THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE: The Story of PTSD and Me

Depression

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

Laurell K. Hamilton

I have written a lot of extremely personal blogs, but this one might take the cake.

This blog has been dancing in my head for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t find the perfect time to sit down and write it. Seeing how I just had surgery yesterday and am on bed rest, I figured now is as good a time as any to tell this story.

I have been very open with my chronic health and mental health issues; I wrote a piece on this very topic back in May, it was my way of reclaiming my power.

I have even had a hugely successful blog published on WITCH regarding my battle with chronic health issues and how it directly relates to and affects my Magick.

I wrote about Trauma the Teacher on The House of Twigs.

This is a follow-up of sorts.

A redefining moment in my life that I want to share with all of you.

If you have read my past blogs about my health you know that I have struggled for essentially my entire life, but more so recently; mostly regarding degenerative disc disease, a torn disc between L5 and S1, degeneration of my Sacroiliac Joint, Arthritis, Hashimotos, fribromyalgia, chronic pain and chronic fatigue. Not to mention cervical and skin cancer in my past, along with 7 abdominal surgeries for a variety of feminine health problems which resulted in a full hysterectomy.

Besides these physical ailments, I have been facing head on both my anxiety and C-PTSD.

Let’s rewind for a minute.

Back in 2010 when I was just coming out of an abusive relationship I kind of lost my shit; I don’t know how else to describe it. I didn’t suffer a psychotic break, I did not have delusions, I can only describe it as “losing my mind”.

Now, to be clear, my entire life has been one giant reel of traumatic events, there is not a singular moment that caused my pain; 2010 was just the tipping point.

Out of fear of what was happening, because I didn’t know what was going on, I checked myself into a private mental health institute where I was medicated with poisons and diagnosed: Bipolar 2, ADHD, OCD, Anxiety (GAD, Social Anxiety), Agoraphobia and PTSD.

For 3 years I went to therapy session after therapy session and pumped my body full of toxins; I was even forced to go to substance abuse programs because I was open about smoking cannabis.

They labeled me as “self-medicating”.

For the past 14 years cannabis has been my medicine of choice, and of course some of my closed-minded family members and Doctors alike thought I was (and am) nothing more than a pothead.

A druggie.

In 2013 I stopped all medications besides Estrogen, Synthroid, vitamins, a muscle relaxer for my back and allergy meds; I have not been medicated for my mental health. Though about 2 months ago I was given a low dose of Klonopin to help take the edge off because my anxiety can be debilitating some days. I have continued my use of cannabis, which as you may know is illegal in NYS; I have always been open and honest with my providers about my use.

Recently having found a great PCP and a Pain Management Doctor I was given the gift of hope.

A cruel gift sometimes, but I embraced it for once.

When my PCP prescribed me the Klonopin, he suggested I try to find a mental health professional for medication management; I understood his point completely and a few weeks ago I went to the appt.

I walked out before even seeing a Doctor.

I was filling out paperwork and the very last sheet was a checklist that you had to initial (30 something “agreements”) and it read like a court ordered type document.

It basically said I would be subject to random drug tests, and *forced* to go to talk therapy because I have an anxiety disorder(s).

WHAT?

I specifically asked about therapy beforehand because it’s not my thing, and they said they force no one.

When I asked the nurse about the checklist she said that if I test positive for any trace amounts *at all* of cannabis that I would be weaned off my medication and put into a substance abuse program.

Now, I know that checklist and that office saves people’s lives, but that was not a place that jived with the kind of treatment and healing I need.

I left that appointment so, so discouraged.

It was like my dreams just blew away in the wind.

Dreams

I went to my PCP the following Monday (the appt was on a Thursday), told him all about it and even he was shocked, but then he said, “well, just so you know in the next few months St. Peter’s (the hospital in which his practice is associated with) is sending out contracts for all users of controlled substances” (which Klonopin is).

He continued to say that he has no clue what will be on the contract, but it might have something in there about cannabis; reminding me it’s a Catholic establishment (he is an excellent Doctor, I don’t care about religion).

He told me he would continue to prescribe the low dose for me, and we will “Cross the contract bridge when it comes”.

I went home and immediately started researching Medical Marijuana and how I apply, how much it will cost and what the qualifying conditions are.

You see, it’s not easy to get approved…like not at all.

And, it’s costly. Very, very costly.

I had to weigh my options; do I give up the Klonopin? Do I give up the cannabis? Or, do I try and legitimize my use?

I decided I was going to try to get certified for Medical Marijuana.

I found a brilliant Psychiatrist, said some prayers to my Gods, and started walking this new path.

