Posts Tagged ‘C-PTSD’

PTSD was embarrassing, demeaning and humiliating for me

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I understand the mechanism of PTSD, how trauma fires the fight or flight mechanism. How my childhood trauma, activated in mid 50’s, then manifested in an embarrassing, mundane way.

Knowing my father never said a kind word, used criticism as a way of raising me, explains some of my triggers.

My fight or flight mechanism was firing over ten times a day. Cortisol levels had to be extreme as my nervous system turned upside down.

I would shake uncontrollably, hiding in my dark garage during the day. Avoiding triggers narrowed life until I was agoraphobic.

Going out in public felt live threatening. However our trauma manifests itself, even in mundane things, it feels life threatening.

My father shamed and ridiculed me, I was branded internally.

PTSD fear feels like life and death. Along with the fear, our mind freezes, we feel numb, vulnerable, helpless.

I felt at my core, I did not have the right to be alive. This is difficult to write but true.

I knew this was highly erroneous and illogically, no real danger existed.

My nervous system disagreed. I feared what my mind would put me through after a strong trigger.

At least a week of ruminating about the incident, which was surely a confused memory with the scariest emotions possible.

The what if’s proliferated. The desire to avoid becomes stronger than the desire to go out.

At its core, it feels like survival, when in truth it is the opposite.

Much of this suffering could have been avoided, I did not have the correct tools or direction.

With the knowledge I have now, healing would of been a couple months instead of five plus years.

I tried to think my way out, be the strong jock I identified as. Common sense and talk do not reach our stored trauma, implicit memories.

Learning to focus, to explore my body sensations instead of traumas storyline, calmed my nervous system.

I simplified my entire approach.

I worked on one symptom, Dissociation. That meant letting all thoughts go.

All my effort was invested in being mindful, present, feeling every body sensation as I explored the inner world.

This post was hard to write, hard to admit how mundane my triggers were. Embarrassed at how they controlled my life and brought suffering.

Hope they give insight into your battle with PTSD.

Finally, I improved and have peace of mind and self worth and so can you.

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My relationship with my mind

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For sufferers of PTSD, the mind becomes an adversary. Its behavior drastically changes.

Out of my conscious influence, imminent danger proliferates, igniting my defense system, the fight or flight mechanism.

Fear dominated my life.

Symptoms complicate and confuse us. We avoid, deal with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and memories. We are hyper vigilant, on the look out for emotional triggers.

Now, my relationship with my mind has changed.

I made friends with my nervous system. Staying focused and present when my fight or flight mechanism fired, exposed the mirage of trauma.

My nervous system calmed.

Next the thoughts and patterns were an issue.

The solution was quite simple.

I watch my thoughts now.

Unworthy or negative thoughts fade.

If I choose to give attention to any thought, it will be constructive or at least interesting.

My mind has changed its habits.

I have learned to keep my mind focused in this moment.

I have found that, this moment is all that exists, whether it is mundane, exhilarating or scary.

I have only experienced happiness in the present moment.

I have worried and doubted in the present moment, but it was about the past or a prediction.

You improve by not thinking, not ruminating!

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How do we change, heal?

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Real change does not happen on its own.

A pivotal decision must be made.

Am I willing to take action?

All the reading, discussing, and contemplating is informative but lacks any chance of change.

Change, real change takes daily action!

This is the greatest challenge I see with people wanting to heal from PTSD.

Most will continue to suffer, somehow unable to take daily action.

What holds people back from taking action?

It takes courage, facing the unknown, being vulnerable in the face of incredible trauma fear.

What holds you back from dedicating 30 minutes a day toward change (healing)?

I started building my focus on my breath, trying to have three breaths free of thought.

I picked a small, specific, concrete action to invest in.

Something small, simple, bulletproof where I could see improvement.

Start small, gain confidence, invest all thought and energy into the activity.

Thoughts?

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Intrusive Thoughts and PTSD

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Intrusive thoughts were unknown to me until my trauma exploded one day during a family crisis.

It is like thoughts, emotionally terrifying thoughts, triggering thoughts, arriving at a rate similar to a gatlin gun firing.

My fight or flight mechanism would fire violently 15 times a day, because of these nasty thoughts, paralyzing me.

That cortisol dumped would light my solar plexus up enough to scare the hell out of me. That jolt was terrifying and intense, powerful in fact.

