Darkness Into Light

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When a blogger disappears if you’ve been reading them for any length of time you notice when they’re gone especially if they just drop out of sight without warning.

But when it happens slowly over time with posts becoming less frequent, you may not even realize they are gone until one day you can’t remember the last time you saw a post of theirs pop into your inbox or show up on your reader list with something new.

I have watched that happen to quite a few bloggers and a couple of years ago, I joined those  who slipped away with barely a word of explanation.

So here it is.

I went through a phase where every time I sat down to write I would have a series of thoughts running through my head that were not very positive, things such as who really wants to read this stuff, there’s so much out there being said, why waste time on my blog, what’s the point anyway … and loads of other negative self talk.

I had been feeling a bit of this before our car accident in early 2013 when we were hit by a drunk driver in Wales and afterward it grew like an unchecked water leak leaving a dark stain over everything. My sense of security was severely affected by an event out of our control and became disinterested in things I had enjoyed and I could not find my way back to something that had once given me a lot of pleasure.

I dipped my toe back in the water a couple of times only to shake off the possibility of writing here again by distracting myself with something else, usually something sugary that only made me feel worse.

My post accident neck pain got worse rather than better and I began to have severe and debilitating hand cramping with such frequency and intensity that I found myself Googling motor neuron disease and other scary topics.

I never considered that the initial diagnosis of whiplash would turn out to be two ruptured discs or that my growing desire to isolate and withdraw from activities I once enjoyed would lead to a PTSD diagnosis. After an MRI and several talks with surgeons along with two clinical psychologists who shared the same PTSD opinion, I had more insight into why so many parts of my life were affected.

Having reread the above, I feel like deleting the whole post as it seems like one big  “poor me ” moan which is not really my intention. I share it not only as an explanation for my absence, but also in hopes that it might help someone else who like me doesn’t see a problem until it becomes life changing.

My neck and the limitations from the damage are what they are. I don’t expect to be able to do any rock climbing again and I can no longer hold my cello bow or do simple things such as moving hangers along the rack when shopping or blow drying my hair without resting when my hand spasms. The list is longer, but I won’t add to it here.

Additionally, there is always the chance that my right hand will go into spasm when driving the car for long and it can happen after only a few miles. While distracting, (think severe charlie horse in your hand) it becomes a big issue when driving a car with a manual transmission like we have because pulling over is tough with only one working hand. I’ve found ways to hold the steering wheel so it puts less pressure on my neck and now it happens less often when I drive, but I’m never sure when it will occur.

I’ve also found ways to do some of other activities that were affected by the accident and have been trying to move forward, but last December when I realized that I was going to have to let go of the idea of ever being back to normal, I did go through a bit of grieving. Saying goodbye to things you enjoy because someone decided to drink and drive still makes me angry. People say, ” At least you were not killed or seriously injured … ” and yes, I am certainly grateful for that, but make no mistake this accident was caused by the selfish act of one person. It has had a lasting impact on my quality of life and I’m not over it!

In a few weeks I will be in America seeing my stateside family and friends and when I return I will be starting a 12 week course of treatment that has had good success with people suffering from PTSD. I had not heard of this type of therapy before the accident and I’m keen to try it.

EMDR : Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a fairly new, nontraditional form of psychotherapy that has been useful in treating post-tramatic stress disorder seen after military combat experiences, physical assault or car accidents.

According to WebMD,  it is sometimes used experimentally to treat:

  • Panic attacks
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions
  • Anxiety, such as discomfort with public speaking or dental procedues.

Knowing there is something I can do to try to eliminate the anxiety I feel as a passenger or  when driving, particularly when on two lane roads helps me feel more consistently positive again, which is my normal state. I will probably do an update on this subject sometime in the new year when I’ve had the recommended 12 sessions. Wish me luck and I promise not to abandon GOTJ without warning again. My plan for posting is to aim for two posts a week and go from there in frequency.

Thanks for still being there and please say hello in a comment if you feel like it.

