PTSD and EMDR

Back in March I went through an incredibly traumatic experience that gave me Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had never experienced this before. Living with PTSD the last several months has been hellish, heavy and dark. I didn’t completely understand what was going on until I started going to counseling. My amazing therapist was the one who recognized the signs and symptoms and why certain things were triggering such horrible and immediate panic attacks.

You know that saying, Time heals all wounds? It’s not true. Time can help, but it doesn’t just end the suffering. I hoped time would help with the PTSD, but it didn’t. I needed something more. Enter EMDR. After even the first session, it started to help. Now, after three sessions and a couple of months of counseling the things triggering my PTSD are no longer affecting me—at all! Sometimes the EMDR can be really heavy, as you dive into those difficult, traumatic events and the feelings associated with them. But it also gave me the tools I needed to recover. It may sound too good to be true, but it is true. It has worked, and I feel so much more light, hope and happiness in my life.

As I have often stated in my posts, everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. But you’ll never know unless you try. My therapist has said it takes courage to admit you need help and courage to actually get help. I’m glad I had the courage because it has changed my life already. For anyone out there who is suffering from PTSD, there is hope. You have the courage inside of you. I know you do. Give EMDR a try. If it doesn’t work, keep looking. Time probably won’t just heal it, but there are things out there that can.

Rainbows and Stars

My coworker has this cute daily calendar. This is what was on it the other day:

When the rain is pounding us and the darkness, thick, envelops us it’s hard to always see the rainbow or the stars. But they are there. Sometimes it takes great effort. Sometimes it takes someone else reminding us. Sometimes it takes time—after the storm is gone and the light has come back—to realize we saw them.

I try to look for the lessons (the rainbow and stars) I can learn from the difficult times (the rain and darkness) I go through. Sometimes I can see tidbits as I’m going through it, but more often I don’t see it until after, when I have time to reflect. That’s okay. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to feel only rain and darkness. But it’s also important to remember the light is there. It won’t always be dark. It won’t always be stormy. We can have light and lessons and growth with time.

Finding Symbolism

A strange thing has been happening where I live. Trees are budding. My Rose-of-Sharon shrubs have new flowers blossoming when normally they bloom in July or August and are completely dead by now.

We had a terrible windstorm not too long ago. The worst one I’ve seen in almost ten years. Trees were knocked over, limbs were ripped off, fences, garbage cans, trampolines and swing sets were blown over and away. My shrubs looked like they were dead. The leaves turned brown and shriveled. And yet, there are new flowers blooming. And I’ve seen new buds on my neighbor’s trees.

I love symbolism, and I see it everywhere. I see these trees, shrubs and flowers reflecting the beauty and strength that can come from going through hard, hard things. The difficult things we go through—the difficult things I have gone through—don’t have to kill or maim us. They may hurt. They may, at times, make us feel weathered, shriveled, ugly. But they are also what makes us bloom and blossom. We become stronger, more resilient and beautiful through the winds that beat upon us. And we can share that beauty—beauty and light—with others around us.

Even through the hard, hard things—like this year of 2020—there is still beauty. There is still newness. There is still time and room to grow. There is still more to become.

Sun Can Still Come Through the Clouds

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“And sun can still come through the clouds.” My fiance said this to me last week. Of course it’s something I already knew—both literally and figuratively, but it really hit me when he said it. I truly believe that even when life is stormy, cloudy, dark, there is still light that can—and does—come through.

The last couple of months were full of blessings, but also full of dark clouds. I struggled with a lot of things. Even though time helped heal some of them, I was still feeling pretty down and confused. Then my boyfriend of almost two years and I took a trip to Arizona, where he grew up. We had an a wonderful weekend exploring his hometown and surrounding areas. The best part of the trip was when he proposed to me on top of a mountain with the most incredible, beautiful view of the valley below. The sun that came from that blew all the clouds away! Well, other than the Cloud 9 I’ve been residing on ever since!

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Sometimes that sun that gets through comes from other people or from amazing circumstances—like getting proposed to—that happen to us. And sometimes we have to provide that light for ourselves. One of the things that helped me during that difficult time not so long ago was playing my flute. It didn’t take the clouds away, but it did allow some sun through. Meaning playing my flute didn’t magically fix what I was going through, but it did give me some reprieve and joy, and that helped a lot.

So for those struggling, for those who feel like their life is clouded over, remember that the sun can still get through. There are things or people that bring light, joy, peace and hope. And you can find them if you just look.

Looking for Spring

I wrote a poem today. I think I did it, trying to convince myself, but not actually feeling it. I want spring to come. I want light and warmth back. But right now all I can see . . . all I can feel . . . is coldness and darkness.

Looking for Spring

Pairs of sandhill cranes,
flocks of red-winged blackbirds,
signal spring is around the corner.

The freezing days and the long nights
suggest otherwise.

The cold and darkness of winter
clutches me in its claws,
attempting to squeeze the hope out of me.

But I try to take courage in the song of blackbirds,
the sight of cranes,
the belief that the needed warmth and light of spring
will soon be upon us.

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Dark and Light

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Sometimes it feels like the whole world is collapsing in on you, like anything that can go wrong does go wrong. When it rains it pours. And then, sometimes, right when it feels like it can’t get any darker a ray of light breaks through and shines down on you. Then another and another until your world is filled with light again. It’s not that the bad things have gone away, but it’s easier to deal with them because you can see again. I wish I could thank the people who have brought this light back into my life, but some people do kind things without feeling the need to be known or praised. Anonymous friends have blessed my life lately. I thank them for the light and strength they have given me. I hope I can do as they have done for someone, someday, as well.

Darkness Makes Us Grow

A little over nine years ago I moved from a tiny town in Eastern Utah to Phoenix. I was beyond happy to be getting away from what had been a horrible situation where we had been living, but was also incredibly intimidated and a bit terrified to be moving to such a big city. Yet, within weeks, I had fallen in love with the city, the people and the vast, unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Some people hate the desert or simply think I’m weird for loving it. Maybe I am weird. Maybe it’s the fact that I could relate to something “different.” Maybe I simply appreciated a landscape that survived despite the odds. Probably it’s all of those reasons.

Blooming cacti in the spring was one of my favorite sights while living in Phoenix. The fact that these prickly, pokey plants could produce such bright, vibrant, beautiful flowers never ceased to amaze me. So when we moved back to Utah, less than two years later, we took a tiny cactus magnet with us as a memento. Okay, so my ex-husband’s mom bought it for our two-year-old daughter, but I was glad to be taking a piece of the desert with us. Unfortunately the magnet got packed with all of our stuff, and despite searching the storage unit we rented, we couldn’t find it.

I was sure the poor, little cactus would be dead after four months of no water or sunlight. I dreaded pulling it out, letting our daughter see, because I knew she would be sad. But a miracle occurred. One day, as we were unpacking, after having bought a house, we found the cactus magnet. Not only was it still alive, it had actually grown!

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I love finding metaphors in life. This one reminds me that darkness doesn’t have to be an end. Sometimes the darkness we face in life is what helps us grow. It’s what makes us stronger, what gives us the ability to appreciate the light when it comes into our lives again. If that little cactus could make it all that time with no light or water to sustain it, I can make it too. It’s not easy. It’s hard, it’s dark, it’s hell. But I can find the light again. And when I do, I will have learned and grown and become stronger because of it.