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PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:09 am
by Kassandra

Hello. I am starting this new thread, as a continuation of a previous discussion about PTSD found here:
Science of PTSD Symptoms: How Trauma Changes the Brain

In this thread, we'll share what we've learned that help us cope with PTSD, or what we've learned that help us help a loved one who is learning to cope with their PTSD. Feel free to share your experiences, comments, observations and ideas; or ask questions you might have for others here. Let us learn from one another! :D

This is where we left off in the previous thread:

firebirdflys wrote:How bout we can post strategies that we have found useful in overcoming PTSD?

1. Firstly forgiving oneself for any harsh or negative self talk that may have generated due to uncontrollable outbursts or other symptoms. You were not in controll, but maybe now we can apply the help we seek and find some relief. It may take time, little by little the healing can begin.

silverowl wrote:Something that helps me is being hyper rational and reminding myself of the facts. It helps to keep me grounded otherwise I'm constantly anxious. Also the passing of time has helped with some aspects of healing. I can leave my house where after the incident I couldn't go to the grocery store without melting down.

My cousin is a combat veteran and has PTSD. For him it's very different than it is for me, but one thing he told me is that our perspective is our reality. I don't think there's ever going to be a one size fits all way of dealing with PTSD, but I do think it's something that needs to be addressed more seriously and handled individually.

What works for you? (or a loved one)


Re: PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:57 pm
by Kassandra

Four Categories of PTSD Symptoms

Personally, what helps me is identifying the symptoms I may be experiencing at the moment. That "Science of PTSD" article states the PTSD symptoms generally present in one of four ways (I added numbers to separate them and make them easier to distinguish):

"The four categories of PTSD symptoms include:

1. Intrusive thoughts (unwanted memories)

2. Mood alterations (shame, blame, persistent negativity)

3. Hypervigilance (exaggerated startle response)

4. Avoidance (of all sensory and emotional trauma-related material)

These cause confusing symptoms for survivors who don’t understand how they’ve suddenly become so out of control in their own minds and bodies.

The article also states that, "Launching the recovery process begins with normalizing post-trauma symptoms by investigating how trauma affects that brain and what symptoms these effects create."

Know Thyself (& Thy Triggers)

I interpret that last sentence as basically saying "know thyself." I find I can "launch the recovery process," that is, deal with my symptoms, if I first investigate how and which symptoms are presenting. That's really important. Then, I could proceed to deal with the symptoms in ways that are unique to my healing needs. I have to know what I need first.

For example, after observing my own PTSD reactions to situational stressors, I find that my symptoms mainly fall in the last two categories, hypervigilance and avoidance. I don't get the intrusive memories nor the mood swings, though I did experience them pretty badly in my twenties (I really should have been on anti-anxiety medication). But, it toned down in the my 30s, and I've continued to mellow out in subsequent years. But the hypervigilance and avoidance are still there, and get very hard to deal with at times.

You would think they were obvious, but we can get very sneaky with how we fool ourselves, and symptoms could present in not-obvious ways. Fear doesn't always look like you would think fear should look, same with anger and grief. They can express themselves in very not-obvious ways. I tend to isolate because I feel "safer" that way. Isolation, however, worsens PTSD. It is important to stay around other people. I force myself to open up, but it is too easy for me not to.

The second thing that helps me is to know my triggers very well, which situations or people set off PTSD symptoms. Sometimes these things are avoidable; sometimes they are not. Again, this is tricky for me, especially in a work environment. But, I am getting to know myself very well.

Monitoring & Changing Self-talk

I find that cognitive behavioral therapeutic interventions really help...that is just a fancy way of saying I change my internal dialogue about a given situation, that "self-talk" we all automatically do, which greatly influences our actions and attitudes.

I find that you have to really monitor self-talk when you suffer from PTSD. Most likely the inner "recordings" that are playing in our heads are either untrue statements that traumatizing people said to us or about us in the past about life or ourselves that had "sunk in" to our psyches. Or, self-talk could consist of trauma statements we created at an earlier part of our lives at the height of our traumatic experiences, which are still playing loudly though they no longer apply anymore, but we're still repeating them like they do. They were survival statements that helped us get through whatever we were getting through.

All in all, I think knowledge is power, and knowing which symptoms you or a loved one is experiencing at the moment can greatly help in coping with those symptoms, "normalizing" them as the article states, making them less weird and seemingly unpredictable and overwhelming. I think self-knowledge really does bring a measure of control and relief. It's important to be very honest with yourself, and know that it's OK not to be "perfect," and that one does not have some kind of character flaw just because of experiencing PTSD symptoms. Self-honesty requires a certain degree of humility, I think.



Re: PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 3:36 pm
by silverowl
Nicely said Kassandra!
I personally experience all 4 still and until recently have kept myself quite isolated although I find easy ways to justify it. I have kids, I don't have money, I'm tired, stuff like that. Cognitive therapy is legit too! I love it. I've been going to cognitive therapy for almost 10 years and it's been helpful for me just in general.

Re: PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:04 pm
by Kassandra

Thanks, silverowl. Glad the CBT works out for you. Yeah, sadly, I, too, have become an expert with "justifications." Until I learned how PTSD shows up with me, I had no idea I was doing that. Now I know.


