Stormy Days & Liminal Spaces

I suppose this is becoming more like a journal than anything. I went from Tumblr to this, so there are a lot of things I’ve compiled into a Scrivener document that I’ll need to update now. This is annoyingly common for me though. I tend to scatter things all over the place, but my brain is always scattered. I’ll feel safer at one point on a platform I barely use, and then when things get a bit better, I’ll move back to my more public blogs. I wonder if being this scattered is a result of ADHD or something common with other trauma survivors.

I may add past entries to this blog as private and back-dated. Not sure yet. Some are really… telling of my mental state at the time, so they may never become public.

Either way, today, it’s stormy skies again. Both in my head and outside. I think rainy and stormy days always had an effect on my mental health in the past, but never to the degree they do now. Not unless I was in crisis, anyway. Ever since PTSD hit me hard last year, it seems it’s here to stay as it is in it’s worst form, so I just let myself sink into it on the days it decides to drag me down.

One thing I learned from a very close friend as well as in therapy, is that it’s better to just let the feelings be rather than fight them. Fighting what you feel is only going to make it fight back, and then it’s just going to draw out and become a lot worse. Of course, that’s not to say there won’t be a point where you need to come out of it. It’s not good to let it rule over you and become your whole identity. The metaphorical storms do pass just the same as literal storms do, so it’s a matter of waiting it out sometimes.

I find that delving more into horror, especially Japanese horror and psychological horror, around this time helps me ride out the dark days. Horror has always been comforting for me, but there’s something about the more ‘calm’ horror genres that crawl into your head, or that use subtlety as the vehicle for scares. I think it’s because it feels very close to home.

When my symptoms come on at their strongest, horror seems to be the only thing I can relate to, in a sense. It feels familiar and like home because the ‘calm horror’ stuff is very close to my own headspace and what I experience internally. Sometimes externally. Especially in dreams. I’ve seen a few things over the years that look exactly like my chronic nightmares, so I’ll share some of them here.

Clive Barker’s Undying is a game I started playing again recently after a lot of years away. The house and the murky colors, as well as the strange, gigantic dreamlike rooms, are such a personal dream-feel.

Morrowind also has that murky, dreamlike feel to me. It was actually so uncanny to what I experience in my moods and dreams, that when I first played it years ago, I dissociated and ended up on the couch trying to ride out a derealization episode. It’s really bizarre what certain imagery can do to your brain when you’re a trauma survivor with chronic nightmares. And I think I know why these images have that effect.

They have the same feeling as popular liminal space photos, and many older PC games from the 90s have a lot of liminal spaces in them. After becoming too familiar with — and spending too much time in — the traumacore tag on Tumblr, which I won’t link due to the heavily triggering nature of it, I noticed a crossover between the two things. A lot of traumacore and liminal stuff on Tumblr is from the early 2000s, but as a late 80s baby and 90s kid, I can relate a lot more to the images with an early 90s feel to them. This is because, for some, trauma happened in early childhood and the things we used to cope, some of it being related to early technology like 90s computer games, sticks in our memory with the moods of the time.

It’s why nostalgia can have a sickly feel to it for trauma survivors. Away from the mundane daytime, evenings, sunsets, and night-times harbored many bad memories for a lot of us who dealt with early trauma. This is why many traumacore and liminal space images are from captures at night with a bad flash camera, in the evening, or around a time I discovered a beautifully haunting word for; the gloaming.

I know it’s not the best idea to dwell on that sort of thing for any length of time, nor is it really helpful to get lost in photos depicting derealization, old liminal space photos that trigger nostalgia, or dream-like spaces similar to my chronic nightmares, but it feels familiar. Comforting. Like home.

I’ve written about my PTSD otherworlds in a different entry here, and this is just another one, although it’s more visible to anyone who seeks it out. There’s something comforting about seeing a collective of people who just ‘get’ what these seemingly drab and old photos mean. They probably don’t have the same effect on others who haven’t been traumatized, but it’s so strange to also see images of places I’ve actually dreamed about. To see so many people under the same images claiming they’ve dreamed about those places too, or have visited them in a lost memory, creates a sense of belonging that many traumatized people feel they are without.

And then there are days like today, when everything is painted in gray and murky colors due to an approaching storm. It’s no wonder, upon further thought, that these days bring out this sort of headspace and trigger the PTSD stuff. The human brain is definitely a curious place, and it always fascinates me, even on my darkest days, to see just what our brains can do. The places they can take us. The things they can make us see.

It’s frightening. Otherworldly. Strange. Indescribable. But it’s where my brain calls home, so I weather my own storm until the real ones pass.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

All images sourced; click them to reveal originals.

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