Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

Is PTSD our Mount Everest?

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A big emotional trauma buried immediately when it happened, enetered my consciousness 3 weeks ago. The power and intensity of ptsd had faded when I healed the first time 6 years ago.

 

My life had returned to a new normal, better than anytime in my life.

 

Three weeks ago that changed abruptly.

 

The skills I share as a mentor, did not deter the flooding of emotional terror and intrusive thoughts.

 

What I tell others, to let the storyline go, was near impossible as the images and storyline never stopped coming. PTSD wears us out emotionally and physically at first.

 

This is how overwhelming ptsd is in the beginning, and how all our effort seems to be worthless.

 

It feels like trauma has an infinite amount of power, maybe it will never end.

 

This is the critical time, when many give up.

 

Therapists have a term called the Window of Tolerance. It means our nervous system, our trauma is at an acceptable level for us to start healing.

 

It has taken me 3 weeks of intensive meditating, integrating and surrendering to these fears to attain my Window of Tolerance.

 

I may regress from time to time however enough of this trauma has been brought to present time, weakening my intrusive thoughts and body trauma.

 

This initial period is when most ptsd sufferers who take action, give up to soon.

 

My intrusive thoughts, my ego identifying with this trauma, made me a victim in this scenario.

 

Thinking was my downfall.

 

I powered my new PTSD for a couple weeks.

 

Never thought that could ever happen to me again with my skill set and experience.

 

My Ego feels humbled by its power and ability to bring suffering.

 

I felt permanent damage, a mirage created by traumatic fear.

 

We need to survive the initial barrage of overwhelming emotions and anxieties. We must endure to heal.

 

It is the road less traveled, the first mountain is arduous and seems it has no end.

 

 

It is a butte not Mount Everest. 

 

Our perception inside our head is flawed, unbearable fear grants ptsd unlimited power.

 

In reality, ptsd has a finite amount of stored trauma, we never know how much is there.

 

Having a mentor or a therapist in the beginning makes the journey much easier.

 

That is what this blog was created for.

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“Embarrassment: “Emotional Awareness” by Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama

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Embarrassment is an emotion, but it does not seem to have a universal signal. Some people, but not everyone, blush.

Very dark-skinned people blush, but you cannot see it. So, no signal.

Guilt and shame are very important, and different, emotions.

Guilt is about an action; shame is about who you are.

They do not have facial signals of their own; they pretty much look like sadness.

Maybe there is no signal because you do not want people to know that you’re guilty or ashamed.

However, most emotions have a signal, so that is one characteristic.

A second characteristic is that emotions can be triggered automatically in under a quarter of a second—very fast—totally opaque to consciousness.

And yet the appraisal that so quickly triggers an emotion can be very complex.

When you are driving a car and another car starts to veer in your direction, in a fraction of a second, you not only recognize the danger, but you evaluate how fast it is moving and make adjustments to your speed and the steering wheel, and you do that all without conscious consideration.

We have evolved a mechanism for dealing with sudden threats and yet now we live in a world where the threats are not always so sudden.

We may, therefore, overreact, because most of the time it is not a near-miss car accident, but we have a mechanism that can respond (hitting hands together) that fast.

So, automatic appraisal is the second characteristic.

Signal is the first.

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The emotional Brain has first dibs on incoming information

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From The Body Keeps the Score:

The emotional brain has first dibs on interpreting incoming information.

Sensory Information about the environment and body state received by the eyes, ears, touch, kinesthetic sense, etc., converges on the thalamus, where it is processed, and then passed on to the amygdala to interpret its emotional significance.

This occurs with lightning speed.

If a threat is detected the amygdala sends messages to the hypothalamus to secrete stress hormones to defend against that threat.

The neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux calls this “the low road.

The second neural pathway, the high road, runs from the thalamus, via the hippocampus and anterior cingulate, to the prefrontal cortex, the rational brain, for a conscious and much more refined interpretation.

