Practicing Emotional Regulation Online

Out of loneliness, I joined SupportGroups.com, a forum for all kinds of mental and emotional health issues, offered as a free service by a company that is focused on mental health and addiction treatment. More than appease my loneliness, I found people who needed help in the moment. I began …

Brooklyn is Safe Again

I left Brooklyn shortly after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the coast of New York and New Jersey in late 2012. I no longer felt safe in my apartment, not because a hurricane could damage it — on the contrary, my building withstands hurricanes — but because I realized how shut …

9/11 Victory

Yesterday was 9/11. For the first time in years I didn’t cry or become depressed. I almost cried after seeing an image on Instagram of a guy on a stair-climbing machine at a gym, wearing a firefighter’s uniform in honor of 9/11. I choke and tear up a bit just …

PTSD Regret

PTSD can push us to do things we later regret, like getting into fights. (I don’t regret all the fights I’ve gotten into. Ha ha.) But one regret in particular is bothering me today. A little more than two years after 9/11, my recently-ex boyfriend was in a car accident. I broke …

CBDa Medicine

In my previous post, I talked a little about how I tried an indica strain of cannabis, which failed to help me sleep. Since that trial I’ve learned about, and there have been innovations of, non-psychoactive strains of cannabis. In spite of all the emotional regulation I’ve practiced to overcome PTSD, there …

The Best Medicine

Early last week, I had been retraumatized and was mentally exhausted the rest of the week. Though I had worked through feelings of depression, I still had apathy. With apathy, there is no motivation. In PTSD, apathy is not something that comes simply with a situation. It weighs down everything. I was …

Not the kind of rollercoaster to ride

My new therapist is not like Eamonn. Eamonn would advise me to be careful about being exposed to places that remind me of traumas. That would include New York City. My new therapist advises me to expose myself to locations that remind me of the trauma. I don’t think my …

Denial Vacation

Denial is a vacation from reality. For two weeks I traveled with my boyfriend and his kids in Europe. Since we had three days planned on a boat, we decided to leave my service dog in the U.S. at my parents’ house. She’s not a happy swimmer. At the departure …

Overwhelm

Back home in Brooklyn, I’m still sorting through years of collected stuff. Some of it is junk, some of it is inspiration for creative DIY projects, and some of it is useful or needed but misplaced. It takes a painfully slow time going through it. It doesn’t help also having …

Paper Sorting

I’m still going through papers collected over the years of PTSD-ignorance. I found a notebook that spanned a few years from 2000 through 2001 into 2002. There are no years written, but based on the contents, I can figure out what the years were. One page was a rough sketch …

Food and PTSD

I know I’m not doing well when my dinner is spaghetti and red sauce from a jar. It would be thin spaghetti or angel hair, since it cooks faster. Self-care is of utmost importance for anyone with PTSD. A mentally healthy person can get away with not eating from being …

Brain Scan Wanted

This is the third week after my 9/11 nightmare. I can feel my heart is not beating normally without checking my pulse or touching my chest. I am about to drive roughly 30 miles to pick up a scooter, a 2003 Piaggio BV200. I feel the anxiety rising and I feel …

Two Weeks After The Nightmare; and An Unemployment Test

Finally feeling better after my death nightmare. My mind is still a bit foggy, but I feel confident enough to work; an office job, that is. Our Messed Up Employment System The US Labor Department is antiquated. It’s still geared toward physical labor, not toward white-collar work. This is evidenced in the questions …

Regressions

Dr. Zng taught me that PTSD patients may regress to behaviors that reflect childhood experiences. My grocery shopping hardships reflect how during my childhood my mother made most of the decisions. I was not allowed to make decisions on my own. For example, I wanted to play cello, but my …

Nightmares and Unemployment

The floor disappeared from under my feet. I saw red and knew immediately that I was going to die. My body fell in terror and died instantly. The next moment, fully conscious in my dream, I thought, “Finally!” I was happy to be dead and excited for the next phase. …

Motorcycle Battery Sizes

While unemployed, I’ve been trying to make the most of my time. I’ve had a motorcycle sitting in storage for the last six months, no thanks to my job leaving me uninspired to work on it. But now that I’ve got a brighter fire with my nonprofit Care For Us project, …

Hoarding

This week I learned that hoarding is a common activity of PTSD patients. I learned this from my new therapist, Dr. Zng, at the World Trade Center Health Program in New York City. I don’t know Dr. Zng’s first name. She is the first therapist I’ve ever had whose first …

Life Improves with an Idea for a Non-Profit

With PTSD symptoms disappearing or being less frequent, I began to enjoy everyday activities again. Unfortunately, enjoying life more also made me less appreciative of my job. A manager at the company could see I was no longer happy there, and since they were making budget cuts, they let me …

Sound Waves and The Brain

Recently I discovered the cause of my inability to shop for groceries like a normal human being. It is not an emotional trigger, which is why numerous attempts at emotional self-regulation going into grocery stores failed. Rather, it is a sound frequency seemingly created by either refrigerator compressors, air conditioning …

Ignore the Stigma of PTSD

Sometimes I can see doubt come over people when I tell them I have PTSD. Perhaps they have images of people lashing out with guns, heads hung low in depression, or faces in shock (dissociation). While these images are examples of some cases, this is not how life with PTSD …

Blankness

Recently I returned to the New York City World Trade Center Health Program after a dismal experience with the national 9/11 program. Everyone at the program in NYC made re-enrollment a breeze, in spite of the program now being overseen on the federal level. During my intake appointment for psychological …

Service Dogs Rock (Some People Suck)

