“I saw someone on the street eating M&M’s with a spoon.”

The Fleetwood Mac concert was last night.  I still have a massive grin on my face.  I’m floating on a cloud of joy, today.  Since I attended alone, I took a Lyft ride there and back.  Aside from struggling to locate my Lyft driver among so many others after the show, it proved ideal.  Instead of waiting in lines, the crowd smoothly flowed through security to our seats.  It was like being gently guided.

twitterish meme
joke credit: VisualVox

I was seated among lovely people who reminded me why I love Sioux Falls so much.  A woman seated with her partner in front of me turned around and gave me a high-five when the band took the stage.  I was between a group of young women and two men around my age.  We spontaneously swayed arm-in-arm to the music several times while singing along.  😮😍😆🙃

It startled me at first, but I played it off and joined in.  Then I internally celebrated my happy amazement over bonding with local strangers without the slightest bit of panic.  I had floor seats, so we stood from the moment the music began until the band took a bow at the end.  I wore cargo pants with a leg pocket for my phone, which was perfect.  I didn’t lose anything while mesmerized by the performance.  Yay.

happy doof

After a few songs, I realized I was standing there on tiptoes with my hands clutched in fists just below my chin, shoulders hunched, eyes open as wide as they go, and presumably a super goofy expression around my grin.  (Part of me is secretly hoping the band couldn’t see us well from beneath the lighting.)  I couldn’t help it.  (Even though I’ve seen photos of people doing this, and thought they looked like doofs.)  Heh.

I had a fantastic time.  I did see one other black person, but I think he worked there.  😂  (I didn’t look around at the audience once the band started playing.)  Mick Fleetwood’s drumming blew my mind.  His kit is gold with penguins on the kick drum.  After stunning us with his skills, he got up and casually tossed his sticks while exiting the stage.  (So cool.)  He did all the faces, too.  I love him.  😆

The magical vibe that only Fleetwood Mac can create remains wrapped around me like a hug.  Watching Stevie Nicks in her element with my own eyes was a bucket list moment.  She rocked.  I love her.  (I’m making that face again.)  Christine McVie came out from behind the keyboards to sing beside Stevie Nicks, too.  (I may have involuntarily squeed.)  I loved seeing Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks singing backup, as well.  The band sounded fabulous.  The percussion and bass were felt as well as heard, (which is how it should be.)

The new lineup is tight and smooth together.  I think they’re even better now.  (Yep.  I said it.)  The tribute to Tom Petty was brilliant.  I’m off to continue being a happy doof while I practice drumming.  ✌🏾💜

p.s. Here’s the photo I took (just before I forgot my phone could do that.)

Fleetwood Mac concert Sioux Falls

“Oh, I’m stressed!”

I’m going to share a few things I’ve learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after living with it for nearly half my life.  Your mileage may vary, so take what fits.  In my mind, I see my ability to cope with stress as a balloon.  Stress inflates it.  Ordinarily, as the balloon inflates, it stretches to accommodate typical stressors.  PTSD occurs when overwhelming stress causes the balloon to swell so far beyond its optimal range, it produces a pocket extrusion, reducing the overall tensile efficiency.

From that point on, to prevent a blowout, hypervigilance is required.  The amount of stress you can cope with resets to zero (child-like stress tolerance level,) and you have to start over by stretching your stress balloon a little bit at a time, without popping it, repeatedly, until it regains a semblance of elasticity.  This process is your new full-time (unpaid, nerve-wracking) job regardless of your present work status.  Forget about getting nights and weekends off.  Holidays?  As if!

Trauma causes PTSD.  Something awful happened, and you came up short on internal resources to deal with it in real time.  The situation convinced you of your impending and untimely death.  Your brain pulled the emergency lever causing you to check out emotionally (because it’s too hot in here.)  Once the haze clears and you finally wrap your head around continued existence, PTSD shows up and says, “S’up, bitch?”

bicycle accident - face plant

The first year or five is mostly training.  Figuring out which random things trigger you from calmness to a sudden panic attack, (often for no apparent reason,) quickly becomes a priority.  We also soon realize concealing (masking) how we feel is helpful when among others.  That ever-present, barely containable, private hysteria shaking in the back of your mind alarms others if you let your guard down.

