A Special Christmas Place To Go

There’s an eight sided log cabin in the Huckleberry Mountains in Eastern Washington. Perhaps there’s snow falling on it as I write, beautiful white thick snow that covers the creek behind it and the large tamaracks, pines, and firs that encircle it.

I hear the birds: the chickadees, the swallows, the blue jays, the hummingbirds, the hawks and the ospreys. Maybe a coyote will walk through the pasture or a mama bear and her cub or a cougar.

I know many deer will be there frolicking in the deep snow as the beavers hibernate deeper in their dens.

The cabin will glow from the lights and the fires lit in the iron stoves and oil lamps. The cracking sounds of firewood will ward off the chilly cold.

Inside stands a tree loaded with ornaments and garlands that a young child once made. By the tree, an old walnut upright piano will be waiting to be played as Christmas songbooks sit patiently to be opened.

It will be quiet there. The bed will be covered with thick blankets as books sit stacked by the bedside. They will have a chance to be read. Journals rest on the large table in the living room with pens ready to be used. Games like checkers, Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble will compete for the prime enjoyment of the long evenings. It’s the time of the year. To get away to your favorite place. And be…..

“The Ballad of Desiree” by Susan M. Carr

Merry Christmas 2015

“PTSD Triggers”

I recently had a traumatic event happen. After fighting a fire at my cabin. I realized that it triggered PTSD. I never would have thought to make this connection but now I can.

My upbringing as a young child was incredibly traumatic. There were already signs showing that I had PTSD. Memory problems, always being on guard for danger, trouble concentrating and being easily frightened or startled. Immediately, when my friend came running in and said, “You have to evacuate!” I went into a hyper vigilant mode. My heart pounded faster, my blood pressure rose, my senses became very sharp. A mental list of what I needed to bring to survive appeared in my mind. Sleeping bags, blow-up mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets, clothes, food, camping equipment, tents, water, toiletries, flashlights. My mind was racing and my physical movements were quick. But as the stress kept compounding day after day, my concentration began to falter, my memory started to fail. I also had troubles with words when I spoke and the right words were slow to connect to.

Every time airplanes started to come down low above my cabin, that triggered it. Seeing the plumes of smoke or fire near my cabin triggered it too. It took awhile after I returned to Seattle to calm down, to feel safe again. When I would see a plane, I slowly started to not be in fear and wonder “Oh my God!”

It made me see that my childhood had led me to react to the fire as a traumatic stress situation. The times when my mother ran after me with a knife, the times when she would drive a sports car with me in it and drove us both into a telephone pole. Put me on constant alert as a child because I would never know what kind of battlefield would be behind the front door of my house when I came home.

Now I know why I am the way I am. I want to be able to balance myself when stress triggers me again. Even in a small way. I want to be able to concentrate. To be able to speak clearly and controlled. To be able to retain memory. To be not in a hyper vigilant mode of behavior. To be normal.