Feeling better

So I got my mmj prescription and I have been eating a lot more. Which has been very helpful for me – I have lots more energy & feel better & sleep better.

Another helpful thing is the support of my family. They have been very very validating about how horrible things were for me, and they have helped me with little things like getting extra food for my fridge. And just providing company & support.

And my friends – two of my buddies came over yesterday and we played disc golf. And they are all deaf, so we could all just chill and sign with each other – I like that; it’s less pressure for me than spoken communication.

And my animals – my roommate has an extremely energetic border collie / lab mix that I play with in the dog park & pet, and I have a cat who comes to curl up on my lap/chest and purr while I scratch behind her ears.

Later on today, I’m gonna go to class. I like the structure of school and the predictability of the teachers & students – though it can be tough sometimes for other reasons. (For example, I love literature, but I hate the way that English departments romanticize mental illness that caused authors to suffer – like Sylvia Plath etc.)

So yeah things are looking up. I mean I still got a ways to go but things are looking better.

triggering jokes

so i have been kinda thinking about which religious jokes trigger me and which don’t. i laugh at some of them but others just trigger me way too much.

so i found a good example of a religious “joke” that triggers me.

the person who reblogged it said:

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

yes

Yes.

Yes.

Indeed it is.If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

i just… hate seeing people think that this shit is something that was made up. that people don’t actually believe it. the clueless people who laugh at this have no idea of the horror that signs like this hint at.

i don’t know, i just feel angry, almost, at stuff like this. like – don’t you know that adults actually do tell children this shit? that adults build rules that confine children into these controlling, extremely restrictive environments?

like okay it’s fucking terrifying to be told that you yourself are basically evil incarnate for having a sexuality. shit like that. ya know.

i can kinda understand if another ex-religious person from similar circumstances uses stuff like this as a coping mechanism. i personally can’t use humor to cope because it’s too triggering to even think about this shit much less laugh at it, but i can see how it’d help someone else.

personally i prefer satire. i like humor that comes from people who genuinely seem to have gone through this shit, too – humor which makes fun of fundamentalism in such a pitch-perfect way. like the facebook post about the “evil liberal professor” who makes his students worship karl marx

MMJ

There is much debate about whether medical marijuana helps out with PTSD or not. I do not believe that there is one ‘right’ answer – I believe that PTSD is so complicated that you should talk about it very openly with your therapist.

What complicates it is the fact that marijuana is classified as a schedule i drug, which means that *we can’t even study its effects*! Because of its schedule i status, it is next to impossible for researchers to obtain cannabis and answer questions like: “Does teenage mj use put one at risk for developing schizophrenia?” “Does mj addiction exist? If so, what are the mechanisms so that we can treat it?” “Does marijuana alleviate symptoms of PTSD and Parkinson’s?”

Despite all that, the evidence seems to be that marijuana helps with some symptoms and hinders with some symptoms. It helps with things like lack of appetite and insomnia, but it does not help with the dissociative tendencies.

Since I live in a medical marijuana state and I currently should be eating four times – or more – than I manage in a day, I had a serious conversation with my therapist about mmj. I honestly am scared at how my body is wasting away.

i explained that i DO NOT want a strain that is more of a ‘head high’/dissociative. (i smoked a sativa-heavy strain last week and i freaked out a ton because it was so freaking dissociative) it is just that i should be eating 4 times as much as i currently am, and i currently sleep for like 3 hours per night. i just want to smoke, get super-munchies, and fall asleep. i want to be able to nourish my body so that i can do things like exercise.

my purpose for getting an mmj card would be to (a) purchase mj in a safe and regulated environment (my dealer has a scary alcoholic roommate – this is the city that has more dispensaries than starbucks; i shouldn’t have to deal with that) and (b) to ensure that i get a strain that gives me the effects i want.

many medical patients only smoke a little bit until they get the desired physical effect – then stop. i have a one-hitter. that’s what i plan on doing. i don’t plan on getting fucked up and losing myself in a haze of cannabis smoke all day because the trauma is too much. which, unfortunately, i’ve seen people do. and, like, the stories that my ex had about growing up in a street gang – well, why do you think people in gangs smoke so much weed?

my therapist said, that’s fine, you’re an adult, marijuana is part of life – we will work towards you learning how to eat without the marijuana, but for right now, that’s fine.

