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Courageous Yoga Chick

Overcoming PTSD and Self-Injury Through Yoga

Flying With Anxiety ✈️

Alarm goes off. 

3:10am.

Rush to get ready. Bags packed. 

Do I have everything? What if I’m forgetting something? Why isn’t my husband getting up? We need to leave in 20 minutes! I know I’m forgetting something.

We make it to the airport. 4:10am. 

We wait for a shuttle. 4:20am.

Walk into the airport. One TSA checkpoint open in the entire airport. The line is huge. Bigger than I’ve ever seen. 

My anxiety is instantly at a 10. The plane leaves in an hour! We’ll never make it. We’re going to miss our flight!

The noises surrounding me are instantly magnified. We should have gotten here earlier. There is a lady working for Delta… her voice shouting over the crowd… my ears hurt. The shaking starts. I can’t make it stop. My husband tries to make jokes to lighten the mood, but it just agitates me. We’re not going to make our flight. I can’t do this. 

I try to find my breath. I can’t find it. I tap my fingers together. Breathe in 4; breath out 6. The anxiety consumes me. My husband makes a sarcastic remark: “Don’t get us arrested.” It isn’t funny. I try to use my skills. The anxiety is more than I can handle. 

We get through TSA at 5:09am. Boarding begins at 5:15am. 

As I sit on the plane, waiting for take off, a whole new anxiety has started. What if we crash?!?! 

Sobriety, Sandtray, and Yoga

I haven’t written in a while. It’s been a very busy week. 

On August 1, I celebrated 5 years of AA sobriety. I never thought I would be sober for 5 years! Now that I have reached this point, I can’t imagine I will ever drink again. To celebrate my 5 years, I’m heading to New York City this weekend.

This week I also had a lot of stress in my marriage. My husband’s financial situation is more than I can handle. I paid over $3000 for him to file bankruptcy this week, draining all of my savings account. His company also decided this week that they would no longer be working overtime. This means that he will make about $600 a month less than what we need him to make for us to pay our bills. 

I cried in yoga again this week. I was so overwhelmed by everything going on in life. It was a challenging vinyasa class, but I was hyper focused on my practice. I held crow for over 10 breaths! You can’t think about killing your self when you’re doing cool yoga shit. At the end of class, the instructor (the same one who does my Thai Massages), came over and massaged my feet…. just like she does in Thai. I couldn’t keep the tears from falling. I just had to let go of all of the emotions I was feeling. 

I also had productive sandtray work this week. I changed a lot of things in my sandtray. It has been virtually the same for months now, and I have felt “stuck” in it. This time, I moved almost everything. I don’t remember a ton about the process, but I do recall seeing myself look at my therapist and say “I’m done,” several times before finally breaking down in a puddle of tears. Ok so the dissociation was probably not a good thing, but my work in sandtray was. I actually don’t really know what my sandtray from that session means right now, but I do know that I feel “done.” I have found myself wondering if this means I’m done with trauma work… like maybe I’m “better” now. Or if it simply means I’m done with sandtray. Either way, that feeling of being done was so intense; I have to believe it means something.

These next couple of days will be busy and sleep deprived as I travel to NYC. When I return, I’ll be traveling again for work. I have a Thai Massage scheduled for the end of next week, which I am looking forward to. Overall, despite my shitty marriage, I am doing ok right now.

Jivamukti

Today in yoga teacher training, we learned about Jivamukti Yoga. This style of yoga is about connection. My basic understanding is that Jivamukti connects us with our divine self, and also with god. It helps us reach a place of “enlightenment.”

On Thursday, I wrote a blog post about Day 600 and how I cried in yoga. In that class, I came to the earth-shattering realization that I am never going to cut again. That particular class was set up to be similar to a Jivamukti style class, but I didn’t know that at the time. Today, while learning about Jivamukti, I sat in awe, amazed at how yoga really does work. In Thursday’s class, I had no idea what Jivamukti was or what the intentions of that practice were. I simply wanted to practice yoga on Day 600 with one of my favorite instructors. Despite not knowing the intention of Jivamukti, I gained all of the benefits from it. For the first time ever, I believed that I know longer needed to cut myself! That is huge! 

The Jivamukti practice today was much harder, physically, than what we practiced on Thursday. I found myself getting very overwhelmed and frustrated. The music was so loud and the guest teacher was calling out poses and talking nonstop. It was sensory overload. For whatever reason, part of my PTSD included unusually heightened senses, particularly to sound. 

