Imagine Thoughts as Ping Pong Balls

“Constriction alters a person’s breathing, muscle tone, and posture in order to promote efficiency and strength. Blood vessels in the skin, extremities, and internal organs constrict so that more blood is available to the muscles, which are tensed and prepared to take defensive action. At the same time, the digestive system is inhibited. We may also feel numb and shut down.” ~ Peter A. Levine

“Psychologists usually try to help people use insight and understanding to manage their behavior. However, neuroscience research shows that very few psychological problems are the result of defects in understanding; most originate in pressures from deeper regions in the brain that drive our perception and attention. When the alarm bell of the emotional brain keeps signaling that you are in danger, no amount of insight will silence it.” ~ Bessel A. van der Kolk

“Long after a traumatic experience is over, it may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger and mobilize disturbed brain circuits and secrete massive amounts of stress hormones. This precipitates unpleasant emotions, intense physical sensations, and impulsive and aggressive actions. These post-traumatic reactions feel incomprehensible and overwhelming. Feeling out of control, survivors of trauma often begin to fear that they are damaged to the core and beyond redemption.” ~ Bessel van der Kolk

It generally takes about 48 hours for me to recover from a panic attack; even a small one. That stretch of time doesn’t cover all the symptoms. Not by any stretch. The more troublesome sink back down into the baseline, to the places they simmer and hide, waiting for the next threat, real or otherwise. Those baseline symptoms, for me, are the ones that have been smacking me back into weariness whenever something pleasant, or beautiful, or instinctively direct, happens. Instinctively direct? It’s like I get all proud and stuff when I recognize that some aspect of my behavior was or is truly instinctual, regardless of what society, or culture, may say about it, or think about it, and these instinctual forces cut through the constricted layers of guck and hopelessness that PTSD has engineered as armor. It’s like, ‘boy howdy there is still someone alive in there!’. A bit dramatic, I know, but it is hard not to be dramatic when you are pumping cortisol like blood sugar; when you have temporarily broken out of your shell; and your intact authentic self sends you a text about the triumph, and that text makes the whole thing go poof. Just poof. It’s the sole, core reason I don’t use text messaging. And why the ringer on my phone is often muted. As now, there are times in my life when pleasure and joy are hard to come by. I wouldn’t want to miss out on these rare feelings when they come. I don’t want a text message telling me what is real. But now, moving forward . . .

Geez, I was starting to get a little cranky there. My bad. I went outside to get a hit of the fresh, nearly frigid air. No wind, no traffic on the highway, no canid proclamations. Quiet. Nice. Right? Yeh, it is. It’s a workday. I can feel my body tensing up already. I won’t dwell on it though, just in case something instinctual arises. That’s another thing I don’t want to miss. Imagine thoughts as ping pong balls being popped out of a machine, like one of those contraptions that dispense baseballs, tennis balls, or hockey pucks, so that you can practice your sport, perhaps to refine your skills. There is no refinement in random thoughts being tossed at you, for any reason. It just creates a mess. I will try not to get ensnared in that mess today. In the immortal words of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, “Sounds like fun”.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

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