Posts Tagged ‘healing’


PSA on Care for you: I have been having conversations virtually and on social media with folks who are feeling more anxious, tightness/heaviness in chest, nausea, or gastro-intestinal symptoms that doctors can’t tie to a physiological (physical) illness and wondering what is happening? We are in the in-between phase of life, our bodies are in recovery–full recovery of a constant 24-7 on call lifestyle that abruptly stopped, and new stressors both conscious and unconscious took hold upon our systems that now our holistic system is trying to figure a way to burn out of, and move beyond the constant overlapping flight-fight-freeze responses (conversion). It is normal, it is also normal to take time to pause, to rest, to renew, to reflect on your life. Below is a tool for self-care, defining each area, you rate yourself from 0 (at the hub) to 10 (at the outside wheel), in each area, this is the wheel you are travelling on. Pick one area you would like to grow, it is not an audacious plan, but one simple thing you can do each day to grow it by one point. For example: Watch 1 sitcom that makes me laugh, take 1 hour where I unplug from the computer, read 2 chapters on a mystery novel I picked up at the grocery store. These moments of pause, and care for you, aid in your body rebooting, and reduce (because elimination is probably impossible at this time) the conversion symptoms. As always speak with your family doctor as well:

See the source image


Yes that awkward day for all those with a British (or naughty sense of humour), so get the giggles out before we move on to the rolling thoughts of this Sunday, as dusk settles in (or is it possibly more rain?).

Image may contain: text that says "So in retrospect, in 2015, not a single person got the answer right to "Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?""The first thoughts wrestling through during this is what grows out of the memories tab at Facebook, a reminder of my own meandering journey over the last 3 years connecting to the satirical meme to the left in regards to the grand concept of life planning/goals of the “5 year plan”. For it is definitely not unfurling like I pictured the last few years would’ve been. Although, I was never one to really plan, just follow the path to live out the mission of making my own corner of the world a little better, one act of kindness at a time.

During C-tine as Alberta’s government and health minister continue to attack our medical community, and the fabric of public-universal health care in my province. It reminds me, that during the time I was down,  as I was going down, and going through PNES-PTSD- the diagnosis, and the phased healing– that the private medical practitioners the insurance company wanted to send me to, to get me off the LTD claim faster, refused to accept the referrals as the complexity of what was happening (the idea that it was not a simple cause and effect solution) led them to decline, while the public system rose to the challenge. Yes, reflecting back on some Facebook memories, there was nervousness, and some trepidation into the unknown once the path and treatments started…but the system supported through to the best outcome, and a year after the feelings of trepidation have me back in the field and now working from home, serving the next generation of practitioners to grow their knowledge base.

It does lead one to pause, and consider the wisdom that guided many, spear header by (Pastor) Tommy Douglas, leader of the then named CCF to take up the struggle for universal health care, the concept that no one should have to choose between money and health…

And it makes one wonder, how any government can look at the history of medicine, and decide that it as a for profit endeavour is ethical, let alone moral.

But as we segue way, the announcement has been made by our illustrious premier that June 1 places of worship (with precautions) can re-open. It did make me wonder what this would look like? Would the mega-churches, or mid to large size churches take the risk? Yes, it is a risk assessment and liability. As one church, Living Spirit United, here in Calgary shared that just before the shut down they were following guidelines about 40 in attendance, and still 24 became ill, and 2 died.

Will this serve as a prophetic warning to places of worship? The very nature of closeness that comes with a “faith family” (regardless of religious stripes), is connection, embracing, how do you stop children from touching? Who will turn away the extra’s that turn up that are not allowed in due to restrictions who will turn them away? Will they listen? Will people wear masks (as we are already seeing the direction from the Federal Chief Medical Officer Doctor Tam going unheeded already).

From my sociological tracking of churches though, it again is creating poverty as a petri-dish. I don’t want to make a blanket generalization, and I won’t. But what I do see is those that will jump back into opening are those that may not fully understand the implications, or are able to leverage “spiritual language” to convince in a populist movement because what is being heard is not, with precautions- but “open as normal”. The other plausibility, is smaller to mid-size congregations who have been struggling financially before this time, and were unable to adapt a method of donation stream during, re-opening and welcoming back the congregation for both donations but also re-connecting with what has created a mass shut in situation. The third point, is the confusion of church/worship with the building, not the spiritual practices and connection with the belief system and members that can happen without the physical building until things are in a safer situation.