Sometimes I think my dog is super smart. Last night, I had trouble falling asleep. Usually, I call her and she puts her head on my arm and I fall asleep. Last night she just came over on her own and put her head on my arm until I got …

Zombie Mind

On Friday, I pushed myself to finish a project for work that was due at the end of December. I didn’t want it to be more than a week late. The project involved documentation and required a lot of mental focus involving writing, editing, organization, and digital publishing work with …

An Aging Benefit

With aging comes experience (most of the time). And as we and our parents or children age, the more family members within two generations can understand each other. My parents have become elderly in the last several years, and I returned to Brooklyn partly to help them. Perhaps my experience …

Dissociation Breakthrough

My therapist, Eamonn, always asked me what went through my mind whenever I had dissociated. (I use “disassociate” and “dissociate” interchangeably; whatever feels comfortable in the moment. Both mean disconnecting from the real world.) Most of the time I could not recall where I went in my head. My disconnections …

Photo by Riley Briggs. Downtown Des Moines, Iowa

PTSD is a Mental Illness

There are some times when it is blatantly clear that I have a mental illness. I went to the store today to pick up some items: pasta, olive oil, mozzarella cheese, and milk in a glass bottle. (The glass bottle is irrelevant to the topic, but I was happy to …

Stumbling Block

My plan to write about the tiny houses where I stayed during my cross-continent trip from San Francisco to Brooklyn is on a backburner. That is because the moving company that left with 13 items of mine arrived in Brooklyn with only 12. The missing piece is a print, called …

A Letter to WTC One and Two

Dear Twin Towers, Fifteen years ago today, you became no more. Since I bought a picture of you until today, your image stayed visible in my living room. For at least the last several years, this picture sat on my piano. I would look at it and remember how much …

On the Road Back Toward Ground Zero

After three and a half years in San Francisco where I found a therapist who helped me go back to work fulltime, a therapeutic technique to heal most notably panic attacks, and where my friend who helped me with a place to live and food in my stomach became my …

Feeling more like home

My anxiety level had been going up slowly for about a month before this trip to New York. Every year around this time as September 11 approaches, it’s the same occurrence. It hit a high last week. Something in my Brooklyn apartment triggered what felt like something that could have …

Flying Home

I decided to leave my little 240-square-foot haven in San Francisco and return to my Brooklyn apartment. The landlord wanted to raise my rent more than $200, which is about 10% higher than before. The cost is unsustainable. Besides this, I find myself unhappy living in the San Francisco Bay …

Does PTSD become like Alzheimer’s?

There’s a theory that a PTSD brain has structural similarities to an Alzheimer’s brain. I wonder about this every time I think about the trouble I go through to remember things. I spent a week devising a Father’s Day gift for my best friend. And when the day came, I …

Two Weeks Home in Brooklyn

My roommate moved out. It was a surprise. She was supposed to give me a move out date so that I could provide a move deposit with the management office. I came home to a quiet space Friday night. It was dirty. It’s still dirty, even though she “cleaned”. And …

Why PTSD Sufferers Tend Not to Become CEOs

I had trouble falling asleep last night. Aside from the excitement of possibly getting a new-old motorcycle, the lights outside in the courtyard of the building where I live were on until after 3am. Even though I have blinds and curtains to block the light, the courtyard lamps pointed up, …

Handlebars and Parking Your Bike

Why do Bay Area riders insist on parking their motorcycles with the handlebars turned to the right? While browsing Craigslist ads for a new ride for me, I’ve seen image after image with bikes’ handlebars turned unwisely to the right. This is absurd and stupid. I said it. It’s stupid. …

Never-fail Relief

My last blog post was about dissociation, and a bad day of it. It’s important for anyone, but especially a person with PTSD, to have something he or she can do to provide mental relief. For me, it’s riding motors on two wheels. At the end of a work day …

Memory Troubles

It seems my memory is getting worse. I don’t know if it’s because I’m dissociated and not fully paying attention or if my working memory simply isn’t working well. Yesterday I nearly asked the same question twice within five minutes. I caught myself from asking a second time. At a …

How to Build a Neighborhood

I wrote this message on a survey about the apartment building where I live in San Francisco about why I am dissatisfied with “knowing and/or socializing with [my] neighbors”: It’s not the fault of the community as much as it’s the fault of this transient SF culture. My neighbors are …

Mental Blips

Research indicates that a brain with PTSD has structural differences from a brain without. I wonder about this while engaged in returning to a task at work. Except I can not return without taking steps to recall what I was doing. An incoming email interruption and quick reply resulted in …

Finding Triggers for Healing

In February, I went home to Brooklyn for about 9 days. My goal, aside from checking in with my roommate and her new family, was to find triggers to PTSD symptoms and tackle them using Sensory Emotional Regulation, aka TIPI, which I like to call the EDIT process: emotional difficulty …

Dissociation

The hallmark symptom of the oblivious nature of PTSD, in my opinion, is dissociation. I don’t know when my dissociative episodes started. I don’t know how long they used to last. I only became aware of them after being diagnosed with PTSD. In my Brooklyn apartment, on Valentine’s Day (just …

Fighting the Abyss

I’m back home in Brooklyn. It feels like home. But when I look at my stacks of collections that need sorting I could sense my mind drifting toward a hole. I’ve learned from overcoming Attention Deficit Disorder how to make lists. Before allowing my mind to sink into the abyss …

Visiting Oblivion

I have a plane ticket for New York, a flight leaving tomorrow, and I am terrified. I am going back to my home, my apartment where I lived the day the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. The last time I was there was July, more than six months …

