I am pretty sure by this point, almost everyone has heard about the new movie Jurassic World. I’ve heard almost everyone I know (that is under the age of 55) talk about it in some capacity, and it’s even made its way into our Kemetic Fandom over on Tumblr. It’s so popular that it’s even made it into my workplace. I distinctly remember listening to my coworker talk about this movie last week, and referring to it as nothing more than, “A movie about dinosaurs eating people.”
You’re probably looking at the title of this post and wondering what the hell Jurassic World has to do with the astral or PTSD. And truth be told, that’s kind of the point. On the surface, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with PTSD or the astral. It’s “just a movie about dinosaurs eating people,” after all.
But that is the beauty of PTSD, triggers, and sketchy brain functioning. Sometimes the most tenuous of topics can set you off. Even movies that are about dinosaurs eating people.
Over the years I’ve tried to warn people about the dangers of jumping head first into the astral. I’ve tried to illustrate that the astral fucks with your brain a little bit, and that even those who have the best lives ever Over There can end up with a few mental quirks. And so you should be careful before you sign your life away to the astral bank because you never know what kind of mixed bag you’re going to be handed on arrival. You never know if the astral bank is going to charge you a 5 cent monthly fee or a $5,000 monthly fee, so you better make sure your pockets are deep enough to handle whatever comes your way.
I’ve talked about these “fees” and things like PTSD in abstract terms and hints and concepts, but I’ve never really laid it out in specifics before. I’ve never really sat down and talked to all of you about any one particular instance where my brain short circuited and I was left in a ball on the ground (it has happened a few times).
Today we’re going to talk about an incident more in-depth. If you don’t think you can handle discussion of a dinosaur movie causing a PTSD flare up, then you may want to skip this post. For the sake of those who haven’t seen the movie yet, I will be doing my best to ensure nothing overly specific is mentioned, so that nothing is spoiled. Please proceed beyond this paragraph at your own discretion.
The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t overly interested in seeing this movie. Dinosaurs are really not my jam, and I expected to spend two hours staring off at the wall out of boredom, not staring at the wall because looking at the movie screen was just too painful for me. I can’t even begin to express my own surprise and disgust that I felt towards myself when I realized that my mind was running itself through the ringer, and bringing up all of these images and sounds and feelings that had absolutely nothing to do with dinosaurs, especially given my sentiments about the movie on arrival.
The thing I’ve learned about having weird trigger moments over the years is that there is rarely one single thing that sets them off for me. There are times when I have been set off and I couldn’t tell you what exactly about the situation made my brain make a connection that caused me to be curled up on the floor. There seem to be some people who know exactly what their triggers are, but I don’t really seem to be one of those people (with only a few exceptions). There are times when I can see something and be okay, and then other times it sets me off; and who knows exactly why it happened as it did. All I know is that it caused something to snap inside of my head.
Jurassic World was no exception for me. I can’t tell if it was my connection to a species that had been wiped out, and was then brought back to life simply to be exploited and studied by foreign captors. I can’t tell if it was simply seeing dead or dying things that did it for me. Perhaps it was the volume of dead things that bothered me. Or maybe it was more about sound and ambiance, and maybe they used the right mixture of gun shots that made my brain snap. Maybe it was all of these things. Maybe it was something else entirely.
It can be frustrating not to know what exactly it is that caused my brain to slowly fracture and break into pieces, as I have no clue what to avoid in the future so that I don’t set myself off again. Do I need to start avoiding dinosaurs all together? What is it about this movie’s portrayal of violence that was so different than all of the other action movies I have seen? Do I need to be avoiding this director or soundtrack composer instead? What exactly caused this?
Not knowing what exactly caused this to happen made me feel even worse as I closed my eyes and watched the gunfire through my eyelids, because all I could then hear in the back of my head was my coworker chiding this movie for being nothing more than “dinosaurs eating people.” Nobody else in the theater was having problems. No one else was crying because dinosaurs. (I used dinosaurs because I didn’t really know what was causing this reaction). And all I could think to do is waffle between “This is all I see Over There” (‘this’ referring to violence and death) and “How the hell can you be so stupid to get upset over dinosaurs?!”.
Going through such an episode was a very surreal experience. In a way, my brain felt like a cacophony of thoughts and senses. On one hand, I was caught in the past, inside of memories of standing amongst a sea of dead people. Feeling blood dripping down my hands and the dirt under my finger nails. The drag of dirty hands across sweaty and dirty hair as I tried to calm the person dieing on the ground. I was caught in the smell of death and the unnerving silence that falls after the guns quit shooting. It’s like you’re simultaneously caught in the middle of the past, wallowing in the hell that your brain is putting you through, but at the same time, I could hear the very logical and reasoned parts of myself trying to tell me that this is just a movie, it’s fake, it’s not real. I could hear parts of me trying to calm myself down. And at the same time, I could also hear my very chastising self getting irate over the fact that I was “freaking out over dinosaurs”.