But all these musings will fall I do not want to say on deaf ears or hardened hearts, but I would say driven by a fear or better anxiety, of necessity for what worship/ritual is to them and tied to a specific holy space and time.

I am not sure what my church (yes I am switching to my own faith background from the meta) will decide on re-opening. But as a family unit we have looked at who we are, the health needs, and our own connectivity to people and faith. Really it is tracking numbers, that is not only infection/recovered/new, but total daily tests (are Albertans seeking out testing when exposed even asymptomatic, or when feeling ill, or not) to see what is happening over the summer before choosing possibly by late summer or fall to make a choice to return.

Why? Well, the letter from Paul of Tarsus to those in Colossae was touched on today in the service, and the words of what it’s all about hit home (Colossians 1:15-20, The Message):

15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
18-20 He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

What does it come down to?

Living out the life of love of self, neighbour and God–that the life, death, and resurrection of Brother Jesus laid out as a road map for all of us. So yes, being in a building with others is a wonderful additional experience, but I do not think it is a calling at this time to partake in.

Rather it is a calling for care and kindness of other by distancing, by doing things that encourage corporate health.

Take time, we are still in the precautionary stage, we are easing some restrictions to aid our neighbour…take the lead of that sentiment…choosing actions of kindness and economy that aid others. For we all deserve to be healthy, cared for, and belong.

Sunday Song- Brad Paisley’s Me and Jesus


IDW’s 2017 collection Star Trek: Waypoint is a collection of one and done short comic stories in the tradition of the Star Trek shows, it was part of the 50th anniversary celebration. Long time readers will remember I have drawn upon these short stories for other reflections.

For this time on the Holy Week Pilgrimage, it was appropriate to once again tap this resource, as the ancient friends of Jesus’ journeyed into darkness latching on to hope to decolonize their own whole beings, throw off the colonizers (the Empire) and create something new, so to are we at a crossroads in Canada, and the world from the Inter-generation traumas of this cycle of conquering, dominance, dehumanization, and genocide in its variety of forms. A time where truth needs to be spoken, intrinsic worth and being reclaimed, and moving forward in reconciliation in a new way. Which brings us to the Mother’s Walk story in this collection. Set in the world of Deep Space Nine. The former Cardassian space station being reclaimed by the Bajoran government, and United Federation of Planets.

See the quick version of the back story is the Cardassians conquered Bajor, enslaving the population, strip mining it for resources, and doing what ever they could to destroy the populace’s spirit. Sound familiar from our history books? It is within this emergent new reality that Major Kiera Nerys shares the story of a revelation to Commander Dax now that she is in space and can see the stars. The story of the Mother’s Walk–Shar-D’an. An ancient Bajoran ritual for the women, that was shared in the value of women working together, tied to a sacred story of family. It was a time of the year when the women would gather, embroider names of those they were connected to, walk in and with the Sacred.

It was seen as a point of power, a world of matriarchy, the Cardassians saw it as dangerous. As such, for those caught living their faith and doing this ceremony their embroidered sashes were used to hang them from as an execution warning. See something familiar in the use of Crucifixion in the Easter Story? In the use of violence in colonization across the nations and suppression of religious-spiritual practice? Forcing change on how a society functions stripping away the matriarchy to impose a hierarchy?

Kiera shared her truth with Dax, and that she had no family to do this with now that she could. As this truth spread on the station, those that new and cared for Kiera reached out to do the ceremony with her- O’Brien and his wife Keiko, who Kiera had carried their child by surrogacy, Dax, Quark, Bashir, Odo, Sisko (The Emissary for Bajor’s religion), all had reached out and been denied by Kiera for not being her “family”.

Yet, think of what happened?

The growth in the short story towards, Kiera’s realization of whom her new family had become. For family is not just blood, it is those that come to care, support, see the inherent being of another, connection, belonging, sharing life together, willingness and openness to be a part of the life cycle of another, and the benchmark’s of the sacred.

Who are your family?

Those that share the sacred journey with you.


