Posts Tagged ‘chronic pain’

PTSD has exploded with old age, retirement

A rare peak behind the curtain the real me.

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Work and play always kept that demon inside, chasing me at bay.

With retirement and large swaths of time to think, I finally see my life, the big picture.

I am devastated.

Like many, we did not have a chance as little kids.

My childhood abuse followed me into college, where betrayal broke that abused little boys back.

It was stored as the most horrific thing that ever happened to me. I can not change how this was stored, the intensity or the harm or the event itself. Oh I have tried.

I never realized, I should never have entered a relationship with a partner, ever. I did not know the risk, the damage for life that would happen.

Childhood abuse left me damaged and incapable of ever handling betrayal, let alone public ridicule. My father so isolated me, I never confided in a soul.

I did not have anyone I trusted, anyone I would ever share humiliation, shame, loss or weakness with.

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I lived life inside my head, alone, since childhood. I was extremely vulnerable and had no clue.

I have paid a heavy price for loving someone. I never trusted a mate again. It was not conscious or cognitive, everytime a girlfriend or wife would go out alone, my bags were packed.

I did not understand why my gut would churn, my nervous system would go to tilt or why I suffered. This always caused conflict and suffering for me.

It was impossible for me to attach in a healthy way. But it felt like failure to be single.

I found it impossible to be close or trust any partner after college. I gave what was available, much of me had shut down without me knowing it.

PTSD was alive but I never knew it.

My cognitive rationalizations now, common sense, can not reach this nightmare. We can not cognitively reach ptsd or change it by talking to it, like many think.

It plays in a venue that thinks its worse than death. Somehow I need to proces this, integrate this, not try to change it.

Hard for an old guy to handle this level of anxiety, humiliation and outright fear, now.

How in the world do you fix this?

I have done the work, journeyed for a decade on the road less traveled and this is what remains.

PTSD does not care, we can suffer till we die.

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Childhood abuse destroys a kids ability to trust others or himself/herself

Pixabay: GregMontani

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How do you trust when one parent is your violent abuser and the other is his enabler?

Conditioned love from your caregivers, places all self-worth and value as a person, on performance (approval) for the dominant abuser. 

I was conditioned to have no intrinsic value except for the achievements my narcissistic parent picked out as valuable.

My narcissistic father demanded I would be twice as good (at baseball) as any other kid in my hometown.

At five I was informed I would be a great professional baseball player or else.

How does a little boy handle such as outrageous demand. Oh yea, I played six years for the Baltimore Orioles.

Now, is my self worth dependent on being twice as Good? 

You better damn well believe it did in that household.

Sad as a little boy, that’s exactly how my father valued me or I was beat violently and portrayed verbally as worthless.

He did not care about anything else, cold, calculated and extremely violent was his demeanor.

Now, at 69, weakened by chronic pain, spinal fusions, and complex PTSD, my abuse overwhelms me.

Once a strong advocate for fighting for every breath, now my spirit is tired of the humiliation I have endured.

My strength is gone, endurance crippled by a serious car wreck, and my chronic pain grows as I age.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I have read enough, meditated enough and healed enough to understand the mountain I faced from birth.

With ten years of intensive healing under my belt, the mountain of trauma inside my brain keeps pouring out.

My expectations: I thought all my effort would heal me.

I did not expect trauma would never stop haunting me, or would be endless until I die.

For me, life has been filled with abuse, betrayal and suffering.

I think I have fought the good fight, my reward is always more trauma to endure.

I am lost in the middle of this recent eruption of old trauma.

It feels like trauma has consumed my existence, stole my life.

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What’s Your ACE Score? Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)

Three Types of ACEs

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There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — racism, bullying, watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, involvement with the foster care system, involvement with the juvenile justice system, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

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ACEs Increase Health Risks

According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for various health problems later.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Credit: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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Prior to your 18th birthday:

Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Were your parents ever separated or divorced?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was your mother or stepmother:

Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a household member go to prison?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score

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Does your Pain define you?

https://pixabay.com/users/AnnaliseArt-7089643/

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A triple rollover on south 5 downtown San Diego landed me in a chronic pain group.

