Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Updated: PTSD: Can we ever be happy?

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Being abused in childhood, impacted my mind permanently. I am not saying this abuse rules my mind but it will at least lay dormant until I die.

 

Happiness was impossible, imminent danger lived inside my home and I was his only target.

 

Survival and shame dominated my thoughts, helped formulate my unworthy self image and destroyed my nervous system.

 

I always knew something was wrong, like I was flawed, unworthy, not like other people.

 

Then one day in my 50’s a family crisis ignited my childhood trauma. It was alive, bringing that terrifying jolt to my solar plexus, cortisol and adrenaline, PTSD’s scare drugs.

 

Took me 6 years to heal or improve, for the suffering to curtail and life to have a little lightness, some contentment.

 

When I improved or healed, the suffering dissipated, the intrusive thoughts lost power without attention.

 

For 60 years I enjoyed momentary joy from accomplishments, however happiness was a stranger.

 

To heal or improve, I had dedicated five hours a day to meditating and healing.

 

On this journey, while entering into mundane tasks, (a mindful practice) I found happy moments.

 

Moments free of any deadline or time apparatus, where thought had curtailed, where things unfolded naturally.

 

These moments calmed my being beyond any prior feeling.

 

Looking at nature one day, I saw perfection, was it out of body or was I just one with it?

 

I believe if I can find some happiness, then you can also.

 

It is not easy, it takes courage and daily action.

 

Thoughts?

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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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Watching Emotions Ebb and Flow: from Shaila Catherine

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How long does an emotion last?

Have you ever felt that you were angry for a couple of hours or sad all day long?

Look closely at that angry feeling or that sad feeling.

Notice the story: the thoughts of loss that triggered sadness, the threat that triggered anger.

Do such thoughts remain static or are they intermittent, or cyclical?

Notice sensations in the body: perhaps heaviness in the chest, an ache in the stomach, an indistinct disoriented sensation, heat or cold, a hollow feeling.

Are these sensations lasting, stable, or fluctuating?

Do they increase or decrease?

Notice the intensity of the anger or sadness: does it remain stable, or come as waves that intensify when triggered by certain thoughts, smells, or sights and then diminish when attention is distracted by exercise, meals, and conversation?

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My two cents: I believe anything that fluctuates can be impacted.

My chronic pain does not stay the same intensity all day long.

Something is changing the ebb and flow.

My mind can impact my emotions and chronic pain.

Thoughts seem to be the source of there proliferation.

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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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If elements of the trauma are replayed again and again,

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The Body Keeps the Score:

 

If elements of the trauma are replayed again and again, the accompanying stress hormones engrave those memories ever more deeply in the mind.

 

Ordinary, day-to-day events become less and less compelling.

 

Not being able to deeply take in what is going on around them makes it impossible to feel fully alive.

 

It becomes harder to feel the joys and aggravations of ordinary life, harder to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

 

Not being fully alive in the present keeps them more firmly imprisoned in the past.

 

Triggered responses manifest in various ways. Veterans may react to the slightest cue—like hitting a bump in the road or seeing a kid playing in the street—as if they were in a war zone.

 

They startle easily and become enraged or numb.

 

Victims of childhood sexual abuse may anesthetize their sexuality and then feel intensely ashamed if they become excited by sensations or images that recall their molestation, even when those sensations are the natural pleasures associated with particular body parts.

 

If trauma survivors are forced to discuss their experiences, one person’s blood pressure may increase while another responds with the beginnings of a migraine headache.

 

Still others may shut down emotionally and not feel any obvious changes.

 

Continued

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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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Meditation is a matter not of theory

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This is a very healing action!

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“Meditation is a matter not of theory but of practice, just as it does not satisfy your hunger to read a restaurant menu if you are not going to eat something from it.“

Matthew Richard

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My two cents: Meditation is not an intellectual property, reading a book or taking a class helps little.

Our healing will happen internally by our own action.

This action for me was meditating and integrating.

If this does not work for you, then find an action.

As one therapist told me, if you have to limp, get out on the dance floor.

The conditions for those of us with ptsd are never going to be perfect.