Image result for death of supergirl crisis coverFor comic fans 1984 was a big year. It was the year of the 12 part Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series from DC Comics, the first ever cross over in a comic universe that shook the foundations and brought the deaths of Supergirl and The Flash (Barry Allen). Flash forward to the CW Arrow-verse and it has been a recurring theme in the Flash t.v. show, Crisis and the Flash’s vanishing, it has shaped his character and actions knowing that it is about preparing his family, friends and team for the time in history when he is no longer there. That’s right, Barry’s identity has been shaped by this momentous martyrdom.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and suitHit 2019 and the Crisis on Infinite Earths cross over hits the airwaves, and the Flash episode is the 3rd part (and since we have Netflix and not cable in my house, sadly the only part we get).

But it was fun. What kind of fun? Two of my favourite dark universe creations, John Constantine Hellblazer goes searching for the soul of Green Arrow in purgatory and on Earth 666, Luci (yes I love Luci as a great foil, and he was in pure splendid Vertigo form).

Aside from these types of team ups…the core story was the time for Barry Allen to Martyr himself. It is like vocation for all of us, we have a career path, what we do in life, whether or not we want it to, it is what defines us  because it is what society asks us to define who we are in our societal caste system. Employment/career/vocation you are what you do.

This is what Flash is in this moment, a hero, a soon to be martyr. Yet to stop the anti-matter wave of destruction he is not the only Flash, there is the Earth-90 Flash (yes the 1 season fun show on CBS) is there as well…and…well a Flash perishes to stop the crisis, and our Flash of Earth-1 is left stripped of the identity that had defined his herodom.

It was glanced over rapidly in the episode obviously his move through the emotional spectrum, but it is something to remind us when friends are unemployed, or something has shifted health wise so that they may not be doing what they used to do. It is a trauma to them. May sound like a powerful word, but it is a word that builds an image I hope, as it is something that cuts to the core of identity that society has shaped us with–it is about our purpose in community. As such, it takes us through the stages of change and grieving whether you use Kubler-Ross, Stages of Change or U-Theory (or a plethora of others) there is the event- the struggle (anger/denial/bartering) acceptance- healing– moving forward…

Too often though we trap ourselves within the microcosm of pain…and lose ourselves in the anger and denial over our current spot in life. What is lost when that happens is that we cannot see through the current darkness to follow the constant light to what awaits. For with each challenge, loss, grief, that we continue to walk through the valley of– a new and better us emerges. Wiser, and more able to be the authentic us, and define who we are through our true core values not a faux litmus test of society. This was what was glanced over in mere minutes of the episode for Barry (Flash), that if it had not been a cross over would’ve made an exceptional story arc of re-establishing who he was as a hero without the identity of self-sacrifice.

As we move through change whether chosen or forced, it is about re-focusing, and re-establishing who we are, stronger in the here and now.

BUT

We must make the journey through the valley, and not freeze at the lowest point, but rise into the light of the new.


Confirmation bias is taking in only the information that fulfills that which you want to believe. Spiritual, deals with the intangibles of life. But what does this have to do with today? It is easy to exist within confirmation bias within religious settings. For anyone that has read the book or seen the movie, Running with Scissors, this is partly the concept of a “Bible Dip” cracking open a sacred text, reading what is there, and pulling out what you want to see. It is not done with extended context, or discussion with others, just simply your own literal reading of the words on the page.

This challenge was raised in our exploration of the Gospel of Luke. See, usually you start with the context of a passage, what came before or after to unpack, that didn’t create a deeper or better understanding. It was just one of those moments in a text that is like a wha huh?

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (New Revised Standard Version)

It is unpacking that what is the point of healing? For this example it is challenging Jesus’ exorcism that basically yeah the demon was cast out, but then returns with 7 friends and life becomes more hellicious. One reading is for those with mental health concerns, or other chronic health conditions, what is the point of healing or seeking help for it is all for naught. The better cliche, is what is seen where one accepts treatment to a certain point and is feeling better so stops, and guess what happens before healing is complete?