I believe it’s the tendency to stare off into the distance while visibly unraveling.  Masking is exhausting, but you’ll master the ability.  The motivation is irresistible:  human contact.  Isolation may seem like your new lifestyle, but it’s just a tool you can summon when you need to regroup, recover, unmask, and rest from socializing.  Humans don’t thrive in permanent isolation, so don’t linger longer than necessary.  Social skills entirely fall under the use-them-or-lose-them rule.

The sleep disturbances usually show up right off; such as, nightmares, insomnia, crashing and sleeping for several hours only to awaken feeling unrested, and the like.  As does the super-uncool tendency to jump like the clown from It just showed up, over every loud noise, sudden motion detected in your peripheral vision or contact from outside of your view (especially from behind.)  Good times.

human slam dunk gone awry

The flashbacks are like jumping between two avatars without warning or a controller.  (This game is rated S for sofa king no.)  And there’s always a frenemy or two who will delight in provoking you to jump because it looks hilarious every time.  Each time, without your consent, you react as if you’re suddenly about to die.  Your reaction doesn’t diminish over time (in my experience.)  The OMG-I’m-ending hormones release (like the Kraken) every time.  Then you have to go somewhere quiet to recover — every time.  Kick them to the curb sooner than later.  (You’re welcome.)

The bad news is PTSD sucks so hard it can lead to thinking about suicide.  The good news is you can live with it.  It’s not easy, but it’s doable.  The more you practice safely stretching your stress balloon, the more it becomes a habit and less a conscious chore.  Only you can choose your pace.  Your brain is physiologically different than it was before you acquired PTSD.  Don’t lie to yourself about getting over it.  You don’t.  You build a scar over time and eventually relearn how to manage your stress efficiently enough to get back on your journey.

It’s part of who you are now.  The healing process takes place within yourself, and only you can do the necessary work to regrow an efficient stress balloon.  A good therapist can provide a map and support.  If you have the means, do it.  You deserve it.  If not, you can still do it.  (The internet.)  Just remember to be kind to yourself.  You have a wound, go easy.

woman listening to music with headphones

Some tips:

  • Avoid binging on carbs.  They’re prepackaged depression and anxiety outside of moderation.  You’ve got enough on your plate without adding shit on purpose, eh?
  • Practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Stay well hydrated.  Your fight-or-flight system is broken and is sending out false alarms all over the place.  Flush out those toxins often.
  • Stretch when you first awaken, and before you go to sleep.  You’re physically tense most of the time, so counter it twice a day deliberately.  You’re the boss of you, dammit.  🙃
  • Choose (ideally) at least three people you trust to support you by connecting with you (unmasked) as you heal.  Preferably people who understand PTSD or are willing to learn about it with you.  (Pets help if you talk to them.)
  • Exercise daily within your (physician approved) range of ability.  It’s an incredible built-in hormone regulator.
  • If you can hear, listen to music alone in the dark with headphones on.  Hopefully, you’ll find a musician or several whose music can express intense emotions you can’t even classify on your behalf.  It’s an incredible release.  (For me, Evanescence, Bach, ABBA, NIN, Beyoncè, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, and Fleetwood Mac have helped tremendously in this manner.)
  • Anytime you feel tempted or compelled to act on suicidal ideation, wait 72 hours first.  You survived this long; you can hold out for another three days to allow your brain to self-correct.  (This is more a rule than a tip.) 💜  [Suicide Hotline]
  • It’s okay to have moments when you’re convinced it’s not worth so much effort.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak or broken.  It signals it’s time to turn on some stand-up comedy or Key and Peele and laugh (like you’re getting paid) for a while.
  • Others with PTSD can be a source of information, tips, and support.  Remember you’re not alone, even when it feels like you are.

