Post-Traumatic SPARKLE

Everyone has heard of PTSD. But not everyone had heard of PTSS (most probably because I literally just made it up!).

On my email signature I describe myself as a ‘mental health blogger of post-traumatic sparkle’ @summerstartstoshine etc, and ”PTSS’ is the new phenomenon that I totally just made up, which is essentially a fancier and sparklier way of describing post-traumatic growth.

PTSS is post-traumatic-sparkle syndrome :)

I think I have this. I invented it 😉

I’m a person who believes in post-traumatic GROWTH, as well as post-traumatic stress.

Since the box of horrors opened in my subconscious mind, making my traumatic memories conscious and very much out there, I have suffered one hell of a lot of post-traumatic STRESS. I have experienced many other mental health-ish things beginning with the letter ‘S’ besides stress.

Suicide (ideation, preoccupation, attempts.)

Self-harm (to relieve tension enough to deal with the above.)

Silence and shunning (when I accused my perpetrators of their crimes and they responded with rejection.)

All of those things are awful things for anyone to deal with and cope with, but a relatively new thing to come out of my trauma is something which is really quite fabulous is……S.P.A.R.K.L.E.

People who are early on in their post-traumatic healing will most probably get annoyed at me for saying there is anything at all sparkly or growth oriented about living with the psychological and physical effects of a traumatic history, but please reserve judgement till you’ve the post.

I hear you. I know what trauma does to you. I know all of the awfulness of it first hand. I am not a trauma victim who hasn’t suffered, believe me. I would NEVER minimise trauma. And a couple of years ago I would have scoffed at the concept of post-traumatic sparkling, because I was so poorly back then, literally fighting for my life.

I nearly died and that wasn’t at all sparkly.

I have HATED my trauma history and everything about it almost as much as I hate the abhorrent people who did this to me.

I have lived trauma. I am shaped by it. I have hated and despised my past and have wanted to die because of it. In truth, some days, I still wish I could.

Wishing I could die is my NORMAL. But I made my no suicide attempt pact with my hubby, and I promise to stick to that always.

So my basic choice is, what the hell do I do with a life where I don’t really want to be here at all; chronically, strongly, and all the time? How do I tolerate living with a near constant death wish?

Well… answer is, I create meaning from it and purpose. I make lemonade from these sour face-pulling life lemons. I taste the lemon, but instead of spitting it out, I think these are the most perfectly awesomely designed ingredients to make the most zingiest most refreshing and most delicately and beautifully tasting lemonade EVER.

I want to create something GREAT out of something miserable.

I want to turn the evilest black to the purest and most innocent white.

In order for me to do that, I am having to learn to sparkle in whatever way I can. I am having to create something, when once there was nothing. There is no handbook for this. I’m carving out my own niche.

I have learned it is OK to shine, and the only people who have a vested interest in preventing me doing that are those who perpetrated those dreadful acts in the first place.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how survivors (including myself) often look towards others for permission to shine, because we are so used to having our inner light dimmed by very unshiny people. But the people who try and do that are, I believe, only doing it because they are stuck in their own darkness, so the only way they can feel any better about that is by dragging everyone else down to the murky depths with them.

Why do we need to be granted permission from others to shine? We are adults and can make our own decisions, right?

I’m having to make some important decisions myself lately about my future and how I choose to move forward. At every decision point I will aim to choose the sparkly way-(the PTSS way).

It really matters to me that I use my trauma and I own it.

I have assimilated trauma into my identity, but not in a victim way. I prefer to try and focus my attention on the positive aspects of my trauma history (on my better days when that is possible.)  I prefer to marvel at my own strength, rather than dwell on the extent I’m broken. I aim to live with a strong sense of survivor pride instilled into my character. I tell my story, because I am proud at what I was able to survive, and because I believe everyone should find their voice, if they want to find it and know it is there.

My intention is not to tell people my story so they say POOR YOU. I want them instead to say BRAVE YOU! I want people to know just how much a human is capable of tolerating without breaking. I want people to not take for granted the gift of safety. I want parents to know how precious their children are and what a privilege it is to care for and raise a child. I want people who are survivors to not feel limited by their history. I want it to be OK to share your truth without fear that people will back off if they know what happened and what exactly you endured.

