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PTSD research

Another post inspired by Tackaberry Chronicles – this time, about how increased heart rate and respiration are predictors for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As I read Michelle’s post, I realised my heart rate hasn’t been normal all day, actually.

An insidious aspect of PTSD… is the anxiety caused by the increased heart rate, or is the increased heart rate caused by the anxiety?

How is it, when there’s nothing in particular that I’m stressed about right now that my heart labours at an increased rate?

You know, as I wrote that, I just realised this isn’t a very good time of year for me. I probably shouldn’t spend so much time alone…

December 2005

From the time I was assaulted to that first Christmas after the fact… was just under two months.

I think I survived that time by just diving right back into work and suppressing the terror. I wanted it all to just go away, but as I’ve found out in incredibly brilliant fluorescent detail, trauma doesn’t actually fade away without help.

Trauma won’t leave you alone. You can ignore it for a while, but eventually you have to face it. If you want your life back.

I remember I bought a new outfit to wear on Christmas day. A brown knee-length cotton skirt and a reddish-brown sleeveless top. I remember my dad telling me how pretty I looked. I remember… no one mentioning anything at all about what had happened. I remember feeling dead inside.

Hello? Can anybody see me??

Maybe this is why I haven’t really enjoyed birthdays or Christmas’ since then… I don’t even remember what happened for my birthday that year. Possibly just the obligatory birthday dinner with the family…

It’s a struggle to remember the holiday periods at all since that time. Actually, I’ve had to check my email records to bring any of it into focus.

For December 2005, there aren’t any emails.

Then, in the days after Christmas… like right now… alone. I shut the door. No one was expecting me. I hadn’t made any plans.

And I fell to pieces.

It was around then I was in touch with G. I’d told him what was happening and he was very understanding. But I edited things down – about how bad it all was. Of course.

I saw no one. For New Year’s, I told my friends I was doing a mini yoga retreat – which I was – and wouldn’t be answering the phone or checking emails. But I was also dealing with insomnia, enormous amounts of anger, sadness, crying, bad dreams and so on…

December 2006

I’d spent most of the year waiting for things to get better. I really thought it was just gonna be a matter of time. I didn’t realise how much I really needed help. All year I felt very alone, and I was missing my Sydney friends terribly. It was the year of my bone graft surgery.

That year would bring my 35th birthday. So I decided to change the date, sort of. I took a solo road trip to Sydney in late November and organised birthday lunch with my friends, by the water in Pyrmont.

For my actual birthday back in Melbourne, I managed to get together a motley assortment of ‘friends’. K, the woman came to my rescue that night. And a few others. I basically got trashed. Thank you, Long Island Iced Tea. Many of them. Generally I don’t drink a lot or at all (I can go months without drinking anything) but for this milestone birthday, one I’d previously had such different plans for… I couldn’t let it pass without notice, but at the same time I couldn’t cope with it sober, either.

I don’t remember Christmas that year very much, except my sister was pregnant with my niece. There was a lot of focus on her, which suited me just fine, I guess.

December 2007

Oh. The most recent, yet possibly the worst, and the best. I’m kind of not ready to talk about the events of November/December last year. I’m embarrassed by my actions, my naivetΓ©.

I thought I’d met someone I could trust, but I was very, very wrong.

For now, I’ll just say that those events brought on new lows of my depression. Which eventually resulted in the amazing conversation I had with my chiropractor. Which led me to H, my therapist (thank goodness).

That birthday was spent in tears. I did go out with a couple of friends, trying to enjoy myself but it didn’t go very well. Christmas Eve, I had a conversation that helped a lot. But the whole end of last year really sucked, actually.

This year

It seems for this birthday, the universe conspired to bring joy into my life despite my attempts to keep it on the down low. A lot of love from all over the world, in fact. Despite myself. In my workplace, my inbox, on my blog, Facebook, my phone and more. And I am very grateful, even though I may not have acted that way.

Christmas day was… well, I was sick. A throat infection/flu. So I was merry for a bit, did the present opening thing, ate some food and then pretty much passed out.

This whole thing has nothing to do with getting older… I don’t mind that in the least.

But I hadn’t realised til right about now, the impact of the past few years of Decembers – birthday and Christmas alike.

I should say… I used to love celebrating birthdays. Mine or anyone else’s. I’d run ‘festivale de birthday‘ – trying to stretch out celebrations for as long as possible.

For my mid-thirties, I’d had such different ideas on how my life would be. What I wanted for myself. Instead, I’ve let the darkness and the sadness overwhelm me, take over, and steal happiness and love from my days.

Sure, I’m stronger now. I know a lot more. And perhaps, it’s this level of understanding that I need in order to be ready for my future life – as someone providing service to others.


It’ll be nice though, and a sign of great progress, when I can enjoy December once more.