Each week I travel to Boston for therapy. It is an 8 hour trip that is full of pain and discomfort so it is not an easy task to accomplish because of my CPTSD. I take the trip because these appointments have saved and transformed my life. They are medical necessity just like a diabetic would take insulin.
Each week I know that my anxiety will be high. It will affect my sleep the night before and sap my energy the next day due to all the distress I undergo. Fortunately, I have developed enough tools to manage the challenges of getting onto the bus to Boston, to then walk through a busy bus/train station, to get onto the subway, and to walk through the city. These pose challenges for me because I am highly sensitive to the noise, crowds, traffic, sunlight, the emotions and energy of other people and the fact that I am outside my home for multiple hours.
To successfully make this journey, I employ a plethora of tools that I have learned over the last 10 years. First, I need to get up at least 4 hours earlier to get my anxiety down enough to even hope to get out of the house. Next, I have a writing session in the morning where I try to prepare for this blog while drinking mostly decaffeinated coffee to stay embodied, less dissociative and constricted. Then, I have my breakfast and start my morning routines which include personal care activities (brushing teeth, cleansing face, getting dressed and taking medications), making the bed, and cleaning the kitchen. These are challenges for me some days so I follow a specific order to accomplish these tasks. I even take my pills in a consistent order. Finally, I have a movement session which includes gentle cardio exercise and chakra poses. All these tools get my anxiety down to a manageable level so I can get to the bus to begin my trip.
To transport myself I use a host of other tools. First, I arrive early and wait in specific spots so I will be the first one on board and the first one off the vehicles that transport me. This helps me to be able to choose the best place to sit or stand and helps me not to get caught in the crowds. These strategies help with my panic attacks and my dissociating so I have a better chance of staying safe. Secondly, I journal because my anxiety causes such racing thoughts and racing energy and I naturally become dissociative and constricted. Journaling helps me get grounded and stay safe. In addition, I carry decaffeinated coffee and water as well as healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables or nuts. Again, these things help ground me so I am safe.
The final thing that makes this trip manageable is that I count on the fact that I will have two sanctuary experiences during the day. The first is when I arrive at my therapist’s office. The second is when I arrive home where I hold and greet my husband.
I do these blogs with the help of my husband. I tend to write longer entries that include much more of my thinking and development. I have decided to put these writings into a Further Reflection Section of this website. I do this for my own growth and my own ability to share my story as it unfolds for me. In fact a further piece about my day trip to Boston this week is there under “A Day in My Life July 6, 2014.” Feel free to read it.