Emotional Flashbacks – Due to Complex Trauma ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD


Complex trauma is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma (abuse), within a captivity situation, where the victim perceives no viable means to escape.

Most ongoing child abuse, is complex trauma. The child is vulnerable, at the mercy of the caregivers, and unable to escape. Other examples where complex trauma can occur are sex trafficking, prisoner of war, severe domestic violence.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can result from enduring complex trauma.

Complex PTSD has specific symptoms, that are not listed within the diagnostic criterion for (Uncomplicated) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These specific symptoms, are deep and pervasive issues with trust, abandonment, emotion regulation, isolation and many more.

One of the most common symptoms, and the hardest to understand and recognise, are emotional flashbacks. These are where emotions from the past, are triggered by something occurring now. These emotional flashbacks, do not have a visual aspect to them like flashbacks many PTSD…

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Saving Faith

Almost a thousand days have passed, since I wrote here.  In that time, much has happened. As my last post reveals, I was embarking, once again, on the path of finding myself on some sort of solid ground, with some semblance of sanity. Things were looking bleak for me three years ago. I was mostly disconnected from my family, and was trying to heal from a serious bout of PTSD. As I noted at the time, this is not the first time I’ve had to go through “starting over”.
This time was very different. I’m not supposed to be here. By all rights, I should not be alive. I guess that’s where The story starts.  Imagine a room with a little someone sitting in shadow, where the light is only behind them, and you can only see their silhouette.  I recall that I was laying in a bed that I could see myself from up above it. There was someone there, with light behind them. I could not be sure who I was talking to. The talking was about whether or not I was going quote into the light”, or going back to my human existence. Talking is put it mildly, as I was ready to go.

This was not my first rodeo, as I have experienced crippling pain since I was 13 years old, and I got pretty tired of not getting adequate treatment for it. My life was also complicated by very complex posttraumatic stress disorder or, which was not diagnosed until I had lost my entire family. Other disabling health complications, including auto immune diseases, had cost me my career as a labor and delivery and NICU nurse.  I’d become so unbalanced that nobody could be around me, my health was such that doctors could do nothing more for me, and my pain was beyond any scale anyone has ever invented.

In a stern but loving male voice, I heard “you must go back”. “I can’t do it anymore”, I exclaimed, with intense desperation.  There was a lot of back-and-forth. In retrospect, if I’ve been talking to God, I would think I be in a wee bit of trouble, for my disrespectfulness.  I am, literally, argued my case. I ranted about how useless I was, how much pain I was in, how nobody wanted me. I pled my case to be let into heaven. The man, who I’ve come to believe was my Grandfather, continued to argue back at me, at every turn.  There was a lot of talk about work that I still had to do on earth.
Now, I know what some might be thinking…. Who was it? Or, was it just a brain trick? My first thought was, was this Jesus? Was it an angel? How could I imagine that it was my Grandfather if i didn’t know during the conversation? All very good questions. These are things I asked myself. Fortunately, I wrote things down, right from the beginning.  All the reasons that I was needed here. Mostly, however, it was really none of my business.  My only business from here on out was to do my best and to stop trying to control everything.

What happens next, was not at all funny, until after the fact, but I laugh quite a bit about it, now. You see, I was in a hospital bed, in a coma from an overdose, and there was a person watching over me and my monitors.  They did not know if I would ever wake up. But I did.  I, literally, woke up yelling. The poor guy had such a scare!  I was yelling very loudly, as I regained consciousness.  I will never forget the look on that young man’s face.  As soon as I realized that I had lost the argument, and was among the living, I stopped yelling.  The guy ran out of the room, and soon came back with a registered nurse. As I said, this was not my first rodeo, and I knew where I needed to go for my 72 hour hold.  I requested that of the nurse immediately, and she was happy to inquire and set up my transfer, so that I would not go to the county place nearby. I have been at this facility previously, and knew that I would do well there. It took me only an hour or so to realize that I had absolutely no say in the matter of when I die. I decided, therefore, that I would give it my best. I promised myself and I promised God.

From the moment I entered the hospital, which I lovingly referred to as the “nut hut”, I have been determined to live. This will be the story of how I have found my feet, found my family, and found my soul. It is also the story of how I’ve heard learn to let go of things. I’m learning to let go of dreams, Activities, and lifestyle, at every turn. My latest challenge is a new diagnosis. I have an extremely rare disease of the eye, not related to any other rare diseases I have, that is taking my sight.  Going forward, this is about staying grounded. Telling my story may help someone out there, who goes to the Internet to find out how does One gracefully go blind, and find that there is absolutely no information. Tomorrow, I will have a consultation with a federally funded organization. I hope to learn more from them, and talk about what it’s like to learn how to use all this new gadgets and gizmos in order to see while I still have some vision. I want to talk about what it’s like for someone who is a visual artist, as in photography, stained glass, landscape gardening, nature loving, writer, to go blind.

