PTSD shock GOOD therapy

I need to document the moment I reached the top of the dark side and was able to look back and see the beauty that was there all along, but I lacked the light to see. 

Since June is going nowhere, I’m only left with my own documentation. What worked? Why did the sun rise again? When did June lift?

Annoyingly so…it didn’t happen one magical morning. It took time. Time. Damn it. I’m sorry future Abby…I’m going to say that word, patience. Ugh. Vomit. I’m sorry. The word is so condescending. The soft “c”- the entire thing, but yes that is part of the process. 

And yes, Fuck you patience! What if you just move faster than most? Isn’t the world and others supposed to catch up? Why am I the one to have to change? But…yet patience is required, but not towards others, but towards yourself. No matter which way you parse the data nor the number of interventions I try, 4 weeks at least. You can’t stand on your head to get it to go away. Although, I know you will try!

So number one factor, time and “p” word. 

During the month smoke weed. This one is odd to many and possibly not a good one to recommend for others as anxiety orders are often exacerbated by weed for many. But weed has a unique property, it slows down time. It makes me be more “p” word. After some research, there is real data to support this response. Weed affects our perception of time. It tends to slow down time and that slower speed allowed me to heal. I needed the world and my body to slow down. 

But if I really look at my calendar and my own anecdotes, the best medicine? GOOD HUMANS and ADVENTURE. I call this new discovery “PTSD shocking GOOD therapy.” The only way to battle true depression is a BIG dose of evidence that the world is magical and good. You need to take yourself out of the “known” environment of supreme court decisions, children needing you, and bad people. Instead, go hang with people who fight for others. Listen to the stories of others and travel. Go adventure. A work trip counts—anything out of the ordinary works.

While many good humans (and the month of July) played a role in helping me snap out of this round I have to write about one.  I got “shocked” by dining with a real patriot and former politician who continues to work for this country. Together we talked about the future of our country and our youth. I got to be part of talking about solutions. And sitting next to this legend with over 50 years in politics and seeing that he still fights was inspiring and put a little light in my eyes. He hasn’t given up!

But let me be clear. Hanging out with famous powerful people is not required. I think the biggest PTSD shock therapy I had was with a homeless man. We sat for 2 hours together. He was amazed that he found a white woman smoking a joint on a park bench. We kept laughing when we sat together as he nicknamed me “unicorn” as he never knew people like me existed. He had never sat so close to a white woman before.  And what was the necklace I was wearing? A unicorn. Well that made us laugh and laugh. 

We talked about life, death, family, and faith. I asked him how he keeps the faith. How he walks the streets and sleeps in his car, yet smiles. He looked at me with pity. He looked at me with pity! Just think about that. He then said. “In your eyes I can see a life of incredible privilege, but also real pain.” He reached out to me and said “I wish I could take that pain away, but know that there is a bigger story here. You have to have Faith.” I started to tear up. And he went to hold my hand and we sat there holding hands for a good 2 minutes. And I felt a real moment of relief. I felt connected to humanity. I felt that while not homeless, this man and I share a common life journey.

Next June? Adventure and good humans! Planning ahead

June petition

I have one vote, but I think I have to throw in the towel. 

I  know an uphill battle when I see one. While I’m no hiker, I do know a thing or two about hills and mountains and this is one may be insurmountable. 

But the fact that I started such a petition speaks to the sincerity in my new proactive goal. I need to make sure I don’t do “June” again. And its easy come July to forget June even exists.  It’s so easy to forget the bad.  Nothing but negativity in the rearview mirror so why look back at all?  And for the past two years, I’ve done just that. I’ve RUN into July with vengence.

But I’m not allowing myself to do that this time. I have strategies in the works, even a petition.

What is the petition you ask that I’ve gotten one signature on? To end the month of June of course. I had a clever idea of elongating each month and swallowing June all together. 11 months. It oddly, has some nice implications for school schedules that I think may increase learning outcomes too. Interested? Let me know! You can be signature number two.

The one signature you ask? Steve? Nope. Not even Steve would go along with this plan even with so much to personally gain. He was pretty adamant that our first child’s birthday, which is sadly in June, is important. I, of course, was primed for that concern, ready with a solution. What child would not want to celebrate their birthday earlier? Win win. Steve didn’t buy it.

But I really am throwing in the towel as I’ve just learned that my entire “down with June” campaign is flawed.  Turns out our bodies keep time even without cues from the mind/ observable environment.

What? I know. But its legit.

Studies where people live in dark caves with no sense of seasons nor days, end up sleeping and being awake in cadence with the rise and fall of the sun. Crazy huh? Normally I would say. That is amazing and have some deep thing to say, but nope. This only sucks. Even if I were to pass this petition and June disapeared…this body will know.

