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.

STAND STRONG, WITCH: A Lesson on Being Human

 

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Image: Svetlana Belyaeva

“I never thought about it before, but I’m proud to be human. We’re ever so flawed. We’re frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues.”

Susan Ee

I believe this blog is more for my readership than it is for me; I had to stop working on my Shop to come and write this, that’s how important I feel this message is and no time can be wasted.

I am not on Facebook for personal reasons much anymore and unless it involves NR, I don’t really want to be bothered. But, I do what everyone else does and scroll through my newsfeed checking up on loved ones, being nosey with others; you know the drill.

I have noticed a common trend among everyone (besides crazy dreams); it seems as though everyone is feeling overwhelmed, anxious and like there isn’t enough time.

Some of this is because of the Holiday season, regardless if you celebrate or not it’s a stressful time of year; Empaths like myself are ripped wide open and there is only so much of the chaos that we can shield. It isn’t just how crazy people get to find the best deals, or how they become mindless mass consumers—it is sometimes truly about the emotions. People are remembering loved ones that are no longer here or that they no longer communicate with, people are remembering a time when they were happy, or maybe this time of year conjures up bad feelings because of trauma in the past.

Whatever the reason, the Holiday season is fucking balls to the wall crazy.

Before I get into what inspired me to write this blog, which has nothing to do with the Holidays, btw, let me tell you about my shit.

When we are overwhelmed it is so easy to slip in to a victim mentality and I think it is important to keep perspective always, and remain grateful. With that said, the last 10 days have dosed out enough CRAZY to make me want to cut this human life short. (No I am not suicidal, and I am not making light of suicide; it’s just an expression.)

It was just one thing after another and it wouldn’t let up. Finally, on Thursday when I was at my Eye Doctor appointment there was an issue with my insurance not showing up in their system—I started crying. I don’t mean I was just a little teary, I am talking full on ugly cry—I couldn’t even speak; I just had to walk outside and breathe. It wasn’t just about the insurance, IT WAS EVERYTHING and it all hit me at once, in front of a whole bunch of strangers and it was….mortifying.

As if that was not bad enough, on Friday night my Laptop shattered. Hello, pre-shadow period of Mercury Retrograde.

Having a piece of equipment break such as a computer is enough to make anyone angry but for me, it was a devastating loss. I run my business online, I am writing my second and third books, I am a Social Media figure; I need a computer. I don’t make a ton of money, and I am by no means rich and I don’t use credit. If it was not for my Mother, I would not be sitting here writing this on my new Laptop. The gratitude I feel cannot be expressed.

Let’s talk about my weekend though, shall we?

To be clear I am not talking about ANY of this for pity, in fact I feel really fucking awkward writing this but I know that for the bigger story, all these little details need to be brought up. I am being as real as I can right now because I think a lot of us are in the pits and could use a word or two of encouragement.

Mom and I went in to my hometown (about 2 hours away) so we could see some family and babysit my niece; yes, they have babysitters there but it is a treat for Mom and me to hang out with my little Fae Princess. We jump at the opportunity when asked.

Now, let me remind you that I have agoraphobia amid all my other diagnosis’. Leaving my house is a production and it literally makes me break out in cold sweats; leaving my cats is weird for me, too even if only for 36 hours. I am the crazy cat lady. Whatever.

After bribing my Sister to come spend the night and be with my beasts (I also have reptiles that need to be tended to) and leaving detailed instructions taped to the cupboard door, I left.

Mom and I had tried this back in September and it ended up with us leaving at 1:30am because we just wanted to be in our beds; we are both Cancers, so we are both homebodies.

About 20 minutes away from our destination Mom’s phone rings, and then she says loudly, “WHAT?!”

I am thinking my Brother has called and told us not to come or something like that but no, it’s my Aunt calling to tell my Mom that we need to go to Grandma’s because the dog needs to be put down.

I love animals—I love animals more than I love humans, acutally. Just being honest. So, this already was making my heart race and my inner Empath freak out. All I could think was, “Fuck, did I bring enough crystals? Where can I buy some Sage? And, I need some Weed.”