It sure felt like I was facing an imminent threat.

Now, healed, or much improved, the intrusive thoughts are still alive.

My nervous system is my friend now and does not fire unless a real threat appears.

This has given me the ability to discount, not letting these intrusive thoughts get an audience.

Without an audience thoughts wither and fade.

I use other focus tools when these thoughts arrive.

I touch my thumb with each finger, saying release, release, release, release, release.

My senses take over, sight gets total awareness first, then I listen intently, searching out sounds in an order of loudest first. Finding the lowest decibel sound in the room gives me a goal to focus on.

I feel my skin, register the temperature, then smell for any aromas.

Another tool is reciting my affirmation out loud, In this moment, right now, I feel my body overflowing with Kindness, Aprroval, and Safety.

When negative thoughts arrive, replace them with our focus tools, be prepared, practice when things are calm.

Thoughts needs attention to live.

Thinking is the opposite of what we should do when negativity or trauma arrives.

Extra credit: https://ptsdawayout.com/2018/05/24/this-is-known-as-dysregulated-arousal/

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Does wanting to be Happy take daily work, action?

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Ask anyone, Do you want to be happy. Of course. the overwhelming response will be an enthusiastic yes.

Next ask, What does happiness look like to you? That answer will be incorrect 95% of the time. True happiness is very elusive, hidden to us.

What are the physical and mental actions you take everyday to be happy?

Not many actions taken, the usual response.

Remember, one definition of happiness is being in harmony with our inner nature.

If I want to be in better shape, a plan is developed.

The way I eat changes, daily exercise routines are formulated.

I may research, inform myself better, raising my chances at success.

Matthew Ricard in “Happiness” says our goal in life is to be “Happy”.

I wholeheartedly endorse this view.

Happiness has nothing to do with chasing pleasure, or getting hooked on dopamine.

If happiness is harmony with our inner nature, what actions help me with my inner nature?

Affirmations, meditating, practicing awareness, entering a mundane task, letting negativity go, etc., are a few actions available.

Happiness is surrounded by gratitude, giving and humility!

Just wanting to be happy does not work.

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A few prerequisites for happiness

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First, we must have a worthy self image, a healthy ego. We must love (approve of) ourselves to be truly happy.

Our awareness must be focused in the present moment. Happiness does not exist in our memories or future predictions.

Desires and needs must be in perspective. To many needs or constant desire eliminates our chance for happiness.

Worry, doubt, Dissociation, fear etc. must be at a minimal.

When my PTSD was active and strong, being happy was impossible. Fear and anxiety stole much more than just my happiness.

If we have a disorder, we must take action or happiness will never visit us.

Happiness must be earned in spite of all the challenges we all face.

Happiness does not arrive easily or with half effort.

I believe we all can find happiness with practice.

It will look entirely different for some.

Extra credit: https://ptsdawayout.com/2017/03/14/ricard-happiness-2/

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Authentic Happiness

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“Authentic happiness is not linked to an activity; it is a state of being, a profound emotional balance struck by a subtle understanding of how the mind functions.

While ordinary pleasures are produced by contact with pleasant objects and end when that contact is broken, sukha (happiness) —lasting well-being—is felt so long as we remain in harmony with our inner nature.”

Matthew Ricard in his book “Happiness”

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My two cents: So long as we remain in harmony with our inner nature, seems to inform us pleasure objects, possessions, power, approval, or status are temporary imposters.

Being in harmony with our inner nature is the goal of our Meditating/Mindfulness practice.

For me, being in harmony happens when I am focused, aware of everything around me, observing without judgment, or maybe entering fully into a task.

The less I depend on possessions, power, approval and status, the better chance I have of being in harmony with my inner nature.

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Happiness seems elusive for most of us!

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Growing up being happy did not seem to be our goal. Being raised Catholic, I had responsibility to the church and God.

My parents demanded proper behavior at home, school and in public. Somehow out of this indoctrination and proper behavior, happiness would be attained.

Well that never worked out. I studied hard, accomplished a college degree, added seven years as a professional baseball player, before a successful working career, but lasting happiness was a complete stranger.

Now I knew possessions, accomplishments, power or approval were not connected with true happiness.

Happiness is hidden, in some of the simplest thing we do.