When things are loud or there are a lot of things going on at once, I have anxiety attacks. I started to have one today on my yoga mat during the practice. I eventually tapped my fingers together and focused only on my breath. The remainder of the sequence seemed more manageable once I got grounded. Shortly after, it occurred to me that my body has been so hurt in the past… the reason I don’t enjoy rigorous yoga is because I don’t like for my body to be in pain or fatigued like that. My body has been hurt enough in the past.

Overall, I love the idea of Jivamukti. I saw its benefits play out in my own life in my very first class. While I didn’t enjoy the physical challenge of today’s class, or the sensory overload, I did gain some insight as to why I don’t enjoy those things.

When It Stops Being Good

Today was such a good day. I cleaned my house. I celebrated 600 days and my shrink’s birthday in therapy today with cupcakes. I had productive sandtray work. And I went shopping with my mom and sister who are in town. 

All week, I have been having issues with my online banking. It’s been showing way less money than there actually is in my account. Today, my husband finally went in to talk to them about it. Turns out one of the companies that his business owed money to garnished $1500 from our account. I am so upset. My husband, on a good week, only makes $600 a week. That means the bulk of that $1500 came from MY income. Income that I was going to use for things like paying down my debt, buying groceries, paying daycare. Now, there isn’t even money for the mortgage payment…. let alone anything else. 

He is in the process of filing bankruptcy. I was under the impression that once he was in that process, they couldn’t garnish our account. I guess I was wrong. I also don’t understand how they were able to garnish our joint account, when I’m the primary account holder, when my name wasn’t on anything for his business. I literally don’t know what to do. My mortgage will clear on Tuesday and I am short $1200. 

I am only slightly mad at my husband. But I am furious at the situation he has put us in. I was having such an amazing day. And now, I can’t stop crying. I am walking into yoga teacher training in 15 minutes and I’m a complete wreck. I can hear my marriage counselor telling me that nothing is going to get solved today. She would be correct…it’s not. He has tried calling and emailing his lawyer, but naturally she hasn’t answered. 

I don’t feel like I need to cut. But I don’t really know what I need (aside from $1200). When I try to talk to my husband about it, he just tells me to stop being so upset. I feel completely alone 😩

Day 600: Tears in Yoga

Today was Day 600 without cutting.

I started my day with a restorative yoga class led by my therapist, followed by a vinyasa yoga class led by the instructor who does my Thai Massage sessions.

Restorative yoga was ok. Nothing monumental there. I like going to the classes that my therapist teaches; however, on days like today, I really miss my favorite yoga teacher on Thursday mornings. Her restorative classes are just the best. The things she says are so profound and meaningful for me.

Fortunately, I was able to get the “deep and meaningful stuff” in the vinyasa class today. The instructor taught a similar class, with similar quotes, on Monday night. It hit home for me then, but this time, it took on an even deeper feeling. She read from John Donahue. She talked about seeing ourselves the way the person who loves us the most sees us. I thought about my daughter. As frustrating as she can be, she loves me unconditionally. She is so forgiving of all of my faults. She sees all of the good in me, and she cherishes that. Self-love is challenging for me. However, viewing it this way helped me make self-love more tangible.

For me, today’s vinyasa class ended up being about shedding a layer that is no longer serving me. It was about seeing myself the way my daughter sees me. It was about finding compassion for myself. When the class ended and it was time for savasana, I felt the hot tears sting my eyes. I am never going to cut myself again. It is the first time in my entire life that I have thought that. Actually, I didn’t just think it, I felt it. I felt it deep down to my core. And I still feel it. I tried to push the tears back down, but I couldn’t. When my instructor came to rub my shoulders I felt the puddles of tears grow larger, and then stream down my face. I am ok. I am better. I don’t have to cut anymore. 

It has taken 600 days, after almost 14 years of cutting and 16 years of therapy, for me to finally declare, and truly believe, that I am not going to cut anymore. I know that the urges to cut will likely still be there occasionally. I know that when things get stressful, my mind will lie to me and I will feel like cutting is the only way to find relief. However, I also know that I don’t need to cut anymore. I am all of the wonderful things that my daughter believes in. I am strong. I am courageous. I don’t need to cut anymore because I deserve better. I deserve healthy coping skills. 

