Documentary: The Jungle Prescription – Ayahuasca – YouTube

I’m contemplating an Ayhuasca retreat in order to get to the root of my C-PTSD of 50+ years. Continue reading

Vets find Wellness in (Transcendental) Meditation

Just found this. A short CNN clip where they talk about transcendental meditation as a technique bringing relief to patients suffering from post traumatic stress. It even proves to be beneficial for severe cases like veterans of war suffering from symptoms of PTSD. I’m about to attend an info night on this in my vicinity. Sounds very promising!

Vets find wellness in meditation – CNN Video.

P.S. Here’s a fairly brief, but still comprehensive, very easy to follow introduction into the benefits of TM and its healing effects on the body for everyone,  not just survivors of post traumatic stress.

The Vagus Nerve and the Healing Promise of The Sudarshan Kriya – Waking Times : Waking Times

This breathing technique sounds like a powerful tool to relieve depression, anxiety and stress responses – all three being diseases or disorders associated with the outcomes of (C-) PTSD (listed under so-called co-morbidities, i.e. diseases that are secondary outcomes of the primary one). I have posted about Dr. Stephen Porges’ seminal work before, concluding from the linked article that his approach and findings might have the potential to cure a person who has been suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD for a long time. As we all know and as researchers now confirm, symptoms of PTSD worsen over time as the fear-related responses get “engraved” deeper and deeper in the system with every triggering situation and every flash-back that affected individuals experience.

I personally haven’t done SK&P yet, but I did some holothropic breathing for a while. The effects of an hour of non-stop breathing at varying pace and the ensuing rest and relaxation with scented candles and meditation music in a light-dimmed room and someone to talk to when needed are often described as “rebirthing”. I must admit that some powerful emotions came up – not as powerful as I know them from my own “treatments” of self-medicating with alcohol and then watching a drama movie, where trauma – or overcoming trauma – runs as a central theme of the movie. But they were powerful enough.

As far as that – admitted: questionable – approach I found myself, i.e. binge-eating, binge-drinking and watching movies that seemed to have a fair amount of potential to trigger me, I think it helped me to at least access and feel emotions I seem to have repressed forever. In other words: I wouldn’t underestimate the healing potential of a good cry – even if it borders into a breakdown lasting several hours (they did a few times, yes). After all, if we were supposed to be tough all the time, evolution probably wouldn’t have bothered to provide our species with tear glands, right? Now I’ve said it: I’m a crybaby, hahaha! 😀 But seriously: I’d deem reconnecting with bottled up emotions and for once giving yourself permission to feel them and even let them overpower you not too small a therapeutic value (might sound overbearing on my part, but I do know that I felt a good deal of relief and “inner clarity” and calmness when those crying fits were over; a few times might do, I don’t think you need to go through an entire series of re-experiencing.)

Anyway, without further ado on my part, find the article on SK&P here:  The Vagus Nerve and the Healing Promise of The Sudarshan Kriya – Waking Times : Waking Times.

Amber Lyon – Investigative Reporter turned Natural Health Researcher and Advocate

The following URL points to Amber Lyon’s public Facebook page. I’d like to bring this to my followers’ general attention as I find Amber’s new work focus relevant to our struggles and underlying conditions, be they C-/PTSD anxiety, depression or so called “mental” disorders of any kind. Interestingly, Amber Lyon is an award-winning, renowned investigative reporter turned natural health and alternative healing researcher and advocate. While she continues to do investigative reporting on select matters, her new career path seems to focus more on researching and reporting on natural/alternative healing knowledge as known and passed down among indigenous people of e.g. the Amazon. In particular, Amber’s more recent work revolves around the possibilities of natural medicines like Ayahuasca, a powerful brew from a variety of plants with hallucinogenous/psychedelic properties. Even the wording is problematic here, as it is a typical Western, materialistic one. The shamans of those indigenous peoples themselves rather refer to those “miracle drugs” as plant spirits, who teach shaman and patient about their ailments and communicate a healing trajectory back to the shaman, who then performs whatever healing advice is revealed to him on the patient.

