interest, but due to sensory inundation.

This is not something within my control, and has often led to people asking me if I have hearing loss, as it appears that I can't hear what they are saying. The reality is that I often can't parse conversations held in proximity to distractions because it's as though I am trying to make out minute details of twelve songs that are being played simultaneously and the volume is fluctuating on all of them. A combination of stimuli is overwhelming to me.

It took a long time before I was able to understand why I couldn't do what other people could do. I believed I was lazy. I believed I was broken somehow but could not understand what was wrong with me - I pictured myself as a machine what would go "Whirrrrrrr" at the push of a button, yet produce nothing. If it wasn't for the friends and acquaintances who themselves had ADD/ADHD and suggested to me that I might be experiencing the same thing, I never would have asked my doctor to look into it, and I would still be disconsolately sitting in one place wondering what the hell was wrong with me and hating myself for my perceived ineptitude.

This being a blog written by an adult with ADD, you'll simply have to forgive the narrative meandering that is sure to occur. I could probably spend more time on editing, but I also have a real life to attend to, and while I can hyperfocus on writing or reading, I can't hyperfocus on editing my own work: There is too much re-reading and jumping around, and I feel like I am trying to hang on to the back of a bullet train by my fingertips. To get back to the point of this post, once my interest was piqued in the possibility of curing myself, I headed to the library and found some books that I thought sounded promising.The first one I read was "The Trauma Spectrum: Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency" by Robert Scaer, a neurologist who spends a good deal of the book describing how trauma changes the brain. According to his book, it is entirely possible for trauma to cause multiple physical symptoms - anything from IBS to whiplash, he says, could be a trauma response. 

Every symptom that has felt like an invisible wall between me and the rest of the world may be the result of traumas that I have experienced. Every one of them was listed in his book as being a symptom of trauma. ADD, anxiety, depression... in me, these could all stem from the same source. 

My "general anxiety disorder" may be the result of a process termed "kindling", wherein the initial trauma causes hypersensitivity to anything looking like the original trauma. Trauma begets "smaller" trauma like a ripple in a pond, resulting in anxiety reactions to less and less directly-related stimuli until, over time, one feels a general sense of unease permeating daily life. I identified with this especially. 

Going over my own memories of my life, testing them against his hypothesis, I could see a pattern stemming from my own original traumas. Much of what he presented resonated with me, and the implications of neuroplasticity in terms of healing potential have inspired me to continue learning. 

I am now working my way through The PTSD Workbook and am finding it helpful. This blog will chronicle my process. I don't know where this is going to go, as I said, but this is where it begins.

Thanks for reading.