How To Beat the Holiday Blues

 

Happy Holidays! Yes, I had the holiday blues and yes I still have a reason to smile. HUGE.

 

First of all, I made it. It has now been one full year since my last PTSD-related Emergency Room visit for dehydration due to cyclical vomiting. Let’s take a look at how I did it:

HOW I BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES:

(1) I cried a lot. This is not a new thing. I usually want to cry the whole time and do cry most of the time. The difference this year? When I felt like I wanted to cry, I didn’t judge that feeling or conclude that I was an asshole for wanting to cry. Instead, I would get up and go find a quiet space to cry into until I was done and then I would simply rejoin my family.

 

(2) I went out of town just days before the holiday. We took our son to LegoLand to make this Christmas extra magical and it totally worked. The two days we spent in the car was WAY better than spending two days anticipating my annual holiday blues.

 

(3) Activism. I am wearing a dress every day in December as part of the #Dressember movement to raise awareness and funds for survivors of human trafficking. As part of the campaign, I post a photo of me in my dress online and this has forced me to get dressed up every day of a month that I normally spend exclusively in my pajamas. (To check out my campaign, click here).

 

(4) Activism. I am the official organizer for the V-Day Las Vegas 2017 campaign to benefit Refuge for Women Las Vegas, an aftercare program for the trafficked and sexually exploited. This campaign will produce a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on February 4 and I am the Director of the show. This means I have to talk to people and participate in life.

 

There are times when I have thought about quitting. For sure. I didn’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping this year and often experienced feelings of “what’s the point?” Also, I miss wearing my overalls and thought about blowing off my Dressember obligation like every other day. Furthermore, I ran into an incomprehensible amount of difficulty securing a beneficiary for my V-Day campaign and wondered if I was supposed to just give up.

 

Then I think about how I’m glad I don’t live in a box under some sicko’s bed right now. I’m glad I didn’t get stolen from my family and forced into prostitution. As much as PTSD, anxiety, and grief can feel like a prison in your own mind, at least I’m not really in some prison unable to get out. I value my freedom. I express gratitude for my freedom through activism and this heals me.

 

activism or volunteerism is a great way to beat the holiday blues

Activism Heals

 

XO,

Rachel

PTSD, Adrenaline Dump & Dehydration blog post

 

If my PTSD were cured, it would look like me not having to go to the Emergency Room anymore for dehydration brought on by adrenaline dump.

 

I used to go to the ER a lot. Even on vacation. I can tell you about Emergency Rooms in Colorado, Washington and California. Mostly I can tell you about Emergency Rooms in New York and Nevada. I went to the ER so many times in 2010, I agreed to have my gall bladder removed exactly 6 weeks before my wedding. I was back in the ER with the same symptoms one week after that unnecessary surgery.

 

Healing my own PTSD has been a long hard journey. I have been able to reduce the frequency of ER visits through a variety of activities: Meditation, EMDR, Self-Hypnosis, Journaling, Reiki, Yoga, Bubble Baths, Potting Plants, Making Art, Reading, etc.

 

When you go to the ER more than once in a month for dehydration, that can feel depressing. When you can go long periods of time without having to visit the ER, that feels like success. Holidays get me. I was ready for Halloween this year. Having missed the past 2 Halloweens with my son in a row, I had a plan: I was not going to get sick.

 

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I won. I did not get sick. I felt amazing. I went to a party. I trick or treated. I was totally there!

 

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And I totally nailed Halloween. I did it. No hospital for ONE YEAR!! I cured my PTSD! Or so I thought…

 

The week before Christmas my son got a little stomach bug that caused him to vomit from about 6:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning. I held him, did laundry and changed the bedding at least a half a dozen times all through the night. My son was such a trooper. Advice that helped:

  1. You are throwing up (he didn’t know);
  2. Mommy and Daddy will take care of you (he relaxed);
  3. Breathe when you can, hold on, you will be able to breathe again soon (thank god, right?).

 

I knew that night when he put his pukey little hand on my mouth that I was in trouble. I was inspired by my son’s ability to shake it off and have a great, even comedic, attitude throughout his sickness. I planned to have that same great attitude and pulled it off the next night for the first several hours. I threw up, cleaned myself up, closed my eyes and meditated. I may have even given some thumbs up out there. But then something happened.

 

I had a memory.

 

At the time, I was thinking: that’s interesting. It was not a foreign memory, but it FELT different this time because of the experience I had as a parent the night before, taking care of my own child. It was the difference between experiencing something as a child and experiencing it as an adult.

 

Interesting…

 

Instead of 100% meditative concentration, I began to go toward the new feeling. What’s that? What does this feel like? Why is it new?

 

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Well I’ll be damned if I didn’t walk up so close to that new feeling that a bucket of adrenaline didn’t dump into my system.  That’s right, a bucket of adrenaline.

 

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At this point, I began to throw up with no breaks in between. As in, I was both throwing up from the flu and from PTSD/Anxiety/Adrenaline dump. I’m talking about thumbs down.  I tried to tell my husband I needed help for at least 20 minutes. I couldn’t get out of the memory, which was now clearly some sort of flashback. I would open my eyes again and he would be looking at me and I would wonder, did I tell him I need help yet or did I faint again? Finally, after only 6 hours of throwing up (I should’ve been almost done!), I told my husband: I need to go to the hospital.

 

And I was right. I did need to go to the hospital. I hit a new record: 3 saline bags to rehydrate me. The flu alone does not explain that level of dehydration. Adrenaline dump does. Had I not told my husband, between throwing up, that I needed to go to the hospital, I would have died from dehydration.

 

Highlights from my last hospital experience: putting an IV into a dehydrated person’s vein is not easy, my arm is still swollen and bruised 2 weeks later; regardless of dehydration,the staff made clear they were angry at how long it took me to comply with the urine sample; the doctor at one point yelled in my face: OPEN YOUR EYES and when I did, he yelled: ARE YOU GONNA HURT YOURSELF?!

 

Did explaining at registration that I am having a PTSD attack help? No, not this time. Not every medical professional knows what that even is, unfortunately. Compassion is not a given. So I went home and tried to take care of my husband who had finally caught our son’s flu and then I just rested right through Christmas. I wanted to spring up and make Christmas joyful and high energy, like a music video. When I was unable to do that, I fought off feelings of self hate and depression and just watched movies under a blanket with my family on the couch. We all took care of each other.

 

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In conclusion, it’s ok to get sick.

 

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XO

~Rachel