Each trigger, I forced myself to stay present for one breath before I avoided, denied or froze. In time that one breath grew to two, then five and eventually ten.

By that time panic had calmed and I guess I ate the elephant a bite at a time. Small actions work.

I could of labeled those stepping stones failures instead they were valued as successes.

We need Little Successes and that happens with daily activity and direction.

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Trauma Victims deal with sensations in the body

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“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. . . . Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”

Bessel van der Kolk

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My two cents: Trauma is stored in the mind and body, we have certain areas where our trauma manifests.

Mine is around my solar plexus.

The secret is learning to observe these sensations without judgment or reaction.

If we do not sit still with our awareness intently focused, how will we ever know our internal world (reality).

The more familiar I became with my trauma, the more I understood its mechanism.

Trauma needs fear to exist.

When my fight or flight mechanism lost power, life took a giant step towards healing.

Takes practice and courage to face our adrenal stress response, calmly.

If you are like me, looking to the past brings agony, making any comparison to others can drive us nuts and predicting the future has to much worry.

The only place that is free for me is this moment, empty of thought, empty of loss and most of traumas impact.

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A trauma memory, my worst, surfaces after 50 years!

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Trauma feels dangerous when it explodes.

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The last two posts have detailed how fear and shame add strength and confusion to our symptoms.

To heal, we must face these past traumas that have ruined our life.

For me, it was an entire childhood raised in violence and criticism.

My abuse occurred before my brain developed.

My abuse was intertwined with the development of the mind.

We heal by observing our trauma when it explodes or the intrusive thoughts start rolling.

Integration happens when we stay present, accepting and then surrendering to what terrifies us.

I thought mine was over but an incident burning beneath my childhood resurfaced.

When trauma surfaces, it arrives at the age it occurred.

This happened when I was 19, in college.

The intensity and rage connected to this memory depresses me.

This is unresolved and stronger than my childhood trauma.

My traumatized 19 year old needs comforted and the ability to feel self worth return.

He needs to know it is long over and it is safe now.

The shame connected to this trauma destroyed my ability to trust for 50 years.

I have found the source of the betrayal, always running well hidden below what I thought was the worst culprit, my childhood.

Hard to separate my 19 year old ego from present day 68 year old Marty.

Our trauma fears resemble our greatest terror we can imagine.

Now, my fight or flight mechanism stays calm, saving me untold suffering.

What is left are the intense shameful emotions, thoughts, judgments and the desire for revenge.

That is the 19 year old who is stuck, suffering all this time.

It is a burden I hid so deep, it has stayed buried 50 years.

Our work is never done.

This is not an easy life.

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A. Viewers response: “Perserverence so they do not win”

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A response from Tuckle:

“Thank you for your perspective and this wonderful post. I had never thought about perseverance so they do not win. I will have to write about that one in my journal.”

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My two cents: “Perseverance so they do not win”

My challenge from birth was to survive my father.

In childhood it was alive and real, in adulthood it became Complex PTSD, a mental disorder that threatened not only to take my peace of mind, but my life.

At my lowest, fight or flight firing all throughout the day, suffering making a day seem like a week, the critical moment had arrived.

I can not describe serious PTSD or how awful an upside down nervous system impacts the body and mind.

Life was completely full of suffering, intense anxiety, hyoervigilance, terror, worry.

Life did not have little light moments or happy events. No joy in Mudville!

I have never experienced a more devastating period, death seemed easier, life took real courage.

Somewhere deep inside, a part of me refused to give up, to let my father win.

That day I promised to endure whatever came next, to live in spite of my father’s cruelty.

I think we all have that moment, when we either take responsibility or become a victim for life or death.

This battle is an internal struggle.

On the surface, all the trauma symptoms occupy our consciousness, however below the surface an internal battle wages for control.

When my “Ego” was in control, I felt hurt, injustice, anger and a little sorry for myself. These injustices and anger thoughts made PTSD grow stronger.

When I could stay present, focused, below traumas influence, life had opportunity.

These glimpses gave me hope.

We do not pick the challenges that arrive, self inflicted or without a clue.

It is always our reaction that determines life.

Do not let your abuser win.

Fight for your happiness.

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