Flex in the mirror once in a while.  You’re a healing survivor who was once a victim.  Life knocked you down, and you chose to get back up and continue your journey.  You’re freakin’ fabulous.  💪🏾👍🏾 💜

peace sign reflected in puddle

“They’re low flow, you know.”

beautiful couple

It recently occurred to me I can watch TV, now.  (And I don’t just mean repeatedly watching Seinfeld, The Boondocks, and other animated series with 15ish-minute episodes.)  Netflix is fantastically rocking my world.  Part of me wants to travel to their headquarters, stand in front of the content selection team, and dance my happy song on the violin before them until I burst into tears of gratitude.  🥰😍😮🤔🤭🤫

Oofda.  I might understand why oversharing is a thing, now, too.  🙃  What I mean is I don’t care about the recent price increase for Netflix.  Worth it.  Period.  I finished experiencing Black Mirror (until they create more.)  I’ll undoubtedly rewatch it.  Sense8 is easily my favorite show of all time.  It reaches me on a level beyond even novels.  It’s astonishing when you consider books are my most natural means of connecting with the world outside my head.

Person dressed as a bunny watching the waves

I think watching in 4k is a significant factor, as well.  It seems we’ve finally progressed to where filming and lighting are accurate enough to captivate.  Skin looks like skin, now.  People of color finally look as radiant as they do in real life.  Light-toned people no longer appear sickly in natural lighting.  I didn’t even know the flaw was distracting until it went away.  It’s eliminated a subconscious uncanny valley.  Yay.

The imperfections in human appearances are significant in adding interest, dimension, and believability.  Humans don’t look perfect;  it’s what makes us beautiful.  Julia Roberts seems to get it.  She remains gorgeous because she’s not fighting nature, she’s embracing it.  (I know she’s not the only one, but she’s who caught my attention in this respect.)  Aging doesn’t diminish beauty.  It merely transforms it.  For a long time, Hollywood has attempted to hide this transformation from us.  But with 4k, it’s futile.  Heh.

I’m thrilled because I’m looking forward to films with actors whose careers flourish at the point where they master their skills, not end.  Where irrelevant formulas no longer drive the industry.  Where entertainment no longer centers on momentary titillation laced with gratuitous violence.  Not a viable vision to emulate, that.  There’s far too much junk food in our collective entertainment diet.  We deserve more, and Netflix is banking on it.

vivid color

Hollywood still thinks reality shows are the solution, but they don’t seem to grok the point.  Reality shows are a band-aid.  We’re not rejecting fantasy and imaginings.  We’re rejecting formulary lies.  Monetary gain as the single goal is anathema to creativity.  It’s a Banksy shredder, yo.  I’m pleased there is a corporation with the cerebral fortitude to play Go while the rest are still playing Chess.  I feel like I’m watching the butterfly-wing-flap that stirs a tsunami in the future of entertainment.  (See why I couldn’t help but overshare?)  😆😂✌🏾💜

 

“What’s with all that sniffing?”

child at aquarium viewing polar bear swimming

I’m having a good 2019, so far.  (I’m already keeping track.)  Heh.  Ever since I leveled up in the game of life, I’m more apt to notice positivity.  It amuses me as I used to be one of those people who automatically scoffed at others saying, “think positive.”  As if thinking a certain way can vastly improve my quality of life.  Pshaw!  Cue the condescendingly tolerant reel that plays whenever I witness hippy-like behavior, courtesy of being raised in the upper midwest.

Either the community brain-washing didn’t take, or I’m a rebel.  I’m presently engaging in all sorts of hippy-like behavior.  I just got back from a mini-vacation in Denver.  Since M accompanied me, I was able to partake of the legal variety of weed while there.  (I decided I don’t need to use it very often, so mini-trips suffice over moving.)  I still feel like it’s having a positive effect on me.  Reverberations from reaching a state where I experienced no anxiety, I presume.

broken cookies

When I got home, my blood pressure meds were waiting in my mailbox.  I have to see my primary care doctor in the next three months, or I’ll run out again.  I suck at noticing symptoms until they bring me to my knees.  Now that I’ve taken a dose, I can already feel the difference.  It feels like someone just let me out from between the heavy mattresses that were crushing me on the sly.

I’m sensitive about my hypertension.  In my case, it seems my blood pressure and anxiety level increase in tandem.  The closer I get to freaking out, the higher my blood pressure rises.  I despise having it checked with the auto-cuff.  It usually starts a loop of ever-increasing numbers, until the medical person groks the pattern, and turns it off.  (I’m embarrassed by this quirk because I strongly suspect I caused it during an experiment I did years ago attempting to train myself to suppress all visual signs of stress/anxiety/depression.)