37 thoughts on “Darkness Into Light

  1. I am sorry to hear about how your life has changed because of the accident and I hope the treatment will be a success. I know from experience (had a cancer diagnosis in January and a tough treatment package; they say it will not come back so I am lucky) how suddenly everything can become different and one´s sense of security severely shaken. Best wishes to you and I look forward to your upcoming posts.

    • Gracious Viktoria, I am so sorry you had to go though a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but I’m really pleased they got it all. How frightening for you. Having one’s security shaken certainly can spill over into other areas. I worry about things I can’t control in a more over the top way now than I used to and poor John has to give me a hug when he leaves the house even if he’s just going for a short walk because I worry about something happening to him. The first psychologist I saw talked about my being hyper vigilant especially when in the car and he basically told me I should work first on minding my own business on the road instead of noticing what others were doing in theirs. Not sure how I’m supposed to that when one needs to pay attention so as to be able to react. 🙂 I feel really good about the EMDR therapy and I’m looking forward to creating a new normal that feels better.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your accident and health challenges. At the same time, I’m glad you’re back to writing. It may be therapeutic, who knows? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  3. I believe it is perfectly “normal” to have the feelings you have. While reading your post I was feeling the anger building up in me….and it didn’t even happen to me! Bravo for your courage in seeking new solutions. I am pleased to know you are going to continue your blog. Wishing you the very best!

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    That post took real guts and while I know it may not feel like it, it says to me that your innate mojo is bubbling determindly, if that is a real word, to the surface. I, and many others I know for certain, are always delighted to hear and share you the parts of your life you want to share.

    You should know that your thoughtful words last a long time and maybe have more legs than you give them all credit for. Two posts a week is a big jump from a standing start and I don’t want you thinking that if you don’t do that many for what ever reason, then you would be “failing”. Do *not* even go there!!

    Write what you can when you can (ha! A bit rich coming from me who has not written for ages for other reasons!!) and seriously? Trust, because I’m publically telling you so, that it’s great to hear from you whenever you choose to post, even if it’s a pic or two which are always beautiful.

    Best wishes for a nice recovery, at whatever speed, for comfy hands and a lovely relaxed state of mind. I am sure many a military and non-military person will be grateful for your insight into what it feels like to have PTSD.

    Well done, and thank you. X

    • Goodness me can it really be? Mariellen, it is so good to hear from you! I’d love for you to start writing again too or least send me an email and update me on what’s been happening with you. I will take to heart what you said about not being hard on myself if I only manage one post at first, but I do feel optimistic now that I’ve booked my first appointment to begin the EMDR therapy so well see how it goes.

  5. Thank you for your willingness to share this. But please remember, Perhaps it is in sharing your pain that you give the most. Keep writing.

    • Thank you, Steve. I hesitated to share initially due to the reasons I mentioned in my post especially when others live with more difficult situations, but I am so encouraged by the coming therapy and feel like there’s a strong possibility that I will be able to move on.

  6. Hi Elizabeth

    We are all the same, in one way or another, just with our own set of life stories. The reason I enjoyed ( and still will,) your blog, is because you show and tell about the everyday, the
    ordinary, the beautiful. Just look at this photo! Gorgeous. I always feel good after reading your blog. It is no desire of mine to read about the Kardashians, I love reading about Cornwall and the village life, the rain and your front door. You and John. You seem like normal people in a busy world. That is why it is easy and enjoyable to read your blog, much better to read than about the junk status my president is putting my country into.
    All the best with the treatment, I really hope you will soon see an improvement in your quality of life again.
    Liza

    • Hello Liza,
      Thanks so much for sharing with me what you like about my blog posts. It means a lot to me. I was serious when I said I had reached a point where I spent too much time wondering why would anyone be interested in reading about my life with John or any of the other things I would regularly think and write about. So you can see how sharing what you like makes a difference. I think perhaps blogging felt a bit frivolous and self absorbed although not on the Kardashian level. I don’t know how it is going to go yet getting back to it, but I’m going to work at it and see what happens.

