A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

I Really Did It!

on October 23, 2015

The overwhelmed anxiety morphed into flashes and flashbacks…I was frantic…and a skill ninja…using movement, reaching out, bolus med dose, shower, music, breathing, turning my mind from maladaptive “fixes”… I was adrift and floating farther away … I called J’s number just to hear his voicemail message to get his voice into my head and not the rapist’s … and then I started reaching blindly for something, something I thought could help me get the nauseating cologne out of my nose and mind…

A few months ago, after a run-in with lavender (another trigger scent), J and I talked about peppermint or lemon being good scents to “redirect” the brain.  I’ve had lemon essential oil since.  I carried it in my wallet for a bit and then in the car…and when I reached blindly, my fingers wrapped around it, the possibility of something helping…I was running out of skills…I coated my wrists and hands in lemon, cupped my hands and breathed deeply…finally…a deep breath…and the ability to think for just a second…the panic breaking for that moment…and I remembered–Ice!

In the throws of months of nearly non-stop flashbacks, a few years ago, ice came up as a strategy…something that also causes the brain to redirect (a response that is physiologically similar to that with cutting…except, much safer).  It’s not a strategy to use all the time (although safe, the brain would get used to the sensation and not “reboot” after repeated exposures…again, similarly to cutting) and, it works.  I had forgotten about it even being a strategy (a sign of healing, I’m sure…not having a need for extreme measures) until the lavender incident occurred at group and the clinician offered to get me ice.

The lemon still on my hands, I made my way to the freezer to get two ice cubes, one for each hand….gripped each of them and squeezed…allowing myself to feel the cold and “pain”…to be focused on that moment and only that moment…

My brain reset and I climbed into bed…exhausted after hours of on and off flashes and flashbacks and the constant barrage against my mind and body.

It wasn’t until last night that it hit me…I’d survived the night without self-harm…and I’d gotten myself looking pretty good with meal plan…I’ve talked about courage coming in quiet whispers and roaring roars…It roared the other night…and I’m allowing myself to feel proud…and, to write it down so that I can remember that there are times I can “do PTSD” without causing more harm to myself and to remind you that you can, too.  We really can ❤

Be safe, my friends!


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