Okay…so killing June is not a workable solution. As usual, it’s not that easy. I’ve got work to do.

Lottery

I played the lottery.

Yep. 

I’m two for two so far. 

Bought two tickets and won on both.

Now I didn’t win millions, but I did turn $2 into $50. And Only proved…that the 1% life has it’s perks. The odds…are my friend and worst enemy. And when you live on the edges you get to see it all. You see the curvature of the earth and you understand that we are connected. And at times that sight justifies the fall.

I’m ready to put this episode behind me ( knock on wood ). I’m feeling much better. Still have some residual pain, but if its not so much that I can’t SHAKE OFF (like literally- shake, I’m serious PTSD women, shake it off! I have a new shake off song. It’s called Shake it Out (I’m not kidding) and its by Florence + The Machine. Its pretty awesome. Chorus- shake! It works. And thanks nightwing who sends back their weird things. I’ve picked up some tricks.

So how did it end?  I need to record what worked. 

Well time unfortuantely does play a role. No magic pill, but it seems that hanging with REMARKABLE HUMANS helps. I needed a dose of people that would remind me that anything is possible. 

I got to have dinner the other night with four remarkable people who reminded me that there are a lot of people out there doing good. 

1% perks

Cognitive reframing. I have not finished my homework. Not out of lack of trying, just really hard to reframe reproduction rights or the systems that continue to oppress.

But I’m not giving up, because when you live a 1% life, you get to do the 1% highs too, but only if you can feel them, which at the moment has not been happening. 

A 1% life means the odds of rare incredible things are also high

I have not won the traditional sense of the lottery, but yet I have won some lotteries of life. And winning the lottery is not out of the realm of possibilites. This has not happened (yet). Wouldn’t put it past me. However, it would require actually playing the lottery. Maybe that is my next step.

(Note: Research lotteries)

But a quick reminder of some of the 1% of things that I can name off the top of my head. Setting a 1 min timer:

  • I have been to 53 countries and often with no itinerary, but just to be there. I have stories worth telling.
  • One story worth telling: When I was 19 years old traveling I gave a child a beachball painted as a globe in a slum in South Africa. This young boys and others sat with me where I showed them for the first time the globe. Watching them in wonder of the larger world and all the ocean is a memory I will never forget. BUT-Only to be back in South Africa when I was 28 to meet the father of this boy (by complete accident!) in his makeshift home of recycled metal with my beachball up there in center of the room as a chandelier. The odds of that?!
  • My husband and son survived aggressive stage 4 rare cancers. They shouldn’t not be here, but yet they are.
  • Children (and now adults) remember me. To this day I have a yearly moment where someone yells “Ms. Brody” or “Ms. Levin” and they can tell me in some way how I impacted their life.
  • I know true friendship and sisterhood. Like real friendship.
  • I live at sea for a good portion of the year. Seriously I do, on a boat. I wake up every morning to the ocean. It’s the best and what a unique life! Steve is the captain. I’m first mate.
  • I have had quite a career and one with impact on people’s lives
  • I also have helped the thinking and systems at large that educate our youth
  • I started and run my own business
  • I am a voice and activist in cancer and mental health. Often speaking for the speechless. AND being really close to curing neuroblastoma.
  • I am a mother of two boys
  • I married superman. Yes. He is real. The movies just got the costume wrong, it’s black, all black.

The 1% can be good can be remarkable. 

(Note: This is NOT cognitive reframing at all. Still homework is overdue. Figuring out how to reframe the other side of the 1% is the challenge. Supreme Court isn’t helping much.)

July

Hello July. I should welcome you. You ain’t June, but your turning out to be no better. You linger. You remember. You are still not quite there. You wake up every day in misery and panic which will take until afternoon noon to subside. 

You are doing terrible at your homework, cognitive reframing, although you have about 17 open tabs of attempts. Depression turns out to be a hard thing to reframe as its complete purpose is to create a lens through that you see the world. Reframing that lens is not easy, especially when the world is feeling so dark.

This weekend we celebrate America. Usually one of our favorite family holidays, but this year feels a bit strange. You know it’s strange when you put up the American flag and you wonder if people think you are some white nationalist. You wonder if you are scaring people with the flag of your country? That is a new feeling for sure. 

How do you cognitively reframe that?

LOG:

Morning missies continue

Movement is the best thing in the morning

Breathing app helps

Cognitive reframing is not going well

Cognitive reframing

Cognitive reframing

According to the Dali Lama, this is the secret to joy. This allows his holiness’s ability to see love, laughter, potential, and joy in humanity even as he lives in exile and witnesses such pain to his people and the world at large.

In the Desmond Tutu/Dali Lama documentary I saw it in action as they “comforted” a child.

