Shortness of breath. That is what I feel when I get choked up. I have always felt a tightening in my throat when there is something I cannot or should not say out loud. Sometimes that choking feeling is a good thing, because it stops me from saying something negative or halts me from saying something unnecessary.
On the other hand, that shortness of breath is scary. It is always the precursor to a sudden drop in my heart. That feeling of utter sadness or what used to be the onset of a 10 minute seizure episode. I am learning the difference between the two so I can know whether to outwardly express myself or calm down internally. Even writing this, or knowing what I want to write in this short essay: I want to stop typing for fear of judgement or people emailing/texting/calling to solve my problems. This subject has been on my mind constantly.
My "problems" I hold are mental, physical and emotional. They always have been since I was a kid. I am human, and and as any human would, we feel a lot. I enjoy feeling emotions and it wasn't until I started my art forms (video/resin) I noticed I was feeling so many negative emotions attached to past guilt or a need to please others. My loved ones taking the time to read this, I thank you, but let me tell you how I have been helping myself and how my community around me as been helping me get past what I have been working through. This is a subject I get scared to talk about, but I've been sitting on this writing for a while, and have the courage to open up about it.
In May 2015 I had a big seizure, waking my husband up in the middle of the night. I woke up with him on top of me with tears in his eyes. I was confused, why was he sad? What just happened? But I couldn't speak, move, or even swallow. Little did I know I just had had a 30 second blackout-convulsion and a paralysis followed. I was unable to move for what felt like 10 minutes, maybe even longer. We went straight to the hospital, unsure of what just happened. Fast forward to May 2017, two years of dealing with weekly, monthly sometimes daily seizures...they relaxed a bit. Two years after intense seizures had started, I felt like I had my last massive seizure. (hopeful thinking)
These seizures weren't helped by anti-seizure medication, and only subsided when I started taking CBD/THC oil (marajuana oil) with my dinner. It would help me sleep and take some stress off my shoulders every night. (sleep deprivation and stress are the biggest reasons I would seizure). One night at the end of April I was starting to feel the effects of my medicine (warming in my brain, calmness in my heart, and most importantly I feel very open to speak my mind to my husband). That night in April, me and some friends out here in Hawaii were cyber bullied off of an instagram account made to make fun of "IG girls". I contacted the instagram to let them see my side of things.
Now, I know everyone is like, Bree! Why did you even write them?! Let me tell you, when someone teases me, I get sensitive to the point where I need my voice heard. I did not do it to "save face" or to stand up for myself, I did it to respect my work and how far I have come with my two businesses.
Anyways, my good friend made it known to me I was being bullied and the whole time while in contact with them they were coming back with sarcasm. I was oblivious to their sarcasm and kept messaging them. My husband was a bystander of all of this and it made him so sad to see this happening he wanted me to stop talking to my friend and get off my phone. So I did just that. I remember walking into our bedroom after that whole ordeal, and I stated "Babe, I think I've been bullied before..."
And in my "high" state of mind, literally feeling high from my medicine I become hyper aware of my past. I become extra sensitive to my feelings and emotions in that moment. I then realize the past bullying I was feeling was coming from this man who assaulted me when I was 18 years old. This assault happened about 5 years ago in a town that was foreign to me. And I started recalling to myself: was I raped while drugged? Why wasn't I in control of my body? Why did I have so many bruises on my body the next day? And why did they last for weeks? AND WHY DIDN'T I REMEMBER? Of course, I didn't think to go to the police because I was young and it was my first "sleepover" with a guy in a college town.
More and more questions came and then clarity. I remembered that night the most clear I have in 5 years. I recounted it all to Bobby that night. Staying up for hours telling of how I felt that night, how intense it was, how confused I was; all night long. Between telling Bobby what really happened I had about 10-15 seizures, some big and some small. The most surprising was that my paralysis was going away and then the convulsions weren't as intense. My seizures turned form very physical that night to only panic attacks. The last 5 I remember well because I could watch my hands shake.
After that night, it was a slow progress from seizures to nightly convulsions when I would go to sleep. Then to panic attacks when someone would approach me with harsh words. A couple weeks after re-telling my assault story (during an intimate yoga class), I went into a week-long psychosis. This psychosis was related to PTSD and that "choking" feeling was something that is left over from all of this.
After this "when it rains it pours" scenario that went down starting in April, July started. And the month of June this year has been pretty amazing thus far. Life is still just as hard, and I still struggle with aftershocks of PTSD, but when people say things or do things at me/to me, I am not quick to react. I am slow to react. I am taking my time to buffer the onslaught of emails, texts, events going on around me. I know money is needed in my living but I am not seeking money for the wrong reasons. I am striving to live with intention and learning to brace for impact in my daily life.
These photos were taken by a good friend who let me come on a family hike. I left my phone in the car and we explored, enjoyed, and hiked in the rain. Thank you Andrea for these photos (@merryandbrightphotography). Such good memories and with every new experience with my buzzed head, helps me feel more comfortable with it.
How have I been coping since April?
Being introduced to your first therapist, and can I just say I wish I started with a therapist at a younger age? Building a support system of friends, family and counselers that give me love. Being able to channel my emotions into surfing, yoga, and art. Giving myself space to "just breathe".
I have a couple playlists on my Spotify I use during whatever mood I am feeling. And when I get somber, happy or peaceful I tend to put on the playlist "PURE". I paint for fun and not to meet a deadline. I don't feel pressure from my instagram community to post everyday or to reply to emails every day of my life. I am learning to balance that my past strife, present life, and future endeavors. I re-learning that I can say no to clients, friends, family and loved ones when I don't feel like doing something that will bring me too much stress. I am learning to create a space around me that is safe, lovely and warming to all those that enter.
I am so grateful for all those that have helped me through these last couple months. Thank you for being okay with me wearing my heart on my sleeve and the next day wanting to hide my heart away from anything scary. Thank you for respecting my space and my family. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my love of art, yoga, and life with all of you. And lastly, I am grateful I have a voice to speak, words to express, art to share and a spirituality that has always given me my backbone.
just keep breathing everyone, life goes on & this earthly life is pretty amazing.
"Let the years we're here be kind, be kind...Settle our bones like wood over time over time, give us breath, give us song, give us wine."
Song: Atlas by Sleeping at Last
post written in early June
post published end of July