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SOUL SEARCHING: To Hell and Back Twice is at the editing stage of the writing process. Donna thought you would like a preview of what to expect from the second book in her series 'Getting Your Life Back'. Enjoy!

Preface

 

Facing death has placed new emotional perspective on my life. It wasn’t until the last trauma that I finally sat up and took back control of matters—embarking on a journey to embrace my emotions and setting out to understand who I truly was became my mission. Until then, the person I was had been masked, as were my feelings. After all, we are taught by default to conceal our feelings in public and that’s not necessarily healthy. It had taken a near death experience to awaken me, force me to realise just how controlled I’d allowed myself to become and to wake the hell up. It was time to begin living. Time to start putting me first. Striving was commencing and that meant a lot of change. It meant a great deal of healing.

Events that traumatise immensely deeply, the ones that remain with you throughout your lifetime and remain within your soul, continue to threaten. They remain (within your mind) a continuing risk to your life and cause a constant heightened state of hypervigilance. Causing both physical and psychological exhaustion, it isn’t until you reach the point your body is in extreme pain, and you have the inability to remember important factors of your life—such as important appointments or planned events—you realise just how much your trauma impacts on you and, just as importantly, your family.

Unfortunately, trauma is something that has followed me around. I’ve had to get to grips with it on numerous occasions throughout my live and crack on regardless. A response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that causes an overwhelming inability to cope, trauma causes feelings of helplessness that diminishes a sense of self. In turn this creates an incompetence to feel the full range of emotions and experiences placing demands on you that ensure you are incapable of living a normal life. Its crippling, disabling and undignified, reaching far beyond the realms of the original trauma(s). When every single aspect of your daily existence is being affected, you’re in trouble.

Throughout this book my experiences of trauma are shared and the effect these events had on me both at the time and much later in life when they manifested as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My diagnosis is actually Complex PTSD and, of course, this comes with further complications.

Soul Searching is a follow-on book to Lost Soul: Broken Soul to Soul on Fire in which I share my recovery journey from brain trauma. Some aspects of that journey are shared within this book too, simply because my PTSD was triggered by the attack that caused it. I have attempted to address matters more deeply and from a different angle to give variety rather than repetition.

Living with the consequences of brain trauma—the residing complications that are medicated—alongside the daily battle to control PTSD is hard graft but truly rewarding when the balance is right. Medications can, of course, cause side effects that exaggerate some of my conditions so care must be taken to ensure that my health regime remains stable (even during the times of crisis).

Through my writing, meditation, revisiting places from my past and deep-thinking techniques I am able to retrieve lost memories and because of my dedication to recovery, am able to share my story with you. Through my insight, both as a qualified therapist and somebody suffering on the other side of matters, I hope my story can help others by giving them the courage to continue with their own fight.

My system for remembering is complicated (and will possibly be a book in its own right one day) but through embracing trauma, I feel I’ve grown and come out the other side a better person. No longer am I feeling inadequate—for a long time, the ‘new me’ was most definitely not enough. Instead, I’ve emerged stronger, more determined, and most definitely in control of my own destiny.

Surviving the severe attack that left me registered disabled has its ups and downs. Survival has meant there’s a choice—to tick along living a half-life or fight back to become the person I am today. Living with the complexities of brain trauma does, of course, have its bad days still. Over seven years have passed, and cooking dinner without the feeling my mind will explode with the stress of it (for I cannot multi-task) had its own chapter in the first book, and that chapter is still relevant today.  My brain is far from ‘normal’. Instead, it’s an extraordinary and unusual one, and as you will discover I’m recreating the high IQ I once had, although perhaps in unconventional ways.

Notably, my inner strength has enabled me to gain physical strength once more and I’m ready to take on this world of ours. The strength within me has its pitfalls. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder almost always happens to a certain personally type. We are the people who are always strong, reliable, and diligent, with a strong conscience and sense of responsibility. Yet on the inside we are the sensitive ones who are easily hurt by criticism. On the outside our self-esteem might look robust, when in reality its fragile. A person to whom you would turn in your own times of need, and who wouldn't let you down—with the attitude of ‘when the going gets tough, we get going’.

Why should a person so strong be the one to get ill?

Placing stresses on to someone who is weak, or cynical, or lazy results in them immediately giving up. They will, as a result, never become stressed enough to become ill. Strong people, however, react to stress by redoubling their efforts. They push themselves beyond their limits—way beyond those designed for their body. When symptoms begin to develop, because they are sensitive and fear criticism and failure, they keep going. Something has to give way, and that's the limbic system. Inside their heads it feels like eighteen-amps pulsing through a thirteen-amp fuse, and their behaviour begins to shift.

Overcoming adversity through trauma has been, without any doubt, hard work but I’ve given it my dedication. I’m far from through it all and endeavour each day to make further improvements. This journey isn’t one that I take lightly or selfishly for the ups, and also the pitfalls are shared publicly, keeping my message positive and light-hearted. This is a journey of hope and one of fulfilment too.

SOUL SEARCHING: To Hell and Back Twice is my personal story about drive, confidence, and a willingness to be open about the times I crash land in a heap on the floor. I’m in tune with my past and willing to share more of that now my children are all adults. Understanding who I have become, and in accepting my new identity after my assault has helped me comprehend why my life was so devastating for so long—and ultimately why it ended in catastrophe.