My appointment was August 15th, and not only did she tell me that I was, indeed, misdiagnosed and that *I AM NOT BIPOLAR* but she said I have one of the more severe cases of PTSD and C-PTSD she has seen. The PTSD is a direct result of sexual trauma; the C-PTSD is from long term abuse as a child, and abuse as a teen and young adult at the hands of my Father, Step-Father (not the Step-Father in my life now) and romantic partners.

For the last 8 years I have worn a scarlet letter of sorts as far as the medical world is concerned.

They would look at my chart, and for the last 5 of those 8 years all they saw was “unmedicated bipolar” and treated me as if I was going to kill myself or someone else.

She granted me FREEDOM and POWER by telling me, “Jaclyn you are not at all Bipolar, you do not suffer from any personality disorders; you suffer from severe trauma, and your body remembers.”

Freedom 2

I will not go into all the ways in which PTSD paralyzes me, and all that it entails to carry this diagnosis.

I will say:

It’s why I can’t leave my house for days on end.

It’s why I haven’t been intimate with anyone in 5 years.

It’s why I can’t be touched.

It’s why I don’t like loud noises.

It’s why my nightmares torment me.

In one swoop, with a few words she ripped that scarlet letter off of me and the weight that lifted with it was tangible.

We sat and talked for almost 2 hours, and she told me how intelligent and insightful I was; how impressed she was with what I know about trauma, more specifically my trauma and my reactions to it.

Then, she said, “Jaclyn, remember this day. Remember this day because you are certified. Congratulations.”

To tell you that I started sobbing would be an understatement; I am telling you I was full on ugly crying in her office.

This has quite literally changed my life.

She gave me my certification form, told me the next steps and I went right home, printed out my temporary card and walked into the dispensary for the first time that afternoon.

As of right now I am on pills and vape pens; I might try oralmucosal (tincture) but because I have been smoking for so long my receptors are dense, and I need high THC content for it to be medicinal in my body.

I can now travel (within the state) with my medication.

I can now be drug tested and it won’t be considered illicit because it’s my medicine.

I can now show my family and Doctor’s that I am not some druggie, but a person who genuinely needs this plant ally as MEDICINE.

I have written over 1,000 words telling this story and still they are not enough to describe the feeling I have, the freedom I have been given, and the emotions that are still overwhelming me.

We must be our loudest advocate for our own health and well-being, and if you ever needed inspiration to be that, use me.

I did it, so can you.

Always listen to your gut, and always follow what your body is telling you.

Don’t give up, Warrior.

Keep fighting.

Medicine and Magick: The Chronically Sick Witch

 

Marta Bevacqua

Image: Marta Bevacqua

“Miraculously recover or die. That’s the extent of our cultural bandwidth for chronic illness.”

S. Kelly Harrell


An UPDATE  on my story.


I want to talk about a topic that is extremely personal and close to my heart; it was after reading an article similar to this the other day that I realized I had something to say on the matter, too. I allowed myself to collect my thoughts over the last two days, making sure I am clear in what I want to say and how I want to make my point.

I have a feeling that this blog will resonate with many, and give new hope to people who otherwise have lost it. I will link you to the article that inspired me at the bottom.

This piece is about Chronic Illness and how it does or does not affect one’s Magick; I am bringing this topic up and discussing it because I am plagued by Chronic health issues.

Let me first define Chronic Illness or Disease: “A chronic disease is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear”.

Some examples of Chronic Illness include but are not limited to: “The leading chronic diseases in developed countries include (in alphabetical order) arthritis, cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and stroke, cancer such as breast and colon cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and seizures, obesity, and oral health problems. Each of these conditions plague older adults in the US (and other developed nations)”. Note: Age has nothing to do with it, in my opinion.

Some other Chronic Illnesses that I am referring to are auto immune diseases such as Lupus, Hashimoto’s Disease, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Syndrome; let’s not forget diseases like Depression, Bipolar Disorder, even Asthma.

These conditions affect millions of people, primarily in developed countries, and there are so many theories as to why.

I like to read threads of comments, I find that it gives me a good idea of where the world has shifted as a collective. I know that “it’s just Social Media” but it’s a good indicator of the state of our planet; watching the Trending topics will allow you to see a pattern that is used when mainstream media wishes to distract us from something bigger, from something actually worth reporting, which seems to be more and more common these days.

Anyways, on a particular thread I saw a comment that has played over and over in my head since and it read:

“If you are truly spiritually aware and spiritually awakened then you do not need to be on medications, you will also not need any substances to assist you. When your mind and Spirit are truly in tune, your body will be in perfect balance”.