But this passage pulls out another praxis. See, one may not know the original languages, but we live in a time of multiple translations especially in the English language, and I want to challenge you not to simply read the text in your bible. If you can, discuss it in a group (over snacks is always good), but also have diversity in the translations in the group, and so we started to wrestle with this and unpack with a few other readings of it:

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (English Standard Version)

24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (The Message)

Different readings and conversation brought us to the bridge of the key word in the Message– Vacant. The other two spoke of in order, but the concept wasn’t extrapolated. For what happens when you spring clean your house? You not only get the dirt and gunk out, but you remove the clutter, make donations, create more space for the new you emerging. This is what is missed in the conversation of healing from any health concern. Your internal spiritual house has been put in order, in some cases completely rebuilt. The toxic is removed.

Now the challenge has been laid at your heart, do you continue the work? Do you continue the care, and ensuring that your house remains toxin free? Or do you just accept it as a one and done moment. It is in that one and done, my house is in order- vacant, that is the allegory of the demon getting friends, for there is now more room to play. The more room is not only from the removal of a certain level or all toxins and clutter, rather it is also the ego that comes from going through the healing that you have a blind spot.

But is that only all? Well, within the chapter it is a challenge by the religious oppressors of Jesus’ healing. A healing ministry designed and implemented to remove the farcical barriers that labelled any divine image as wrong, and less than any other. It was their attempt to say, yes you may have done this and come and been welcome back— BUT, it is for nought for you will always be what you were. That caste system ideal of not seeking to be healthier or better. In the modern world it is the churches that preach only prayer for healing not to trust medical doctors or psychologists, because this is who you are and only by being holier will you see the glory of God.

See how the religious oppressors still exist? The importance of belonging and community in spiritual growth and discipleship? The importance of belonging in healing and recovery?

These 3 little verses can be devastating, until you read them and realize it is stated to discourage growth and transfiguration into who you are meant to be in the Holy. Once you realize that, it is a case of stepping over it and going, NO. I trust the call on my soul to be whole.

 

Flash-Trauma

Posted: November 28, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,

The last few days I have received my daily meditations from the Henri Nouwen Society, and they have been centered on community. It is a unique time of reflection as my life opens up for the new vocational call (I have pasted the 2 meditations at the end of the post for your own contemplation), as my family prepares for the Advent practice of reading the Gospel of Luke. I have read in my own contemplation the other two synoptic gospels (Matthew & Mark), which compliment into Luke’s take– all three focused on building the Kingdom here. That is stepping through the thin space, and making it a reality in the here and now. That is the summation of the Laws & Prophets that Brother Jesus lived, see… he created Holy Community by removing the falsely imposed barriers of society dictated by labels.

Yet, it was only possible in the realm of choice. It is complimented by two other experiences this week. One is David Mack’s (2017) Star Trek Titan  Fortune of War that touched on how the Dominion War had affected Federation officers and citizens. The obviousness of the struggle of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder still existing in the 24th Century makes sense. See, trauma is our body’s systems response to what happens in the flight-fight-freeze and where our resilience takes us. Are we stuck in any one frame when stress arises? It can be caused by one event, or a series of events, can be suppressed from early years, or triggered by another health emergency that resets or breaks our self-care resilience regime up to that point and cause the entirety of the past to come back.

“it was like being in…prison, only locked up in your own mind with all the terrors”

-Barry Allen, The Flash (The Last Temptation of the Flash Part 1 now streaming on NetFlix).

Which was brought home by this week’s Flash episode, heading towards the Crisis cross over (google it, it’s a live action take on an epic 80’s maxi-series). This is the moment when Flash, knowing he is doomed to die in the Crisis (sorry dudes not a spoiler, ending is like established 35 years ago). The story leading up is what is going to happen, how he is handling it. The villain Bloodwork, is infesting him and tempting him turn to evil to save everyone. The Speed Force, that which gives him his power encouraging him to stay the course, and his family/community holding him to be who he is meant to be and supporting them.

What a powerful metaphor for the struggle of PTSD. Whether you have taken it in through anxiety-depression and it can be debilitating, or through a conversion disorder, that is debilitating. You have become like Barry, trapped in his own mind, fever rising, on the med bed needing to make a choice. Where do you go? What do you choose?

See, faith and God play a role in it. It is a bedrock of existence on what makes you you (and yes there can be bedrocks of values and faith that can carry one through that aren’t in this vein, but for me it is). The faith is represented by the Speed Force (who has taken the form of Barry’s departed Mum–quite a Marian theology reference if there ever was one).