  7. Dear Elizabeth, I had really missed you, hoping you were ok, but alas you truly have been suffering. Thank you for sharing, as difficult as it was to be honest about the whole situation. My thoughts will be with you for improvement, success with the treatment program. Safe journey & blessings on your US trip. Your thoughts, journeys, photos are always a pleasure or thought-provoking whenever they come.
    Kalamazoo Sue

    • Hi Sue, I’m really sorry I just dropped out of site and you are sweet to have been concerned. Because I have what I think of as a bounce back personality, the isolating and withdrawing changes to my normal routines slipped up on me before I realized what was happening. My way of dealing with difficult issues in the past has been pretty much the same pattern for years. I spend a couple of days muddling through my emotions around an event or topic and then I find a way to move forward. Staying stuck is not a characteristic people would associate with me. I tend to be very decisive. I’ll say more about how and why i think the accident affected me as it did in a post later on.

  8. Elizabeth – SO very glad to see your words again. Yours was the first blog many years ago that prompted me to enjoy blogging myself (now a few projects down the road since). I continue to enjoy seeing your photos, your thoughts and your ongoing journey as it continues to unfold. You are a very real and gifted person who lives bravely and truthfully and I think those who come across your blog appreciate and gain something from reading your posts. I wish you well in your recovery and look forward to continuing to be a faithful member of your blog tribe 🙂

    • Aww … thank you, Lindy for your kind words about my writing, my photography and me. I do my best to live fully and not get lost in the bad stuff so this caught me off guard. I had to confront a few fairly fixed ideas about myself, issues of control and death and dying and it was not an easy process. I’m already planning the next couple of posts so watch this site and thanks again for hanging in there.

  9. So glad you shared what is going on in your life. I am sure that was difficult to do but perhaps somewhat therapeutic also. Although I didn’t suffer injuries like yours, a guy t-boned me and threw me into a telephone pole several years ago. I still am hyper vigilant and just about freak out if I see a car coming fast toward a street I am traveling on. My husband tells me I am more likely to have an accident when I freeze up like that, but I seem to have little control over it. It took away my pleasure in driving and took me a long time to get my wee lads in the car to go anywhere with me. I am interested to see how your therapy works. Praying for a good outcome for you. You already know how much I love your photos and stories about life in your part of the world and hope you continue to share that with us all! Love and hugs to you my sweet friend!

    • Rita, you are such a sweetie and I’m glad Facebook has helped us maintain a connection albeit somewhat sparse from me over last few years. I know exactly what you mean about losing the pleasure in driving and seeing danger at every turn. ( okay, the danger at every turn is how I tend to feel ) but I’ll bet you know what I mean. I will definitely keep you posted on the EMDR therapy, I’m hoping for good results.

      I also want to say that you are an example of how one can change a bad memory into something better. Thank you again for responding to my blog post as you did in 2010. Evansville Indiana may always have painful memories associated with it, but it has looked better for the last six years thanks to your kindness. https://giftsofthejourney.com/2010/08/11/welcoming-rita-from-evansville-indiana/

      Big hugs and love back, xo.

  10. I’m sorry to hear about this! I can sympathise somewhat — I’ve had a wrist problem since 2013 that has affected my music and numerous other things involving hands, and for the past few week I’ve also had some kind of trapped nerve problem in my neck that I can’t get rid of, leading to pins and needles and nausea that can be quite debilitating, though I’m hoping this is only a short-term problem. I’m sending you many good vibes and I hope that you manage to find some peace and a solution to the physical limitations soon. I had wondered where you’d got to, but please don’t take that as pressure to post if you don’t feel up to it, because I’m not going anywhere. 🙂

    • Miriam Joy, I remember you! Congrats on your return to Cambridge and your non official, not allowed part-time cat. 🙂 Sorry to hear about your hands, at first my GP thought my numbness and pins and needles symptoms might be carpal tunnel though the hand spasms seem to confuse him a bit. After his exam, he decided that my symptoms were not related to CT and sent me for an MRI. The MRI of my neck showed the disc problem so you might want to look into that for yourself. Thanks for staying with me and I hope you get some pain relief soon. 🙂

      • I’ll bear that all in mind! I had an MRI a couple of years back because of other, unrelated pins and needles, but I don’t think they looked at my neck. I mostly know what’s wrong with my wrists and just can’t fix it, but the neck is more of a mystery.