The Eve Of 600

It is Day 599. #cutfree

I was going to go to yoga today, but I had to work more than I had anticipated and then got busy cleaning out my daughter’s playroom this evening… #adulting

I did make time to run by Athleta. They were having a big sale, with an extra 20% off of clearance. I had rewards bucks too from my Athleta credit card (that no one should have given me!). I got a new pair of yoga leggings for $17. #winning

I also stopped into Cheesecake Factory today to get cheesecake to go. My day tomorrow will be busy, so I figured it would probably be ok to celebrate Day 600 one day early. Plus, I am all about some Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake. #fatkid


Throughout my day, I found myself reflecting on these past 100 days. In terms of self-injury and trauma work, the 500s have been really good to me. In the past 100 days, I have worked through some actual real trauma stuff – more than just memories. I have worked towards finding anger for my abuser and for what I went through, accepting that I was neglected as a child, and forgiving myself. I don’t know that I am 100% on any of those things yet, but I do feel like I have made some progress on them. #makingprogress

In the past 100 days, I also started Thai Massage. I have had three sessions so far, and a fourth one is booked for the middle of August. I feel like this has been the “missing link” in my therapy. I have made a lot of progress in the last 100 days and I can’t help but think that some of that has to do with my Thai experiences. To me, it seems like I have made more progress in therapy since starting Thai Massage than I have in all of 2017. Overall, I am calmer. I still get anxious. I still have occasional suicidal thoughts and urges to self-harm. I still have some angry outbursts. However, it doesn’t feel like I get “stuck” in those negative places. I used to get stuck there. They also don’t feel as intense. It used to feel like my entire world was ending. Now, if I have a rough day and my mind goes to suicidal ideation, I don’t sit with it for as long. The thoughts come up, and then they vanish. Even my flashbacks don’t stick around for as long! #unstuck

I had my first really bad flashback in months. You may remember me writing about it here. I literally doubled over in pain; and then the memories and the tears followed. I was afraid to go to sleep that night; petrified of potential nightmares. In the past, when my flashbacks became that dysregulating, I always had nightmares… usually for days. Thankfully, there have been no nightmares following this flashback. In my Thai Massage sessions, I processed through several memories, including the one that I had a flashback of this week. In Thai Massage, the memories come up, and then they float away. It often feels like I am little again; like 7-year-old Little Jen is laying on the mat getting massaged; getting touched with so much genuine care and compassion. I can’t help but wonder if this connection between past and present has helped my mind and body work through the trauma more effectively. I can’t help but think that pairing these memories with positive touch makes it easier for me to work though the flashbacks… easier to be unstuck. #flashbackssuck

Obviously I don’t know what the next 100 days, the “600s”, will hold. I am going into the busy season at work and I am hoping I can manage all of that stress, in addition to my mental health stress. I will be finishing yoga teacher training in the next 100 days! I will be traveling to New York City. And, hopefully, I’ll be booking a yoga retreat for March to celebrate my 30th birthday. There are a lot of exciting things going on. Of course like always, life is unpredictable. And my life is even more unpredictable. I am hoping I will be able to continue to incorporate Thai Massage at least once a month. I am also optimistically decreasing my therapy sessions from twice a week to once a week… and eventually every other week. Right now, I am in a good place. I sincerely hope it continues. #optimistic 

What If I Don’t Get Better

What if I don’t get better? Or what if I do get better but my head is so fucked up that I don’t even realize it? What does better even look like? What if I’m already there?

These are the thoughts than ran through my head today as I walked into the yoga studio. In a lot of ways, I am “better.” There are some things I would definitely still like to work on….

  • Anger
  • Feeling less anxious when things are stressful 
  • Loving myself more
  • Leaving space between a stimulus and my response
  • Showing myself compassion
  • Being less fearful of everything

When I look at this list, I realize that I have made a lot of progress during my last two years of therapy. I am hopeful that I continue making progress. I’m not sure that I can label myself as 100% “better,” but I am, for the most part, doing ok. 

Afraid To Sleep

I can’t sleep. I’m afraid to go to sleep. 

I had my first dysregulating flashback in a while. I’ve had a few flashbacks over the last few months, but none have really been dysregulating. Tonight’s flashback was. It was the kind of flashback that hurt, the kind that makes me want to claw my insides out. The sensations come first, and then the memory follows. 

It happened about 30 minutes ago and I still feel it. I can’t make the sensations go away. So, I’m afraid to go to sleep. I’m afraid of the dreams I may have. I’m afraid of more dysregulation. I was doing so well too 😢

Consumed With Worry

Today has been filled with so much sadness. A dear friend of mine lost her significant other to suicide last night. All day, I have been thinking of her and worrying about her. She is surrounded by her family right now, which is good. I feel helpless. There is not much I can do or say that will make her feel better. I cannot bring him back to her. 

Between the death of Chester Bennington, and now this, suicide is definitely a prevalent topic for me right now. I can’t help but worry that maybe that will be me one day. What if one day I just can’t find the right skills to use? What if I can’t keep myself safe anymore? There have been a few close calls these past few years. I worry that maybe one day the hell inside of my head will be so bad that I can’t find a reason not to.

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