What’s the deal with Integration?

Great post about Integration. Our psychotherapist has never focused on integration for us. Instead the focus has been on functional awareness and dissociation only as a tool of functionality.

Holding my childhood to ransom

Integration can be a Hot Topic for those of us with multiplicity. It used to be (and sometimes still is) pushed as the cure for our illness, our only chance to be a normal person, and have a normal life. People who couldn’t integrate, didn’t want to, or tried to and had it fall apart on them were seen as more sick, less recovered, less committed to recovery, treatment resistant, or basically in some way a failure. So it can be loaded topic with heated diverse ideas and often some firm opinions and rough experiences for people. Hence why in 3 years of blogging about multiplicity I haven’t wanted to tackle it before now!

It doesn’t have to be so divisive of course, the issues really aren’t about integration, they’re about this idea of failure. If integration is an option rather than a cure, a lot of the heat and…

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My Daily Energy

2 years ago, I woke up without the energy to move myself physically out of my bed.  I did not work for 6 weeks and was wheelchair-bound while a multitude of medical tests were done. All results negative except for one blood test, Anti-Nuclear Antibody (ANA) which suggests the potential for an Auto-Immune Disorder. Negative results are 0-10, positive results are 15-40 and my result was 640. My internal organs (brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas) are healthy. I generally do not have any physical pain, just low energy.

I live alone. My food preparation is limited to anything that does not require standing for more than a few minutes. I take sponge baths instead of showering. I use a motorized cart in the grocery store. Outside of work and home, I use a front-wheeled walker. I work 3 days per week, with 1 day between each work day for resting and knitting.

Knitting is therapeutic because it engages both brain hemispheres and is calming to us. Psychotherapy ended in 2014, after 12 years of intense work. I am co-conscious except when I am not. I have been co-conscious for 5 or 6 years now. I have one close friend. My immediate biological family is not supportive. The totality of who I am is unknown to most who interact with me.

I experience much anxiety when I need to interact with the world outside of me in any way. It is difficult to take out the trash or to go to the laundromat or text my landlord or return phone calls and many times it just doesn’t happen. I am fully aware that how I live day-to-day is outside the ‘norm’ and is upsetting to many. I know I am better when I am not spending the majority of my time alone but I do not know how I can facilitate and find safe people.  I make a decent friend. I have a great laugh and enjoy laughing. I am loyal, generally positive and accepting of others.

New Sleep Pattern Emerges

I’m sorry I was unable to post on earlier this week. It took me a few days to realize that my immune system was fighting something and that I needed to not work, take Chinese Herbs and rest.

 

Lack of sleep has always been a statement of fact in life. During my first 30 years, I never slept more than 3 hours consecutively. In undergraduate school, I used it to an advantage by scheduling my work hours during the time when everyone else was sleeping. My goal was to get 2 3-hour periods of sleep each 24-hour day. Since the return of my previously repressed childhood abuse memories, I have needed light to sleep. A friend expressed concerned when she discovered that I was sleeping with an overhead light on. So I transitioned to leaving a light on in an adjacent room.

I told my primary care physician about 7 years ago that if you grouped all nights in a year together, then I would say that 25% of the nights that I got 6 hours of sleep. More recently, my sleep study showed that I never go into Third Wave or REM sleep (the 4th and 5th stages of sleep).

The infographic by Heidi Hanson about her “5 Step Self-holding Exercise for Self-Regulation of PTSD Symptoms”, which was inspired by Peter Levine’s work ‘Somatic Experiencing’, recently came to my attention. See link below:

The 5 Step Self-holding Exercise

I tried the first 3 steps. The third step felt very uncomfortable. So I have just done the first two steps at least once daily for a week. Voila!  I am sleeping for 7 consecutive hours per night starting Wednesday night 02/11. I am sleeping 1am to 8am. Quite amazing!  Since February 2013, I have been unable to get to sleep before 4am. The terror and sleep revulsion has been insurmountable.

When I changed the third step slightly to holding back of head instead of the front, then the discomfort dissipated. The concept of holding my head side-to-side and front-to-back is appealing to me. During times of active change, I often experience ‘brain pain.’ Brain pain is not a traditional headache. My brain pain has only been alleviated via ‘energy work.’

Sometime during my active psychotherapy counseling, it was discovered that my left and right brain hemispheres were not actively communicating. It was no surprise to us. Our perception was each hemisphere had ‘big picture’ job and they did not need to communicate to each other to get their job done. I have received a considerable number of hours of ‘energy work’ to facilitate and improve left and right hemisphere communications. And I can no longer state that my hemispheres operate individually.