she specified, don’t smoke while you are processing through the events and writing your story of the event(s). don’t be high while you are in therapy. you want to connect to the event, not dissassociate from it more. fair enough, that makes sense.

so i have a consult appointment to get my red card next tuesday. ptsd is not covered, but chronic nausea (which i have been experincing) is a covered medical condition in this state.

it’s looking like it’s ridiculously easy to get the card, especially if you are over 21 – you don’t even need medical records if you are over 21! i hope the ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol’ amendment passes so that we can stop playing this charade.

anyway, i don’t foresee any problems in getting my card – and i’m looking forward to being able to experience walking into a nice safe dispensary so that i don’t have to deal with a “proud alcoholic” who stacks 50 pabst cans in a pyramid. i look forward to chatting with a friendly person behind the counter who genuinely cares about getting me medication that will help me eat/sleep.

Religious/emotional Abuse

I feel very fortunate that I never heard this from my parents, but 99% of what made my situation so fucked up was being surrounded by people who came from homes like this.

Like – some of us teens came from loving homes, so we were able to kind of tune out the Crazy that was coming from the preachers’ mouths.

But I could see in some people’s eyes and the way that they acted – this is simply an extension of the horror that they face every day at home.

It was really sad and horrifying to make friends with people who did not feel like they would ever be able to escape it all.

And to make friends with people who had been suffering through that abuse for so long that they walked around with glazed eyes and embraced Jesus Christ only because they were genuinely too terrorized to learn of other alternatives.

And I get angry when people think that Carrie’s mom in Carrie by Stephen King is an exaggerated caricature that couldn’t possibly exist in real life. I’m just like, “Don’t you know what the world is really like?”

Flashbacks & disassociation

I was thinking about the Event and I realized: I can remember so many details, even though it happened almost ten years ago.

I remember that the verse that she forced me to read was on the left page, second column, second paragraph from the top. I remember that it was about 1 inch, 1 1/2 inches, from the end of the Bible. I remember the fake-leather texture of the book.

Then I started actually smelling Bible paper and I could feel the fake-leather texture in my hands again.

It was not a full-on flashback in the sense that I was actually back in that room again, but it was still a pretty… unique experience, shall we say.

But now I know why I’ve always had this adverse reaction to Bibles since that event happened.

Then, over the course of a few days, the rest of the memory came back.

At some point, when my SUDS (subjective unit of distress scale; 0-100) is lower than, like, 85 (which is where it currently is) when I think about holding a Bible exactly like that – we are going to do exposure therapy with that. But, right now, my SUDS is too high – you want to start exposure therapy with something around 50 to 60.

The day after I had this flashback, I also experienced a smell-flashback: Bible paper. It was so strong that I felt like clawing out my nose to get the smell out! So I grabbed the nearest strong-smelling thing – drakkar noir – and inhaled deeply. It was much better.

In addition to male cologne, the scent of eucalyptus also helps to ‘ground’ me.

I have been working on my dissociative tendencies with my therapist, and I told her about eucalyptus. She had me buy a bottle of essential oil for ‘homework’ and told me that, whenever I start to disassociate, I should put a drop of eucalyptus oil under my nose and write down the last thing that I remember before disassociating.

It has been helping. I honestly have been disassociating for a very long time, since childhood, really – so sometimes it’s hard for me to see why it’s such a bad thing. But the goal of PTSD treatment is to “connect” to the traumatic memories and integrate them into your past, so that makes sense.

Crying

I have finally been able to cry and have it be okay.

For the longest time, it was very difficult for me to cry.

That’s because, during my Event, one of the people who was escorting me (I had to be escorted everywhere I went after they found out I was gay, as if I was contagious or an active danger to others) saw that I was trying very hard not to cry. Well, okay, what actually happened is, I was staring off into space and in kind of a dissociative state. The tears were somewhere behind my eyes, but I wasn’t ‘there.’ I was dissociative throughout most of the experience – it was a defense mechanism.

Well, my escort looked at me with this expression of pure, utter disgust and hatred, as if I was dirt, and she was like, “You don’t have to be strong.” She said ‘strong’ as if it was a dirty word.

So then that made me cry.

