Eversince I had started to immerse myself in the research and potential options for help regarding (C-) PTSD, I had become increasingly convinced that the old beaten-up path of “cognitive reframing” was an ill-conceived concept to say the least. Where reflexes are at play, the neo-cortex takes a back seat. #Corroborated.
This is interesting: Dr. Peter A. Levine describes how the very method called Somatic Experiencing© he’s been researching and developping over 40 years with thousands of patients saved him from manifesting post-traumatic stress after being hit by a truck and getting injured. Mild trigger warning, but I think it’s healing to see him talk and give personal proof of concept in a humble, compassionate manner. He also details how trauma and post traumatic stress not only result from catastrophic events, but how almost “mundane” events can trigger it, too. Worth watching IMHO.
Michele Rosenthal addresses the issue of loneliness with recovering PTSDer’s:
Before I go on: The below text will trigger you. Proceed at your own discretion. I am not promising a rose garden…
Here we go: I keep quoting her (Michele Rosenthal), because she knows what she’s talking about. Today, after having lived with the outcomes of complex PTSD for 50 years, I require a person to have had personal experience with the issue in order to get to talk to me about that. I’ve had to encounter too many wannabe therapists and people with helper’s syndrome to still have enough patience with them – I don’t! Although someone living with PTSD may be categorized a victim, I emancipate myself and demand of people to meet me at eyes level today when it comes to the process of recovery from the events in our biographies that “blessed” us with this heinous condition. But I’m digressing.
Loneliness. I had to bring myself to the understanding that the loneliness I feel about this is real. There still isn’t too good an understanding about PTSD and the incredibly limiting, debilitating effects it has on an individual in the general public. It’s also become my pet-peeve that it’s still categorized as a “mental” illness. I don’t think this is accurate as the limitations are physical in nature. Emotional strife as a side effect may be a given, true. But I think at the bottom of this brutal condition sits a nervous system that was tossed out of equilibrium for good due to completely overwhelming experiences. And the moment that did it never goes away, not really. It always comes back to torture your body, rob you of a good night’s sleep, give you the shakes for no apparent reason (not apparent to others as they don’t understand triggers and flashbacks). The majority of people get to have this chat with a good friend when they encounter problems at work, trouble in their relationships, financial woes or whatever. As a survivor of PTSD – you don’t have the benefit of getting to vent or simply talk all that often other than in your therapist’s office or in a group setting. And the latter – to me – have become breeding grounds for depression. How am I supposed to feel better when I get together with an entire group of people all struggling with incredibly sad issues in their lives and sharing their feelings about them? Yes, I understand – eventually it’s my turn to share my feelings. But is a sorrow shared really a sorrow halved? I don’t think so any longer. I think it’s a sorrow doubled – if for nothing else than simply for the fact that the focus is on all the negative. Usually. I might overgeneralize, but my experiences were largely of this nature in this regard.
When the chips are down, I need to face the cruel fact that I am badly and irreversibly damaged: On the physical, emotional and spiritual level – the latter, if you are open to that idea at all. I know I wasn’t for a long time as it felt like taking the second, third or n-th step before the first. In other words: Not exactly helping. Or making things worse (“You’ve decided on this journey prior to being born.” “Fine. Can’t you just listen and show some compassion? If not, can’t you just say you aren’t interested in hearing my story?” Fuck.) In very real ways – my reality is of a very different nature as most other people’s reality. I have been living in a parallel universe of sorts. And still do. It’s a prison I can’t seem to break free from. My past always catches up on me.
I am well aware that I should do the Buddha thing in so far as I understand that others who lack the experience can’t understand. But damn! That requires me to be the bigger man than them, doesn’t it? What if I can’t be that man? What if I’m still stuck in that place where a part of me knows I was deprived of very vital things in life, the essentials, actually, those aspects of a person’s life that noone ever should have to go without?
Instead, anger – or rather: fury – drives me by and large. And why not feel anger? I think it’s a very natural response to getting robbed of something dear to you. Isn’t that the response of any healthy person? To be angry at whomever takes something significant from them? (At least, after the initial shock wears off).