Seeking Enjoyment

Motorcycle riding was one activity that kept me from going off the deep end of depression. But I sold my last two bikes before moving into a tiny 240 square foot efficiency apartment. They were Gwen and Pinto Bean, a 2009 Triumph Street Triple (675cc) and a 50cc Honda Metropolitan …

Bad PTSD Day

Triggers can come from anywhere. Again, I was triggered by email; this time it started because of one from the management office of my apartment complex in Brooklyn where I witnessed 9/11 and helped people who escaped across the bridge from Ground Zero on foot. Because I have been away …

Say “Thank You”

In my dysthymic daze, I stared down at my phone while standing by the window in the lobby waiting for my dinner to arrive. A man carrying bags walked by outside and stopped at the door. I kept staring at my phone remembering an email from building management about people …

Pulmonary Troubles

Today, I stayed home from work. Last night, my breathing started to get difficult. This morning, I felt lethargic. I can feel phlegm building up at the bottom of my throat and in my chest. My breaths are heavier than normal. I’m tired and a little dizzy. I rejoined the …

PTSD Redux

Ever since the Paris attacks, PTSD symptoms have been re-appearing: short-term memory loss, dysthymia, sleep troubles, and nightmares. The night of the attacks and after listening on NPR about the hundred plus young people who died at a concert hall, I had a 9/11 nightmare. I was my college classmate …

Healing At Last…Partly

It has taken 3 and a half years. That long ago, the WTC Health clinic diagnosed me with PTSD. Two and a half years ago, my understanding of PTSD, realization of my behaviors and trying to return them to “normal” left me at the bottom of a mental black-hole that …

Pushing Mental Limits

In healing from PTSD, it’s difficult to gauge one’s mental capacity. A PTSD brain is one requiring recovery from shock, or overload. I sold my two motorized bikes when I had to move. There was no place to store them, and I was too busy to ride daily. I started …

Today is September 11, 2015

11:57am Fourteen years after 9/11 I woke up not realizing it’s the day. I did not feel sad. I did not remember it’s September 11. I woke up as if it’s any other day. When I think about it, I feel tears start to develop, but they don’t come. It’s …

Assistance Pet

Last night I had trouble falling asleep. An hour passed before I called my dog, Penny, to come lie down next to me so that her head was on my pillow next to mine. I put my arm around Penny and fell asleep. The night before was worse. I had …

MCS Symptoms Continue

It has been six days since being exposed to the cleaning product that set off mucous production in my lungs. The only thing that helps me stop coughing is lying down on my side. I’ve tried reclining with pillows behind my back and head so that I could use my …

MCS: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

I have not been diagnosed by an M.D. yet, but I’m 99.9% sure I have multiple chemical sensitivity as a result of breathing the air from Ground Zero in New York. It only takes one inhalation of second hand cigarette smoke to spit up phlegm build up in my lungs. …

Stress from Feeling Trapped

When I first realized my long commute created unbearable stress, I thought maybe it was because being inside a car made me feel trapped. This is often a trigger for people with PTSD who develop the disorder after traumatic events during which there are feelings of entrapment. Riding my motorcycle …

Reaching Personal Limits

When we don’t take care of ourselves, we tend to overreach beyond our boundaries, if we have them. I tend to do this when hyperfocused on interesting projects. Unfortunately, this happens at work also. In the beginning of this year, one of my co-workers had quit and I took over …

Motorcycle Appreciation

Over the past year, I’ve taken my motorcycle for granted. After minor fishtail on the freeway (though not so minor in cost having been a responsible citizen and paid for the damage to the limousine though I could have easily have ridden off and committed a crime), my best friend …

Anxiety Symptom?!

So, my scalp has been really itchy lately with embarrassing snow falling off my head. I googled “natural dry scalp remedies” and found this page: Top 10 Home Remedies for Itchy Scalp. The second line says, “Some of the most common causes are dandruff, dry scalp, sebaceous cysts, excessive anxiety…” …

Sensory Emotional Regulation Working

After a hard day yesterday, I visited my TIPI mentor, Cedric. He advised me to work on the phone call trigger. I didn’t think I could relive that moment. I don’t remember what the caller said. I only remember starting to cry and having a hard time saying anything. So …

Back on Gabapentin

Effective TIPI, or sensory emotional regulation, requires an emotional response to a trigger to regulate properly. But with trauma, the response is too strong for the process to be effective. During practice one must be able to take attention away from the emotion and put it on physical sensations. For …

Catecholamines?

I wish I had a way to measure my hormone levels. I don’t feel myself. I’ve sobbed twice today. My mind is in a fog. My sight narrows in on what’s in front of me, and everything else is a blur. I didn’t eat much. But I did work on …

Alleviating Depression

Three posts in three days = struggling a lot. Having trouble concentrating at work. My thoughts keep turning toward some difficult events: losing my beloved friend who helped me after 9/11 to injuries from a car accident, having a miscarriage, and then learning about a potential co-parent’s desire for an …

Hypervigilant controlled outburst

Of everything I wrote about yesterday, what I’ve been most cautious of is the moment someone would piss me off enough that I would blow up. That happened. Except instead of a rash yelling, I thought for a few minutes of the words to use that wouldn’t make the jerk …

Down on the PTSD Rollercoaster

May 24, 2015 It’s a little more than 3 weeks since the WTC Victim’s Compensation Fund called. Sadly, my symptoms are clearly present, though not nearly as bad as they have been, meaning I can manage. But it still sucks. I have mild depression. Unless I’m meeting my best friend …

