Out of My Mind in Costa Rica-Living with CPTSD

Episode 26: C-PTSD and COVID-19 I’m Fully Vaccinated-Now What?

May 13, 2021 Ray Erickson Episode 26
Out of My Mind in Costa Rica-Living with CPTSD
Episode 26: C-PTSD and COVID-19 I’m Fully Vaccinated-Now What?
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 26

C-PTSD and COVID-19

I’m Fully Vaccinated-Now What?

May 13, 2021

In this week’s episode I talk about how the pandemic has impacted me and what role did Complex-Post Traumatic Stress play in how I am managing my experience with COVID-19. For me, I take it one day at a time and on occasion, I take it one hour at a time or one minute at a time. For me the key is to be mindful and if you forget, that’s alright you can always return to being mindful any time you realize you were not being mindful. Chew on that for a minute. While you are chewing on that last comment, here are some websites I found that may contribute to the discussion. Thank you for listening to Out of My Mind in Costa Rica – Living with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress.

This is a very vivid personal account of Jackie Armstrong, a woman with Complex PTSD and how COVID-19 impacted her life. Her story is very powerful.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Triggering My Complex PTSD (yahoo.com)

 This is a nice article published in the Medical News Today newsletter. It gives a brief overview of PTSD, pinpoints the specific things you can do if the pandemic is impacting you or someone you love who has PTSD.

PTSD and coronavirus (COVID-19): Symptoms and how to cope (medicalnewstoday.com)

 COVID-19 affects us in many ways, one of the ways is by traumatizing people. Here’s an article by 
 William A. Haseltine Ph.D. published in Psychology Today. 

COVID-19 Traumatic Stress Disorder | Psychology Today

The Effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on PTSD is a no nonsense article from the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Lots of good stuff here.

Effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on PTSD - PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)

 Feel free to email me about any of these articles. I am happy to talk with you about them.

[email protected]

 

Episode 26

C-PTSD and COVID-19

I’m Fully Vaccinated-Now What?

May 13, 2021

Hello and welcome to Out of My Mind in Costa Rica-Living with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress. I’m Your host, Ray Erickson. On May 5th, I received my 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In Costa Rica there is virtually no pushback to getting vaccinated. People are thrilled to receive the vaccine and are willing to wait in long lines for hours just to get theirs. This is a far cry from what I have been reading about in the US. It’s clear to me that America has a problem, an ignorance problem. Way too many people are confusing constitutional rights with their social contract to function in a way that enhances the culture at large. There is no other place on earth like the United States of America and I am proud to be an American even though I no longer live there. We are better than this.

I have always been passionate about social justice and helping people work together to overcome their differences. This is one of the drives that drew me into social work in the first place. Social work helped me to become all that I could be after I nearly destroyed my life in an alcohol and drug induced stupor in futile efforts to stop the pain of what I would learn, many years later, to be Complex Post-Traumatic Stress.  I am better now. That was over 30 years ago, and I have grown-up, quite a bit.

Last week I talked about feeling better in a more consistent way. I noticed my output has improved along with my mood. This is excellent news and one of the reasons for this improvement appears to be the medication I am taking, Fluoxetine, or what is better known as Prozac. The improvement continues as evidenced by my interest in taking care of my habitat. 

I started cleaning my house this week. I know that may seem like a small thing, but for me, it is huge. It is huge because, in the first place I hate cleaning house. No, I really mean it. I HATE cleaning house. So much so that I hired a Tica to come in and clean my house every other week, but she recently had surgery and is recovering. In the meantime, something had to be done and to be honest with you it took me several days to clean my small 600 square foot house. Yeah, I like to spread the pain over several days. I know I am drifting away from my topic today, but that’s OK. I’ll get back to COVID in a bit.

You may be wondering why it takes me 3 days to clean a 600 square foot house, right? Well, first of all, I hate cleaning house and I’m not a slob or anything like that. I make my bed in the morning I do the dishes most of the time and I keep my kitchen relatively clean. I like a clean bowl and I don’t like a dirty shower. Therefore, I am not a complete lackey when it comes to housekeeping. It’s mainly sweeping and mopping floors and dusting that I abhor. I keep a tidy house; it’s just dusty and fuzzy. Everywhere I looked, I saw dust and cat hair. Something needed to be done.