I am gutted I was a victim, but I am proud of how much of a resilient survivor I am. I am proud of all of you too!

Please believe me when I say it IS possible to sparkle after trauma. It IS possible to use your pain and transform it into personal contributions you can make that benefit both individuals and wider society.

My trauma is what made me. Like hell am I gonna let it break me.

Without my traumatic history and motivation to help other survivors I wouldn’t be making the contributions to benefit others that I’m making now. Without my trauma I wouldn’t have the same drive and persistence and inner motivation. Without my own trauma experience, I wouldn’t know how on earth to support others going through similar difficulties. I’d have no mission- no purpose that means quite as much as this does.

Of course I wish what happened hadn’t happened. Of course! But it has happened. And I will make good from it.

I suggest to all survivors that we try and retain hope and faith that we can come back from what happened to us, stronger and fighting. If not now, eventually.

I give that message to myself too, hoping I remember this on my low days when everything gets on top of me and I find it almost impossible to believe the words I’m typing now.

I’m healing, but I’m not healed yet.

I’m broken, but my repair WILL happen.

I’m ok today. Tomorrow is a mystery. My personal hell is behind me.

I’ll be alright. That stuff is over now.

It is time for summer to shine.

Here are some happy summery images I found on tumblr… 😊

SummerSHINES ©






I have put off writing this blog post. It isn’t really like me to procrastinate over anything actually so it is always strange when this type of situation arises.

If I avoid writing about something it can be for a variety of reasons….sometimes it’s because the topic is plain painful, sometimes it’s that I’m too ashamed or embarrassed, and sometimes it’s just that I want to keep something private because it matters so damn much to me, and I want to keep it close to my heart for a little while before I put it out there for people to pick at; like the crumbs thrown to the pigeons on Trafalgar square.

A blogger gains a lot from blogging and it is an immensely rewarding activity, which is why so many do it, but there is a loss, and that loss is privacy.

Exposure is……..exposing.

Your thoughts, feelings, memories and private perceptions become public fodder to be chewed over, reflected on, dissected and sometimes (if you’re fortunate) LOVED by those who read our words.

Bloggers share ourselves bravely with humanity.

Absolutely ANYONE can read my blog.

Anyone can like it, not like it, warm to it, or cool off from it, and I have absolutely no influence over that.

I also don’t know who actually reads it, despite the stats telling me number of mouse clicks on each page and post. The only people I know who read summer starts to shine are those that leave blog comments. Even those that click ‘like’, haven’t necessarily read a post. Maybe they are just being cyber friendly, or playing the tactical game of I’ll like your post if you like mine.

I don’t do “like trading”. Call me old fashioned honest, but I don’t click ‘like’ on any post of another blogger that I don’t really like. It’s prehistoric. I know ;) Shoot me.

I don’t have time for games these days. I’m an adult and badass.

Anyway, back to the point…..the reason for my ’embarrassment’ post yesterday is I am thinking a bit about this blog, and how it fits in with me increasingly taking an active role in media and fundraising volunteering for mental health charities, as well as me building up relationships and networking with various charitable organisations on a more professional footing.

Can you be both professional and bonkers?

I bloody hope so, as that’s my ultimate aim!

I want to integrate my bonkers into a package of utter professionalism and competence. I want to use my bonkers to support survivors of similar traumas to myself. I want to exploit my bonkersness and mine it so I have maximum empathy for those I want to help via my work (voluntary or paid). BUT if I want to be seen as professional, should I even be using the word “BONKERS” in my mental health blog?!

Is me labelling my issues as “bonkersness” wrong? Is ‘bonkers’ a unduly pejorative term, or a unduly stigmatising label to apply to myself? Does writing about my mental health conditions so openly, not under a pseudonym, sometime sharing blog photos, mean I’ll never find employment?…..ever? Will my open blogging about life with mental health shoot me in the foot and drag me down so that people perceive me as ‘less than’ the non-sharers? Will people judge? Will people turn off me in huge waves? Exactly how honest should I be, on my blog and beyond? Is my personality package of honesty and candid sharing as summerSHINES bad for my professional career prospects? If I continue to blog as I do, will I ever get a serious job that is commensurate with my educational background and skill-base? Will blogging mean no one ever pays proper attention to me? Will future employers read my blog and be shocked or put off? Will they wonder how I can appear so ‘normal’, yet write about my abnormality in such matter-of-fact, black-or-white, clear-as-crystal way?