Short-term memory failure

My working memory failed repeatedly at work today. Even now, I don’t remember what I was doing except one time. I was on a web browser tab and opened another tab to do something. The first tab informed me to go to a page on the second tab, but by …

Tears of Pain

Just when I thought I was reaching the end of the PTSD tunnel, something happens to show me I still have a long way to go. The WTC Victim’s Compensation Fund called. I had applied several years ago when trying to manage debt incurred from losing my job to bronchitis …

New Title

It’s common among well-known authors for them to have written three books before becoming financially successful with book sales. My first book (tongue in cheek), AlphaDog, Get The Bitch You Want still sells through Amazon and Kindle. I want to write a book about PTSD, but I want it to …

Progress with EMDR

The “key stone” moment that sent me into the oblivion of PTSD happened while hearing the president of Fuji Bank name all twelve of his employees who were lost in the World Trade Center disaster. Incredibly, now as I type this, my eyes are dry. It used to be that …

Negative EMDR Affects

March 30, 2015 Last night I had a 9-11 dream. It was 2001. I had a list in front of me that looked a lot like XML, which is what I work with now. The lines were mostly red with a few in black here and there. I don’t remember …

Grief Relived

Today I went to therapy and Eamonn administered EMDR for the second time. We went through all seven steps for working on one set of related situations. The set included seeing a TSA officer checking IDs and plane tickets, which has been a trigger, and being on the phone answering …

Two steps forward, One step back

Some say that one can never heal completely from PTSD. I had a hard time believing that. But the fact is, PTSD doesn’t just happen from one trauma. It develops over multiple traumas. While I seemed to be mostly healed from the traumas of 9-11, other traumatic events can easily …

Nightmare Effects

One of the hallmark symptoms of PTSD is nightmares. Anyone who remembers having nightmares knows they can disrupt sleep. For PTSD patients, they can happen frequently and worsen already-paralyzing anxiety. I haven’t had many nightmares related to 9-11 that I remember. The one I do remember involved fire. Last night …

Dealing with Triggers

Airports are triggers for me. Being in an airport, thinking about airports, thinking the word airport sends a signal to my brain that makes my eyes well up with tears. It’s almost uncontrollable. I’ve had my dog travel with me on all but two airplane trips since adopting her in …

FasTrak’s Valentine’s Day Letter

I’ve heard a lot of complaining since moving to San Francisco. Maybe it’s the people I’m around. But then, I’ve noticed that relatively few drivers wave “thank you” when their cars are let in front. Very few people look up and say a greeting when passing by. And just as …

These Memories Never Go Away

Months have now passed without an anxiety attack or any generalized anxiety. I’ve had a couple of nightmares, but they were not related to 9-11. One would think that for someone recovering from PTSD that this would mean the memories would not return. But this is not so. I have …

Martin Luther King Day Ride

Martin Luther King Day 2015 Took the bike out for a ride to Alice’s Restaurant at the famous Four Corners where Route 35 and Highway 9 cross in Woodside, California. It’s been about 3 months since riding Gwen, my 2009 Triumph Street Triple. My job has been too taxing and …

Free books in NYC

In 2008, I was unable to keep a job longer than a week. My anxiety from PTSD was so high, I could barely complete a PowerPoint document for the advertising and media companies I had worked for for years. I took out a loan against my home equity and wrote …

Stress Manifested

I still have trouble sleeping. And I still cry easily. It seems that any stressor is enough to send me into a lost state. I feel tense but not anxious. I’m in New York City. My art studio building in Dumbo, Brooklyn, is going condo and my studio mates and …

End of the Tunnel?

Six weeks have passed since having any hypervigilance. Over five have passed since having anxiety. During these last several weeks, I’ve taken no gabapentin nor other anti-anxiety. The doctor warned that while on gabapentin, if I had any depression, to stop taking the medication. I had come to rely on …

The importance of therapy

Before 9-11, I thought therapy was for people with no friends. Even started writing a song about it: “You can buy a friend for $12 an hour…”  (That line was not actually about a therapist but a home health aide. Point is made.) To me having no friends was an …

Gabapentin

August 8, 2014 A week ago, I started taking gabapentin as an anti-anxiety. The first time taking this medication, it started working within 24 hours. The first few nights, I slept well and through the night. I had no grogginess after waking up and was more alert during the day. …

We Are All Colored

One morning, passing a pair of men on the street I said, “G’morning!” “What?!” one of them caustically replied with a wrinkled forehead. They were both of African descent. Having Black friends for most of my life, I’ve heard about their struggle to be accepted regardless of their skin color. …

Healthy Boundaries

One important lesson I’ve been learning in the healing process is how to say “No.” This was not easy for me having been sexually molested as a child. Instead of saying No, my shame and depravity had silenced me in numbness leading to date rape situations in adulthood. Had I …

13th Anniversary

A thoughtful co-worker pinged me on Jabber today with a condolent note. “Hang in there,” she added. I hadn’t given much thought to my feelings. But at this conjecture, I realized I was mostly numb to the day. It is as if the darts of reminders over the years have stabbed me enough …

Signs of Diminishing Hypervigilance

Gabapentin has been a game-changing treatment. I had been so dull to what was happening around me that I didn’t realize I felt irritable until there was a conflict with another person. The irritablity became hypervigilance and out of nowhere I went to war. Now I can feel irritability as …

Farewell, Robin Williams

There is much sadness along with the news of Robin Williams’ passing. He was one of my favorite comedians, one who seemed down-to-earth and well-liked in his neighborhood of Sea Cliff and around town in San Francisco. My co-worker, Chris, shares this: I don’t know how old I was, but …

