Life Lately // Bloggy Brunch

I am so sorry for the erratic posting schedule and topics, friends.  Actually, that's one of the things I'm going to talk about today!

A word on blogging
Blogging sure has changed.  I'm sure everyone you know has written a post about it lately.  I haven't weighed in on it, but I sure have been thinking about it a lot.  There isn't really a place for bloggers anymore.  It's all about the 'gram, or the Facebook, those fucking algorithms, or the web store, or the links within the blog and how many clicks they make.  I didn't care for the sponsored Modcloth cringe even back when twee was the big thing, and it's kind of not a big thing anymore and I like it even less.  Nice dress and matching socks...next?  I put out nothing sponsored, nothing paid...and I feel like it's pointless sometimes.  I don't know what to do anymore.

I just want to hear about people's lives.  I want to see pictures of the crap they've been up to, even if it's binge watching Bates Motel (which everyone should do.)  I want the kind of conversation you get when you go out to coffee with good friends--some catching up, some deep thoughts, some mindlessly eyeballing the hot male barista.  I keep wanting to really GET INTO BLOGGING! but it's really hard.  So many quiet, personal blogs just slip off the face of the earth, while these sponsored content machines and lists of 10 and clickbait titles dominate every dashboard.  Am I alone in this? Buhler?

Actual Life Lately
The second part of my ponderings comes from me rearranging half my house just to put the computer next to my room in hopes I'll use it more.  In one phase of life I was glued to the computer and did all kinds of neat things.  Web and graphic design and blog posts and fiction writing, and other writing, and moderated websites and was a member of forums...it seems like lately I can't find time to tie my shoes, much less do any of that stuff.  I am spending more time with others, as well as more time outside, but it kind of bothers me that I'm not creating the way I did before.  If I had a drive to get back into writing or blogging, it would anchor me to that (very important!) part of me...but I don't have the drive.  And I keep telling myself that it's worth it...spending time with friends is important.  Gardening and cleaning is important.  Therapy appointments, physical therapy, important.  Being in the lives of those around me, important.  I'm more stable now than I ever have been..stable, grounded, and turning into a boring piece of shit.

So what have I actually been up to? The above.  Dinners, outings.  Symphony.  Pink Floyd laser show.  Drives through the mountain (until we reach the 'hey idiot it's winter, go home' signs...) Cleaning my house.  Working.  Stressing about money.  Does it ever change?  I feel like I'm in a rut, even though the time I spend is, to me, well spent.  The problem is I don't know what to do to get out of it, because I'm doing everything I should.  I am taking care of my body and mind (see, the weekly therapy) and I am working at a great place where I feel needed and respected, and the people in my life are of the highest caliber and the time we spend together is wonderful.  So, what is my issue?  Why do I feel like a zombie anyway?  How do I shake myself out of this....when I have no reason or cause for it and don't even know what it is?

Skyrim Remastered

I used to play a TON of video games and just fell out of the habit, same with writing and my other computer work (and to an extent, painting.)  I still love games, but just felt I didn't have the "time."  Today, Sunday, I started a new game on the fresh shiny remastered (WITH MODS!) Skyrim for XBONE.  And wow, what a wonderful feeling, to be back in beloved Skyrim with my two-handed Nord ginger girl.  I needed that.  I don't know how it all connects together, but I really did feel refreshed after gaming for a few hours.  I found out the painful, ridiculous ten step procedure on a console for getting screenshots, which you see here.  I will probably be making more Skyrim screenshot posts; I just wish they were better quality.  Oh well.

It may be that I need a certain type of creative stimulation.  I've never really been one to get "sucked into" TV shows.  I enjoy them, but they lack something.  And I gave up reading after a very long string of very bad books...I used to read ALL THE TIME so it was pretty disheartening to go through like ten novels of absolute trash and say, finally, "time to move on."  These days I don't know if I have the concentration to read--the last book I actually finished was "The Gift of Fear", which is a damn pop psychology book, albeit a FANTASTIC one.  But it definitely didn't put any 'spark' in me.  Just a fascination for more body language studies.

So, do I read more? Game more? Seclude myself more? Sleep more?  What's the secret to a balanced life? I have no idea.  Join the linkup.

Bloggy Brunch


PTSD and Chronic Pain

Today, we're going to talk about something a bit different, but relevant--it's been front and center in my life this month.  PTSD and its connection to chronic pain, as well as my (very recent) experiences in treating both.