The first thing I found, was that an iPad could help me write by using dictation. That is how I am writing this first post, since I was diagnosed. Ever since my near death experience, I’ve had utter certainty of the spiritual realm, and have never looked back with any doubt. I look forward with faith. I’ve looked fear in the face, and it ran away.  I will do it, again, tomorrow.  

May you always find Faith. 

The Arrogant Know-It-All Conundrum

Your Rainforest Mind

Flickr Creative Commons Gaurika Wijeratne Flickr Creative Commons Gaurika Wijeratne

My counseling clients talk fast. They use words I don’t recognize. They notice when I’m a teensy weensy bit distracted. I don’t know how it happened that I became a therapist for smart people. OK, for g-g-gifted people. Seriously, on the continuum of giftedness, I’m BG. (barely gifted)

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. I love my job. I’m just saying. I’m not sure how I got here.

In spite of my BGness, I know some things about these people. I mean, I know some things about you.

I know that you’re intense. If you don’t “dial it down,” you may even be accused of being arrogant, a know-it-all. People don’t understand your exuberance or your natural warp speed or your love of language. They don’t understand your glee over dark matter. They don’t know that you don’t realize when you’ve lost them. Or you do realize when you’ve lost them and…

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Guest post: Nita Dozer Thatcher On The Subject of Husbands


A dear friend from a closed FaceBook group wrote the following, and I had to share it, with her permission, because it is hilarious and she definitely deserves wider distribution!

Nita Nita Dozer Thatcher

It applies regardless of the reason your spouse might need to take care of you, long- or short-term.

You have been warned.

Also, I love men and spouses in general. This is not about the species. Nor is it meant to be pejorative!


On The Subject of Husbands – Nita Dozer Thatcher

To those of you who have one, there are some things you should know if your husband ever decides he needs to take care of you. The things they do may be unrecognizable to you as being efficacious to your well-being.

Here are just a few examples of what you may encounter:

1. All clothing is clothing and can, of course, be washed together. Doesn’t matter…

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On the Term Mental Illness

Humanity has dealt with the concept of “insanity” and “mental illness” in a myriad of ways. The first hospital dedicated to treating the mysterious variations of “not normal” behavior, was founded in Bagdad, in the year 705. I say mysterious, because these afflictions have been attributed to everything from an evil Jeanie to the penitence one must endure for some great sin. Terms like idiot and lunatic were used to describe those who were born with or, later, developed an abnormal cognitive or emotional behaviors. With the rise of populations, the concern became more about what to do with these persons, so as to “protect civilized society”. We’ve all heard the horror stories of mass institutionalization, which included crude experimentation that was often carried out by the not-so-well-meaning. Mental illness meant you were hopeless and disposable, just decades ago.

I am calling for a change in the verbiage, from mental illness to brain disorders. It seems that these past few decades have, through amazing technologies, proven that “mental illness” is rooted, quite organically, in our brains. No longer can we say a depressed person is just lazy, or the person with Bi-Polar disorder is possessed by demons. We can see on functional MRI’s and other new scans, that their brains are disordered. Science has made great improvements in the lives of those afflicted by brain disorders. The really good news is that we’ve not only been able to measure and define disorders of the brain that cause the full gamut of “mental illness” diagnosis. we’ve been able to prove that the brain can change back into balance, in many instances; many functions can improve, such as emotional regulation with non-invasive techniques. Yet, the stigma remains enormous. People are told, still, to just pull up their bootstraps, “let it go”, “get over it”. People who need to take a mental health day are not likely to call it that, when calling in sick. We talk about all illnesses in terms of the organs they effect. The brain should be no different. Perhaps changing the term we use will retrain the collective brain of humanity, removing the stigma that comes from an ancient ideas that blame the person, not their brain.

By talking about the brain disorders that effect human behavior and emotions, the conversation is led away from the judgments that have held on tight for thousands of years. No more lumping a large group of society into a box that is far too reminiscent of the middle ages. The science of the brain has turned much of what we thought we knew on it’s head. It was a long held and scientifically accepted belief that the nervous system could not heal. We now know differently. The scientific community has not done the best job in getting out the word that they were wrong. Talking about brain health in the same way we talk about heart health could become commonplace. Children could grow up learning about brain health, and what to do when something seems amiss. Seeking help, without the judgments that were once attached, would be as “normal” as seeking help for high blood pressure. So, next time you find yourself on the topic, try on a new terminology. Bring brain disorders out of the dark ages and into the light of hope.

