The History of Halloween

For those that wonder what the meaning of Halloween is all about, definitely check out this link!

The History of Halloween.



Trauma and Repressed Memories

One of the consistent things I have learned about myself is that my mind has troubles with moments and memories. 

A few years ago, while in group therapy, I had begun to experience really intense dreams. When I shared them with group members, I realized that what I was having was repressed memories.  Until then I didn’t know any different about my past life. 

Sometimes I have days where my mind remembers easily, things of my childhood, words flowing out of my mouth as any other person would. However, I have noticed that I have huge gaps in my mind of moments of my life where I not only do not remember, but I also have trouble getting words out of my mouth. It feels like they are all jumbled and trapped; stuck in a cage, blackness all around. My brain draws a blank, not able to form sentences and say them. 




I was triggered in group today. I don’t like to be challenged on my answers especially if it involves how I understand a definition of words. Yet instead of feeling calm; I feel angry. Angry that someone suggested that how I understand words, makes me wrong. 

I have been reacting in anger too often. Its like a scab constantly bearing picked at, allowing it to bleed, then it scabs. The process starts all over again. 


In our paperwork today there was a page that talks about finding our own triggers. 

Triggers are things that happen in your life and in your mind that get you upset enough to self-harm. Different people are triggered by different things but there are some common themes that most people recognize. 

  • situations where people feel “rejected” (i.e. friend cancels a lunch date)
  • situations where people feel “blamed” (i.e. co-worker blames you for losing a report)
  • situations where people feel “inadequate” (i.e. someone else in group describing their progress and you’ve had a lousy week)
  • situations where people feel they are “wrong” in some way or others are “wrong” in some way (i.e. you’re running late to get to work and as you’re backing out of the driveway, you notice the garbage collectors put your garbage can back in the center of the driveway. 

I know for me that feeling rejected and abandoned are two very large triggers for me. Initially when I read the above 4 points, I thought my answer was inadequate, mind you it could very well be. But after reading it again, the feeling I felt was wronged. How dare someone challenge me and my understanding of the words “triggered” and “crisis”. I know what they mean, not only that, the explanation of both words was on the handout. 

I felt judged and instantly irate. After our 10 minute break we worked on our trigger sheet and when it came to sharing our triggers, I initially wasn’t going to, I felt that if I did, I would hurt the person’s feelings. I hesitated at first, and then quietly said my trigger. I didn’t look at the person who questioned me, I felt embarrassed, as a child would for tattle tailing. 

I chose to use my trigger sheet and try to break down why I felt the way I did. Nothing significant that I could see, really came to me. Usually I feel a sense of “a ha” when I do the trigger sheet.

Not long after we closed out our session, my therapist J came to me and said she would like to talk to me on Thursday morning, over the phone. J said that she would like to break down my trigger with me. I’m not sure how to take this. Either I’m really messed up, or its because the trigger happened in group. 

Either way, I hope that I walk with a big of insight. 


Panic Attacks

The last couple/three days, I have been feeling that feeling in my gut, the one that gives you a knot in your belly. I’ve been having bouts of sweating, wringing my hands, short temper, can’t sit still stuff.  

It has been debilitating and frustrating of not being able to shake the panic attacks. 

I’ve been doing some thinking and have noticed that I have felt frustrated prior to the attack coming on. Other times I have felt overwhelmed. I feel like I am “feeling” too much, whereas before I was numb a lot. At times I still am, and I am glad. Too feel these attacks like I have been, I’d rather be numb. I don’t take medications anymore for them, because I am scared of becoming reliant on them. I know they are there if I need them, and know I’m truly not going to get through the panic attacks. 

I remembered my writing on Triggers and reflected on what I was doing or watching on tv.  Our weather here has been nothing but steady rain and that doesn’t help either. 

The steady news reports on Hurricane Sandy and the imminent approach of her, although I’m not personally affected, has bothered me. The 7.7 magnitude earthquake up the northern coast of B.C. and talks of tsunami warnings, I felt shocked by. When you have grown up in an environment where talk of the “big one” is always over your shoulder, does not leave my mind. I also remember hearing sirens as a child, in our neighborhood. I later learned that it was a siren to warn of  impending bad weather. It amazes me that after all these years, anytime I hear of really bad weather, the siren from my childhood is what I instantly hear in my head. 

My pets pick up on my mood, my boyfriend tries so hard to be there for me. I realized that contact with him is vital for me. Hugs, hand holding, soothing words, do help me a lot. Having a warm cup of herbal tea with honey helps too. 

I didn’t sleep very much last night, anytime I heard my dogs walking on the floor, their nails clicking everywhere they went, frustrated me, in fact after a few short moments, I can feel my panic rise by 50 to 75%! 