        Haha, yes, although Nellie is currently sulking at me because I put her outside while she was trying to have a nap yesterday (my mum had arrived and she’s allergic to cats). So she hasn’t visited me today 😦 Hopefully she’ll forgive me soon!

  11. Elizabeth, your posts and photographs have been such gifts for me, and I have missed your blog during the past several months. May the new course of therapy bring you the best possible outcome.

    • Thanks, Barbara. I really appreciate hearing that. It makes a difference knowing my words and photos matter when questioning whether to continue. Fingers crossed on the therapy, I’m wildly optimistic!

  12. So sorry to hear that you are still suffering the effects from your accident. I hope you have a relaxing visit back to the US. Glad you are back to writing. I did miss your musings and pictures!

  13. Thank you for sharing your life on here and I hope your treatment is a success. I’ve come to the conclusion that people write and read blogs in order to share in our human experiences as we all navigate our way through life, picking up bits and pieces of wisdom, laughter and observance of human nature. And when one writes so eloquently and from the heart, as you do, it makes the experience that much more life-affirming! I look forward to more!

    • You made me get a bit teary with your sweet comment, Angela. Thank you so much for that. I like what you said about sharing our human experience and you are so right. It’s easy to be filled with self doubt even during the best of times and the accident, with all the accompanying changes just tipped me over into a dark place. I’m glad I decided to share that. I like to write about what’s real here, the bitter and the sweet and it was time to either speak up on GOTJ or say goodbye to the blog. Thanks for your support.

  14. Hello dear Elizabeth,
    It is such a treat having you reappear, even though your reasons for disappearing are very intense and sad. I discovered your blog some months ago, while googling on Cornwall. And I read the entire blog from beginning to end in one session!
    Like you, I am an american expatriate, but, I live in Germany. Please don’t put too much pressure on yourself by announcing how often you plan to post. Just let things unfold gently, on this pathway of your life. Who knows what you may discover and learn along the way? I am sure the LOVE in your life will keep you comforted and supported as you rebuild your life into something new with a renewed sense of purpose and perhaps quality?!
    Looking forward to getting to know you in this virtual world.
    My best, Susanne

  15. So nice to see you pop up in my feed today. I’m so sorry for the things you’ve been through, and hoping that your trip to the states is wonderful and that the new treatment helps you. Happy to hear your voice again and look forward to more.

  16. Wow, had no idea that you were having such severe and chronic health issues from your accident. Truly miss your blog, and always wondered why you were writing so infrequently.
    I hope you are able to overcome your fears to a great extent, and regain your health. If you have not already explored this option, see if you can find someone who does both chiropractics and sports medicine. I go to one here who is a true healer.
    Have greatly enjoyed our conversations over the years. It has helped bring me a good measure of healing over the sorrow that entwines us.

    • Hi Paul, You’ve been on my mind lately so it’s especially good to see your message.Thanks for thinking of me with regard to chiropractic possibilities. I have a funny or in this case, a not so funny thing happening when I turn my head a certain way and I’m not sure a chiropractor would want to touch my neck. As for the healing aspect, I had a massage therapist once who gently pointed me in the direction of someone who helped me through some difficult emotional times and I’m pleased you have found someone who does that for you too. I need to send you a message off line but have intermitant internet access right now. If you don’t hear from me by the end of next week, please shoot me a reminder.

  17. Hi, Elizabeth,

    It was so good to see a post from you (thank you for not hitting Delete)! I was indeed wondering what had caused you to step back from the blog. The challenges you’ve been coping with are considerable, and I hope you are able to find some relief in the upcoming treatments.

    I do enjoy reading your posts, perhaps because we share a lot in common — women, 50-ish, mothers, New England ties, advocates for simplicity, etc. A play on the name, I consider your blog “gifts of the journAL.” Reading each post is like having a cup of tea with a friend: a warm and rewarding break in the day. I look forward to our visits again.

    Two posts per week seems an awfully ambitious target; don’t ask too much of yourself, especially at the start.

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