Setting: Desmond Tutu and his holiness are visiting a school for Tibetan children that had to leave their parents to travel to India for a better life at this refugee camp for Tibetan children. Some children as young as 4 are sent off on dangerous roads trekking for days without their parents who they will most likely never see again. All of these children live in a school where they are taken care of and are surrounded by love from monks and other Buddhists. 

A young girl (11 years old tops) was presenting her story to the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu. She broke into tears when speaking about leaving her parents and how hard it was. She was unable to speak. The two men sat in silence as the girl wept in front of them. Desmond spoke first and uttered an “I’m sorry” while the girl continued to sob. You could see his compassion and he personal hurt. You could feel it. Empath for sure. She nodded. 

Then the Dali Lama spoke. He did not offer any such condolences. He did not acknowledge her pain at all. Instead, he said how lucky she is to be at the school to receive such an incredible education. How lucky she is.

How lucky she is?

Huh?!

Now that’s some cognitive reframing. 

Definition: Cognitive reframing is a technique used to shift your mindset so you’re able to look at a situation, person, or relationship from a slightly different perspective.

Cognitive reframing does not come easy to this girl. Just watching the young girl cry, made me cry. If I was one of the educators in the room, I would have had that girl in my lap by then rocking her and covering her in “I’m sorrys.” 

But I’m going to practice this technique.

Motto

Every good plan needs a motto.

A rally cry if you will.

Here is mine: See something, say something. 

I stole it from the NYTransit Authority, I do not claim to be its author. Just sound advice.

And I wholeheartedly endorse this motto for you too. 

No more this “How is that even possible?!” No more cries of disbelief. No more!

I know hindsight is 2020, but there have been signs people and if we listened or paid attention to history we would know that this is possible. We would know that “knowns” are not “known” and that liberty is not protected for life. It turns out it needs to be fought for daily. 

We all have a serious bystander effect syndrome. 

We see the cracks, but we ignore them. We are too busy packing for our child’s camp or dealing with some drama that is right in front of us and we all assume “someone else is on it I’m sure.” 

And here we are. Going backward in time. Literally going backward. The laughing stock of the developed world. At least we can all understand why we have felt like we are running and getting nowhere. That has been a big thing for me recently. I feel like I’ve been running and running, but I’m exactly back where I started. But that is because the world is moving backward. Things like reproduction rights and the ability to make rational gun policies are spinning in the wrong direction. 

See something, say something may need a remake.

Noted.

New motto:

See something, say something, DO SOMETHING

New game plan

Pleasantly surprised instead of horrifically sad

That’s my new approach. 

I may even get it embossed on a hat as this is not my natural state. I have always been an optimist. Maybe because I always worked with children, I had this perspective that things look brighter. That even if the world of adults suck, these students of mine will fix it all. 

Thinking the worst and being surprised by the best is a new thing and I’m still practicing. “Well that’s a negative outlook” Steve replied when asking my opinion the other night. That’s right. Your welcome.

I have a new plan in life.

I’m going to be pleasantly surprised instead of horrifically wrong/sad. I’m going to assume that “knowns” are even not “known”

I will live my life in perpetual bliss.

“Oh my, look the sun came up today!” says Abby pleasantly surprised

June

I’m determined never to be “here” again, but I’m still unsure how to do that. I doubt taking June out of the calendar is feasible and prior to cancer, it was a month I loved. So taking down June is not a solution.

But the status quo is not either.

I do not accept this.

I will not be here again. 

I have come to the conclusion that I live a “1% life.” I live in the 1% of probabilities both good and bad. My odds of being eaten by a wild bear are somehow more than yours. I somehow will defy those odds, but the opposite is also true. I will win the lottery more likely than you too. I have more tragedies than the common person, but also I’m also the luckiest too.

I’ve come to just accept this and I’ve got ample evidence to back up this claim. 1% life it is.

So my life will be a ride for sure. The first 42 have been something.

BUT BUT.

If I am going to have all these “tragedies” and FEEL all of them so deeply (empath), than it is ONLY fair that I get to FEEL the highs. The incredible moments when life just hugs you. When everything just lines up and you feel bigger than just your life. 

That is only fair. Why can I feel all of your pain but not the love recently?

So THIS can’t happen again as lately I can’t not feel the highs that my brain acknowledges exist. In June I can only feel the lows. 

Example: Benno’s birthday. Logical self- AMAZING! I mean the best. He was in his happy place and we were scouting a site for Benno’s bar-mitzvah. Here is a video of Benno, Steve, Jacob, and a friend watching planes land from a pool! How cool is that. But yet, I watched it, but couldn’t feel it. All I could feel was panic, fear, and sadness.

This is not fair. 

So this cannot happen again. 

I will spend this entire year fighting for June. I will reclaim this month as soon as I can feel it again.