This is the thing, there are many things that are placebo out there. That one can choose not to deal with their trauma by doing. Addiction. Hiding. Manipulation of trauma informed care, so that how we are becomes normal and acceptable, but we don’t have to follow the healing path laid out. Anger. Violence. Crying. Debilitation. Accepting suffering as normal for some deep spiritual rebirth experience. Using pseudo-science and other spiritual practices to absolve us of doing the actual work. Accepting that we will not have deep relationships, or that people simply leave. There is a bajillion reasons to not stare the trauma in the face.

Trust me.

I have stood in the darkness unable to see the light.

It is the crossroads of choice.

Our last temptation.

See speaking openly and boldly about the struggle of mental health carries huge stigma still.

Do we let the gremlin voice of stigma freeze us?

Do we let the loss of toxic community cause us to take flight?

Or do we decide we are worth it, because we are created very good and blessed, and it is time to fight through the suffocating darkness?

It is time to enter the cocoon. That point in time where we are dissolved to our primordial selves, and rebuilt into something completely new. Healing is not about becoming who you were, because who you were was shaped by the trauma and toxic. Healing is about new creation. New you.

Like the gospel story of Transfiguration.

It is done by the hard work. Work with PhD. psychologists equipped to walk with us through things like ART & EMDR to rewrite our minds, so our souls and hearts can be unburdened.

So in the Holy Waiting. The Sacred Journey. The Pilgrimage to the new centre of you.

“It was what made him deserving of the name, “Hero”.”

-Iris West-Allen (The Last Temptation of the Flash Part 1)

Standing in the heart of who you are, and knowing you deserve the calling of wholeness. Of Love.

And answering it.

For are we not, the hero, of our own sacred story?

Appendix: The Community Reflections:

DAILY MEDITATION | NOVEMBER 26, 2019
Community Makes God Visible
Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other as a gesture of hope.
In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs—but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”
Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so insignificant. One piece is bright red, another cold blue or dull green, another warm purple, another sharp yellow, another shining gold. Some look precious, others ordinary. Some look valuable, others worthless. Some look gaudy, others delicate. We can do little with them as individual stones except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic, portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? If one of them, even the least spectacular one, is missing, the face is incomplete. Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of God. That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
DAILY MEDITATION | NOVEMBER 27, 2019
Waiting in Community
Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us when we are together that allows us to live in this world without surrendering to the powerful forces constantly seducing us toward despair. That is how we dare to say that God is a God of love even when we see hatred all around us. That is why we can claim that God is a God of life even when we see death and destruction and agony all around us. We say it together. We affirm it in each other. Waiting together, nurturing what has already begun, expecting its fulfillment—that is the meaning of marriage, friendship, community, and the Christian life.
Henri J. M. Nouwen

It is a story told over two volumes:

A stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

cover

Buy Soul Ripples here.

Then enter the healing with Soul Ripples Two by clicking link in the caption of the picture:

centennial coffee

Soul Ripples 2

Enjoy the journey, and please share with those you think need to see that healing is possible…and Hope abounds.


Many will say

There is no place or

Time left to let blame rest

Yet many need to understand the ripples

Their actions,

Words,

Have upon those they are inflicted upon.

In-Laws

Should be outlaws,

Not seeing the harm

They inflict

For they believe their crap

Don’t stink

Holier than thou

Of the non or believer holy rollers

Shattered souls

And lives

Finding respite

Relief,

Leave me

Under pressure

Confronted

Conflicted

Being stared through

With glassed over eyes

That has pain nulled,

Yet not healed or released

The seizures release falsely

Yet the cracks are there

As the pressures of life

And career mount

One glassy eyed stare

And the house of cards

The interior castle

The mind palace

Collapses

The colloquial straw upon the camel’s back

Or the angelic breaking of the back from the verse upon my Mummy’s urn,

A sad sack turn of phrase to appease another’s guilt.

Yet…

In the end…

Treatment awaits…

To heal

Rebirth

Reboot

The soul,

That had been broken,

And the sources,

Will never know

Or more aptly

Give a damn.