Is my blog really the best introduction to me?!

Most people are judged based on how they appear when they are with you. So what about mental health bloggers who share how they feel when they are NOT with you? What about mental health bloggers who write about thorny topics such as their own suicidality? self-harm? the agony of depression? the out-of-control panic of anxiety attacks and traumatic flashbacks?

What about mental health bloggers who are quite kooky and have quite unusual senses of humour? [TOTES JUST ASKING ON BEHALF OF A FRIEND] ;P

OMG, do I really want to be read up on by important people who can make decisions about whether to work with me?

Well, I suppose the answer is, yeah, I just have to take that risk.

I LOVE blogging, so I can’t stop, no matter who reads it and how potentially important their judgement of me is (career wise).

I don’t want to make my blog private, as I like meeting new people via this blog.

So I suppose I just have to hold my breath, shut my eyes and keep on keeping on :)

I WILL keep sharing honestly, even if it makes me look crap.

My passionate drive is to reduce stigma for mental health patients and survivors of trauma. I would be an absolute hypocrite if I decided not to blog, just to prevent the risk of people judging my honesty in critical ways that turned them off me and harmed my career prospects.

If my career prospects are limited by blogging, I guess I will have to stomach it and continue with my efforts to change society.

As Marilyn Monroe said,

If you can’t take me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best.

So, on with my volunteering news, (the stuff I’ve avoided writing about for reason three, that it is special and I wanted to enjoy it privately for a bit first).

Apart from the parliamentary reception visit which is planned for next week, I am in talks with my local NHS mental health trust about joining the board as a service user and have some new contacts there. I am having a blog shared by the digital team at national Mind on Tuesday AND I have been invited to apply to become a trustee of a north-east victim charity, joining the board of totes important and intelligent people who steer the charity and make important decisions about how it is run, both now and in the future.

This is all FAB stuff :) I’m absolutely made up to be making some good progress, and really excited and enthused about these opportunities which are naturally opening up and unfolding in really lush directions!

This year I have worked really hard behind the scenes on my voluntary work, and believe me it is HARD work that has eaten up countless hours every day and week. I have not been receiving any payment in the bank for it, but I have approached it all conscientiously as though they are real jobs, because I want to do everything I attempt to the best of my ability. Finally that hard graft is paying off.

I am gaining amazing experience, am meeting some amazing people, and now I am finally getting somewhere.

Being asked to apply to be a victim charity trustee is a massively proud experience for me. I’ve felt totes emosh since I was asked as I appreciate the potential opportunity and what it involves SO MUCH.

This is exactly what I want to do, and I couldn’t be happier that the signs of promise are glinting in my ‘feeling-much-happier-than-I-was-a-month-ago’ eyes.


I think this week I have taken big strides forward, and to me it marks the final end of the depressive spell I’ve been in for some time. I am not depressed anymore. That episode has thankfully passed, and I’m becoming buoyant and enthused and inspired again.

I’m finding my inner sparkle and I won’t let anyone whatsoever dim my shine.

To everyone who has upset me lately, I forgive you, and I want you to know I’ve forgotten too. No hard feelings or grudges held on this side. It’s been a really tough period, but it is over now, and I’m on the up, travelling along my recovery path in a balanced way. No dizzying highs. No cavernous slumps or lows.

I’m settled, I’m strong, I’m confident I know where I’m headed, and I’m OK :)

I am now excited about the future again and that means a lot to me. I don’t always feel that positive. I have been chronically disillusioned and frustrated lately, but I’m returning to my former non-depressed self again, and it feels absolutely fucking FAB-U-LOUS!


with love from a very happy & shiny summerSHINES blogger who will continue to share my bonkers with the (virtual) world  X

Here are some moodles to finish off this post (doodles to match my mood).

Today, I am happy :)



The grounding process begins. I’m digging deep and securing my emotional roots again. Today has been blissfully easy and private. I have happily hidden, barring a few conversations with selected people of lushness. I needed that after two very special but also stimulating days with my bestie mate.

Escapism and grounding seem, on first appearance, to be goals that oppose one another, but to me, being a head-ish person who lives with my head up in the clouds and balancing on the top rung of the very tallest ladder, my emotional grounding comes via escape.