We arrive at Gram’s and go upstairs; immediately I check on the dog and he was well on his way, the cancer had taken over. He was not really “with it” but was crying in pain, so I used my Vampyric side and I took on his pain, his fear and eased it all for him; as he silenced, his eyes began to close. (He was euthanized an hour later at the Vet, and passed in loving arms.)

Gram was sobbing, and then my Aunt came home (she had to go pick Gramps up, he was at a meeting).

I hadn’t seen my Grandfather in a long time, and when I did see him last it was for a brief dinner. He has always been a strong presence; fierce, protective, stoic. He is one of the Mason’s I often refer to in my writings.

When I turned around to greet him as he walked up the stairs I saw an old, fragile man. It was jolting to my system; I seem to somehow forget what time does to this mortal coil.

He walked in to the kitchen silent, and as he passed us all he started crying so hard he began dry heaving.

It was at this moment that I looked directly at my cousin and told her we had to go downstairs to her house because it was TOO FUCKING MUCH.

I am lucky to have a family who always accepts my Mom and I, and our Witchy belief’s, despite how crazy they are and how much they fight (I stay out of it). They have even started asking for our help.

Mysticism does run in the family blood…

After all the craziness at Gram’s, I ventured on over to my Brother’s house and was met with even more devastating news about my Father. I don’t feel like going in to details about this but to sum it up, my Father gifted me with false hope a few months ago, and there is nothing more horrific to give to someone than that. I should have learned, I should have known from the years of actions he has shown that his words, just like his promises, are empty.

That’s a lot, right? Just shit, shit, shit and a whole bunch of it.

Add in the insomnia, weird dreams (when I do sleep), anxiety from the collective, the buzz in Washington as this transition to our new President happens (all those ridiculous new Laws being talked about; Google it), the devastating fire in Oakland that took the lives of many weirdos, Artists and queers from our community, Standing Rock, etc. and I realized THERE IS A LOT GOING ON; not just in my life, either.

Oh, did I mention it’s the Holiday freaking season? Yeah.

You are not alone in your feelings, you are not alone in this fight to claw your way back to the top; back to normalcy; whatever that is.

2016 has been no joke, and to start off 2017 in the middle of Mercury Retrograde, well sign me the fuck up! Sarcasm loading…

This morning when I hopped on Fb I saw a post from a friend and it broke my heart. Essentially the post was from the depths of her Soul and for that reason I will remain a bit vague as to respect her privacy. The post discussed her hatred for herself, how she feels she is not good at being a human, and then she apologized for being fake to everyone; she apologized for being a healer to other’s when she herself is broken.

THIS MUST BE ADDRESSED.

First, who is good at being human? You show me somebody, anybody who is “good” in any context at this human experience and I will list to you a million reasons how they have failed. That’s the point, too: failing, falling and getting back up.

The point is to suck at this, that is how we learn, how we evolve (hopefully), how we grow and ascend.

This journey is not going to be smooth, or easy, nor is there one set path. Again I say, no one is good at being human because this world is literally designed for us to fail.

There is this idea, this really fucking common misconception that to be a healer, to have experience and be considered a teacher or “guru” you must be perfect; that you cannot have faults, that you must love yourself and all your parts unconditionally. And, if you are not these things, and then some, then you are a hypocrite.

I call bullshit on ALL OF IT.

I think that those of us who are still working on self-love, and self-acceptance and who have been to the pits of Hell make the best leaders, gurus and teachers. It’s the ones who are not open about their struggles, who try and mask it with “love and light” that are the fakes; they are the hypocrites.

Not those of us who have stumbled in to this role (like my friend and myself have).

I never intended in a million years to have this role of being a teacher, role model or someone others in the Craft look up to but, here we are; I must accept this fate, this path that I am on.

No, I am not perfect. No, I am not balanced and calm, I am not serene and loving; though parts of me are.

I am dark, rigid, full of emotions and pain; I have wounds on the emotional and Soul level that cut DEEP but NONE of those things diminish my power, they enhance my power: THEY ARE MY POWER.

We are all being thrown around like ragdolls by the excess energy right now; we are all feeling it, we are all experiencing changes and shifts that are out of our control. As mentioned above, there is a lot going on.

You are not alone though, you are never alone, and we will all get through this.

The bruises, scars, lessons, joy and pain will all make us better Practitioners but most importantly, they make us better humans.