 

Difficulty Walking and CSA Connection

********** POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING ***************

***child sexual abuse details included in this post ***

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Known Details:  My feet, hands, torso and head were tied to a peg board that laid on a horizontal surface in my uncle’s bedroom. My head was held turned to the right-side. I was often choked to unconsciousness by his penis in my mouth or I would be awakened from sleep by my choking. Often I would urinate, in response to the foreign objects that he had inserted and twisted in my vagina and anus. He would get angry and more violent after I urinated, so as the months and years passed I ‘learned‘ to not urinate. I experienced lots of spasm pain in my limbs and neck as I struggled against my restraints and his actions.

Now:  Masturbation has been self-soothing to the vaginal and anal body memories. Urinating during masturbation has created feelings of freedom and expansiveness. Since the newest body memory, I have found that my physiology and physical body RELAXES when my fingers are placed next to labia and/or in vagina. I have found myself waking up rested with my fingers in these areas. This is profound because awaking rested from sleep is unusual. The shame previously associated with masturbation seems to have ‘melted‘ magically away.

I have struggled for many years with knee pain, upper leg pain, inability to stand or walk for more than 5 to 10 minutes without falling or intractable pain. Outside of my workplace and home for last few years, I have used a walker to prevent falls. When using the walker, I have noticed that I can walk for more time and generally I feel more confidence in walking. In previous years, I learned to bring my awareness to my legs and feet before I moved from sitting (or laying) to standing and walking. Just always making sure I had present awareness of my feet and legs before using them greatly reduced the number of falls I have experienced.

There is no physical reason why walking and standing are so difficult. But by connecting some ‘dots‘ of cellular memory, it seems to make sense. As a newborn, I experienced whole body discomfort and pain that interrupted the normal expected development of body awareness, then body movement awareness, then to the activities of crawling, standing and walking.

Today I received a foot reflexology treatment, during which I felt energetic movement and release of stagnation in my upper legs. Afterwards while at work, I felt less pain in my upper legs. In the next few days, if I continue to experience positive change in my legs, then I will arrange for some weekly treatments. Due to my high sensitivity (HSP), I can be easily overstimulated by physical treatments. So when choosing to receive a series of new therapeutic treatments, I choose to create some observation time between the first and second treatment to make sure I am tolerating the treatment appropriately.

 

 

 

 

HSP, CSA and Me

I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) and had the unfortunate experience of early childhood sexual abuse (CSA). I do not want to be understood as saying my sexual abuse experiences were better or worse than someone else; comparing is pointless. My abuse started during my first week of life outside the womb and these experiences were profoundly intensified by my high sensitivity.

Within a diameter of 60 feet around me, I am highly aware of all physical movement, energetic intentions and presence. Thus every single time my abuser approached me, I could sense his feelings, thoughts and intentions before he actually started. Yet, as a newborn there was nothing that I could do to escape or protect myself.

I am easily overwhelmed by being in a crowd of people or being in a large store with many different items, signs and tags. Some people may feel uncomfortable while in my presence as they sense my focused attention on them. When in fact, I am not staring or paying specific attention to them but am just present as myself. And by being present, I am often know what individuals are thinking, feeling or otherwise experiencing. Other examples include my acute sensitivity to any concentrated chemicals, like pharmaceuticals, cleaning agents, perfumes;  artificial lighting, high frequency or loud sounds.

What is a HSP?

Richard J O’Neill, HubPages Author, states “Highly sensitive people are a very intriguing group of people indeed, not only for their extreme sensitivity to almost ‘everything’ but also for their unique abilities such as heightened intuition, powerful senses and an almost psychic level of empathy with people they interact with.”

At the bottom of this post is a widget for a 14-question quiz from Richard J O’Neill that can help you determine what level of HSP, you are. I am a Type E with a sensitivity level of 5.

The wikipedia (at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highly_sensitive_person), uses the acronym DOES to illustrate the characteristics of a HSP as:

Depth (and more thoroughly) of sensory processing

Over arousal

Emotional reactivity and high empathy

Sensitivity to subtle stimuli

 

As a Projector type, and a student, of the Human Design System I suspect many HSP are also Projectors. Projectors like HSP, are about 20% of the world’s population. As a minority of the world population, Projectors are often unrecognized for their unique characteristics and thus pushed into becoming what they are not. Projectors are a non-energy type, so they need to ‘plug-in’ to other people’s energy to have energy and are designed to recognize others’ potential and process information deeply. For more information about the Human Design System, please go to http://www.ihdschool.com.

 

 

Today’s Anxiety

Yesterday I knew something was ‘going on’ because I needed to knit. It was only when I focused on knitting for hours that I could touch a place of calmness. Sleep was inaccessible. I had a restless nap from 4am to 8:30am this morning, while listening to some didgeridoo music.