When I clean, it’s a deep clean from top to bottom and beyond. Spik-N-Span, slick as a whistle. This takes time. Plus, I get bored quickly and I’m easily distracted. This also takes time.

For instance, I’m in the bedroom cleaning away and I find something that belongs in the kitchen. Since my main rule is “Do it when I am thinking about it.” I stop what I am doing in the bedroom and take the item into the kitchen, where I notice something needs to be cleaned and I begin to work in the kitchen. I don’t just do this when I am cleaning, I do it every time I moved, packing and unpacking. I do this when I read books. Hell, I’m reading 3 books right now. When I get tired of reading one book, I pick up another and read that one until I am tired of reading it and so on. Eventually, I do finish the books, but who knows when that will happen.

Is this making any sense? This is why it takes me so long to do things? It doesn’t surprise me; This has been going on all of my life. I don’t think it is because of C-PTSD. I believe it’s more like an Attention Deficit thing. Regardless, it seems to be my natural way. It doesn’t bother me, but it can be and has been, a little crazy making for the people I have been involved with. They don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. It just is.

What does this have to do with COVID-19? Not much, but if you are a regular listener, you may have noticed a tendency for me to drift away from the focus of the day. Sometimes, the wheels completely come off the cart and I change the subjects completely. OK, back to COVID-19. I am now fully vaccinated. What does that mean at a time when COVID cases are skyrocketing around the world? It feels good knowing I have a 94% resistance to this terrifying virus. It is good that I live in a very conscientious culture and there is strong support for the vaccination program. This is comforting. 

This pandemic is the craziest thing I have ever lived through. It has also been really painful, but I have grown in exactly the same proportion to the pain. Just when you think humans could be turning the tide on COVID, cases are surpassing the all-time highs and now there are deadly new mutations that could outsmart the vaccine. Another outcome of ignorance and selfishness. Hey everyone, haven’t you noticed the world is in an awfully bad place at the moment and we are not even close to beating this pandemic back. 

Oh, sure the wealthy countries are taking care of their own, but there are also billions of people who are not as fortunate as Americans and Europeans. Also, the infections are hitting a different population, the young and although, less of them are dying, there are more of them getting il. This is a problem.

Then there are those Q-Anon’ers and other right-wingnuts screaming at the top of their lungs that the pandemic was planned and thrust onto the vulnerable public by evil forces that are beyond our understanding. What a bunch of malarky. I know it is important to be open minded, but come-on, baby eating? Microchips in the vaccine? Please. Give me a break. 

I worked for many years in the sex offender treatment field where all kinds of weird and unbelievable experiences were described including cult and satanic worshiping including human sacrifice. I’m not naïve enough to believe that these activities do not exist. All you have to do is look at the cult within the Catholic church and the systemic sexual abuse of children at all levels of their organization.

Oh, don’t get me started on all of the loony bins that exist out there. These loony bins have been around since man first appeared. We are a weird bunch that is for certain. Humans are the smartest and the dumbest beings to ever evolved on this gem of a planet. We are fucking amazing when we fly helicopters on Mars, or we save a newborn with a heart transplant or when we build crazy amazing structures. Humans are the bomb when it comes to technology and technological advancement, but we may have hit a wall with COVID and herd immunity. I don’t know. I’m just some guy expressing my opinion and you know what opinions are like.

What has happened to us? Where is our compassion? Where is the love that everyone says, is all we need? Where is our humanity? When you look at how the world is shaping up it appears as though we have all gone mad. In the United States, the most diverse nation in the world, Americans are locked into the dueling forces of completely opposite worlds. We may be witnessing the death of a republic, the death of the two-party system and the death of the brightest light for the survival of mankind. We have fallen into a pit of misinformation, mistrust, and misunderstanding. We have stopped listening to our hearts. We, as in, we the people, are the soul of this great country.