Wary Motorcycling on the Freeway

To get to work back in July 2013, I rode my Ninja 500 on the freeway for a few miles to get to the Caltrain. Riding a motorcycle for 30 miles each way every day is taxing physically and mentally, but 8 miles to the Caltrain station isn’t bad. The first …

New Beginning

Unfortunately, a PTSD sufferer becomes limited in what can be accomplished. There are countless days when I wish I could have written down what I had experienced. But so many of those times I would try and fail with the inability to form thoughts into words or even put thoughts …

Returning Feelings

July 18, 2014 There was a specific moment on the night of 9-11-01 when I became numb and unable to have normal, healthy feelings. It was during an emergency hotline phone call when the president of Fuji Bank called. In spite of my saying that all patients who came through …

Why people choose homelessness

June 19, 2013 I could pay some bills today, but I probably wouldn’t remember it tomorrow. My mind is so disconnected that I’m not sure what’s real and what exists only in my head. My mental health notes, the crucial ones that explain when I started losing concentration at work, …

Missing NYC

Go the extra mile for people and you will receive in kind, though receipt may come from someone else. In New York, it’s not uncommon for people to give. Givers might be sales or service people looking for more business, but they are also neighbors, friends, and strangers. It because …

Memory Failure

Lately, I’ve been having problems with my memory. There are two unfinished drafts in my WordPress dashboard. Both were started with great ideas, and both lost their way. Whatever the ideas were when the posts were started were quickly forgotten within a couple hundred words. I don’t write as eloquently …

How to Heal from PTSD

I’ve heard people say that one cannot heal from PTSD. That’s ridiculous. The brain is plastic. We can make new neural connections at 80 years old. Healing from PTSD is not easy. And in some cases, like mine, it can take years. But it’s not impossible. A brain that experiences …

Nightmares

Last night I had a nightmare. I almost forgot it. But Eamonn, my therapist, told me to write down any since I couldn’t remember having any for a long time. Now I realize I’ve had many nightmares but do not remember them. Normally, you have a nightmare and you remember …

Fender Bender

Today I had my first accident with an automobile. I hope it’s my last. It wasn’t serious. In fact, it wasn’t even a fender bender. It didn’t even slow down traffic. (An earlier accident a few miles down the freeway was already slowing traffic to snail’s pace.) I had an …

PTSD: A New Perspective

About a month ago, I had a 45-minute phone call with the nationwide World Trade Center Health program. The call consisted of a series of questions concerning my health over the last year that would be a result of the 9-11 tragedy. I hadn’t seen a physician about the WTC …

Reflections on 2013

Two months is a long time to let go by without writing a blog post. I suppose it’s a symptom of learning how to live with the rest of the world while allowing a burned brain room to heal.While on a vacation from my first full-time job in 11 years …

Bye-bye Sunshine, Hello Fog

It’s easy for a person with PTSD to become re-traumatized. I didn’t believe this when my therapist told me. Probably because when catecholamine levels are high, you just feel numb. After a long time of numbness, nothing is surprising, nothing is exciting, and nothing is scary. I thought being re-traumatized …

Overcoming September 11

This week was TIPI training again. The practice is new in the United States, so it still goes by its French acronym. But the name, TIPI, doesn’t quite appeal to Americans. Who wants to say a name that brings memories of toilet paper bombing? I’ve come up with a different …

September 11 on the West Coast

Every year since the 9-11 tragedy, as September had approached, I would feel more depressed. This year is different. I have not felt sadness until now. It’s September 8. The west coast doesn’t treat the day like New York. In New York there are memorials. People go out, but parties …

Momentary Gains of Relativity

Every now and then it hits me that I am in California. The thought goes something like, “Oh my goodness. I’m in San Francisco!” After 40 years in New York, being in the Golden State is quite a change. But the change doesn’t affect me like most people. I didn’t …

Super-human Smell

I don’t remember if heightened senses are a symptom of PTSD in the DSM, but it’s back. Walking down the street, I smelled a fire. I looked around for smoke but didn’t see any and continued on. On the way back, the smell of smoke was stronger. It smelled of …

Rollercoaster Healing

From the first week of July until yesterday, I thought I was healed from PTSD. It’s now the the first week of August. It seemed like all my symptoms were gone. I will preface the rest of this post with this note: this post won’t be very eloquent. It might …

Recovery Process

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (edition IV), there are 17 criteria for diagnosing PTSD. I don’t remember how many my case met, though it was nearly all of them. Going through the list today, there is maybe one that still holds true: difficulty sleeping. That …

Caltrain Experience

July 22, 2013 New experiences are fun. It’s like making discoveries except that they are only new to the one discovering. This morning on the way to a new job, I was a relative explorer on the Caltrain commuter from San Francisco to San Jose. I rode Jessie to the …

Returning to the Old Normal

In January, I learned a technique known in Europe as TIPI. It’s a form of somatic therapy that is claimed to permanently remove the ill effects of emotional difficulties. Because of my immediate positive response to the technique and understanding of how it works (thanks to experiencing PTSD), the Director …

The Veterans Hospital

The Veterans Administration Medical Center off Clement Street in the city of San Francisco hosts studies on PTSD. Thinking that maybe I could get involved was one of the reasons for finding a place to live within walking distance. Maybe I could get paid to be a test subject. But …

Acceptance

Walking through Chinatown, I saw an Asian man wearing an army green shirt with an “Army Veteran” patch. I asked him where he was stationed. “The Philippines,” he replied. “Are you a veteran?” “No, but I have PTSD from 9-11,” I said. “Good for you!” he exclaimed. Nobody had ever …