This takes several microseconds longer.

If the interpretation of threat by the amygdala is too intense, and/or the filtering system from the higher areas of the brain are too weak, as often happens in PTSD, people lose control over automatic emergency responses, like prolonged startle or aggressive outbursts.

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Guinness a follower shares his journey

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“I came onto this blog the other day by accident.

I am 68, been under anti-depressants the past 35 years. I had heard of PTSD of which there is very little information in the USA. This was the first I had ever heard of C-PTSD.

I cried hard as I read your “symptoms” (I dont know of a better word) as it was exactly the words I could never find to describe the feelings that were part of the persecution complex my parents told me I had as a child.

I blocked my entire childhood, blaming myself for never fitting in.

I have taken the steps to start seeing a specialist, something I had given up on years ago as I was convinced it was me. Lots of parents get divorced. Why was I taking it so hard unless I wasnt strong.

I now have a better sense of what I am dealing with.

I dont feel alone anymore.”

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My two cents: Children still love parents that abuse them, substitute first caregivers are very, very rare. Our life collapses if we can not trust our caregivers, we learn to see life with danger even at home.

We blame ourselves for their lack of parenting skills, especially attaching in a positive and supportive way to that little boy/girl.

My childhood has few memories and all traumatic. At my age, I do not know why so much is not accessible.

Now, you have to reach a point where you stop thinking about your childhood.

The best way to relieve the suffering is to build your focus.

We have to calm the nervous system and learn to focus away from the constant storyline of unworthiness and fear running on that internal screen.

A trauma production that never tires of running over and over.

We need to first slow that train down, then work on switching it to a subconscious track.

Next learn to pay attention to where your mind focuses during the day.

Notice any patterns, any themes, any emotions or lack of any and do you get lost in the past or future?

Visualize a good size boulder in front of you. You are equipped with a big hammer and a chisel.

The boulder is PTSD, the tools your vehicle to slowly chisel away a little each day.

Some days feel terrible, some of those were my best healing days.

It is what we do when we feel the worst, that counts the most.

We practice when it is calm.

You do not play the World Series or the super bowl, the first game of the season.

Prepare and take action if you want to heal.

You will heal by not thinking about your childhood or your parents, only in therapy with a competent professional.

The thoughts will arrive on there own, how we deal with them decides our fate.

Happy hunting

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Looking back, my improvements always involved some extra pain that needed to be endured to move forward.

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Affirmation: In this moment right now, I feel my body overflowing with approval, safety and kindness

Record, repeat, use it to replace thoughts and unrest.

When intrusive thoughts arrive substitute saying your mantra.

Our mind can only handle one of these thoughts, the trauma one or our affirmation.

Change your self image this way.

I sat in a chair at the bathroom mirror, as I repeated that mantra, outloud over and over.

Awkward and uncomfortable does not approach my feelings in front of that mirror.

I persisted though knowing a reward would be waiting for my effort.

Looking back, my improvements all involved some extra pain that needed to be endured to move forward.

Limit the amount of time you spend in thought, in the past, in the center of worry and doubt.

When we are aware of what our mind focuses on, an opportunity, a choice appears for us.

We choose to get lost in thought or stay present with our developed skills.

We start to heal at this base level by choosing to recite our mantra, or concentrating on an object or distracting the mind to healthier places.

Choose to spend your time in the present moment doing something you are aware of.

Enter into the mundane chores. Discover the purpoas for doing something and then surrender to the good in the action.

I healed or improved not only from sitting in meditation for many hours, but from the application of being present with an awareness where my mind focused.

We can direct where the mind focuses its attention, maybe we could use this power to be happy.

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Childhood trauma alters our brain, our behavior, our relationship with trust

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Childhood abuse changes the development of the young mind.

Instead of normal caregiver attachments and supportive growth, an abused child has to focus on survival.

My adolescent brain feared my father, dominated my thoughts exclusively. Every action or situation throughout my childhood, I tried to not piss off my father.