My boyfriend is such a loving, caring, person. He always helps me at every opportunity, he believes, like I do, that creating any way to keep calm and serenity in our home is more important than anything else. Whether it be helping to take our dogs out, to mopping and sweeping the floor. I appreciate all that he does for us and our fur kids. 

We light candles and incense as that does help to create calm for me. 

I am glad I have tools to rely on, but what I really want is to not have any panic attacks at all. If I have to, I’d really like to know what is triggering them, so I can prepare for them.



Ways to work through triggers

On further breakdown of how to work through a trigger and lengthening the fuse, we listed what our weakness would be to be triggered. I am going to write out what mine were. Remember, this isn’t written in stone, this is just what I and a few of my group members feel would trigger us. I think in the coming days and weeks, as things come up for me, I will edit and add them to their respective lists. 

What makes you susceptible to triggers 

If it is easier for you, change the word susceptible to “weakens”.

  1. Receiving communication from my mother
  2. Lack of sleep
  3. Isolating myself
  4. Poor nutrition
  5. Too much time on the computer
  6. Lack of sunshine
  7. Exposure to triggers 
  8. Judgments
  9. Not take medications
  10. Not seeing family around the holidays
  11. Loss/grief

How can you build resiliency to triggers every day?

If it helps change the word resiliency to “strengthens”. 

  1. Getting consistent sleep (unbroken)
  2. Eat healthily
  3. Make sure you are keeping your fluid intake up
  4. Get outside
  5. Exercise (walking, swimming, gym)
  6. Opening the blinds
  7. Setting (SMART) goals 
  8. Mindfulness/Self Acceptance
  9. Reaching out for help
  10. Enjoying a hobby
  11. Watching old classic movies
  12. Grooming horses
  13. Volunteering
  14. Spending time with my pets
  15. Enjoying crossword puzzles (in women’s world magazine)
  16. Knitting
  17. Monitor how much exposure I have to media coverage of violence
  18. Avoid viewing problems as impossible (black and white thinking)
  19. Accept that change is part of life (this is a challenge for me)
  20. Take clear action (Act on adverse situations as much as you can)
  21. Maintain a hopeful outlook (Optimism is learned and nurtured over a period of time)
  22. Keeping things in Perspective and Avoid “Catastrophizing” (Try to consider stressful situation in a broader context, and keep a long term prospective)
  23. Nurture a positive view of yourself (Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience)
  24. Engage in opportunities of self-discovery (learning something new about yourself often shows that I have grown in some respect as a result of my struggle with loss). 

As I build resiliency, self harm will be further down the list of options/actions. 

I never thought of things I enjoy as strengths against triggers. I just assumed it was sleep, dietary, exercising. I know that as moments come up for me, I will have to make an effort to add them to this list, so that when I look back, I have this to fall back on, and refresh my memory. 




The Trench Analogy – Dealing with Triggers

The story below, is what we were handed today in group. This is my third time reading this story. Each time we have read it, my answers seem more specific, whereas the very first time I read this, I was very overwhelmed, not even able to look even a smidge over the trench. I can see a little, which is more than I could see before. 


The path towards self-harming or self-defeating behaviors can be like a well-worn trench. It’s familiar and easy to follow. It is possible to create new pathways though. The challenge is to climb out of the familiar trench and look towards new destinations. 


At first, the muddy walls of the trench are slippery and hard to hold onto as you climb your way out. Then, you’re facing a field of tall grass and you can’t see where you’re heading. As you try to create a new pathway with each step, the grass behind you easily spring back up. 


It can be hard to imagine why you want to try this again since the trench can be followed with so little effort. The next time your triggered though, you may remember that the grassy path led you to a self-soothing behavior and away from self-harm. 


You decide to practice the new pathway and gradually pat down the grass to create a new trench. Over time, the old trench starts to grow over so that this becomes less automatic. 


Today I wrote down what my perception of the “grass behind me” meant. I see the grass behind me as although I can step out of the trench, seeing the grass behind me makes me feel that the problem(s) will bring me down again.  

I think what I mean is that I am afraid, afraid to see the positive and life changes that can happen as the grass gets stepped on and the trench grows over as it dries up.  The analogy makes me think of the the fuse, The fuse is what fires the trigger, then the bomb goes off.  By lengthening the fuse, we delay self harm, which ultimately is what we would want.

Today I am content. I’m not happy or sad…




Quiet with my thoughts… I went

To see my family at their final resting place. I have never been to this place before, yet I suddenly had decided after my acupuncture appointment, this is what I wanted to do. I googled the location and realized I was super close to where they are. 

The rain, coming down heavily, didn’t deter me. After my treatment, I started to waver a little, as to whether I would go or not. Then I told myself to drive to the location and that way I would know where it is. Even if I didn’t get out of the car, at least I knew where it was. Something I hadn’t known, although my relatives have described the area to me more than once. 