Memory

Previous therapists at the World Trade Center health clinic didn’t explain much about PTSD. And I had resisted accepting the diagnosis for at least a year, which slowed me in understanding what the disorder is. Ironically, one therapist had written in my mental health notes at the time of diagnosis …

How to Prevent Intrusive Thoughts

A catch-22 of PTSD is that one can be so disabled by symptoms that it seems impossible to change the cycle. But it’s not impossible. The intrusive thoughts of PTSD begin a person’s descent into withdrawal, hypervigilance, and avoidance. But they can be stopped. Stop the PTSD Cycle Find something …

Intrusive Thoughts

My nightmares are more conceptual than concrete flashbacks. I don’t have them as often as in the past, but when I do, they sometimes wake me up. In the last one I remember, I was chased by zombies. Funny. A roommate told me that once I screamed in my sleep. …

June is PTSD Awareness Month

The U.S. Office of Veterans Affairs declares June – that’s this month, which is almost over – as PTSD Awareness Month. One out of 3 troops returning from deployment are being diagnosed with PTSD, but less than 40% of them seek help. Nearly 2 out of 3 of their marriages are failing. …

Ride to Big Basin

The splint on my finger was supposed to be on for another couple weeks, but I didn’t want to pass up the chance to ride with my old friend, Jason, visiting from New York. He rented a Triumph Scrambler and we rode south down Route 280 toward San Jose to …

All progress is not lost

It can be scary to be re-traumatized. It’s not fun losing one’s ability to focus, be present, or concentrate. But if progress has already been made, the effects of new traumas don’t have to last as long as previous traumas. It has been three days since hitting rock bottom in …

Back to work

Two questions arise in regard to returning to work: how is my ability to concentrate, and how well can I control my anxiety? My last job at a major educational publishing house required a high level of intelligence and at times hyperfocused concentration. It would seem unlikely that with PTSD …

Back to Recovery

I think my therapist was wrong this time about assuming I would be re-traumatized by recalling the 9-11 hotline situation. After clicking Publish, I cried, blew my nose, and then started feeling better. My numbness has turned to empathy. I look at strangers at happy hour enjoying each others’ company …

The night of 9-11

My therapist had advised me not to talk about the moment when I believe PTSD began to develop. He was afraid I would become re-traumatized. Since I’ve just been re-traumatized, now might be as good a time as never to write about what happened after the World Trade Center fell. …

Parking sucks on a sunny day

It’s perfect riding weather. There’s no fog. The temperature is in the 60s. The sky is blue and the sun bright. But I’m not riding. The plan was to try my brake lever to see if I could squeeze it without pain. And even if it hurt, I would have …

Prayer

The first time I ever said a prayer that wasn’t something someone told me to say was at London Heathrow airport. I was 21 years old and all of the sudden became ill. It was toxic shock syndrome from using a tampon too long and I felt like I was …

Easy Food

With PTSD can come difficulty making decisions. This can make preparing food a challenge. If I had more money, I would eat out more. But I have to make it stretch until I have more income. The more steps in cooking, the more challenging. Following instructions such as a recipe …

Pasta Day

Today is a pasta and jar sauce day. That means my mind is so foggy and depressed, boiling pasta and heating up sauce is as much as I can handle in the food department. Even this came with difficulty as I nearly poured the sauce into the pot of boiling …

Depression

Some people experience depression with lethargy and sadness. Anti-depressants may be helpful for these people by assisting how serotonin works in the brain. But not me. I don’t necessarily feel sadness and often still have energy for certain activities like motorcycle riding and hanging out with a bunch of finance …

Reunion Weekend and Promising Discoveries

For over a year, I withdrew from the public, refraining from writing relationship tips as Wing Girl Kim and slowly withdrawing from people I already knew. Visiting my alma mater for my class’s 20th-year reunion seemed daunting at first. Because of this, I didn’t register. But the welcome back to …

Flying East

Since I didn’t want to ride Jessie with a broken thumb, I decided to winterize her and go to New York for a while. Besides, my 20-year college reunion was happening. Maybe I’d show up. Winterizing a motorcycle involves emptying its carburetors of leftover fuel, setting the bike on its …

PTSD and Relationships

PTSD Reactions There are three ways a person with PTSD tends to react to life’s challenges: fighting them running away from them, or freezing in shock It’s pretty animalistic. We are animals after all. PTSD develops when after experiencing a traumatic event a person continues to have these emotional reactions, …

Concentration

Unless you have ADHD or PTSD, it can be easy to take our ability to concentrate for granted. My ability to concentrate reached an all-time low this year. It got to a point where the only time I was able to keep focused was while riding my motorcycle. As if …

Clutch Trouble on a 2005 Ninja

You might think that spending $2,200 on a 7-year-old motorcycle would get you a decent bike. Jessie is a great bike, but she came with issues. At one point, I was afraid she was a lemon. Fortunately, the transmission was not the cause of shifting difficulty. Unfortunately, she needed work …

Time Out

I haven’t blogged in a while. Partly because my brain has been too foggy, but mainly because I broke the tip of my right thumb hitting a baseball in a batting cage. Kinda like Ryan Vogelsong except the ball hit his little finger and while at bat, not in a …

I am not infra dig

May 7, 2013 Today is definitely better than yesterday. Though it still takes more time to do things, I feel more resolute than yesterday. I gave my Ninja Jessie a wash on the street, took my dog Penny for a walk, prepared a tri tip steak in the slow cooker, …