From then on, it was extremely difficult for me to cry. I always felt like someone would be completely disgusted with my inability to be strong. As if they would judge me and get some satisfaction out of watching me break down.

I started to be able to cry again a few months ago. At first, it was somewhat retraumatizing – I cried at my job.

(My job was a ‘trigger situation’ because I had several religious coworkers, and one coworker in particular had this screamy-voice that sounded too much like other screamy-voices at that camp. I once listened to her yell at my Catholic supervisor because Catholics are “not really Christian,” which triggered me really badly. My coworker and I would constantly be like, “why is she even allowed to do this job” – you could see how easily she triggered our clients, many of whom suffered from C-PTSD and things of that nature.)

So I cried at my job during supervision. (In social work, you check in with your supervisor every week to make sure that your emotions aren’t getting in the way of your job.) And my supervisor was very into the strict Catholic gender roles, so she kind of reacted to me with disgust – as if I was a weak man for crying, therefore, I could not be counted upon to take care of the clients.

So that was difficult to have to be retraumatized like that.

But then I began to cry at home. No full-on sobs or anything like that. Just tears streaming from my eyes.

I don’t know, it really is kind of healing.

One thing that also really helped me was having a super-manly man in my cohort talk about how crying helped him cope. We were at a training where we discussed secondary trauma, and this young man who is, like, the picture of society’s ideal masculine man – with a full-on beard and tons of body hair and interests that revolved around sports and a beautiful girlfriend and just a general masculine energy to him – told us that he would put on a sad movie and start “sobbing like a baby” after work. He said that this helped him cope with what he saw every day.

It was just amazing for me personally to hear such a masculine man say something like that. It really reaffirmed what I already intellectually knew: It’s not a sign of weakness to cry. It is healing. Men can cry.

Atheism & Asatru

I have long been a huge fan of atheism. It personally helps me to cope.

There is just something comforting about being able to logically order the universe and to have the past belong to the past – like, the Big Bang created everything. But you have no obligation to worship the Big Bang just because it made everything, and it isn’t a conscious being that can make judgments. Likewise, it’s comforting to have a prediction of the future that is based upon logic and observation rather than delusional fears and fantasies about Jesus Christ swooping down and gathering his favorites before God smites the earth with pestilence.

I also do NOT feel like, “OH MY GOD THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO GOD AND IF YOU SAY THERE IS, THAT THREATENS MY WORLDVIEW!” … I simply feel like the whole question of God is completely irrelevant. And it’s like – when you’re an adult, it doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore because you have learned that he actually symbolizes the love of your parents who give you gifts. Your world is not devoid because you do not believe in Santa Claus.

I was an atheist at the time of the Event. They were able to get through to me enough to kind of instill a Pascal’s Wager flavor of agnosticism in me: better believe in God just in case a wrathful angry being truly is out there.

Looking back, my first atheist partner really helped me to heal. She was very outspoken about her beliefs – “There is NO God!” and lightning didn’t strike her down or anything like that. Her example was great.

I thought about Asatru for a little bit, but it doesn’t really comfort me in the same way as atheism. Though I do love things like its emphasis on rebirth and renewal in the Ragnarok story. And I love the Poetic Edda – it really makes a ton of sense and stuff. And sometimes I feel like I understand it better than the stuffy Oxford professors who wrote the footnotes at the end of my particular edition of Poetic Edda, lol.

But, I don’t know, just the whole idea of the gods and goddesses being out there somewhere. It’s not something I can personally relate to. It seems like something that would once have helped my ancestors make sense of the things around them, but isn’t as relevant to the modern world.

That is just my own personal opinion. If you believe in Asatru, great. More power to you.

Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful Asatru followers, like my uncle, who find that it does help them make sense of their personal world. For instance, my uncle – who is severely mentally ill, to be honest – owns his own house, and he is so proud of being able to do that. He sees caretaking of the home and hearth as one of the things that gives life meaning, and Asatru expresses that value system.

But some people on the Asatru path seem like even worse assholes than fundies. I am fucking tired of going online and then reading Angry White Teen Male anti-Semitic white supremacist bullshit, like, “Jesus is a weak passive skinny Jewish ass – OUR Gods are brave enough and courageous enough to FIGHT BACK!” It’s just like… *sigh* children.

So yeah. Atheism ftw.