The other thing worth mentioning is that sometimes there were no overwhelming visuals that coincided with my meltdown. Sometimes I would close my eyes and simply see black. But that didn’t stop my body from tensing and tightening up as though I was in the middle of a war zone trying to stay alive. You don’t always need to see something, apparently, to experience it all the same. I think this is particularly worth noting because there are many times when I wake up and don’t consciously remember a single thing I did Over There. But it would seem that even though I am not consciously remembering things, that doesn’t mean my body isn’t still taking notes for me. I’ve brought up the fact that bodies are like libraries and indexes of what we experience throughout our life, and this can include things you don’t remember. Repressed memories and experiences that lay dormant in your brain meats can be brought back to life if the right buttons are pushed. And if I wasn’t punishing myself for getting worked up over dinosaurs, I was punishing myself for getting worked up over memories I can barely even recollect or see.
For those who have never had the pleasure of experiencing something like this, the end result is a complete and utter depletion of your energy. My hands were rather numb. I was shaking and couldn’t find a way to stop. My stomach was so upset that I was on the verge of vomiting (something that rarely happens). I can only imagine what everyone else in the theater thought about the weird chick who “cried over dinosaurs.” And when I was asked about it by the person I had gone to the movie with, the first thing I could bring myself to utter was “You’re going to think I’m incredibly stupid.” (btw, they did not think I was stupid).
The thing is, PTSD doesn’t give a shit about what sets it off. Your brain doesn’t care if it’s dinosaurs, or crabs, or penguins, or eggs. Sometimes it’s a smell or a song. Other times its a facial expression or the way someone’s hair lays that day. It can be literally anything, and it isn’t always consistent. It’s not logical, and that’s the point. When brains break, they lose their ability to be 110% logical. The whole take home message of mental illness is that it is out of your control, and falls outside of the realm of logic.
When you read people warning you about going onto the astral because you never know what will happen to you, we’re warning you because of moments like this. Imagine yourself going to a movie and freaking out to the point that you’re barely able to keep it together until it’s over. Imagine if you’re with friends or family, and can’t explain to them why you’re freaking out, because if they knew that you were caught up in some sort of war zone in another plane of existence, they’d look at you like you needed a padded room and medication. Even if you go by yourself, imagine having to coast past the fact that “yeah, that movie gave me a mental breakdown so I don’t want to talk about it” when someone asks you if you liked the movie. Yeah, you can just brush it off, but it can be challenging to do that when the mere thought of the movie brings all of the memories of your episode back to the forefront of your mind.
The worst part about setting up an account with the astral bank is this: even if you aren’t sure if all of this is real, the astral will prove to be real in very real ways.
Even if I’m just playing around in my head, the breakdown that I had this past weekend was very very real. It can’t be denied. It manifested in such a way that I was physically ill and it left me pretty useless for quite a few hours after it happened.
And what’s worse is that you will spend the entirety of your life being told directly and indirectly that you’re only traveling to garner attention from everyone else. That you’re delusional and making it up, that you need “help” and that you’re just trying to lord this over other people or use it as a power play. You will spend your life wondering if you’ve lost your mind, and plenty of people will gladly jump in to tell you just how not-sane you sound.
And despite that, you will have moments like this that are so real that it’s really hard to believe that you’re making it all up. Of course, you can’t really talk about those moments, because people will really begin to question your sanity because now it’s making you cry in the middle of a movie about fucking dinosaurs.
This is the trade off that Unseen travelers and workers have to deal with. When I tell people to please be careful, this is exactly why. This is what you’re possibly looking at for the rest of your life. You never know what lies on the other side of that door, and once you open it, there is no going back to who you were before. Sometimes you’ll walk through and nothing major happens, and it’s kittens and rainbows and life is great and the astral bank only charges you a .05 fee every month. But you’re also just as likely walking into the middle of hell and everything that you thought you were is going to change into something else completely foreign and the astral bank wants to charge you $5,000 a month, and you have to learn to contend with that.
No one seems to want to associate PTSD with astral, but I’m hear to tell you, you can only see so many people hurt and killed before it takes it’s toll on your mind. We all want to believe that the astral is only “sorta real”, but your brain doesn’t make that distinction even if you consciously try to do so.
For those out there who like to constantly remind everyone that “people who ‘travel’ to the astral are full of themselves and delusional”, I ask that you reconsider your stance, or learn to keep your stance to yourself. Even if the thought of traveling to the Unseen somehow seems too far fetched for you (even though you seemingly think that gods can be real), no one who does this kind of work is dumb enough to not know how crazy it all sounds. You’re not telling us anything we haven’t told ourselves.
For those of you who are considering astral travel as a “thing”, please consider heavily the price that you may have to pay if you are successful. Make sure it’s really worth it to you before you try to open that door.
And for those of you who are in the same boat as me, you have my sympathies and remember to take care of yourself, because I know how challenging this lot can be.