Salt Pepper Olive Oil

May 6, 2013 There are tough days and tougher days. On tough days, my mind has trouble concentrating, but I can get on my motorcycle and all of the sudden have the ability to focus. Today was one of the tougher days. Every day I hope to accomplish something especially …

Beginnings

A long time ago I learned that it’s pointless to read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to try to figure out if you have a disorder. Anyone can read a list of mental symptoms and say, “This is me!” What makes the list count is when symptoms …

A Beautiful Day

It’s a perfect day for riding. Temperatures in the high-70s, low-80s. The humidity is low, the sun is bright, and there are no clouds in the sky. But I did’t want to ride today. They say that PTSD gets worse before it gets better. Since arriving in San Francisco, I …

Meet Jessie

The San Francisco bay area has a riders’ forum called BARF, Bay Area Riders Forum. I found an overpriced 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500 for sale in Sacramento. Three days after arriving in San Francisco, I got on a train to Sacramento and negotiated down to all the cash I had …

The Move

The weather forecast in December 2012 didn’t look good. Snow was expected across the country including in the path I hoped to take. Rather than get stuck or ride an extra day south, I decided to sell Flo, my 1983 Suzuki GS550E, send my personal items on a truck, and …

How to move across the country

Eleven years ago, I was breathing the dust of the World Trade Center in my apartment in Brooklyn, NY. A few months later, i was too sick to work and lost my job. I received no unemployment, didn’t apply, because I did not know how sick I was. It was …

Review of Bilt Women’s Iron Motorcycle Jeans

Originally submitted at www.cyclegear.com Features and Benefits Flattering boot-cut leg Hand-washed and finished denim – 100% cotton Kevlar Polyester mix fabric on all impact zones – knees, hips and seat Short two-part connecting zips CE-approved armor – knees Women’s Iron Motorcycle Jeans   Almost perfect for my punk a*$ By …

New Project: A 1978 Honda CX500E

Bought this trashed 1978 CX. It appears to have been stolen probably in 1979, then dumped at a NYC river (gross back then). The registration stickers say 1979. The odometer states only about 1400 miles. Washed off construction dust (from sitting in the garage of a building undergoing renovation). It …

Wet Pavement

Last Fall I acquired Flo, a 1983 Suzuki GS 550E. One ride at 80 mph on a windy, hilly 4-lane highway, and I was hooked. Sixteen valve inline fours – that’s her engine and now my engine of preference. Eager to ride after a long winter, I’ve been riding as …

Works Engineering on North 14th St between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hosts a show every year. The beer was sponsored by Asahi, and there were burgers, and dozens of vintage bikes. And Flo qualified as a vintage bike! (1983 Suzuki GS550E.) She got some love. Here are some …

Hot rod weekend

This past weekend (August 21, 2010) was an annual hot rod event in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Hundreds of hot rod and bike owners came out to display their projects. Here are some photos: Harley for sale. An old BMW. This guy with the helmet makes custom leather seats. Tres cool. …

Meet Flo

In order to ride Molly again, I would have to remove her engine to get the stator coils. Since there isn’t much time to work on her (since I’m not yet independently wealthy to do whatever I want) before our trip in the Northeast this Labor Day weekend, Jason and …

Classic bikes need mechanic owners

This weekend, Jason and I went to Buck’s County, Pennsylvania. River Road runs alongside the Delaware River, and we wanted to ride the stretch from Riegelsville to Milford, NJ. We had to put Molly’s front fender back on, since it was supposed to rain on the way back home. So, …

Icon Hella Street Angel boots review

They look funky with the red detail, and the hardware looks cool, but these boots are not for riders. Maybe it’s fine for passengers, but I could not ride my bike with these boots. Could not even walk in them. They are inflexible. I could not lift my toe to …

Riding Upstate

After 2 hours on the road, all I can say is, “I’m pooped.” I’ve got to write this down, because I don’t want to forget what it was like riding on the highway for the first time. I had no idea how fast I was going until asking Jason, because …

First highway ride

Today I will take my first solo ride on a highway. I suppose at this point I might be a better mechanic than rider given the amount of time I’ve spent working on the two vintage bikes I’ve ever ridden. To prepare for today’s trip out of the city and …

First ride in the rain

In February, Jason got me a 1981 Honda CX500 Custom. I named her Molly and rode her instead of Georgia, which was too small to pass big trucks on the highway. Molly had some electrical issues, but I fixed them. It also seemed that one of her forks might have …

Electrical problems

Just about every motorcycle mechanic I talk to has one thing he prefers not to deal with: electrical systems. It’s not necessarily because of the occasional shock or burn from being the ground receiver of an open circuit. (12 volts is nothing compared to the 240 coming out of a …

1981 Honda CX500c wiring

She works! Two nights ago, after getting home from the shop, I looked at the Honda manual’s electrical diagram thinking about why the front brake, headlight, and running lights work, but not the rear brake, turn signals, oil and clutch lights. The problem with figuring it out was that the …

Wire gauge

So, I have to replace some wires on old Molly. She’s a 1981 Honda CX500c. It looks like someone replaced the entire wire harness, because on her model, the flasher relay should be located in the headlamp fixture, but the gray wire to connect it runs to the back like …

Bike upgrade!

