A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

When the Holidays are not Merry and Bright…

on December 24, 2015

Cheer and joy abound while I battle the demons that seek to rule my life.  They, too, know this is the merriest time of year.  They use it, the added expectations, the shopping, the lists, the planning, the change in consistency, to push me farther and farther into myself…to the point where I’m proud of myself for taking a shower AND brushing my teeth.  Because, in all honesty, getting to that took the encouragement of my psychologist and reminders of “next right thing”.  The spiral, and I have felt it coming…knew it was on the tails of the flashbacks, knew that this time period brings PTSD from a plethora of sources-changing this time I used to enjoy into something I fear.  It becomes much bigger than me…even my best skills are hidden and trying to even figure out taking the next right step has me befuddled.

My smile and singsong voice are forced and I perform as I think I should.  Snapping photos as my children decorate cookies and open carefully-chosen gifts.  There are times I think I may mindfully be part of this process.  It’s a glimpse…a glimpse at the person I want to be, but who seems out of reach.


Meal plan has been set for years and the alarms on my phone remind me when to eat each meal and snack.  Except yesterday, when I realized I’d missed an alarm or dismissed it…only to see that I had turned off alarms…and I don’t remember when.  Ed returns for the holidays, not in a Santa hat or ringing bells…he returns, keeping tabs on that scoop of frosting I allow myself or a small piece of candy.  He reminds me that each “indiscretion” equals missing an entire meal or snack.  And, although I know it is not true, I follow along…remembering the time that Ed knew everything…certainly what it takes to get through times of stress.  I guess I have been in recovery long enough to know that he’s lying…that I need to follow meal plan and listen to those who I now trust more than him…my treatment team.  I can turn the alarms back on and listen to them.

I’ve missed tracking anxiety and depression symptoms on a 1-10 scale and find myself nearly always at a 10…and stuck and confused…using maladaptive skills that scar my body and mind.  Some mixed up world where I attack myself and feel self care is selfish…except, I know it’s not.  Self care is kindness and compassion and I am deserving of it.


A friend asked for a list of ways to positively cope and I sent them to her…the ones that work for me…even at a time I am forgetting to use what I know works…here’s my ideas…a reminder for me, as much as it is a share for you.  We can do this together…it’s simply to much to battle alone.  We can do this!!


~Breathe…Just Breathe…Breathe…Slowly in for a count of four and slowly out for a count of four.

~Reach out for support…phone call, text, fb, in person, email, support line…anyone who can help you not be alone.

~Get outside…feel the sun or the breeze…find as many blue things as you can (to limit your focus)

~Take a shower (first remove anything that can be used for self harm)

~Listen to music…my go-to is a “Be Brave, Be Strong, Be Mighty” mix I made on Spotify.

~Essential Oils…Lemon and Peppermint help me most…especially lemon during flashbacks.

~Find your softest blanket or sleeping bag and cocoon yourself.


~Appropriate meds, as prescibed

~Paint, sing, write, type

~Remember–You are not losing your mind…it feels horribly now and it will get better…it always gets better.

Now, I shall work through this list to reboot myself.  I may not be merry and bright…and, that’s okay.  I’m alive and living life and am healing and recovering.  That’s the important part.

Keep fighting, my friends ❤


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