America is becoming a caricature of itself. The land of the free and the home of the brave has become the land of the freaks and the home of the barbarians. What has happened to my beloved country? What has become of my world? Is it being run by a gaggle of toddlers? Look at any daycare center and you will see amongst the children the next Trump, the next Putin, the next generation of chaos. They are all there waiting to take their turn at bat. Are we going to let this happen? Or are we going to turn away from the greed and narcissism that is clutching at power and authoritarianism or are we going to usher in a gentler, kinder wave of compassion that overwhelms the current regimes with a tidal wave of love? Let’s hope so, but I am not holding my breath. I am leaning toward more hunkering down as opposed to more reaching out.

Not that I don’t have trust in humanity, I do and if we can escape the fear that has put us into this predicament, then we can beat them at their own game. We can regain control of the resources and create infrastructures that facilitate the feeding and nurturing of humanity and the environment. Damn! We are living in interesting times. I can’t wait to see what happens. 

Meanwhile there is COVID-19, ever present and ever menacing. Why do so many people see this pandemic as unreal, as fake. Is it possible for a cult have 74 million people hypnotized by the shiny objects on one fat man’s fingers? Is the earthquake that is driving us farther and farther apart taking us to the point where there can be no reconciliation? Are we that mad of a species that we choose to point fingers at each other rather than look the devil in the eye? Are we so afraid of each other that we will destroy the very civilization that led us to where we are right now?

Maybe we should let it all spin out of control. Maybe we ought to let the wheels come off the cart and see what happens? Do we have the stomach for that? Can we accept the millions if not billions of lost lives and lost hope that would follow such a cultural calamity?  Both sides cannot be right, but maybe both sides are wrong. Maybe, there is another way. A third way humanity can ride out the storm and dig itself out of the rubble. 

We don’t think about alternatives when we get to a point when life loses its color and becomes black or white, all or nothing, up or down. Everyone knows if we continue down this path we are doomed. There is not much argument about that. At this moment governments around the world have the ability to annihilate all life on earth and if the Armageddon Clock is an indicator of our current state, then we are dangerously close to the precipice where we chuck it all over the cliff, come Hell or high water and it could be both Hell and high water.

Me, I’m sitting rather good. I’m in a position to ride out the apocalypse, but that doesn’t mean I would not be impacted. Hell no, COVID is impacting everyone and everything on this beautiful blue rock. I may be safe from the virus, but most of the world’s population is still at risk. How many people are you willing to sacrifice for your own safety, your own security, and your own salvation? What are you willing to do to turn the tide, to beat back the waring hoards, to reach out in the name of love and reassure someone who has become overwhelmed with fear and they fail to see the bigger picture? (Long pause)

Whew! I think that is enough for today. Well, I feel better. How about you? That was my rant on COVID-19. In some ways the pandemic has benefitted me. I was slowly going crazy in 2020 and shit hit the fan way too many times with me and my wife. I needed to step back. So here I am sitting out the pandemic in my little casita on a hill in Costa Rica. I do realize how fortunate I am. I don’t take anything for granted these days. I am grateful for every little thing comes up in my life.

Where do I go from here? Wish everyone the best? I feel better about each passing day but I still feel depression and I still have Complex Post-Traumatic Stress and I still become anxious and confused about what to do with my marriage. My gut tells me to stand fast and don't do anything right now except take care of myself. I tend to agree with my gut. So, here I am talking with you about my fucked-up life hoping that somehow, my rants will pay off and you will take the next step in your recovery. If not, keep listening. Don’t give up on yourself and practice doing life one day at a time.

If you are like me and are relatively new to the awareness of having C-PTSD then hop on board Out of My Mind in Costa Rica and we will ride this train together. With good fortune we will emerge out of this experience with renewed hope and optimism for the future. I can’t do anything about the crazy fucking conditions out there in this crazy fucking world, but I can take good fucking care of myself and so can you. For me this looks like a slow boat to China. It could look completely different for you. It’s your life and it is your choice. You get to do what you need to do to make it meaningful.

One of the ways I take care of my mental health is I stay away from comparisons. You know, comparing my life with the life of someone else. Somebody who is obviously more entitled to empathy than me. Try not to do that. Don’t fall into the trap of madness by thinking your experiences are not sufficiently horrifying for compassion and empathy. Your mind is playing tricks on you and you must resist. Compassion is the way out of the hole. Capture those scary thoughts and beliefs. Love them back to health. Practice loving kindness with yourself and with others you come into contact with. Your brain will change. You brain will grow, and it will become more vibrant. 

