Separated Parts of Myself

My Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse

Am I in control over my own body?

After my previous blog entry of Nov 19 (yesterday), I did end up going to the gym. The 35 minutes on the elliptical was fine. And the second part of my workout was ~25 minutes free weights. All fine until my last two exercises which each involved laying on a bench on my back. I started having something or other on the dissociation spectrum of things – intrusive memories, flashbacks, reliving – or maybe just “plain” anxiety upon laying on my back in a public place (even though there was no one else there and I’ve been doing these exercises for well over a year now) or anxiety at being sweaty and lifting heavy things. So I started internal communication that included something along the lines of ‘I’m in control of my own body’ or maybe ‘I have control over my own body’ or something like that. I don’t remember much after that except that Hektor vehemently stated that we in fact do not, or at least, did not, have any such control when Abuser was touching us. Later in the day I remember images of cutting…but as for most of the hours between 2 and 6pm, I have no recollection. Oh wait, there is something else – I remember feeling quite nauseated most of the day. Very tired and weak, too, like I’d fall asleep instantly if given the chance. Well, that’s all folks.

Today I feel like writing

What is it about today that makes me want to write? In the time since I’ve blogged regularly, a lot has happened – I’ve lost my job, I’ve gotten married (and so Husband is introduced), I’ve lost about 70 pounds and participated in a triathlon, my grandmother’s been hospitalized for a few weeks, my cousin’s developed acute social anxiety, Friend YJ has gone to a different part of the country for in-patient treatment, and I will move to my husband’s house at the end of next week. But I’m not gonna write about any of that. Instead, I want to tell you that I don’t want to do anything today. Nothing.

I saw my psychiatrist last week for the first time since June. She prescribed my Xanax for the increased daytime anxiety/symptoms I’m experiencing as a result of all the life-changes noted above. I haven’t taken any. The thought of taking a new medication (with unknown side effects) is itself inducing anxiety. The thought of leaving my apartment (for any reason), packing, eating, or looking for jobs is enough to bring tears to my eyes and have me curled up on the floor in a corner of my closet. Rather than doing any of those, I’m in my living room in bright sunlight writing here about nothing.

Last week, Husband met Melody, one of my youngest alters. I haven’t been that dissociated (where there was virtually no co-consciousness) in a long time, probably on the order of years. And having increased symptoms – that’s anxiety inducing too.

Last night, I had a long session with Therapist. Upon leaving, I thought everything was ok. It was the first time in weeks I walked from his office to the train station without being afraid of my surroundings. I got home, Husband and I spoke a bit about my session and alters, I took my Gabapentin (to help me sleep), and then I went to sleep. And all night I had dreams of Abuser or Brother. I’d wake up from one, realize it was a dream, calm down, go back to sleep, and then have a dream about the other. All night this went on. The dreams about Abuser were slightly different than the usual ones (from years ago) in that he wasn’t really doing much of anything. He was silently there, following me wherever I went. I’m not one for dream interpretation, so I’ll get right back to the short chronology – when I finally woke up to start the day, I felt scared. Staying in bed under the covers was safe, so I did that for a few hours. Eventually I decided that getting out of bed, even if I continued doing ‘nothing’, was a step in the right direction (of having a somewhat structured day, of decreasing my fear, of not falling farther into despair, of not staying in bed all day, etc), so I forced myself to come into the living room.

Here I am, in the living room. Bright sunlight. Newly planted and newly seeded herbs, some growing hydroponically. Our new road bikes against the utility closet. Packing material to the left, to the right.

What is one small thing I can do to change my situation, even by 1%? I can brush my hair and put it in a ponytail. That will get me off the couch and moving.

Ok, done. Moving was good. Heh – moving. I went for a 15 mile run on Sunday, the longest and farthest I’ve ever run. Yesterday my legs were aching and I was having a lot of trouble moving, but today everything seems like it’s back to normal – so yeah, moving just now felt good, and I probably can do a bit more. 35 minutes on an elliptical + my usual free weights for arms for ~25 minutes. I can do that. My hair’s already up. Next step is changing. Sports bra – the black Nike one; workout t-shirt – the brown UA one; shorts – yeah, those; socks; pink ripped Sauconys. And my iPod for my Teaching Company lectures, pink headphones. I can totally do this. Keys to apartment means I’ll have to go out of it, but that’s ok – I can keep us safe outside and it is unlikely that anything dangerous will happen. All I’m doing is going downstairs and down the hall to the gym. That’s all.

Reflections upon getting close to the end of my weight-loss journey

Today I officially reached my 70-pound weight loss benchmark that I’ve been heading toward for the past 18 months. I didn’t set out with a specific goal in mind, and I still don’t have one, but I’m thinking I’m at a realistic-to-maintain and healthy weight, so any day now, I might just say I’m done. I’ve gone from a size 18 to a size 2 (!!!!!), and I have about as much lean muscle mass (in terms of % body composition) as many female athletes. I should be happy for myself, right? Most of the time, I am – I’m proud of what I’ve done and that I’ve had the patience to make lifestyle changes (healthy and sustainable eating habits and regular exercise; no crazy diets here!) that will benefit me in the long run even if I got results (on the scale) relatively slowly; I’m proud that I was able to work through the initial months of this when losing weight and exercising were major PTSD triggers; I’m proud that I didn’t let my concussion and post-concussion syndrome stuff derail me (yes, I had to change my approach to weight loss for those months, but I didn’t throw in the towel and completely give up because it was “too hard”); I’m happy that I’m learning to cook nutritious food that is both yummy and filling; and I’m happy that I actually enjoy exercising and exploring new bike/running routes/techniques/etc. I’m also happy that my lifestyle changes allowed me to go off all my psych medications (I’ve been off for over a year now!) and that despite having 2 serious psych diagnoses, I was able to lose weight (contrary to published literature on this subject). But….but… Insofar as this whole weight loss thing (and how I perceive my physical appearance) is intricately tied to my PTSD, well, all I can say is I have some way to go (not on the weight-loss front, but on the psychological front). On the other hand, without having initially started to address my PTSD for reasons completely unrelated to losing weight, I would never have had the conviction or confidence that I could make any changes to my life that would have positive impacts on my health, appearance, or psyche. However, I can say now that I *do* have control over my body (hear that, Therapist?), and I think that’s been the single most important outcome of my weight-loss journey. Therefore, while acknowledging that I will continue to diligently (sometimes more, sometimes less) work on my psych issues for a long time to come (hopefully not too long!), I would like to thank the following people who have helped me specifically in terms of my psych stuff: my helper Therapist, Friend YJ, Fiance J, Aunt S, Friend SJT, and lastly – me.

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