My two dogs Blaze and Lucy are with me, that doesn’t surprise me though. Anything of significance Blaze has always been there for the last 7 years of his life. Lucy is now part of this journey. 

We pull in to the cemetery, looking around, the first thing I see is green and lots and lots of flowers. There are many loved ones who are missed. I was looking now, looking for where my family was supposed to be laid to rest. I remember my cousin T saying that the family wasn’t far from the entrance, so off I go. The raining is falling heavier now, the dogs are anxious, thinking they are going to get out, little do they realize they aren’t. 

After a few minutes of looking at the various plots, taking in each name and date, I realized some have been here since the late 1800’s. I have always found that fascinating, to know that a person has been laid to rest from such a long time ago. 

As I wasn’t having any luck finding my family, I walked to the caretaker’s office. He was with someone so I waited, rain falling on me, soothing in its touch on my skin, reminding me of when I was a child, catching drops on my tongue. 

I tried again, to see if I could find my family. Somehow being there, I felt connected to everyone, even though I hadn’t seen where they were laid to rest. Shortly thereafter, the caretaker takes me back to the office to look up my family. It was a rather unique experience to see how people are laid to rest and how the caretakers know where everyone is. 

We drive to where my family is, he walks with me. I liked how personal he was with me, even if it was just make sure I was with the right plots. We chatted for a few minutes, he said he remembered when Sean was laid to rest, he shared with me how members of the band had cracked open a beer, took a drink and then placed their cans with Sean as he was laid to his final resting place. I shared a little about my family, a sense of pride came over me. We talked about the family crest Sean has on his headstone and how he thought that was great. 

Shortly he leaves me with my thoughts, and I thank him for helping me. 

I return to face each headstone, the first time I have been around all my family in a long time. The last time being when each person was alive.  A sense of peace came over me. I didn’t expect it. I realized that I wasn’t crying and this kind of confused me. I guess because I felt I “should” be crying as that is what people do when they are at a cemetery, right? I bent down to each headstone, placing my hand on my father’s headstone first. I cleaned his off, the rain still falling, watering the grass around me. I’m soaked, but I didn’t notice. All I saw was my family, the very people who have either supported me in emotional support, or in familial support in raising me. 

I talked with my father for a few minutes, I notice the flower pot, flowers no longer there. I take it and tell dad that I will bring him some fresh flowers next time. The same for my Grandparents and my Uncle. Sean has flowers and many beautiful tokens of love and friendship on his headstone. I told my father that while growing up, I was mad that he wasn’t there for me, but I am no longer.  I understand that this wasn’t his fault, that he didn’t “ask” for cancer. I moved to the next headstone, and I placed my hands on my Uncle’s headstone. smiling as I read his “Gone Fishing” on it.  I thanked him for being there for me, for listening to me and just being there as my father wasn’t able to be. 

My grandparents, I smiled as I touched their photo that is embedded in their headstone with the words “united in heaven”. I realized when I read the dates that they had been apart 10 years before they were reunited. I could only imagine the smiles on their faces knowing they were no longer apart. I thanked them for being there for me, for looking after me, for always listening to me when I needed a shoulder. 

I go over to Sean’s headstone, smiling at the tokens of love for him. From the small guitar, to the flowers and guardian angel. I could feel the love for him. My first words to him were “Sean, what are we going to do with you” I said laughing. See, when Sean and I spoke or messaged one another, I used to say stuff like that to him; as I would with those I care about. Never in haste or judgment. 

I apologized to Sean for not realizing how unwell he really was. That I wish he found the strength to stick it out as I would have walked side by side with him, together we would fight our mental illnesses. I never expressed anger, as I realized I’m not angry with him; but I do hurt for him; just as I do for each family member who is beside him. I told each person I loved them, and to my father I told him that I won’t be gone so long between visits, now that I know where he is.

I decide that it is time to walk back to my car. I’m pretty wet now and I realize that my runners are wet and soaking through to my socks, a pet peeve of mine lol. 

My dogs are all excited when I return to my car, Lucy, full of craziness, as she always is whenever I return the car. Blaze, his quiet self, almost like he knows how I am going to be, before I even got into my car. 

I hesitate in leaving, taking in the moment, memorizing which trees, flowers and headstone that are near everyone, so next time I will know where to find them. 

Perhaps a sense of closure has come over me, knowing that being close to my family, helps me not feel abandoned; that even if I don’t see them, I know they are with me in spirit. 

I’m not sure if I have processed all my thoughts, or if there are any thoughts more to process. I only know I feel quiet inside, not sad, just…. quiet. Perhaps reflective is more the word I am looking for.