But it gets “better”: I seriously tried hard to rise above my past, my issues, my … story. “Extrapolated” what it takes to be a good person simply from watching those around me of whom I got the feeling they are pretty happy campers. You might say, I taught myself how to not be damaged – at least act as if I wasn’t. You know what? You become everybody’s doormat for being kind. Everyone’s doormat and people feel entitled to make you into their night listener. For a while, this way of overcompensating seemed to work for me. I say, “seemed” to work, because at the end of the day and when the particular conversation was over – I still had to admit to myself that I felt fucking lonely like hell! The battered child in me sat in darkness again, wondering if anyone would ever care about – me? Does that sound self-absorbed? No. It is. Because that’s what healthy children are entitled to: Being all self-absorbed and having someone to tend to their needs – 24/7 and unconditionally!
I am afraid, I’ll always have periods of feeling this way, this lonely, particularly so when I’m alone or – with a person of whom I flatter myself into thinking they might become a significant other in my life. Just recently, I had a few new encounters of that nature. I should have known better and should have learnt by now: Opening up, becoming vulnerable – gets you hurt. And that’s the end of that story. You get hurt. Period.
The last thing I ever needed in my life was more injury. Right now, my coping strategies aren’t the best to put it mildly. I guess, they rather qualify as self-harming: Binge eating, booze, overindulging on the few little things that give me a shred of pleasure. The only way I can participate in life again – the life as defined by the majority and I take it: those, who were fortunate enough not to have something happen to them that pulled the rug out from under them – is by doing what I did in earlier years in my life: Pretend I was o.k. and act accordingly. The positive experiences coming from that will carry me on for a while – so long as things stay on the surface. The minute shit gets real – shit is about to hit the fan. Always has, always will. Fuck me.
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!
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.
Stereotypically, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is perceived as Shell Shock, designated to veterans or those who have been through violent combat. But what is being brought further into the greater public consciousness—and this study has the potential to shine even more of a light on that—is that PTSD doesn’t just touch those who have lived through war, terrorism, or random violent accidents. It also affects those who have suffered in silence: victims of family violence, sexual assaults, or other stressful events that occur while living life in an arbitrary and often unforgiving world.”
Find more here: Treating PTSD with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy – Can MDMA Cure PTSD?.
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.
I’d like to commence my own comment on below linked story with a quote taken from it (it’s attributed to Khalil Gibran):
“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.”
Elizabeth Matthews, a licensed counselor based in Boulder, Colorado, shares her amazing recovery from residual symptoms of PTSD here: My Journey Through PTSD: Healing with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy.
I found this fairly comprehensive list of articles on the status of all things MDMA-/psychedelics-assisted therapy with particular regard to treating PTSD. In my quest for further healing, I am going to try and apply for participation in such a study if at all possible for non-residents. It’s a kind of “last chance”-scenario I’m placing my hopes on. I’m going to place my first phone call inquiring about my possible eligibility today. To say that I’m scared shitless about the potential outcome of that call – either way – would be an understatement…. But we do what we have to in order to survive, right?
I have done a lot of personal research in regards to – effective! – treatments of (complex) post-traumatic stress disorder over the past six going on seven years, seeing as I received my diagnosis of this condition no sooner than in 2013, at the age of 48. Like Rachel Hope, I have been living with the condition and its debilitating symptoms for decades. Until coming across her spectacular case and recovery – and from watching a different, longer interview on Amber Lyon’s reset.me – I am now firmly convinced that this kind of – presently largely experimental – therapy offers the biggest hope on attenuating the symptoms associated with the outcomes of PTSD and potentially even liberate me from them – as was the fortunate case for Rachel. However, seeing as I don’t live in the U.S. and am not a U.S. citizen, I’m not sure, if there is any hope to meet the criteria for inclusion in such a study. I’m going to try and find out. I’ve already contacted two Europe-based pioneers of this kind of work and approach, so far to no avail.
If you’re interested in educating yourself on the beneficial effects of MDMA-assisted therapy, please find below short interview, the longer interview on Amber Lyon’s podcast as well as further sources all linked in below article and interview(s).
Amen to that!