I’m an escapologist and a distractor. I’m someone who pursues goals in life like my life depends on it, and that’s because it does. Forward motion is my kind of motion. Back slides are to be avoided, or if they happen, I try and keep them brief, then I set the wheels in motion for the next BIG thing. I MUST keep moving forward.

I did something useful today, which I needed to do after the utter shitness of yesterday and the melancholic depressive suicidal hangover type phenomenon I was experiencing. I have put myself forward to do mental health talks to sixth form students about my mental health story. OUCH. That’s quite a bold move isn’t it! Yup. Quite scary and quite responsible and quite adult and very VERY crucially important. I want to feel like an important adult, instead of a struggling and floundering 35 year old child, and how I do that is by contributing positively in my community, via fundraising and speaking about mental health. I actively want to destigmatise mental health, and am more than happy to put my face forward as being someone who openly struggles with life with mental health disorders, because that is the only way young people will learn it is #OKTOSAY how they feel.

I’m wondering what the point is in exclusively trying to adjust adult attitudes. Adults think what they want to think about mental health and stigma is rife. Teenagers however are the adults of the future. They are the ones I want to get in there to speak to. After all, the older generation with the quaint/CRAP/insensitive attitudes and limited understanding of mental health will all eventually die off won’t they! They can take their mental health stigmatised attitudes of insensitive bullshittery to their graves. That is their choice and not my concern. I want to speak to the young people and influence them. Their minds are open and ready to learn and absorb good messages. I want to help people and make a positive difference to the lives of others and paint my summerSHINES mental health rainbow with a broad bristled brush, touching the inner worlds of many.

That is my escape. I think of death often. “You don’t want to die, you just want to escape” said my psychologist in last weeks suicidal-themed sesh. I replied that I very much DID want to die, but given that I can’t, I have to find some ingenious ways to creatively escape. As well as the positive things I try and do in my life that are constructive and make a meaningful contribution, I also like to escape in my head and into an alternate world where fantasy improves reality.

This morning I walked the dogs as usual with the usual view I have across to the sea, but I had an unusual thought. I felt strange, almost psychotic, but not, because I knew what I was seeing I wasn’t actually physically seeing. I was merely using my vivid fantastical imagination to improve reality and turn my inner shit into sparkly sunshine.

It started with the sight of a field of wheat, bleached in colour due to the atmospheric weather conditions earlier this morning. An expanse of pale toned crops meeting the steely grey sea, meeting the luminous sky. My eye fell on a grey smudge in the sky, representing a shower of rain falling out to sea. I love how living by the sea gives a sense of perspective. The puffins out there in their nesting colonies on the Farne islands would be getting a natural soaking, which I could easily imagine happening in my mind’s eye, yet I was inland, gazing out, bone dry and protected.

“What a brilliant metaphor for Borderline Personality Disorder” I said to myself in my head.

Today, on my walk, I could see the rain clouds and the blur of rain falling from them from afar. But yesterday, I was a puffin on the Farnes, getting DRENCHED in an all-day shower of emotion. I could not see dry land, nor could I imagine ever being dry again.

When I am suicidal, I think I will ALWAYS feel suicidal.

When I am happy, I think the happiness is forever too, though not with such conviction as the reverse. Imagining things could get worse, is far easier than imagining things ever getting better.

Today I had perspective. I visualised how yesterday I was rained on by a grey expanse of bitingly cold rain. Today I knew I was dry, and I felt relieved. I realised that someone out there today, well actually THOUSANDS (MILLIONS even?) are having their rain shower of epic crapness today while I am protected and dry. I felt thankful. I wished BPD allowed the benefit of an outer perspective to know my feelings will change and the storms will pass. but when there are so many storms daily, I get sick of being wet :(

Get wet. Dry off. Get wet again. It’s called living, except with BPD its more intense and vastly speeded up.

I wondered what my antidote could be next time I’m getting rained on like those puffins out to sea. What can I visualise?……This is what came to my mind.

