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Following My Own Roadmap, Pt 8

Sheridan Taylor

In which our hero explains how he fixed his shit.

I went back on my meds. Doing that let me find out that I’ve been on the wrong fucking meds for 8 years… minor detail, right? I haven’t been on any meds to help with anxiety and PTSD and I’m still getting ambushed with anxiety attacks and PTSD flashbacks… weird. On the bright side, though, that means that all of the progress I’ve made with recovery has been 100% sheer effort, will, and spite. The ability to deal with this shit, to live in moments of calm and peace, the ability to control behaviour… all me. That’s something I’ve been allowing myself to be proud of.

Anywho…

Most importantly, I doubled down on therapy. I did The Work. All the time, not just with my shrink. That’s the thing a lot of people seem to miss when they contact me. They say things like, “I’m eating clean and exercising every day. Why am I not better?” Well, because you aren’t deliberately, consciously, choosing to sit in uncomfortable emotions and focus on understanding the lies your trauma is telling you. You’re not trying to catch the false, intrusive thoughts and replace them with more accurate ones. You’re not trying to work as hard as you can to hear the false narrative in your subconscious and replace that with a more truthful and accurate story to tell yourself. You’re not doing The Work, man. If you don’t do The Work, therapy can’t work, dudes and dudettes.

I did two hours of self-directed therapy every day for two months on top of my regular appointments with my psychologist.

  • I did a Therapeutic Journaling protocol where I wrote about a bothersome memory for 15 minutes straight. Now, add 5 minutes to either end of that for set up and calming down.
  • I did gratitude journaling daily, where I wrote down 10 things I’m grateful for in my life. That usually took about 10 – 15 minutes, depending on how regulated I was.
  • I did another form of gratitude work where I read the stack of thank you letters and cards from inmates I’ve helped over the years. That’s another 10 minutes of reading, then 5 more to uncomfortably sit in the gratitude and accept it.
  • I take the dog for a walk most days, and I used the movement to practice a walking meditation where I picked a common intrusive thought and refuted it with logic. That’s 30 minutes of meditation/therapy while walking, which allows the emotions to work themselves through easier and faster. Super helpful.
  • I exercise for 20 – 40 minutes a day, depending on how banged up my back and knees are. Instead of my usual method, where I focused on things that made me angry to “fuel the rage” for workouts, I used the movement to reinforce positive thoughts and feelings.
  • I did a guided meditation with the Insight Timer app and I usually picked one that’s about 20 minutes long, or two about 10 minutes long each.

Two hours, man, every day for 8 weeks. Every… fucking…  day. Two months.

I did a digital CBT program with MindBeacon. I strongly recommend it to everyone. It’s been very beneficial, it’s time-effective, and it’s covered by most insurance carriers. I did hypnotherapy. I feel the hypnotherapy helped me peel back the final layer and reach Root Cause. I believe it helped me see what I need to focus on.

Everything in the previous posts to this were just removing physical stressors so I can do The Work. Sitting in unpleasant memories and feelings. Allowing myself to be still and let painful thoughts and memories work their way through my system, instead of avoiding them or burying them. Allowing the painful emotions and body reactions to just process themselves through and out. Sitting in the fear until it goes away and lets me see the memory clearly. Refusing to allow discomfort to drive me into shitty behaviour to avoid thinking about pain, sorrow, betrayal, loneliness, guilt, shame, or grief. Sitting in it. Looking at the scenarios again and again, until I can see them with more clarity and be okay with the fact that unpleasant things happened once upon a time and have no impact on my life today unless I choose to allow them. Catching intrusive thoughts and replacing them with facts, recognizing the lies that have been my mental narrative for decades and replacing them with a more accurate depiction of the world and my place in it. Refusing to accept I’m a helpless victim, empowering myself to control my own life, and stepping into my place as a father and husband.

Out.