If this sounds odd or spooky to you – I can’t blame you. Maybe it all makes better sense after having watched Christian Moran’s documentary Ayahuasca Diary he shot while participating in an Ayahuasca retreat. The short term results of the participants are nothing short of spectacular, including one person who arrived with prostate cancer and after returning home and getting diagnostics from his oncologist was pronounced cancer free. While I’m truly impressed by those results, the skeptic in me would like to see some long term reports as well, of course (including details on how patients possibly changed their lifestyles, diet etc.). But regardless of that, the movie is definitely worthwhile watching. Some warning as to graphic content. A lot of “purging” occurs and is being caught on tape. If you’re sensitive in that area, be warned that some scenes may not be suitable for you. Oh, and last, not least, find a podcast of Amber Lyon’s account of her own Ayahuasca experience.

On Advocating Trauma

In part for reasons of meaning to be met with compassion by peers, in part for reasons to advocate in general I have become more vocal about the outcomes and symptoms of PTSD and/or C-PTSD in recent years. I had meant to educate those, who aren’t familiar with both conditions and their outcomes on what they do and how they affect a person’s life, even if one appears “normal” and functional on the outside.

After many such discussions and situations, where well-meaning friends and confidants offered their assistance, I have come to the personal conclusion that I fail(ed) to convey this complex, often torture-like condition to others. The bright side of this is that apparently my means for modulating my affective behaviours must be pretty progressed as I never “lose it” in such discussions. The downside of it, however, is that people don’t take you seriously on account of all the difficult-to-deal with symptoms that can amount to a debilitating condition (which they have in my case, rendering me disabled in 2008). I guess, if a person doesn’t kick and scream and yell and cry, then whatever they’re talking about can’t possibly be real, where “not real” is also often taken for “imagined”. I got that particular response an infinite number of times throughout my lifetime… It can become utterly frustrating just meaning to talk to someone in order to be met with a miniscule measure of humanly compassion…

The other aspect I believe to have found is that the majority of those who have never had close contact with a survivor of severe trauma or weren’t affected themselves, apparently tend to associate the term with the homophone (equal sounding) colloquial term “trauma”, where the latter denotes an event or an experience that ranges above your day-to-day “dramas”, but is nowhere near a real traumatic event in a person’s life. In other words, for an addictive “texter” (as in: a person frequently sending text from a smartphone), loss or theft of said device may be described as “traumatic”, but I guess those among my readers/visitors who can tell real trauma from this fictitious example, will agree that one is a minor inconvenience compared to the other. Coming from this “understanding” of trauma, it becomes more apparent to me, why trauma victims are often met with anything but compassion and oftentimes even without respect: Because people will assume it’s about “sucking it up, get it together, stick with it” and basically taking a traumatized person for a slacker who is unwilling to take full responsibility for their lives and decisions. Well, there could be a whole chapter or seperate blog entry on the latter. But I won’t go there for now, as it is sure to turn into yet another frustrating experience, because understanding how taking charge of one’s life including the outcomes others have inflicted on you, presupposes a clear understanding of the trauma dynamic. If that isn’t present, there is no point in trying to make someone understand, how difficult and frustrating it can become to manage the condition and make it blend as best as possible with the day-to-day challenges all of us face anyway. So enough of that.

There were times I have fretted and despaired over being met in such ways. It renders a trauma victim utterly lonely never to have a close friend to confide in on any of the particular challenges such a “life” brings about. It denies us the very thing, anyone else can at least hope for: Simple compassion. A person lending a hand, sharing in the grief or sorrow or whatever it is at the particular moment. In other words: It denies us being human, for anyone else who is fortunate enough to have a good friend gets to share their burden with that friend here and there. As a victim of trauma, we often don’t have that luxury. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but as far as the condition per se – I have never really come across someone in real life, who would have fit that bill. Luckily, there is technology now and so at the very least, I was able to communicate with you.

As far as the non-affected rest of the population, I had to bring myself to the understanding that it is simply impossible to find compassion for the distinct experiences one undergoes in a traumatic situation nor for the outcomes that make life so much harder than it already is. I guess, it is part of my reclaiming control and owning my fate by deciding that there simply is no point in trying to convey something that most people have no concept of whatsoever. Other than on here – and less frequently as I go along, because I need to have a life again at some point – I will most likely refrain from trying to advocate any more. There is little to no point to it, unfortunately.