(For further reading on this blog: PTSD and Dissociation  // PTSD and Eye Contact  )

On Chronic Pain I have chronic pain.  I can't remember a time I didn't, as an adult or even a teenager.  The thing is, chronic pain can have a million different origins, or no pinpointed origins at all.  What I've learned about my own pain is that at least part of it is likely a side effect of PTSD.  It was a long road to understand this, as it's hard to even describe chronic pain.  (Unless you have it, and you understand if you do.)  You ache.  You're tired.  Everything hurts.  Whatever burst of energy causes you to do something great like clean the entire house, ends up biting you later on.  You pay for every exhausting thing you choose to do with your body.  As I said, there are a million causes, so unfortunately those with ailments like diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and so on, know all too well what I'm talking about.  

PTSD and Chronic Pain

One aspect of PTSD-related pain should be pretty easy to understand--the trauma itself can cause pain,  Surviving combat leaves a body scarred.  Physical abuse can break bones, and so on.  These things are obvious, and usually to an extent, treatable.  What I'm more concerned about is how trauma and stress actually affect the nervous system.  The very action of vigilance puts the body in an excited, non-stable state, ('amping up' for survival.)  But after fight or flight has passed, we are left with tense muscles, a rapid heart rate, sick stomachs, and god knows what hormonal imbalances. This article succinctly states concerning PTSD: "these diagnostic criteria are primarily psychological. Nothing is mentioned about the body: the chronic pain, muscle tension, movement limitations, outbursts of energy followed by listlessness, not to mention consequent illnesses of the cellular pathways in the neuromuscular, digestive, cardiovascular, hormonal, and immune system." 

The same article talks about how pain, as a symptom (or an ailment in itself) is often ignored in mental health patients.  I have very limited experience in this from a medical practitioner standpoint--as an EMT I'm not necessarily required to 'get to the bottom of the pain' but that is truly a good summary for most doctor visits.  Pain has to come from somewhere, and in the case of a mental illness, whether it's depression or anxiety or PTSD or whatever--the answer always defaults to "you aren't mentally well."  We're led to believe and think, even as providers, that if a mental patient can just fix their brain with the right therapy or pills or religion or whatever, then bam, the pain will go away.  It's just the nature of medical deduction and problem solving, but it is unfortunate, because the chronic pain can be dismissed as "in your head." That delays treatment, which worsens symptoms....you get the idea.

My Story

I personally don't remember life before chronic pain, but I also don't remember life before chronic trauma and abuse.  As many probably do, I thought as an adult that it was normal to be in pain constantly.  I forget who it was, probably a chiropractor, who told me at some point that pain is not normal, and constant pain is really not normal for an 18 year old.  Cue massages and adjustments and workouts and painkillers and years of treating something that I didn't even really understand.

But everything always fell short.  I would be hurting hours at most after that relaxing massage, or injure myself again and again no matter what weight and reps I cut down to.  I accepted that my body was broken and hated me and moved through it, years of debilitating pain that has likely contributed to episodes of depression and lethargy.  Even when I had energy, I would pay for it later with twice the amount of pain after something fun like hiking or biking.

After understanding that I had post-traumatic stress and seeking treatment for it, I began to understand more about how the body actually works during stress and wondered if that was part of this fog of painful exhaustion.  My current therapy sessions include some somatic awareness--in other words, while talking of a trauma or an emotion, either I will notice or my therapist will point out that I have pain or stiffness in a certain body part.  I actually tense up and bristle when certain triggers are even insinuated.  The pain that comes from tensing your neck and shoulders hours at a time cannot be stated enough!  The shit hurts.

So I had enough, and went into a physical therapist for evaluation.  I didn't mention PTSD beforehand, just that I had been eating a good 1000mg of ibuprofen a day for ten years, and then we did a bunch of tests--range of motion and all that.  After years of hearing "you're young, you're strong!" or getting shrugged off by doctors who looked at blood charts and said I was good to go and figure my shit out (paraphrasing here...) I got sat down and told that my pain level was intensely high, and my mobility was low.  My muscles were tense and my joints likely ached (you bet your ass they do) and I would receive treatment at "the same level we go for fibromyalgia patients."

It took a lot to not cry during that visit.  The therapist completely validated everything I'd felt my entire life, physically.  I got told that I wasn't crazy.  It wasn't my fault.  It wasn't normal, and I was suffering.  After a session I did fess up and told him I had pretty bad PTSD and he wasn't even fazed. I do feel better since starting, though it's only been a few weeks.  The important thing is that I'm treating pain in addition to PTSD--I don't know that I'll ever fully heal, but instead of getting cracked and having every chiropractor scratch their head why I'm tense and broken again 4 hours later, I understand why I need to focus on my mind and body.