Note: I generally do NOT listen to music. It takes more energy to process than what I generally have available. I love music. It was an important part of saving our lives during childhood. We learned composing, music notation of audio listening, reading and playing piano music at 4 years old. Our only emoting was through composing and playing the piano. We taught ourselves classic guitar, flute, recorder and oboe.

Today as I was getting dressed, I felt that my blood sugar had ‘tanked’ (see below) and breakfast wasn’t going to be possible until later at work. But I was surprised by my level of angst. I love my work.

This was major fear. So we had internal conversation about accessing what’s up and who is willing to speak or speak through Observer or Writer. General consensus is that Becky has allowed the work schedule to get too full and the weekends aren’t long enough to recuperate.  And by-the-way Becky knew about the weekends but hadn’t done anything about it. Observer noted that there’s more ‘going on’ but no one felt comfortable with the short time we had, before leaving for work to say anything more.

Becky acknowledged that she let today’s schedule run her and that is a mistake to be rectified for the future. So Becky has promised to look at the work schedule and not schedule a day as long as today (1st appointment at 10:30am and last at 5pm). And find a longer weekend that can be created soon.

 “Why are the symptoms of anxiety, anger, and hypoglycemia so similar?  The symptoms are similar because they are caused by the same hormones. These hormones are the fight-or-flight hormones — called adrenaline. Anger is the fight and anxiety is the flight. When adrenaline is preparing the mind and body to fight or flee, it increases heart rate, respiratory rate, blood flow to skeletal muscles, blood glucose decreases digestion, and stimulates the amygdala, the part of the brain that prepares for a quick response, to be ready for fight or flight.

The brain’s primary fuel is glucose. When your blood sugar (glucose) becomes low, your brain becomes concerned. In order to continue to function well, your brain will tell your kidneys to release adrenaline in order to increase blood glucose. Although your brain now has some fuel, the amygdala has been stimulated by adrenaline. This can cause your concerns or irritations to become amplified.”

from Kristen Allott, ND, LAc, http://www.dynamicpaths.com

 

A New Body Memory

I continue to experience some body memories 24/7/365. My daily body memories are the physical sensations of my sexual abuse (vagina, colon, throat, neck). These sensations are always worse during menstruation and the week of the full moon. I’m ‘used’ to expending some measurable amount of my daily energy while experiencing these body memories.

A few days ago, new-to-my-awareness, a body memory has added itself to my daily experiencing. In addition to the new experience, I felt noticeably more tired and more dissociation. I felt myself instinctively seeking out ‘body numbing’ activities, like stimulating acupressure end points, eating chewy sweet candy, knitting without breaks, choosing to distract myself at work, to name a few.

I think I understand the origin. Since my sexual abuse started so early, in the first week of my life, the cellular locations are slightly askew. Because when you are a baby, you are small and the cells affected by that trauma become cells in adjacent body areas. For instance, oral throat trauma has previously expressed itself around my collar bones, neck and upper chest.

This newest memory has created the sensation of muscle contracture of the front and back of my legs. It makes walking a more difficult task, like walking with two fence posts. Additionally, I am yawning most of the afternoon and evening, an atypical activity for me.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_memory

“Body memory is a hypothesis that the body itself is capable of storing memories, as opposed to only the brain. This is used to explain having memories for events where the brain was not in a position to store memories and is sometimes a catalyst for repressed memory recovery. These memories are often characterized with phantom pain in a part or parts of the body – the body appearing to remember the past trauma. The idea of body memory is a belief frequently associated with the idea of repressed memories, in which memories of incest or sexual abuse can be retained and recovered through physical sensations. The idea is pseudoscientific as there are no hypothesized means by which tissues other than the brain are capable of storing memories. Some evidence suggests that such means may be available to simpler forms of life.   ……   Cellular memory is an additional hypothesis that memories can be stored outside the brain. However, unlike body memory, the cellular memory hypothesis states that these memories are stored in all the cells of human bodies, not in the bodies’ organs. The idea that non-brain tissues can have memories is also believed by some individuals who have received organ transplants, though this is also considered impossible.

There is a great article about Body Memories and their place in the healing process on http://www.survivormanual.com/2011/11/what-are-body-memories-and-how-to-heal-them/. The below quote is from that article.

“Body memories can take a long time to heal, most likely because they are the last memories to be addressed. To be respected. To be listened to. I mean, really. My body remembers, at a cellular level? What is this, the Science Fiction channel? ‘When the body remembers the traumatic incident at a different time from when the mind remembers the incident, it can feel very crazy making,’ says Discussing Dissociation’s Kathy Broady, LCSW.”