It backfired, I think.  I waiver between the benefits of masking to prevent stranger danger and the dangers of mistreatment due to not presenting stereotypically around poorly trained medical professionals.  I’ve apprehended a resolution to my difficulties in getting racism-free care at the Sioux Falls VA.  I’ve concluded my best option is to forgive the mistreatment in the past, and move forward without the baggage.  (It seems kind of duh, now, but it took me a while to figure it out.)  😂

bunny suit costume

It turns out; I’m allergic to baggage.  It slows me down, weighs me down, and worst of all hurts me.  (I’m also allergic to pain. 🤫)  My ability to reason when enduring pain is pathetic.  I could work on that, or I could focus on avoiding pain when it’s a choice.  I’m big on narrowing down the root, so I’m going with the latter option.  Fortunately, I don’t have any chronic pain conditions, and borderline-unsafe high pain tolerance (unless it’s above the neck.)  Most of my pain is a result of poor choices.  (Ouch.)(Shaddup, ego.) 🙃

I’m going to schedule an appointment with my primary care doctor at the VA.  When I believed this action impossible, it was due to being buried in painful baggage.  Now that I’ve engaged my Superpower of Forgiveness, I’ve freed myself and can imagine a fabulous 2019:  A year that includes preventative health care, lots of joy, and the Fleetwood Mac concert.  (Okay, the last two are redundant, but who’s counting?)  😂✌🏾💜

“Why shouldn’t we be able to do that once in a while if we want to?”

tea break

I’m having a good week.  There was a near-meltdown moment that initially devastated, but quickly developed into reaffirming communication and connection with people significant to me.  After taking some time to process the experience, I recognized positive aspects worthy of celebration.  I went from lamenting the challenges of being autistic in a neurotypical world, to strategizing new ways of coping with them in the future, in mere hours.

The speed and clarity of resolve astonished me.  I realize I’ve leveled up in the game of life.  I’ve been floating on a cloud of joy ever since.  The process of rebuilding and learning myself still feels new and intriguing.  I almost fell into a pit of sorrow over letting go of things I once held so close.  Examining the root of these values, and acknowledging the fact they were never mine, but only acquired by rote, helped me bypass the trap.  Yay.  🙃

The changes I’ve made are small, but the results immense.  I drink herbal teas, now.  In the past, I rejected all hot beverages, without bothering to determine why.  Now I know it’s because they require me to be present in my body while partaking to avoid injury.  (It’s funny to me in hindsight.) Asking myself why turned out to be an excellent method of understanding myself in many ways.  Naturally, it led to delving deeper with more questions.

unreality

Instead of feeling regret about being different, and trying to force me to change and pretend to be like others in pursuit of acceptance by strangers, I’m using my energy to know myself.  I’m no longer accepting the values and beliefs of others as my own.  If they don’t originate within my soul, they aren’t mine.  Pretending they were was slowly erasing the essence of me.  I have no use for acceptance based on unreality.

I’d rather be alone in the dark. – Sheryl Crow

I began watching another series on Netflix titled, Black Mirror.  It’s not a show I can binge watch, (she said while giggling.)  The first episode is excruciating.  It’s also brilliant.  It’s a 44-minute test to determine if you’re eligible to continue watching.  It’s a mental tattoo.  I’m pleased it exists as I love things that lead to new paths of thought and discussion.  It also provokes me to question and learn myself.

It’s dark and foggy this week, and I struggle to sleep when it’s so humid.  Last night, I lay in bed listening to Amy Lee (Evanescence.)  I thought about how her music has accompanied my life through many hardships and growing pains.  I think I finally grok why certain musicians reach me so profoundly.  It’s about energy.  My knowledge and vocabulary are presently limited on this topic, as I’m relying solely on intuition.  I plan to explore it further, though.

I used to get so offended when people would question my choices in music (often based on things as superficial as race.)  I think it’s because I didn’t know why some appeal to me far more than others.  I’m thrilled to understand.  Amy Lee, Stevie Nicks, ABBA, Lorde, Sheryl Crow, Bach, Mozart, etc.  These musicians create music I can climb inside and bask in energy that soothes my soul.  That’s why.  🙃😂  I’m off to band practice.  💜✌🏽