Maybe the timing is not right. Maybe at some point, the sheer number of PTSD-victims will be so high that the general population will be more open and eager to hear about the outcomes of a condition that I have come to find a lot worse than getting killed… Seeing as an ever-increasing number of vets return from war with fully developed symptoms of PTSD, thus eroding their relationships and ultimately and often finding themselves singled out, losing connection with spouses, close family and friends, maybe as the number of such tragic turns of biographies increase in volume, the public will need to understand the underlying dynamics as well as becoming educated on where to find help and whom and what to look for.

Until then, I guess, I’ll resort to what I have been doing before: Not let on the underlying condition to the best of my abilities, and falling back on – apparently successfully and intuitively learnt – methods of self-regulation mixed with a measure of “upholding an external image” as well as a growing number of genuine, heartfelt experiences with non-affected peers, where the latter are… an almost miraculous series of small victories of overcoming. It can be done. I have done it before.

And then, of course, there’s still the hope to find a suitable therapist who is also willing to lend a hand in overcoming those incessant technical hurdles that my health insurance plan imposes on me.

Hope and perseverance – both maybe amounting to “faith” – must be the engine of continued survival on the journey of getting to express the genuine me, the genuine emancipated person who is capable of standing up for his true self and keeping past and potential future abusers at bay in mature, appropriate ways. It can be done. I’m doing it.

Hope?

Those of you who were following regularly will have possibly identified the ups and downs, the back and forths – particularly where it relates to just finding a goddamn way of getting the system to actually help me – instead of adding insult to injury or locking doors in front of me! So after years and years of scratching and tearing at the pillars of the system that have shut me out from finding the help I think I might benefit from, in fact after just about four years of more or less ongoing research and fruitless “networking”, finally, eventually – there seems to be a crack in the wall that wasn’t there before!

I’m going to have to do a lot of pondering over the next days or weeks and let today’s information and massive turn of perspective for the better sink in. In particular, I’ll have to figure out for myself, at what risk of a retraumatizing experience I put myself when getting admitted to inpatient treatment. Hospitals are places I associate with lots of pain, despair, hopelessness, basically with a place that equals a slow and painful death. Because that’s what I must have felt in the beginning of my life. And then again later. Those are the experiences that lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress I’ve been suffering from and trying to deal with for my entire life (I turned 49 this year). It is about the most pressing ones I’d look for getting attenuated. All else – I think, it’s fairly safe to say that I did all the heavy lifting largely by myself – not meaning to degrade the help from friends here and in real life that I also had and am grateful for.

I can tell you this much – and an informed friend pretty much reaffirmed this from her own experiences: The (medical) system becomes your opponent in my country when you really need their help. And it’s getting worse from what I hear. Probably another consequence from the inherent cannibalism in capitalism: If anyone causes too much trouble – as in: expense – the system has its ways of making them go away – literally, physically. I must have a tremendous wish for life to have put up with all the major sticks and stones they threw at me and in my way – U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E.!!

Well… weighing options, risks, potential outcomes is on my agenda now. Gotta have to let all of today’s new information sink in. (It’s not that I hadn’t looked for this new information before – it just so happens that only recently some legislation changed that might present an exit from the impossible, gridlock situation I have arrived at). I may still need a tremendous amount of good luck, in particular in meeting the right (medical) people to actually confide in…

Energized!

I went to have a jam session with a musical friend this afternoon. It was a spur-of-the-moment/telepathy kinda thing. I met him for the first time around 2001, 2002-ish and had a gig with him and another former musical collaborator, which went fairly well. I reconnected with him while staying at my parents’ place. And last night after listening to my original material he suggested we meet up to jam together.

God – I had forgotten how good this shit feels! How in the here and now it gets me and how all depression, insecurity, anxiety and whatnot fall by the wayside when strumming that axe and bustin’ out a tune! It felt as if no time between my early twens and now has passed. No, wait – it felt better! A lot better as I have successfully removed some of my physical ailments, like allergies and abdominal problems. So, yes – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself, although we couldn’t play much longer than 90 minutes as we first have to agree on material and as both of us come back from not having played live or in a band for some time. But that shouldn’t be this much of a problem.