Brains can’t help but grow when you shift how you look at yourself and how you talk to yourself. Face it, your brain is going to have shitty assed thoughts, don’t let that be the issue. The challenge is and always has been to ignore shitty assed thoughts as if they were indiscernible white noise and focus instead on thoughts that are understanding, kind and nurturing. Humans are naturally loving, caring creatures but like any creature, humans are dangerous when we are trapped and wounded. You, my dear listeners have been trapped and wounded for far too long. And you know as well as I do, when a wounded animal is cornered, it snarls and bares its teeth.

The world is the world, and the world will continue being the world, whether or not you like it or not. The world just is. It will always be. Children know what to do with a world like this. They play with it. Of course, they do. Children make sense of the world through play. In this way, children are wise. They tell us to play with life. If you feel as if you have no play left, then you may become depressed and anxious. Not playing can make you sick and people with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress have a problem with play. 

In my case, I take things too seriously, in part, due to the abuse I experienced. I need play. As a kid, play had incredibly positive influence on me. In fact, being the hero child in my family, I was raised to play and play I did. Work became the problem for me later, after I grew up. Now I say, “Don’t act out your problems, play out your problems.” Dance, make art, do crafts, go fishing, sing, make a garden, read a book, look in the mirror and tell yourself how much you love you. Take a nap.

This also means; look at your attitude about C-PTSD. That’s right look at it. Are you negative and pessimistic or are you curious and optimistic? Or are you simply numb from having lived with C-PTSD for so long? To play is to heal. I think this is a fantastic topic for another episode. What do you think?

So, here I sit, alone with my cat, in a little casita on a hill in Costa Rica thinking about the pandemic and the havoc it has reaped upon the world. And, after a year of worldwide quarantine, it is amazing how COVID has become more disruptive than it has ever been. If this were a novel it would be a real page turner. If life were a movie, it would be a terribly long one. What would the children do? Somehow, they would make a game out of it. We might as well make a game out of life too. What do we have to lose? I laugh out of fear for crying. 

I know humanity is humanity, but I feel quite optimistic about our ability to bounce back. Humans are the kings of comebacks. We are something different, that’s for sure. I don’t think we are on the path to Armageddon, not just yet. What most people don’t realize is humanity is peaking and life on earth, as a homosapian has been steadily improving over the past millennium. Humans have never had it so good. There is still a long way to go before we can boast of a totally utopian civilization. We are not there yet. Then again, maybe it’s not possible, humans being humans and all, but then again, maybe it is.

What would you say to a totally positive utopian lifestyle for all of human civilization? Is it possible we could be free to express ourselves in way that inspires and motivates, calms, and soothes or challenges and supports? Can humanity do what needs to be done at that very moment it needs to be done? John Lennon once sang, “You may call me a dreamer. But I am not the only one.”  I don’t deny this one iota. I am a dreamer, and I am comfortably dreaming my way through this pandemic and dreaming my way into loving, caring and nurturing relationships, dreaming my way into a world where compassion is the norm. I am happy to dream these dreams. 

My dreams protect me from the nightmares I see all day, every day. Nightmares about the loss of human life at the hands of those entrusted to serve and protect. These dreams protect me from the pain and the grief of so many people still going to bed hungry, without potable water and sanitation. These dreams protect me from the hardships that all of us face day-after-day when you live with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress. This is why I do this podcast. This is why I am here.

Whew! Well, you have done it again. You have wasted another 20-30 minutes listening to Out of My Mind in Costa Rica. Thanks to each and every one of you for your support, your curiosity, and your obvious good judgement for listening to this podcast. Please help me reach as many people as possible by sharing Out of My Mind in Costa Rica with your friends and asking your friends to share it with their friends. Help me reach the people who will benefit from Out of My Mind in Costa Rica – Living with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress. If you have any questions or you want to give me a tip, email me at: [email protected]. I will get back to you right away. Oh, and please, don’t forget to rate, review or comment if you listen on platforms that allow you to do that. 

Meanwhile, until the next time, Be Courageous. Be Strong. And be Kind. I’ll catch you later. Bye.