It’s been a while since blogging about Georgia. Well, that’s because she’s been in the shop. Jason and I decided we’d fix her ourselves. We changed the chain and the rear sprocket, which was bent when hit by a car. The tire has been balanced, and Jason took her for …

Fixing old Georgia and disasters

The unfortunate thing about having a vintage bike is not being able to ride when it needs repairs. At least it’s simpler than a car, making it easier to fix. Though the battery charged properly when Georgia was in the shop to get inspected, about a month later, the battery …

Slow riding

I practiced slow riding for a while before getting on the busy NYC streets. The reason is, the better you are at riding slow, the more control you have over your bike. This is basically what I did and a suggestion on how to practice riding slow… First, your bike …

People behind the Art of Rebellion show

There’s nothing like the camaraderie of a community. A lot of people from the biker community and enthusiasts attended the Harley-Davidson art show. The common thread, two-wheeled motorized vehicles. I had the opportunity to meet many of the artists who were part of the Art of Rebellion show. Each person’s …

"Organ Donor"

Motorcyclists are sometimes referred to as “organ donors” for an obvious reason. There’s most likely nothing more dangerous on the roads and streets than riding motorcycles. The reality is, few people with driver’s licenses sign up to be organ donors, yet there is a waiting list of people waiting for …

*sigh*

I sold my car today. It’s sad. My car took me across the country and back. Lots of great memories. But now that I’m riding a motorcycle, the car isn’t needed anymore. I don’t have to take the subway for $2.25. And if I need an automobile, I can rent …

First highway trip

For this past weekend, we had planned for me to take my first highway ride out to Pennsylvania to visit Jason’s family. All week, I went back and forth between riding Georgia and riding bitch with Jason. I hadn’t yet ridden on a bike more than a couple miles at …

The Shoei RF-1000

I spent the last 2 and a half months looking for the right helmet for me. When I first started shopping, I had no idea what to look for and didn’t know how a helmet should fit. I also had no idea about different brands: Arai, Bieffe, Shoei, Bell, HJC, …

Oil change on a CL360

My bike is from 1975. It sat around for years, then the last owner never rode her. So, needless to say, Georgia needed some work. To pass inspection, the tires and fork seals were replaced, carburetors and fuel lines cleaned, and she got a new horn. What didn’t happen at …

Lane splitting

Lane splitting is not legal in New York State, but I think it should be, especially because air-cooled engines need to be in motion to prevent from overheating. Did that once before. Riders split lanes anyway, passing slow or stopped traffic to get ahead. I haven’t ridden between lanes yet, …

Parking safety

Living in a town or city without a garage has an obvious danger for classic bikes on the streets: public exposure. I parked my bike at the end of my street a couple days ago, close to where my car was parked, because I had an appointment to show my …

Getting comfortable

I had my first solo ride to Queens today to see my brother on his birthday. I avoided Queens Boulevard as much as possible, taking Greenpoint Avenue all the way from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to 48th Avenue in Queens. On the way, it rained a bit, but just spit. The pavement …

Parked it and left it

Two whole days and nights went by of not riding. For me, that sucks. Problem is that I got a freelance job with an ad agency and the hours have been grueling. I get home when it’s dark, and Jason doesn’t want me riding at night by myself until I …

Helmets

The first time I put on a full-face motorcycle helmet some months ago, I could barely get it on my head. I thought it was too tight, because it squished my cheeks in, and I could barely speak clearly. Thinking back, barely able to speak clearly was a sign that …

Fixing the bike

After Jason tested Georgia and agreed she had a problem, he went online and figured out that the screen in the petcock had buildup. So, I grabbed a bucket and some tools, disconnected the fuel lines from the carburetors, drained the gas tank and removed the petcock. Sure enough, there …

First solo ride into the city

I reached a hallmark in my motorcycle riding experience: I rode solo into Manhattan, aka “The City.” I took the Brooklyn Bridge this time, since it’s easier to get to the west side from there than the Manhattan Bridge. I decided to take the west side streets, because I’m more …

Wet ride

This weekend, I had my first ride on wet pavement. I took it slow and carefully. I don’t think I’d enjoy riding in the rain. At the same time, I’ve got the bug. I’m sure once I feel I have enough experience, I’ll ride in the rain anyway. I still …

First ride into the city

New York City is a scary place to ride a motorcycle. The notorious cab drivers, Chinese delivery guys riding the wrong way on bicycles, mini-vans full of religious people, people on their cell phones who should get their licenses revoked, drivers from New Jersey (haha), etc. We rode across the …

Practice practice practice

Jason has been reminding me every day to practice riding. Work has been slow, so I’ve had plenty of time during daylight hours to get on the bike and ride. I’ve been staying in the neighborhood, though, practicing slow turns, counterbalancing, and gunning it to third gear. I only missed …

My first 3-mile ride

Since Jason went straight to the shop to get Georgia, I went to meet him and ride home with him. But the shop’s location is on a busy street, and I wasn’t ready to ride a four-lane street. So, Jason took Georgia to Williamsburg, a familiar neighborhood about 3 miles …

My first weekend riding with a license

Georgia came back from the motorcycle shop, but the guy forgot to inspect it. So, Jason has to take her back on Monday. At least I got to ride her a little bit around the neighborhood. I practiced slow turns and rode her down Belgian block streets while Jason walked …

First weekend with a license :-/

On Thursday, I took my MSF waiver to the New York DMV and got my license. 🙂 I named the bike Georgia. She’s a reddish orange color with black and chrome pipes. Unfortunately, on this first beautiful weekend after getting my license, Georgia was in the shop. 🙁

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation course

I happened to sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s course on the hottest day of the year. Fortunately, the instructor, Bettye Rae Lorenz, is way cool. She did her best to accommodate the class so that we wouldn’t be sweating bullets in the peak sun. Yesterday was the first …