I have a specific tree I walk under, which grows by the side of the country lane I walk along. I call it the pixie hollow tree, because I have watched Disney’s Tinkerbell FAR too many times with my girls. It looked like aa usual tree at first glance, but then I thought if I set my imagination to work I could make walking under that tree a different experience. What if the tree was producing golden mental health pixie dust that made everything all BADASS and SPARKLY and SHIMMERY? Yeah…..I like that idea :) And then what about if there is a waterfall cascading down off the top branch? except the water is rainbow coloured water, and every individual stripe of colour fixes one particular genre of mental health symptomology?!!! YAAY! I like that idea too! Red sorts out anger, orange- frustration, yellow- anxiety, pink- self-hate, green- negative comparisons, blue- depression, indigo-low self-esteem, violet-suicidality. Awesomeness!!

I was busy grinning inanely to myself when I spotted the Yorkshire couple in the distance (so named because they are a couple from Yorkshire). They were walking their dogs in the same direction as me but further up the road, and I thought that familiar sight I see could be jazzed up even more too to make it something beautifully escapist, so I turned the walking dogs into magical galloping unicorns with rainbow manes and imagined them becoming airborne and flying into the clouds, exactly where I wanted to be.

And then I thought…. maybe I am still hungover and sleep-deprived and need some strong coffee. :P



This post is titled comedia, because of how comical and cute I find the media (from what I’ve glimpsed so far from my two radio interviews).
In the olden days, if you were going to be interviewed for a radio piece, you’d physically travel to said studio, meet radio broadcaster humanoids, then they would ask questions and you would chat into microphones that looked like 70s haircuts.

In my inner dream world, I’d imagined my first steps into being interviewed on a radio programme would unroll something like a Radio 1 thing…where myself and the broadcaster types would have a great chat about the topic, interspersing the serious stuff with HILARIOUS rapport-generating bants (banter for the golden oldies)… and it would all be laughing and hair tossing and sipping tea made by the tea boy. 
Now that vision wasn’t going to play out today  because of the subject matter. Today’s topic for discussion was very serious and can’t get more serious, so I had to respect the topic and be serious and also as natural as possible. I cannot say anything more as it is still under embargo till tomorrow 🙊🙊🙊 lips tight shut … but what I can say that being on the radio was not what I initially expected 😂.. though very quaint and very sweet and a LOT of fun 😊

Firstly I did not go to the radio station. As was the same with my first interview, which was by Skype on my sofa.

I had approximately 44 minutes notice today before the 3pm deadline given by the local radio station…in order to download a voice recording app to my Samsung in a mild panic, write a few sketchy word prompts, and then sit cross legged on my bed talking into my phone like an air traffic controller, answering two questions which were emailed to me, via the charity, on my Yahoo…all the while imagining this will be broadcast… (which is BONKERS!)

I found this all really comical and quite surreal.

This had been my dream of radio….

And this was how it happened…

Why does everyone hate their voice 😂😂

I’m definitely not complaining, and was delighted to be asked believe ne :) It was just a tad surreal, to imagine me chatting in my room into the microphone of my Samsung galaxy is going to become something edited then transmitted on the real-life wireless!

The previous interview I did has been edited, but not yet broadcast, so these radio bits from today will be my first radio bits that are going to be broadcast, which makes me pretty damn proud :) 
I’m tired now so too shattered to blog further, but I’ll be back with more on this tomorrow when I’m allowed to talk about things that were previously confidential 🙊 

And also I might be back tomorrow with some doodles of old fashioned microphones that resemble 70’s haircuts cuts 😂

With love to my followers and readers always 


Night peeps 😘


This is a blog about post-traumatic SHINE. Post-traumatic shine is my word for post-traumatic growth….Post-traumatic growth is actually “a thing”…. It is a proven thing that psychologists have written about in psychological texts for a considerable length of time. One day, when I’m less busy, I’ll research it myself and write a decent post on it-afterall, it is the underlying concept that this blog is based on. The post will be called…”What the psychologists said” or something else equally scholarly.

I am a psychology graduate twice over, but now an essentially normal person. A stay at home mum, a blogger. I don’t have access to university libraries any longer…though I wish I did.

You just have to take my word on it for now though when I say “POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH” is an actual bona fide psychologically-proven thing.

Much is written about post-traumatic STRESS, in the context of PTSD, and I agree PTSD very much exists, as I experience it and write about it a lot…but post-traumatic growth by contrast is somewhat neglected in the media or popular self-help psycho babble books.