I personally believe the opposite; I think the more spiritually aware we become, the higher in consciousness we go, the more our bodies and minds begin to feel the symptoms. I think that Occultists, Witches, and Spiritualists in general are prone to depression and anxiety (even just social anxiety) because we see the world differently, we ARE different and society is quick to point out just how different we are.

I also believe deeply that there is a connection between consciousness and past life wounds with chronic conditions.

As for substances, drugs and such in regards to Magick: it’s a personal choice.

Am I condoning drug use? No, I am not but I am standing up for one’s right to choose, even if that choice is harmful to themselves—they will either learn their lesson or they will die, it’s simple. I have never been into “hard drugs” and I don’t judge those who are. I did cocaine a bit when I was in my early twenties, and haven’t touched it since.

I have tried and loved hallucinogenic mushrooms a few times (acid scares me) and everything else is too hard for my taste.

In regards to weed, it’s part of my everyday life and Magick; I am a true advocate for it, and I have seen the health benefits first hand, not just in myself but in others, too.

When my Mom was going through Chemotherapy and Radiation for Breast Cancer and her mouth tasted like metal and she couldn’t eat, it was smoking a bowl or two that allowed her body to calm, her appetite to come back and for a brief moment she was taken away from the pain she had become accustomed to.

My personal experiences and chronic health conditions are vast; I had a full hysterectomy due to a uterine fibroid, cervical cancer, ovarian cysts and endometriosis at 27 (now 33).

I experienced a Soul Wound and massive Auric tear at this time because it was such trauma and changed who I was as a person, or so I thought at the time.

I mean, a Witch in her Maiden and Mother years harnesses her power from her Womb and her monthly blood; all of that was taken from me, and it took me years to come to grips with the fact that my Magick now comes from the darkness of the Crones, and I had no choice but to adapt.

I then faced the true reality that we can draw from all three phases of our Womanhood; at any given time we can be Maiden, Mother or Crone–think about it.

From this point my “little pains” I had experienced since my late teens could no longer be ignored.

I had a grand mal seizure in August 2013 and it was at that exact moment that my Spiritual awakening kicked into overdrive, and I have not been the same since.

Two months later in October is when I took my vow of celibacy; a personal, not permanent vow to myself.

It was once believed that Seers would have seizures induced by Hekate to test their will, and to invoke Her power into them. I will link you to the story at the bottom.

I have never since, and never before had a seizure, I do however get severe muscle spasms and ‘twinges’ when a vision is about to occur; this happens during waking or sleeping hours. And, yes, I went through more neurological tests than I can count and the only thing they could find is that I have an extremely overactive mind, and I use parts of my brain more than the average person. There were and are no defects to my brain, no nerve damage, nothing.

I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 (have not faced a manic or severe depressive episode, the focus of my “disorder” is on mood swings), Anxiety (general, social and agoraphobia), ADD, PTSD, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Disease (a form of Hypothyroidism), Chronic Pain and Fatigue Syndromes, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Systemic Lupus, Severe Dermographism and some pretty nasty allergies (the kind where I need to carry an epi pen everywhere I go.)

I have been through the ringer with the pharmaceutical world, and I know what to do and not do in regards to what I put my body through; that was a painful lesson to learn.

I treat myself Holistically with a splash of Modern and a whole bunch of Ancient methods.

Some medications can and absolutely will affect your Magick, and fog your mind but there are times when medications serve their purpose and can actually help you.

When the mind is clear the practitioner can focus intent with better precision, and is that not the end goal of any adept?

I don’t think people should become dependent on medications or drugs for their ailments, be them spiritual or physical; I also don’t believe it makes us weak as people, or as practitioners if we have to rely on something to better our quality of life, and overall health.

Of course I believe that we should lead the healthiest lifestyles we can, and believe it or not I actually do lead a healthy lifestyle and still find myself stricken by these chronic conditions.

We need to listen to our bodies and minds in regards to health as much as we listen to our intuition in regards to Magick.

So many Witches practice under the rule that one must be calm with focused intent to cast, to some degree that is true. However, I have seen many Witches who CAN harness their madness and incorporate it into their Magick.

We are all individuals and should stop comparing and competing with each other so much.

Live and let live, live and let live.

I will end this saying, in most countries even to this day mental illness and/or chronic conditions are seen as a sign of spiritual enlightenment; too bad the West can’t adopt that theory and wish to over medicate instead.

The Article that inspired this:

http://www.maskmagazine.com/not-again/struggle/sick-woman-theory

The story of Hekate and epilepsy:

http://walkingthehedge.net/hedge/epilepsy-as-sacred-part-one/

My most favorite article on Mental Illness:

http://themindunleashed.org/2014/08/shaman-sees-mental-hospital.html