Valkyrie Friends

I made a vlog about the costume making process for this, but I'm still working out the audio lag issues.  For now, I thought it was a good idea to share photos of my Halloween costume.  There's only two things I want to mention here; both inspiration for the costume, and inspiration making it.  Not surprisingly, because I am surrounded by amazing people, they were both inspired by friends.

Inspiration for the Valkyrie:  I've been very into costuming this year, for whatever reason.  I've also been studying up on Norse mythology, which came about at a really strange time considering I have been away from my second home of Sweden awhile now.  Regardless, the idea to dress as a Valkyrie was thought of when a close friend actually said I reminded him of the mythological creature, and he asked me to (metaphorically) protect him with my shield and courage.  He said it in a much more poetic way.

I was so touched by the compliment, and his faith in me as someone who can help and protect.  I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately about the 'warrior' aspect of my personality--why it exists, how to utilize it, and when, and its motives.  I'm still arriving at conclusions, but I figured that a friendly shield-maiden who watches over her loved ones and stabs who she wants and transports them to Valhalla to await Ragnarök and serve them mead, pretty much sums me up on my best day.

Inspiration for costume making:  I've only dabbled in craft foam before, and have zero confidence in my ability to do anything with it.  I'm an artist, not a maker of crafts--I try to leave that to the Martha Stewarts and mormon mommies.  When the idea entered my head to make something for Halloween, I had no idea the scale it was going to end up at (and the costume isn't even completed yet!)  I sketched out some things, tentatively, and was really aiming low on the creation scale, like a circlet with small wings.  I showed it to my close friend, who is amazing at making, well, anything.

Any artist can tell you how exciting it is to collaborate with someone who sparks that creativity in you.  Well, it doesn't happen to me often (probably my fault for isolating myself and only interacting with an uninterested cat) but when it did, apparently I turn into Level 100 Blacksmith for a day or two.  This project kept my mind busy during my 10 day workweek, before I ran off to Tennessee and god knew what.  I am so thankful to my friend for inspiring me, keeping me inspired, and teaching me all the tips and tricks and tools of the trade.  (and letting me borrow his tools!)  It really is a wonderful thing to have such a person in my life.  I'm very lucky.


Tennessee Photos: Scenery

A week into November still counts as an on time post, right?

I went home three weeks ago and I'm still reeling from happiness and the bittersweet feeling of being reunited with my home, my family, and a part of myself that I had been neglecting for far too long.  I always wanted to go, on my own terms, and quietly revisit some of the places that defined my childhood in a good way.  I finally had the opportunity to do so, and though some of you have seen these on Instagram or Facebook, it's time to give them their proper spot on the blog, aka, my digital heart.

So, they're a bit out of order and discombobulated.  There aren't really enough words for me to describe what all of these photos mean to me, but they sort of speak for themselves.


November Goals

Thank god we're in the final stretch of this absurd year.  I don't even know what to do with you 2016.  Just get out of my life already.  But first, two months of Christmas? Yeah?

I don't usually post myself in these 'welcome month' photos, but I couldn't help it! The combination of the snow and trees and my hair and makeup was just too good to pass up.  I make a pretty decent Valkyrie, right? (Don't worry, I'm making a vlog about the costume soon) 

First, a recap of October's goals.

Survive Tennessee - PASS
Keep on top of checking account - Pass? Eh? I'm not sure? I have food money and that's it haha.
Plan a good party -  Pass? I had a party.  I am also sick of having parties.  No more parties.
Get thank you's sent out before Tennessee - FAIL  I suck.
Go to another pinup contest - FAIL  I don't mind, cause yeah.
Give Charity her present FAIL  haha oh god, it's the "here's your birthday present on Christmas" thing...
Flemeth's neutering PASS  He lived, he was a bit loopy but now he's my little sweet baby again.

November Goals: 

Send Henri's birthday presents
Progress in physical therapy
Figure out homemade Christmas presents
Post a vlog about my costume
Write a poem
Get tickets to the Nutcracker
Get back to the diet center
Give Charity her damn late present (haha, I am so sorry I suck)
Go to my hair extensions consultation! Woo!

I know, it's quick, but things are busy around here.  I will write or talk more soon! Linking up with Autumn and Emily.