Hidden in the mundane, clouded by bias and thought, happiness eludes us.

Emotions lead us away from happiness. Try being angry and happy at the same time. Many emotions are connected to negative thought and judgment.

I have found peace and happiness inside mundane chores at times.

Happiness only exists in this current moment, so we need to be present first to enjoy.

Thought seems to chase away happiness for me.

There is a time to think but continuous thought like we get involved in, is destructive.

An example: I have found peace doing laundry.

My purpose: Make my grandkids look as good as possible.

How: Enter the chore completely. Each piece of clothing I pick up, receives total attention and energy. I feel like part of each piece of clothing when my focus is strong.

Time ceases, thoughts fade while a quiet calm envelopes me.

I have felt my nervous system dissipate all its anxiety and aggravation in this space.

Being totally present with laundry, has settled my being and brought a grounding, a smile to my being.

Is this a happy moment?

For me it has the correct elements.

We are Ever present while focused, observing and acting without thinking.

Happiness does occupy spaces like this.

Thoughts?

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Our Ego never feels Equal to another Ego

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We know scientifically that we create a fictitious identity (Ego) to navigate life.

I call my guy, Marty.

He is a combination of how my first caregivers raised me, how others treat me, how I see myself in this world, and a few other intangibles. He can adapt and change but not easily.

Every Ego desires to be special, desires to elevate his/her status in a myriad of ways.

Our Ego feigns and bluffs with a plethora of thoughts and emotions for control of our being.

All the Ego needs to do is get us thinking about emotional thoughts and judgments.

He/She does not need to convince us, just distract us to win control.

Get lost in thought and lose control, awareness.

Our Ego never feels equal to another Ego, thus creating this need to compete or hide.

Our Ego is out front and in control when we feel wronged, mistreated, disrespected, ridiculed or feel sorry for ourselves.

The other side, too much Ego, has facets of narcissism. This Ego desires adulation over all else.

This insecure Ego uses other Egos for their pleasure.

Next time you walk into a class, a meeting or a group, bring awareness to where your Ego thinks you fit in.

Can you feel your Ego ranking you in the group. One thru ten, where are you? Is your judgment correct?

If your ranked one, two or three, does this impact your Ego?

Would it make a difference if you were an expert in the group or a novice?

It sure would for me.

Can you be calm when your Ego feels like a novice, a little vulnerable?

How you respond will give you insight about your Egos strengths and weaknesses.

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Stuck Parts 3: From Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation:

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Fight Parts

Some angry parts are stuck in a fight defense against threat.

They have the explicit function of protecting the individual by means of fight responses, either toward other people or towards parts inside that in some way evoke a sense of threat.

Fight parts often believe that they are strong, have not been hurt, and are capable of carrying out strong aggressive reactions to perceived threat or disrespectful behavior.

Often they view themselves as a tough child or teenager or a large strong man.

Ashamed Parts

Shame is a major emotion that maintains dissociation.

Some parts of the personality are especially avoided and reviled because they hold experiences, feelings,or behaviors that you, or some part of you have labelled as shameful or disgusting.

You will need to be especially empathetic and accepting toward these parts of yourself.

A central problem for people who have a dissociative disorder is that parts of the personality avoid each other and their painful memories and experiences, or they tend to have strong conflicts with each other.

In the literature this has been described as phobia of dissociative parts.

Parts typically feel fearful, ashamed, or repulsed by other parts.

In particular dissociative parts that function in daily life want as little as possible to do with dissociative parts that are fixed in traumatic experiences.

Parts stuck in trauma-time often feel abandoned and neglected by the parts that try to move on without them in daily life.

These ongoing inner conflicts can be painful.and frightening, and they cost a person with a dissociative disorder a tremendous amount of energy.

As we said before, all parts need to learn to accept and cooperate with each other.

After all, in order to adapt and be our best, we must learn to accept ourselves and all our aspects.

Only in acknowledgment and accepting are we able to make positive changes in ourselves.

However we are aware that getting to know yourself and working more cooperatively internally can be a long difficult process.

You cannot expect yourself to immediately function differently when parts have spent a lifetime avoiding each other or are in conflict.

Please remember that you will need much patience and self acceptance in this work and go at your own pace.

Remember to be empathic and accepting of yourself as awhile person.

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