While regular life was a blur, my mind focused entirely on the lethal threat my dad posed for my young, damaged ego.

When PTSD erupted at 55, my mind gave all focus to these intrusive thoughts. PTSD was more 24/7 than a trigger here and another tomorrow.

I guess it became a habit from my earliest memories.

Life seems to stop for me, trauma takes over, having only trauma thoughts in my consciousness, minute by minute.

How does PTSD enter your consciousness?

Is it there in the background, is it dormant then explodes or does it dominate your existence? Please share.

I know my friends think my total absorption into trauma is not normal.

People who have not suffered serious PTSD have no clue what terror this mental disorder causes.

How does PTSD impact your thoughts and minute by minute existence?

My childhood trauma dominated thought before it was integrated.

I knew my father well, had a whole childhood to understand his methods.

After my childhood was integrated, I thought healing was complete.

Last week a new trauma appeared hidden by my childhood trauma.

This new trauma did not involve my father and happened when I was 19.

This trauma is different than my dads abuse, involves a woman, betrayal and public humiliation in front of my peers.

Our childhood abuse renders us vulnerable to others abuse.

We have a difficult time with trust, relationships and have no idea how to pick a mate we can trust.

Love is a word we have no concept what it is.

When we are betrayed, it reinforces our childhood abuse, our perceived unworthiness. Betrayal arrives like emotional death, it destroys what little trust we could muster.

Our mates have no idea the extreme damage their behavior can cause us. Some do not care and for us a tragic selection we will pay a heavy toll.

My friends see my life and behavior through their normal childhood eyes.

They have no clue the atrocities I have endured and the fear that I live with or they would never talk or act like they do.

I have lost friends because of the harshness and insensitivity of their words. That is not past tense, I lost a dear friend this week because of their actions towards me.

They will never know how deeply they harm us.

At 68 my abuse still takes a toll.

They do damage as they condescend and belittle my PTSD.

Have you ever caused someone to get PTSD, or traumatized a mate.

Better check your behavior to your PTSD friends if you care for them.

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Traumatic Stress Disorder Fact Sheet

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From Sidran Institute: Traumatic Stress Education and Advocacy

Facts at a Glance

▪ An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

▪ An estimated 5 percent of Americans—more than 13 million people—have PTSD at any given time.

▪ Approximately 8.7 percent of all adults—1 of 13 people in this country—will develop PTSD during their lifetime.

▪ About 3.6% of adults in the United States suffer from PTSD during the course of a year.

▪ An estimated 1 out of 9 women will get PTSD at some time in their lives. Women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

Extreme Trauma and PTSD

▪ PTSD may develop following exposure to extreme trauma.

▪ Extreme trauma is a terrifying event or ordeal that includes actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence

▪ Exposure includes directly experienced or witnessing the trauma, learning about a close family or friend experiencing a violent or accidental event, or has experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of a traumatic event

The stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life including mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

My two cents: The other kind of PTSD not listed, is Complex PTSD.

Complex PTSD develops because of repeated traumas over a long period of time.

An entire childhood of abuse is more complex then a simple event.

For added harm, the mind is not develop when the abuse takes place.

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PTSD Distorts time

Harrison Ford may have gotten on the marquee ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ but the snake wranglers helped get him in and out of the Well of Souls safely. (Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM)

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People do not understand the mechanism of trauma, it’s abilty to bring a PTSD implicit memory back to life.

Sometimes a decades old memory can explode.

It feels like it just happened, strong emotions flow from our bodies.

Our fight or flight mechanism is likely activated.

Cortisol and adrenaline are secreted, bp, respiration and heart rate spike. Blood coagulants and opioids enter our system, preparing us for a lethal threat.

Tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills and the inability to think clearly increase our fear and anxiety.

Fight, flight or freeze are the usual choices we face in the present moment. The cortisol and adrenaline are secreted and felt in present time.

