How I calmed my fight or flight mechanism

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https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

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Acceptance and Committment therapy introduced me to meditation.

At first meditation seemed abstract, simple and benign.

Took me awhile to see its enormous power and healing properties.

My triggers exploded violently, solar plexus jolted with fear, actually a big dose adrenaline and cortisol is dumped into our blood stream.

Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration increase, we lose fine motor skills, get tunnel vision along with cognitive functions becoming cloudy and limited, we are ready for imminent danger.

Until I calmed this mechanism, PTSD kicked my Ass, badly.

I built my focus, meditated everyday, learned to stay present when my fight or flight mechanism fired.

Every time it exploded, I watched intently, became familiar with all the body sensations and the attached emotions.

Then in ten minutes or so, the drugs were absorbed, my system returned to normal.

No damage, just my defense mechanism firing erroneously from PTSD.

In time, after many tries or failures, I succeeded.

My fight or flight mechanism calmed, stopped firing for traumas triggers.

Life changed that day.

The storyline was left unprotected and vulnerable to be integrated.

Pick one thing to work on at a time.

I chose to limit my Dissociation while I unplugged my fight or flight mechanism.

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Take the Power away from your Triggers

https://www.pinterest.com/janes1022/

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The skills learned to heal from PTSD are accumulative.

They are similar to lifting weights. If you build a solid foundation over a long period of time, you can stop for a while, then return and muscles have memory.

A daily meditation practice calmed my fight or flight mechanism.

My triggers lost the power of cortisol, adrenaline and the physiological changes.

Triggers did not explode anymore, the storyline stood by itself for the first time.

If my fight or flight mechanism did not fire, trauma had lost its most powerful weapons, fear and panic.

No need to run or avoid triggers anymore.

The thoughts were isolated now, vulnerable, ready to be integrated.

Calm your nervous system using your breath, meditate and learn how to dissipate cortisol and adrenaline.

Practice when it is calm, then apply when all hell breaks lose.

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Complex PTSD a subtype of PTSD

https://pixabay.com/users/thedigitalartist-202249/

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“Complex PTSD is a subtype of PTSD with complex symptomatology in response to chronic trauma (Herman, 1992).

Usually, the patient has an extensive history of childhood abuse where the patient can’t remember a time when they weren’t being abused.

Another example of chronic trauma includes victims of long-term intimate partner violence.

In comparison with textbook patients with PTSD, who have a distinct life before and after their traumatic experience, patients with complex PTSD are only familiar with the traumatic experience.

Patients with complex PTSD have issues with emotional regulation, and can range from rageful to regretful in a single session, much like patients with borderline personality disorder.

Patients with complex PTSD often get caught up in cycles of re-enactment where they act out in their personal relationships, and even in their therapeutic relationships, in ways that mimic the trauma that they’ve felt.

In Dr. Jain’s experience, although patients with complex PTSD exhibit emotional lability, just like borderline personality disorder, she would think a diagnosis would lean more towards borderline personality disorder if the classic symptoms (such as identity issues, self-injury, chronic suicidality and attachment issues) were present (APA 2013).”

From: https://www.psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/6/12/the-unspeakable-mind-stories-of-trauma-and-healing-from-the-frontline-of-ptsd-science

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Me and Victimhood

https://pixabay.com/users/jendigitalart-6490932/

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I have waged a battle, an intense effort to never be a victim for long.

Realize we have no way of protecting ourselves completely from being traumatized.

My traumatizing childhood did not stop me from becoming a professional athlete.

My chronic pain did not take my life away for long. In front of 15 group members, I said we need to throw away the opioids and exercise. One guy followed me out.

Being paralyzed with Guillian Beret, I got up and took three steps when doctors and specialists told me I would be in a wheel chair for a couple years.

For the last two plus months with my college trauma exploding, I have been a victim.

I HATE THAT!

All my tools and skills have not slowed the onslaught of fear and humiliation.

Now, my flag is planted against feeling sorry for myself, being numb or feeling worthless.

It takes me awhile to recognize where the real battle is being fought.

The battle is inside my head, not external.

Physical challenges are second nature to me, the emotional, betrayal trauma is my kryptonite.

While in rehab, paralyzed with intense pain, I thought why me.

No way to heal when, Why me is our mantra.

I was a pro jock and a seasoned meditator, Why not me.

Once you accept the challenge in its entirety, the battle of wills begins.

Victimhood ends. We do not have to win but keep battling.

Some periods of my life are filled with times of never giving up.

Playing defense, not making decisions and increasing my effort every time trauma enters my space, is the way I exist.

This usually leads to more wellbeing.

How about your experiences?

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DISSOCIATIVE PTSD

Pixabay: Tama66

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“Dissociative PTSD is a subtype of PTSD that occurs in 15-30% of PTSD patients, in which the patient not only meets the criteria for PTSD, but also exhibit persistent dissociative symptoms (e.g. depersonalization, derealization) (APA, 2013; Armour, Karstoft & Richardson, 2014).

Derealization is the feeling of detachment from one’s environment, while depersonalization is the feeling of detachment from one’s body, thoughts, perceptions and actions (APA, 2013).

Patients often describe the feelings of depersonalization and derealization as “they don’t feel real,” or that “the world around them doesn’t feel real.”

Because patients with the dissociative subtype of PTSD experience these symptoms persistently, their day is often derailed as they don’t live in the present, but in their dissociative world.

Patients who have had severe childhood abuse tend to have the dissociative subtype, which is associated with a poorer prognosis.

Patients can dissociate in many environments, including the therapy environment, thus grounding techniques such as breathing techniques and anxiety-reducing exercises may be useful to bring patients from their dissociative state.”

https://www.psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/6/12/the-unspeakable-mind-stories-of-trauma-and-healing-from-the-frontline-of-ptsd-science

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overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented,

Pixabay: cocoparisienne

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The Body Keeps the Score

The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own.