 

 

Letting Go: A Personal Story of the Phoenix Rising

Phoenix 2

Image: Katie Dawn aka Thy-Darkest-Hour, DeviantArt

“If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate.”

C. JoyBell C.


The Full Moon energy has proven to be extremely illuminating, and caused me to become very introspective; I reflected on my entire life it seems. There has been a lot going on in my personal life, and my professional for that matter; the journey that I am on is like a whirlwind at times, and a calm chaos at others, if that makes any sense.

It’s like it will be calm, but you can feel the tension of chaos wanting to rise, and cause ruckus at any given moment.

I have been hit with a ton of emotions, some new physical issues, battled a destructive glamour spell, and a psychic vampire after writing my post about them. On top of all that I have finally let go of my lover, then there was the loss of some friends, and death of my cat. Needless to say it has been a really rough 9 days, and my Soul is feeling it.

But in the midst of adversity, I shall find my strength.

And, I have.

I had blocked my ex, and a few friends, on my personal and both public pages, it was like that was all I had to deal with the pain of betrayal. I am not sure why my thought process was that my power somehow lay within that blocking feature; how ridiculous, how mundane, of me to find comfort, and solace in such a thing, but it is what it is. I then found out by a mutual friend that he had posted something(s) about me on his page, and it infuriated me.

“No, don’t give into that, don’t stoop to his level.” I had to repeat, almost chant to myself.

I could feel my Beast rising, stirring, and calculating from the depths of my being. I had to reign her in, but why? Why was I controlling her?

I decided to meditate on it, and the answer I received shocked me, but made so much sense.

It’s easy to react, duh, it’s a natural instinct but it takes courage, control, and self-awareness to stop the instinct, to step in the moment before the Beast goes for the throat; to know when the instinct is not going to be productive.

In this situation my instinct to react would prove to be wrong, and I would simply give him exactly what he wanted. I am not now, nor have I ever, spoke ill about my ex, or any of my former friends. It is not my style to do so, and besides my narcissist post, and this one, you will not see me addressing this issue.

I am writing this because I’m fucking hurt but, through the pain I have found the way.

I can’t forget, I can’t truly forgive until I no longer hate. I cannot hate my enemy, I cannot hate those who have hurt me because that is MY weight to carry, not theirs, and hate is heavy.

I have to remind myself that at one point I loved that man, and he was exactly what I wanted and needed, even if only for a moment in time. Same goes for my former friends, I will never disrespect those good memories by dwelling on the bad, furthermore, talking ill of them.

The fact that the route he chose was to speak ill of me, speaks volumes about his own character, and I need not say anything more about it.

Again, I loved that man, and I would be lying to you, and to myself if I sat here and I said I didn’t still love him now because I do. Love is not and never has been enough, and ironically I said that to him more times than I can count since the very beginning of our relationship.

So, today, I unblocked him and my other friends from NR and DW, along with my personal page. If they choose to come and cause drama, then they can be found back on the banned list. Otherwise, I no longer want to carry that weight, that hate, that stress.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

While on this path of realization it came to me that I was still carrying around a hatred, and a heavy one at that.

I hated pieces of myself.

Not on a physical level, although as a Woman that is something I will always struggle with no matter how much self-confidence I have. The hatred I speak of was about the bad decisions, or my late blooming with the craft, both Magick and writing; there was a ton of residual hate towards myself, hate I thought I had dealt with.

Hatred of Self is the heaviest of all burdens to carry, and I didn’t want it anymore.

I don’t want to hate them (my former lover and friends) or my past.

Every mistake was a lesson, and every lesson was a blessing.

So cliché, so fucking corny, so Christian-like to say, but so goddamn true.

I can’t regret the fact that I fell in love, no matter how he acts now, no matter how I think his current behavior makes me look bad, I can’t worry about that. I can’t worry about the gossip, I guess if they are talking about me, I am doing, or have done, something right, something to make an impression.

I can’t hate myself, I can’t hate the very temple and mind that makes me who I am; I have to embrace my curves and embrace my crazy.

So, I sit here and reflect back on an eventful life, planning future adventures, and remaining grateful for all the good, and bad that is currently my reality. I will not be brought down by others, and I will not feed into the bullshit, I will rise above as I have always done.

I am a Phoenix, after all.