Burn that Bunker Down

 

The third ART Treatment burnt down the solid concrete bunker that was holding the horrors at bay. It was an image I had used through my therapy to describe the dribs and drabs my body would allow out for healing. Solid concrete, with small cracks and crackling green flame behind it that could peek out as my body prepared to deal with the next wave of pain.

The challenge is that after the second treatment, the mind webbing down before brought me to an almost shooting death by the police after saving a suicidal individual. But the spider-webs out had dealt with connecting points of other moments of being threatened, assaulted, shot at, entering into the world of hoarders, vicarious trauma and bed bug infestations[1]. This had alleviated flashback, anxiety, and depression pressures and fears upon my system for the two weeks between treatments. It was a freedom I had not enjoyed for many years.

The freedom though allowed me, like a soul archaeologist, to continue the fine work of getting to core memories. The true horrific traumas that my body was attempting to protect me from upon this journey.  Entering into my third treatment that I had innocuously stated to explore the deaths (613, but again dear reader, pick up the first volume) who collage and crushing grieving emotions began taking hold after the last treatment on my being.

The homework (prep work? soul work?) before this session I began mapping out the deaths. Trust me not a fun time. It left me weepy, my emotions raw. Basically struggling to ensure I was present, and still the me on the healing journey for my family for I was not going to be collapsing back into Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures despite the rawness of what was emerging.

As was written previously, the molestation memories came back at this point. BUT it was not first. See, my soul mapping started at first with the deaths- professional, friends, connected to family, my family, brought me down to when my Granddad died when I was 16 years old. The last words he spoke to me the night he passed was, “it’ll be alright” which triggered the shattering flashbacks of the summer of 8 years old, noted before.

The Vacation Bible School ones came back first, but then came down to Grandpa Joe. Thankfully the attempt stayed on top of the clothes when I had gone to get ice cream during a BBQ, and my Grandma and Mum saved me, and then built in safety precautions until he died when I was 12 years old which was a huge relief to me. I did not understand then, this was buried deep.

It came up in dreams from then until he was dead. These dreams were of adults in my life, at meal times, BBQs with everything feeling like a normal family time. Then the adults would pull off their faces, which were like Scooby Doo monster masks, to reveal a reptilian head beneath, much like the Gorn from the Original Star Trek episode, the Arena.

Note the symbolism?

Our subconscious protects and buries. It also attempts to work through. The crashing down of my neuro and physical systems unearthed this core memory which became the memory to be treated during my Accelerated Resolution Therapy and would produce a new emotion for me during this journey.

See it was through this process that the fear, anger, and hurt was replaced. There was healing. The image of the concrete bunker exploded and was consumed by the green flames. I literally felt electricity leave my body (as I had with two previous sessions, but this wasn’t just extremities, it felt as from my heart).

The negative emotions moved slowly through processing to neutral. I walked through where each of my family was, but there was still reconciling this ass-hat who some still looked to fondly, and what he had tried to do—Joe. He was dead. One could say with my religious connotations I could take solace that he was in Hell. Except, that does not work with how I had come to believe, readers of volume one will note my short treatise on Purgatory. The final purging of all that keeps you from Heaven that meant Joe was with Jesus.

But not the monster on earth, a new creation.

It was this thought from my heart that tipped the balance of neutrality to positive ever so slightly. As the treatment continued, and I focused more on how the matriarchs of my family worked within the system to protect me, hope began to emerge.

From hope we moved to…joy.

Now the monster was dead. The ashes were consumed away. I drank deeply of joy.

The journey continued…as it was time to confront the other ripples in my life, but today joy was felt again. It is how faith, psychology and community work together to craft a new me.

[1] For more on infestations and such, I direct you to Soul Ripples.


Previous Soul Ripples

 

My family’s story in Soul Ripples (Bookstand Publishing, 2019) was the story seeking to understand my family. The stories of faith, healing, mental and physical health challenges, community, love, belonging and making choices of one path over another. One does not need to have read the previous book to enjoy this one, but it will flesh out the journey to this point.

The broad strokes are simple. It started in 2013 with a hand tremor that a walk in clinic doctor suggested I drink more water. By May 2016 and October 2016 a series of mysterious strokes, and seizures led me to visit the Peter Lougheed Centre of the Calgary General Hospital’s Emergency Room. After fighting with on-site staff that I was not a Fentanyl addict overdosing, testing showed that everything was normal. A few days of convalescence at home and I was back at work.