The sensory fragments of memory intrude into the present, where they are literally relived.

As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed.

Unlike Stan, however, many people may not be aware of the connection between their “crazy” feelings and reactions and the traumatic events that are being replayed.

They have no idea why they respond to some minor irritation as if they were about to be annihilated.

Flashbacks and reliving are in some ways worse that the trauma itself.

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Military suicides up as much as 20% in COVID era

FILE – In this March 31, 2020, file photo a U.S. Army soldier walks inside a mobile surgical unit being set up by soldiers from Fort Carson, Col., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) as part of a field hospital inside CenturyLink Field Event Center, in Seattle. Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period last year, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked, as service members struggle with isolation and other impacts of COVID-19 added to the pressures of war-zone deployments and responding to national disasters and civil unrest. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest.

While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force.

And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments. Such a move would be part of a broader effort to make the wellbeing of soldiers and their families the Army’s top priority, overtaking combat readiness and weapons modernization.

The Pentagon refused to provide 2020 data or discuss the issue, but Army officials said discussions in Defense Department briefings indicate there has been up to a 20% jump in overall military suicides this year. The numbers vary by service. The active Army’s 30% spike — from 88 last year to 114 this year — pushes the total up because it’s the largest service. The Army Guard is up about 10%, going from 78 last year to 86 this year. The Navy total is believed to be lower this year.

Army leaders say they can’t directly pin the increase on the virus, but the timing coincides.

“I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is – I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an AP interview.

Pointing to increases in Army suicides, murders and other violent behavior, he added, “We cannot say definitively it is because of COVID. But there is a direct correlation from when COVID started, the numbers actually went up.”

Preliminary data for the first three months of 2020 show an overall dip in military suicides across the active duty and reserves, compared to the same time last year. Those early numbers, fueled by declines in Navy and Air Force deaths, gave hope to military leaders who have long struggled to cut suicide rates. But in the spring, the numbers ticked up.

“COVID adds stress,” said Gen. Charles Brown, the Air Force chief, in public remarks. “From a suicide perspective, we are on a path to be as bad as last year. And that’s not just an Air Force problem, this is a national problem because COVID adds some additional stressors – a fear of the unknown for certain folks.”

The active duty Air Force and reserves had 98 suicides as of Sept. 15, unchanged from the same period last year. But last year was the worst in three decades for active duty Air Force suicides. Officials had hoped the decline early in the year would continue.

Navy and Marine officials refused to discuss the subject.

Continue reading

passive, navel-gazing

Pixabay: stux

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“The practice of meditation is not a passive, navel-gazing luxury for people looking to escape the rigors of our complex world.

Mindfulness and meditation are about deeply changing ourselves so that we can be the change that we see needed for the world. —

Larry Yang

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My two cents: A daily meditation practice is an auger, uncovering fear, doubt, worry and traumatized parts.

My practice was extremely violent when old trauma was forced to leave my being.

Yes, extremely scary the initial journey but an enjoyable violent exit after that.

Never give in, Never give up!

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My two big traumas laid dormant for decades.

https://pixabay.com/users/newinsight2life-11560936/

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I knew something was different about me, but had no idea why I did not feel worthy as others or could not trust.

Childhood trauma exploded first with a family crisis and my inability to help one of my kids.

My dominate trigger happened in restaurants with someone staring at me. A daily benign slice of normal life, anyone can do. I was ashamed of this limitation.

Always knew there was no danger but my fight or flight mechanism sensed imminent danger and would explode.

Two months ago my girlfriends gangraped surfaced, my second big trauma.

Finally I understood my trigger.

It was from college, the aftermath of the frat boys who assaulted her would stare at me, kind of celebrating their gangrape at my expense.

Public shaming and them bragging about pulling a train on Cheryl, made a permanent mark on my being.

Hard to believe college guys could be this barbaric and demean for no reason.

Lesson: Now that I understand the origin of my trigger, unplugging it should be easier.

This event needs to have all the stored danger and emotional damage exit my body.

The last two months have been hell as this trauma exploded inside me.

Hopefully the intrusive thoughts run their course and I can integrate what’s left.

I can not run from this or suffering will never end.

As I use to teach, trauma is up, active and available for integration.

Childhood trauma makes us vulnerable to being traumatized in the future, our brains did not wire like a normal brain, with some parts of our development damaged.

I had to learn survival skills, ways to endure physical and emotional abuse instead of developing social skills.

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Fear and Shame from “Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness”

Pixabay: lechenie-narkomanii

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“But here are two factors that are immediately relevant to trauma-sensitive mindfulness.

The first is fear.

Trauma can make us terrified of our internal experience.

Traumatic events persist inside survivors in the form of petrifying sensations and emotions.

Understandably, survivors become afraid to feel these again. Van der Kolk described it this way:

Traumatized people . . . do not feel safe inside—their own bodies have become booby-trapped.

As a result, it is not OK to feel what you feel and know what you know, because your body has become the container of dread and horror.

The enemy who started on the outside is transformed into an inner torment. (Emerson & Hopper, 2011,)

A second barrier to integrating trauma is shame.

Connected to humiliation, demoralization, and remorse, shame is a complex, debilitating emotion that often arrives with traumatic stress.

A person who was sexually abused may berate themselves for not having fought back—even though they may know it would have made matters worse.

A soldier who freezes under fire during combat is demeaned by others, and comes to feel fundamentally flawed.

Someone who is discriminated against can internalize the form of oppression being directed at them and begin to feel defective and unworthy.

Shame is a powerful, paralyzing force.”

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