Re: PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:15 pm
by firebirdflys

Kassandra wrote: I find that cognitive behavioral therapeutic interventions really help me. That is a fancy way of saying I change my internal dialogue about a given situation, that "self-talk" we all automatically do, which greatly influences our actions and attitudes. You have to really watch that when you suffer from PTSD.

Oh yes, this one is real important. I had a therapist call something like this, thought stopping.
:lol: oh, shuer...if I could just stop it then why won't it turn off! Changing the internal dialog will help to reprogram your brain.

There's more, like asking yourself if it's the real truth, usually it's not (like I'm so stupid... WRONG! remember we are our own worst critic,) it's likely just a projection into the future or ruminations of the past. If its future, Stop. You cannot project negativity into the future or always know what is going to happen. (As much as we would like to!) Take a breathe a center yourself in the here and now, keep centering in a mindful way for a few moments then continue with your day. Repeat as often as needed. If in the past, consider you will likely never get the result you had wanted. Tell yourself you did what you could at the time and forgive yourself, accept that truth and let it go and fill the space with self love. Repeat as often as needed..
Be positive with yourself. Negative self talk will take you to the dark places. I know this can be real real hard because depression often accompanies PTSD. Try this positive self talk in the mirror. Remember Stuart Smally on Saturday Night Live? You don't have to be a corney as him but try it out. It will feel real uncomfortable at first but keep your nose to the grindstone, it will pay off. Make your phrases in the positive and leave OUT any contraction of the word no. You'll find this a challenge too but keep rephrasing untill it is fully positive. Repeat daily.
Consider the words in this video "I refuse to beat myself up".... is different than "I won't beat myself up".

Blessed healing to all,
Thanks for this thread Kassandra smileylove

Re: PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:45 pm
by Stitch6719
I have combat-induced PTSD. I have been out of the military for almost 10 years now, but certain things will still set it off. These include but are not limited to loud noises, arguing, certain days, and sometimes I just do not sleep for days at a time due to flashbacks in my sleep.

Things that I can pass along are that if you are constantly around someone who has PTSD (family or loved one) do not ever attempt to contain the situation if they have gone "over the edge" as soldiers call it. it is best to remove yourself from the situation and let them bring themselves back down in a controlled environment.

My fiance has had to deal with outbursts and waking up from flashback dreams quite often where it typically takes me a few moments to remember that I am home, and then I will often go sit on the porch for a while or simply watch some TV. I have not reacted violently to anything in a very long time, but it does happen. Most days that I have an issue I just come across very short-tempered, edgy and feel closed-in, no matter where I am.

One thing that has tremendously helped me cope are my choices of relaxation music and Reiki. I have not been able to have reiki therapy in quite a while due to there not being anyone near me anymore.

Re: PTSD: Strategies for Healing & Thriving

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:36 am
by Kassandra
firebirdflys wrote:Thanks for this thread Kassandra smileylove

You're welcome. Thank YOU for suggesting we post strategies that we have found useful in overcoming PTSD. I think this will be an important thread in years to come, that it will help many people. "Thought stopping," I like that term. I have come to call that, "changing the channel." I'll catch myself and say, "whoops, time to change the channel on that line of thinking!" It gets easier the more you do it.

Stitch6719, thank you so much for sharing your experiences, as well as what has worked for you in terms of coping and healing.

I thought of a few other things that help me...

Natural World Healing

2013 was a rough year for me. It exacerbated already existing PTSD. But, like Charles Dickens wrote, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, because the silver lining was that I had a lot of fun instinctively retreating into nature to heal. I discovered a whole world I didn't know existed. I made oils and tinctures, learned herbal knowledge, and just generally spent a lot of time embracing The Mother. She's always there waiting for us. I really think it saved me.

Being a member of this message board really helped me get through that period. I put together some related posts during that time which was a separate blog elsewhere on the internet, but I subsequently moved them all here. Starwitch was kind enough to give them their own forum, so I would have a place to keep them together. If you're interested, bookmark them because they serve as a nice herbal reference source : Kassandra's Foray in the Green. That forum is a reminder to me of how nature helps, and to stay close to The Mother because she will always love, protect and heal us.

Augmenting Happy Brain Drugs

Exercise is really helpful too. A workout in the gym, or a brisk walk or hike gets the endorphins up, increases serotonin, etc...the happy (natural) brain drugs.

"Attracting Money" Positive Affirmations

Believe it or not, doing the exercises in the Attracting Money thread I put together (attracting-money-t24539.html) actually cheers me up. It's not even about the money, but this touches on self-talk, as I mentioned in my previous post in this thread. A lot of attracting money has to do with self-esteem and having a sense that abundance is even possible for one's self, which when you're feeling out of sorts, you need help remembering. So, I find the positive affirmations in the subliminals pretty uplifting.

Rewriting Old Past Life Vows/Beliefs

This kind of gets shamanic in nature, but I find that reaffirming the breaking of certain past life vows, or re-writing old statements and fears, are other exercises that need to be redone from time to time (links to help with this can also be found in the "Attracting Money" thread). Those old power contracts have taken root and resided in our energy systems for so long they are hard to rewrite/remove/delete. Like weeds, you can pull them out and feel pretty good for a while. But before long they'll creep back in if you're not paying attention. It takes work to stay on top of this, but it's totally doable and gets easier with time the more you do it.

Well, time to go on my happy brain drugs walk!