There was a progression of physical and emotional fatigue following the October 2016 visit, but always another person to help, another home to begin building with those in life recovery exiting homelessness. On July 1, 2017 I would suffer several events that would take my family out of our usual Canada Day Celebrations in the Village of Rosemary, Alberta.

By my 39th Birthday of that year, August 15, I would begin daily visits to the Emergency Room for unexplained seizure activity, white frothy vomit, tremoring left arm, pain in my skull, fatigue, and horrific flashbacks to name but a few. My wife, Shawna, would capture a video of an episode the first night there that would cause a panic, but again nothing was found.

Within a week of visits, a nurse who was a former student of mine would advocate that I was not a frequent flyer who needed Naloxone, but there was something seriously wrong. I would be placed on Keppra and booked in for a referral to Neurology. I kept tracking the events, the symptoms, and my flashbacks…rush of emotions and mosaics of the events I had been a participant in over 20 years of trying to discover how to love my neighbour, and responding not to the code or commodity before me, but the person.

Early EEG’s would show wildfire like Epileptic sparking activity, and I would be raised to the highest dose of Keppra possible, one that should have left me not very functional. Yet I kept trucking along.

By October 4, 2017 I had finally crashed and burned at work. My last contact before the call in being an instance of workplace bullying, my boss the next morning we spoke as I had left a simple cracking voice mail message simply, “I can’t” as I cried after an overnight of multiple seizures and night terrors. I would first go on short term disability through Employment Insurance, before accessing the Long Term Disability as I was not improving.

The neurology unit at the Peter Lougheed did the best they could, but my case was complex. I was referred to the Epilepsy Centre at the Foothills Medical Centre. Where looking at my reports, and the question was raised what was happening. I was put in the queue to have an in-patient observation done which would finally happen in the first week of September 2018 at the South Health Campus.

A week of observation captured many types of my seizure events from full body, to eye rolling, to arm tremor, to head shaking while I was wired in to the EEG the whole time. I left the unit without any medications and began the journey of detoxing from the Keppra in my system. Still having around 1-9 seizures a day (down from my time working when it was between 40-60 seizures a day).

In November I would get my results, after hearing that it was a huge discussion within Epileptologists about what was happening with my brain. To simply take the EEG’s or to factor in my history to come to a firm diagnosis about what the next steps would be.

The next steps?

A diagnosis of Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES), probably caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which led to a referral to the psychotherapy portion of the Epilepsy Centre, that is two PhD psychologists trained to work with PNES and Epilepsy whether occurring separately or co-occurring.

Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES):

Seizures that are not related to Epilepsy. All the same challenges and fears from fall to sudden death, yet not treatable by any anti-epileptic or anti-convulsion medications. Mine were triggered by PTSD. Treatment is psychotherapy.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)[1]:

What used to be called Shell Shock.

•Moved into a mental health diagnosis.

•Questions still remained about why some treatments worked and others did not.

•Recently, studies have shown there is 3 main types:

1.       Traumatic Brain Injury (formerly shell shock)-the physical damage to the brain

2.       Mental health

3.       Both combined

For a diagnosis these must be present for at least a month, 1 from each category:

•At least one re-experiencing symptom: flashbacks, frightening thoughts, bad dreams

•At least one avoidance symptom: staying away from places, objects or events that are reminders of traumatic events; avoiding thoughts or feelings related to events.

•At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms: angry outbursts, feeling tense or on edge, difficulty sleeping, easily startled.

•At least two cognition and mood symptoms: trouble remembering key features of event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings of loss or guilt, loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

•Living through dangerous events and traumas

•Getting hurt

•Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body

•Childhood trauma

•Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear

•Having little or no social support after the event

•Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss

 

[1] All generalities of mental health diagnosis are derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-V).

 

 

On February 14, 2019 I began the journey of rewiring my brain. This is the story of discovery and healing. It is as the Hear O’ Israel prayer states the Shema as phrased by Brother Jesus. My whole life had been centered on loving my neighbour, now it was time to authentically discover how to love myself.