When facing fear of the unknown, it’s always smart to do some research. Yes, I have faith in my higher power, but that doesn’t mean I can live life in dangerous situations, completely unprepared. There is always research to do when walking into the unknown.
(Scroll down to “well this was supposed to be a blog.. ” to skip my definition of PTSD and what causes it.. I went off on a tangent lol)
As someone with PTSD, panic attacks are common. Anxiety spikes for no reason when it’s not needed.. Leaking out from the times it didn’t spike and danger was present. PTSD occurs when fight if flight sensors are reconditioned.. Most commonly linked to military. The first time a person witnesses something shocking, or they are in a life or death situation, there is a reaction. The animal brain kicks in.. Survival… and we instinctively become ready to fight or run. I often visualize a bear versus an emu. A bear is built to fight. It is genetically predispositioned to be big, to protect itself and its cubs with brute force, loud growls, and ability to grow in size when threatened. An emu runs. I think of the road runner. 🙂 it can protect itself by outrunning its predator. (This also contributes a LOT to the weight problem in humans.. But I’ll get back to that)
In people with PTSD, they have experienced repeated expansions on what their ability to process trauma is. Military folk may have felt traumatized at seeing a man shot for the first time, whereas three months later, seeing men shot is familiar, it’s been repeated, and military personnel have become reconditioned. The image of that first man shot will stay forever burned in their minds. A reference point the psych uses to never allow them to return to that moment of paralyzing trauma.
In the same respect, childhood abuse conditions a childs’ responses. A childs psyche is forced to disconnect in order to handle the abuse without breaking. What once may have been a traumatizing ass beating, now becomes another day at home, or wherever the abuse is being done. The brain physically shuts down those receptors, and brings the mind “inside” to a safe place, while the shell takes the brunt of the attack. This, much needed to survive, disconnection is what causes dissociation. It can happen with one traumatic event.. Being raped for example. At some point in the attack a victim may “check out” and retreat mentally into a safe place.. Depending how fragile he/she is, they may never come back out. It is more likely, the longer and more extensive the abuse, or traumatic experiences.
My experience, in attempting to heal myself without medication, has brought me to traveling. When I am out of my comfort zone, I stay grounded. I am on alert, hyper vigilant and ready to protect myself. Big cities are challenging for me.. So much sensory input, threats, unknowns. I go home one week a month to check in with my therapist, decompress, and attempt to relax. At home I have repeated panic attacks, anxiety for no known reason, and stay in my house for the most part. In between attacks I research and plan for my next trip, aching to get back on the road because I typically feel better. The last trip home was the worst that it has been in about a year, when I was last hospitalized. Decompressing has been helpful. My home is a safe place for me to let go of control, and relax. The moments when I should’ve panicked or been anxious, and I wasn’t .. I can now. It’s stored, and still has to be expressed just like any other feeling. Sometimes it is triggered by a smell, or object.. A word.. A familiar feeling or face.. A firework or news story.. Maybe a religious symbol, or a particular cartoon.. Triggers can be anything.. And sometimes it may be for no known reason.. Sometimes I have flashbacks, although thankfully, those are rare now.
Well, this was supposed to be a blog about preparing for the unknown when traveling, but I guess I felt y’all needed that background in order to understand the magnitude of fear and its role in my life as I travel. For those of you who are in a bubble, the world is not a safe place at the moment. The map that pops up indicates the possibility of a terrorist threat. Dark red is high risk, orange is moderate risk, and yellow is low risk. As you can see..England, france, Spain, Belgium, Germany… They’re all red.. At high risk for terrorist attacks. Just as high as Syria, Libya, and Iraq. As the refugees are entering these countries thru asylum agreements with the respective governments, there are only an assigned number of people permitted to enter, and only from designated camps.. This leaves many other desperate groups of people left behind. They’re desperate enough to storm the castle so to speak, and do whatever they have to do to get into the countries whose borders are temporarily open. As of October, 82 people had died in 2015, trying to get into England from France thru the channel tunnel. In Hungary, police are using tear gas on migrants attempting to penetrate their borders. In Germany there are riots on the streets. Germans protesting their governments decision to allow so many people into their country. In Sweden the percentage of people reporting rape has increased over 1400% .. One thousand four hundred percent.. There is real world shit going on out there. More than worrying about what to eat that night.. Or buying already spoiled kids the latest PlayStation 4 for Christmas. There’s people literally dying to have a better life. I don’t have much to give, but I have me.. And I believe in my heart that all of our higher powers, whether it’s Muslims, Christians, or people like me that just believe in something greater than myself, thanks to the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous.. I believe I am going to Europe for a reason, and that a greater purpose will be served than I have any idea about. It’s not my plan… But I can prepare myself to take care of myself, wherever it may lead.
Today I am grateful for luxurious life I was born into. I forgive myself for not knowing any different. Now that I do, I am ready to be the change I want to see in the world. While traveling I will explore all that I can and share it with the world.. The beauty.. And the beast.
In order to take care of myself, I will need to decompress while traveling, without coming home. That core requirement, and not having a plan for it is my biggest cause of anxiety at the moment. While I am safe couchsurfing, and staying in hostels, it isn’t the ideal place to “melt”.
Blogging helps.. That’s how this started.. Just a journal of releasing anxiety by typing away. I had it when I started this one.. But in writing, I circled back around to my faith in my higher power, and all the evidence in my life that supports I am a warrior.. A survivor.. And I can do this.. One day at a time.
(I am currently transferring my blog from Google to WordPress.. For older entries please visit Cre8ivFlame.com)