The reason for posting something as arbritary as this here is that I got reminded how I had risen above and in part overcome the outcomes of C-PTSD by playing music. I must have felt the energizing and reassuring effects of playing in a band right away and it was enough of a kick to make me want to forget about all the rest and my “peculiarities”. More accurately: Musicians always treated me with appreciation and respect! They never belittled, derided, degraded me like I had to experience so many times in my later career(s)! And somehow, being a musician must have brought out the real, genuine person I was and am meant to be! I was whole, complete, sane – as long as I was immersed in playing and practicing and so on.

So here it is: I have direction again. I know my path. I also remember the downsides and some of them will be harder to deal with now, others a lot easier. I don’t fool myself into thinking this was going to be an easy ride. But where has it ever been easy for me? Or when? Never. The difference here is this: Music brings joy – not only to me, but to those involved with it, which includes the audience. It brings joy for me and other people. It’s a kind of service to humanity, too, I think. And I can do it if I put my mind, heart, effort to it.

I feel the wish and need to put myself back to the grind, though, and become a stronger instrumentalist and also beef up the music theory and sightreading/-writing skills. In other words: I am no longer satisfied with just “getting by” as I did when I was younger. I feel a wish to explore the limits of my gift. All of that plus managing the condition in a very hectic other-directed environment should keep me busy enough not to experience bouts of depression for too long. And if I do, it looks as if I had a new herbal friend in my corner now, tentatively speaking. Because that’s the other thing: As long as I keep moving and doing shit – I’m alright. Once I become stagnant or locked into a place or process for too long or if things slow down too much – I lose drive and interest. (which b.t.w. is the reason I never really thought about a conventional career in the first place – I feared its monotony too much and felt rather willing to put up with major adversity borderline chaos than get suffocated from boredom…).

I have direction again. That’s all I’ve been asking for. Thanks to – whom- or whatever 😉

P.S. Don’t mean to rub it all in, but this seems to coincide nicely with today’s Reverbnation charts for my profile, which are – as far as I remember – the ever best ranking I had so far for instrumental music on Reverbnation. Nice. #grateful mode 😉

RN_08-08-2013

The Shellshock Diaries (Resumed)

I am currently staying at my bio family’s home, the home I grew up in. I had a blog post in the making about how this feels, what it does to me, what memories and associated feelings this stay evokes.

All of a sudden and out of the blue and right in the midst of an oncoming bout of depression from not knowing what to do with myself here or whom to (re-) connect with, my mother presents me with this:

shellshock diaries

a diary my late maternal grandfather wrote while being a prisoner of war 1945 – 1948 in Russia

It’s a handmade diary my late maternal grandfather crafted and wrote into, most likely to keep himself from losing his mind in a situation that must have presented him and fellow war camp prisoners with gruelling conditions, hard and compulsory labour, outrageous demands by the camp commander cynically blown out of proportion in order to have a “reason” for torturing or executing camp inmates and worse than anything – the permanent uncertainty of whether he himself or any of them would ever make it out alive and see their families and loved ones again.

I didn’t bring myself to more than briefly glancing at a few entries in the beginning and towards the end. But from these quick looks I am already able to derive two things: I apparently inherited the more artistic gifts from my maternal grandfather and a host of character traits as well, where the latter – and among them a dead-on resolve to not fold under this insane pressure – probably saved his life and that of some comrades. And it save mine, too.

This is an epic find. To say that I’m blown away by this doesn’t even remotely cut it. I am deliberating doing something with this, if family agree and think, it would have been o.k. with him. At the very least, this ties in tightly with this blog and my attempts of investigating the entire trauma related spectrum from a personal angle. This dropped out of a crystal clear blue and sunny summer sky and landed like a megaton bomb.

copyright note: This is distinct from any equally named book, TV series, movie or other already existing work under the same title and doesn’t make any use of any equally named work whatsoever. The blog title was a quickly thought up and potential “work in progress” title. I claim exemption from any liability, in particular in regards to copyright infringment based on this statement.