For our adrenal stress mechanism to fire, we sense imminent danger.

I have had friends laugh at me when a trigger exploded. We do not control what our PTSD erupts over.

It happens without our permission, when it decides and where.

If they only knew, how pissed off that made me.

I digress.

Cognitively, I understood my triggers were not dangerous however my nervous system thought it spotted a lethal threat.

I thought the threat was about my ego being extinguished.

Our PTSD fear resembles the scariest thing we dread. “In Raiders of the Lost Ark” it was a floor full of snakes.

Expect people to say ignorant, hurtful things at times to you. They can not fathom the degree of suffering and terror that is involved.

My sister told me to just get over it. My other brothers and sisters deny my reality entirely. Lots of dysfunctional things happening within an abusive family.

The healing path can be lonely at times with us being criticized by family and friends.

These are challenges that few realize or talk about.

On my path, I had to ignore the noise of others on top of dealing with the constant intrusive thoughts.

No way I could explain the fear and anxiety, PTSD brings to our being.

Words are useless, experiencing a nervous system turned upside down, erupting 15 times a day, can not be known with a description.

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Personal stuff about my abuse and the impact

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Throughout our childhood we had to deal with abuse along with being crammed into dense crowds called schools for years.

Life always seemed to be going so fast, everything I did, was calculated on how my dad would react. No matter if it was unpopular with my peers, pleasing my father was the most important thing in the world.

My life depended on it. He would beat me until he got to tired wielding that specially made paddle. I feared he would kill me one day.

My childhood is a blur to me, but one image explains the situation. Once a week we would have Lima beans for dinner. I could not eat them, every Thursday I puked those Lima beans, then my dad beat me.

I think this was to let me know, he did not need a reason to hurt me.

My dad’s desires became my desires as a survival strategy. Both my parents told me what I was going to be, a professional baseball player.

Being the first born, that violent, alcohic narcissist could concentrate all his focus on me. He was 17 when I was born, ending his high school career. My mom was younger.

You could ask me at 68, what I wanted to be and no answer arrives.

My father occupied my life, took over as much as he could control.

My attachments to caregivers was abusive and dysfunctional.

Next, College was overwhelming, I did not know how to live without that tyrant in the house. Unfortunately, his abused lived inside me for decades.

I was like an animal held in a cage for years, then liberated from the physical containment but haunted by the emotional prison.

My first attachment to a girl, ended with her drunk one night, used by a group at a fraternity house.

At 19, naive, confused and vulnerable, this event changed my life. It became a public event when the guys were bragging about this on that tiny campus.

Trust never again would be unconditional.

The rest of my life, when a girlfriend or a wife would go out at night, my nervous system would fire and that hopeless, helpless feeling would bring suffering.

The need to protect myself prevented me from trust at a certain level.

Love is something I felt once, in college until it was destroyed in a humiliating way.

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Living in the past with PTSD

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From Coping with Trauma Related dissociation.

” While the part of the personality that copes with daily life is avoidant, at least one other and usually more than one other part remain stuck in traumatic memories and think, feel, and behave as though these events are still happening (at least to a degree) or about to happen again.

These parts are usually stuck in repeating behaviors that are protective during threat, even when they are not appropriate.

For example, some parts fight to protect even when you do not need such protection in the present, others want to avoid or run away even though you are safe, some freeze in fear, and others completely collapse.

These parts are often highly emotional, not very rational, limited in their thinking and perceptions, not oriented to the present time, and are overwhelmed.

They primarily live in trauma time, that is, they continue to experience the traumatic past as the resent, and hold emotions, beliefs, sensations, and so forth that are related to traumatic experiences.”

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My two cents: This was the final piece that explained what was happening to me.

It took many meditative sits to uncover what parts were stuck.

It is like living in a big rowboat with few oars not in sync or rowing the opposite direction.

These stuck parts were sabotaging my recovery.

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