A Twist in the Road

I recently found myself facing, yet another health “condition”. Visual symptoms that I’d experienced a year ago, came back. I’m losing my sight to the number one cause of blindness in the US. No treatment for “my kind”. REALLY?!?! I’m one garage sale away from setting up my stained glass and lapidary workshop in the garage… Not sure how safe it will be to play with glass and solder….. dammit! My breath is stopped, as I attempt to integrate this new reality into my mind. I mean, I reached huge goals this year….. I have been involved in the rock club and several Meetup groups, including photography. My dream for this “third act”, as I have been referring to my current life. I’m unable to work in my chosen field of medicine, specifically nursing. My 17 years in Labor and Delivery/NICU, are what I look back to, in order to be reminded of my awesomeness. I was a great nurse. I was a great Mom, too. I’m not great at anything in this third act, so far. I was going to get great, though, putting all of my energy into my love of writing, photography, stained glass and lapidary. I was just going to become great, again. I felt such promise and hope. My daughter decided she wants me to know my Grandson. It has not happened. yet. So, then my mind goes to the knowledge that I cannot see him as clearly as I should, and time is not always on my side. Such a silly thought, right? People say, “don’t give it any energy”, by thinking like this. Fear is different than knowing, at least this time. As I struggle to read and write this very blog, I thank God for the ability to enlarge font, and use a wireless keyboard that my mind has memorized.

After a weekend pity party, I thought I was past that devastated feeling. I’m so not. But one thing I’ve learned is how to fight fear. I fight it with Faith and Courage. Just as I smudge away the negative energy in my home, I stand opposed to that darkness that is fear. Today, I reminded myself that the struggle to meditate daily might be assisted by the need to use my mind’s eye. We have this amazing vision that cannot be damaged by the physical deterioration of our eyes. As all of my five senses diminish, I seek all the sensory input I can get. The sounds of life at my little sanctuary, greet me every morning. The sounds tell the story of the seasons, as does the garden, who’s beauty goes beyond the appreciation of a good photograph. I can still see to take an automatic photograph, so all is not yet lost. I will stand opposed to the darkness, with the light that comes from a sacred place.

My home has become a place to ground myself, beyond ways I could have planned, as a sign that I’m in the right place. Facing perfectly East-West, as well as being atop a small hill, I get the sunrises and sunsets that can only be described as stellar, divine, spiritual, sacred. The colors produced are the likes of which I’ve never seen. Pinkish oranges, some days, and what I’ve come to call Lavender Skies….. when the hue of the horizon, in all directions, appears to have been washed in lavender. The skylights and windows conspire to mark the Solstice’s and Equinox’s upon the wall in my living room. It is physically regulating my body, just as I found gardening to do. Pulling weeds is never just pulling weeds.

So, Opposed I stand, in my power, my light, in my inner vision. Perhaps my art will still be there for a while. No wasting time, here. My minds eye calls me to the cushion, a place where my vision steps beyond my eyes.

Mr. Biggs comes to Washington

Mr. Biggs and Faith

Mr. Biggs and Me

After a nine month wait, my service dog is finally here!  At only 18 months, I still must continue his training, but he is already doing the jobs he is supposed to do.  Having serious PTSD from multiple traumas, I opted for the benefits of a trained dog, rather than a puppy. It has been a decision that I will never regret. It was love at first site, and my worries that he would not take to me were abolished when he put his head on my shoulder, as I drove away from the airport, with he and his amazing trainer, Patricia.  She looked at me with surprise and pride and probably a mixture of difficult emotions, when he snuggled his head next to mine, and licked my wrist, ever so delicately.  Having raised him from birth to be a service dog, she has been there from the moment of his birth.  A purely selfless endeavor. Their bond will never die, but he seems to just know who he was meant for.  His ability to sense my needs is remarkable.  I cried in public, which I “don’t do”, the first time he did what is called blocking.  I was with the trainer, who stayed for five days to show me what he can do and how to continue his training.  The clothing store employee was asking about him, and we were talking, when I realized he was standing sideways in front of me, with his body pressed gently against my legs.  I was blown away.  I had not allowed myself to believe this was really going to happen.  At this moment, it became real.  Patti was beaming with pride.  Many more moments have followed in the 8 days since.  An actual soak in the tub; walking the forest trail by my house that goes all the way to the beach for the very first time, despite the fact that I’ve been here 2 1/2 years;  sleeping through the night; waking from a flashback/nightmare to a silky soft furperson pawing at you and sitting for a hug….. didn’t even turn on the light.   There is a peace in my every cell, and in my soul is growing.

Stepping into the light

The light and the dark
They play games in my mind
What’s dark is light, what’s light is dark
The world is chaos and I am blind

My dark night of the soul repeats
Day after night
Night after day
Until my heart retreats

You came like an angel
On wings of steel
And showed you were able
To let me feel

Too long has fear ruled my mind
You’ve brought me hope
With those eyes, so kind
Together, a pact, we did bind

To breathing, to joy
To nature and grounding
To the toys you’ll destroy
To the blond hair mounding

No more dark nights
They can’t quell your light
We will, together, set our sights
On a future, ever so bright