It is far easier to notice distress than triumph. It is far more salient to spot suffering than strength. It is far more compelling to notice those who have their whole lives ruined by something, than those who have shit beginnings then go on to achieve things of epic amazingness (which they were unlikely to have had the drive to pursue without the sculpting of trauma leaving it’s imprints on their psyche).

The trouble is, once someone has a psychiatric label around their neck (or two or three), people are inclined to stop perceiving you as a graceful eagle and far MORE likely to perceive you as a useless waddling dirty pigeon.

And quite frankly, as someone with BPD and PTSD who is now functioning better and doing better and feeling better and achieving better than I ever have since I was gifted with these labels, I really wish people would STOP perceiving me as a useless scruffy pigeon tied with chains to the ground, when I am really a graceful, soon to be high-flying eagle, soaring into the sky with ease and skilfully hovering there.

“I’m not a pigeon. I’m an eagle. DEAL WITH IT”, I wanna say to any doubters.

Before you leave angry comments, I am NOT saying people with mental illness are pigeons [!!!] It’s a simplistic metaphor for the purposes of this blog post to differentiate between those who are currently struggling, compared with those who are currently or soon-to-be soaring, after a period of psychiatric illness/breakdown/trauma.

Stop trying to keep me chained to the ground when I know I’m taking flight and flying higher and higher as time unfolds.

Stop limiting me with your post-traumatic stress notions please people, when my personal belief is in post-traumatic growth.

When I write, I write about the whole picture. I write when I’m having a fed up moany moment. I write when I’m having a triumphant, fabulous moment, and I write when I feel floaty, numb and completely dissociated from my surroundings. I write when I’m sad, happy, up, down, turning around and doing the hokey cokey, because that’s what [BLOGGING] is all about.

If I’m having a pigeon ‘moment’ and I write about a struggle scenario (a snap-shot of time), that does not make me a pigeon. You are treating a verb as a noun.

Sometimes I pigeon (verb- “to pigeon”)


But I am not “a pigeon” (noun- a type of street dwelling crumb eating essentially useless and greedy bird). (Again, I am NOT saying people with mental health conditions are greedy, eat crumbs off the street and are utterly useless. IT’S A CLUMSY METAPHOR! OK]

The way I feel, certain people (a handful), are still seeing me as the pigeon I once was, and not revising their perception to include the potential of me taking flight and becoming a post-traumatic shining high-flying eagle.


Pigeons CAN become eagles. Just like eagles can become pigeons, given the right cocktail of adverse life experiences.


Maybe it takes a while for people to notice the survivor bird in front of them, which is changing and morphing from one type into the other. OR maybe people like the concept you will always stay a pigeon, because that makes them feel better about how they’re struggling themselves.

Two pigeons can become friends-united by their mutual struggles, but the discord begins when one bird becomes more eagle-like and strong, and the other does not. Sometimes people who are pals with another pigeon have a vested interest in that pigeon pal staying a pigeon so they can be pigeon pals living on pigeon street. But what if one of those pigeons quite fancies life as an eagle, with other eagle types, flying high where eagles meet?


Nice pigeons are happy when their pigeon pals start hanging out where eagles meet, favouring that over pigeon street. Occasionally though you will meet a grumpy pigeon who wants you to keep them company on pigeon street forever. They don’t want any growing or wing spreading to happen on your part. They want you to remain a struggler.


I rebel against that. I won’t stay a struggler forever, just so the pigeons aren’t lonely. Sometimes I will pigeon (a verb-to pigeon) but I am not a pigeon (noun) anymore.

I am an eagle committed to enhancing my personal strength and personal development and post-traumatic shine.  I will learn to fly and I won’t let my wings be clipped or chains to be attached round my ankles keeping me down to forage for psychological crumbs on pigeon street, when I know I am destined to fly where eagles meet!

Most people are happy about this post-traumatic change in me. I appreciate those that are.  Those that aren’t can ‘waddle on’ as far as I’m concerned.

I will spend time with the believers, the dreamers, the doers…and enjoy life where eagles meet. Fuck pigeon street. I hung out there way too long.


This is my time to shine- to post-traumatically grow, and I won’t let any grumpy pigeons clip my eagle’s survivor wings.