It’s been a tough old week, friends. I know it’s been a while since I published on here, but I’m still rambling wherever I can. I have been popping links to publications in external articles under the ‘roles, awards and publications’ page, so if you want to see what I’m up to/currently angry about, feel free.
Whilst we’re on the subject of checking in, I hope you’re okay, and checking in with yourselves. The past week has proven that I am not checking in with myself, or adequately looking after my mental health – I suppose life just…happens – but I obviously have been neglecting myself. It’s funny: living with cPTSD (complex PTSD ) has taught me that no day is the same. And yet, whenever I notice my mental health slipping, it always feels like a surprise. I must get better at recognising the signs.
Anyway, stay safe and well: I will write something of more substance soon. In the meantime, if you want to see what I’ve been doing, Twitter is your best bet (@nosuperheroblog ). Til next time, friends…
TW: this post may touch upon some distressing themes including therapy, mental illness, emotional abuse and PTSD.
Admittedly, tackling my own issues with mental health and a complex PTSD diagnosis has been something I have been putting off for some time. This book arrived on my doorstep about a year into trauma-focused therapy, and I am glad to be sharing my thoughts with you. Please note that I will not divulge the specific circumstances around this diagnosis and will keep terms neutral to protect the identity of others. I will, however, mention the ways in which complex PTSD impacts on my life and how resources like Sue’s can help you to take control of what can be an overwhelming situation.
Sue has worked with people who have trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences, also known as ACEs , for over 30 years. She has worked for the NHS mental health services for 20 years and is an expert in trauma following abuse. Sue is an advocate for trauma-informed practice, and as someone in the thick of her own trauma-informed therapy, I know that this process is vital for me to go through in order to heal from my own ACEs. For more info on ACEs and to find your own score, click here.
Find out more about Sue Penna & her work on twitter @SuePenna, and you can access her website here.
Dealing with trauma is a messy, difficult journey. Although I am fortunate enough to have specific therapy with a trauma specialist, there’s a lot of homework to do outside of my sessions. Complex PTSD is exhausting. For me, it manifests in every waking second of my life. It is the inability to ‘switch off’, the need to feel busy to stop a plethora of auditory, visual and emotional flashbacks, the OCD that makes me do things repetitively, or means I am always scanning my environment for danger. It is a crippling lack of self-esteem, zero confidence, and not believing positive feedback. It’s going to the shop and struggling to decide which item to pick up off the shelf for fear of making the ‘wrong’ decision. It’s the need to excel, exceed expectation, constantly prove my worth. It is the exhausting, repetitive cycle of being unable to sleep, sleeping for too long, waking up with my heart beating out of my chest. It is the constant need to feel safe.
Sue’s book, based on her experience of supporting those who have been through traumatic events, is a 12-week programme that explores the different ways you are feeling, the need for self-care, the dynamics of abuse (focused around domestic abuse but also relevant to other types of trauma where a person or child felt trapped and unable to leave) as well as relaxation techniques and the need to track thoughts and emotions.
I am keen to address what contributed to my cPTSD, and to feel more content in my life, regardless of having experienced complex trauma(s). I know this process will take time, but books like Sue’s provide me with the hope that I have a chance to relinquish control, and can explore the steps I need to take to heal and carve a happier life for myself.
Many thanks to Sue and Jeni for allowing me to feature a glimpse into this book: if you feel the need to explore the Recovery Toolkit, I am sending you solidarity and love.
Who’d have thought we’d be in this position? We’ve been locked-down since the middle of March and life as we knew it has been turned upside-down.
The covid-19 pandemic has been a real roller-coaster of emotions for many. There have been unimaginable losses, a myriad of changes and acknowledgement that life may never be quite the same ever again.
Like many, I have been working from home for the past two months, and staying at home where possible. Although it has obviously been a real change to my daily life, there have been some unexpected positives that have come from all of this. I’m fortunate enough to be able to access therapy over video-calls, and being locked-down is reducing any outside stresses, allowing me to really focus on getting the most out of my sessions. It’s been one of the little silver linings I’ve seen peeking through, and I am going to grab this opportunity to reflect, heal, and learn with both hands.
My mental health story is something I have shared on no superhero before, but last year was a really pivotal time for me. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD (cPTSD, CPTSD, C-PTSD). Obtaining this diagnosis was key for me, as it helped me to start the long process of unravelling the mechanisms behind my mental health, my beliefs and my behaviours. 12 months on, I am acutely aware that this process will not be an easy one, nor a quick fix. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort. One day I’ll share a little bit more about cPTSD and my experiences, symptoms and story. But for now, as I sit in my flat surrounded by the things that spark happiness, warmth and love, I am feeling like I’m at a Good Point in my journey. It is possible to find some light amongst the dark. It is possible to unearth those silver linings. And I am going to make the most of them showing through.
I am writing to you in April 2020 and as far as I can tell, my last post was at the end of 2018. Now if that’s not a break from blogging, I don’t know what is.
My absence wasn’t deliberate or elaborately engineered (I promise!). I just think last year turned out to be a Very Big Year in lots of ways. Just to give you an idea of how hectic it was, here’s a list of some of the key events that happened in my life last year:
bought a flat
renovated the flat
got a new job
finally got targeted, specialised help for cPTSD (more on that later)
ended a relationship
started a relationship
won some awards
worked with various charities, publications and institutions
did all the other Adult Things you’re meant to do
managed to survive
kept my guinea pigs alive
So…it was a lot. A. Lot.
2019 was a really pivotal year for me in a lot of ways. It was painful, transformative, exciting, and – to be quite honest – it was really blooming difficult.
2020 is turning out to be Quite the Year for all of us, I know, but I think 2019 was good preparation for me. When I give myself the time to gather my thoughts and think about how ridiculous the past couple of years have been, I am really quite baffled. There’s so much to address, I know I can’t fully explain it all in this measly, rambling post.
What I will say, is that I’m prepared to talk, and reflect, and consider. I am thinking of making some changes to nosuperhero: I am thinking I need to share what I’ve been doing a whole lot more (because although this little blog has been somewhat neglected, I’ve been doing plenty of work for other publications, charities and local committees). I am also thinking that nosuperhero.co.uk could do with a little update and makeover. I am also hoping that – even though my little blog has been a little sparse as of late – I can continue to work in this space, and continue to work towards making the world an altogether better place by sharing my stories, sharing my thoughts, and sharing my ramblings, no matter how uninteresting they may be.
So, a big hello from me. A big hello from nosuperhero.