Mostly spinal injuries from accidents, I was shocked , these were my peers.

My chronic pain therapist, a PhD pain psychologist told me, it is like you entered a third world country.

Doctors, surgeries, physical therapy, therapists, work comp and pain become your waking companions.

No one understands your limitations, unless you have a cane or walker, pain is invisible.

Living with a serious chronic pain person is not easy.

14 of the 15 mates in that chronic pain group left their spouses, divorced.

You end up by yourself, hurting, alone, confused with severe depression.

15 out of 15 said, I just want to be like I was before the accident. That thought will bring you suffering forever, we were never going to be like we were.

Chronic pain takes much more of a toll than others realize.

Took me a few years to compress my chronic pain and get some of my life back.

Now I hike five days a week, 4 miles uphill 60 stories briskly.

It takes time and effort to learn how to adjust and adapt.

Conclusion: No one could see my pain, my suffering.

If I needed others to understand or give me sympathy, suffering would never leave me.

I learned to keep my pain limitations to myself.

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“Living with your heart wide open”: Self Authorship

https://pixabay.com/users/Clker-Free-Vector-Images-3736/

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“Author and organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley describes this dynamic well: “We notice what we notice because of who we are.

We create ourselves by what we choose to notice. Once this work of self-authorship has begun, we inhabit the world we have created.

We self-seal.

We don’t notice anything except those things that confirm what we already think about who we already are…

When we succeed in moving outside of our normal processes of self-reference and can look upon ourselves with self-awareness, then we have a chance at changing.

We break the seal. We notice something new”.

This is a powerful insight into not only how the concept of self is perpetuated by habits of mind and perception, but also how you can free yourself and discover a much larger experience of who you are.

Perhaps none of us discovers who we really are until we free ourselves from concepts of who we are and are not.

Therefore we begin this book by exploring how the fiction of self is created and maintained.

The sense of self is formed in early childhood and gradually hardens into self-concepts and beliefs, creating a personal identity that can define and restrict you for the rest of your life.”

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It takes a while for us to understand PTSD is the enemy and there is an all out war to be waged.

https://pixabay.com/users/Malasoca-647152/

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This is my mindset, I see some things in black and white, different than others. Not right or wrong just different.

Chronic pain and especially childhood PTSD were my enemy.

In my chronic pain group of 15, I was the only one who did not fear his pain. My dad had beat me daily for a whole childhood, pain was a constant companion.

Chronic pain was different from the acute pain he so regularly delivered. Being familiar with pain lessens it’s sting.

With PTSD the fear is reinforced with cortisol and adrenaline, giving the trauma memory real time power, so it seems.

Trauma is stored in a life threatening environment with parts of our mind shut down. The memory is never clear and our triggers manifest in the strangest ways.

PTSD stole my life, naturally I knew this mental disorder was my enemy.

As with sports, I learned everything about him. What powered him, symptoms, what lessens his power and I searched for his weakness.

That is how an athlete competes, I used my strengths, brought chronic pain out to battle. Hiking was the battlefield I chose to attack my chronic pain on.

With PTSD it was the firing of my fight or flight mechanism, that became the battlefield.

Exploring my triggers everyday, I found its weakness.

When our fight or flight mechanism fires, PTSD is at its apex of power.

Ironically PTSD was at its most vulnerable.

This was the battle field I chose.

Withstanding my adrenal stress mechanism firing, staying present, drained PTSD of its power.

Understand depression, chronic pain or PTSD is the enemy, meeting on the battlefield of your choice is how we improve.

Healing is not pleasant or anxiety free.

My healing was emotionally violent inside as evil left my organism.

This is ugly business but it is the path out of suffering.

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Anything that fluctuates can be influenced

https://pixabay.com/users/ar130405-423602/

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Both Chronic pain and PTSD entered my life with me being clueless about their power, intensity and mechanism.

It took me 6 months with each to understand the challenge and form a plan to cope.

One of the first patterns I witnessed was how PTSD and chronic pain fluctuated during the day and night.

So my pain or PTSD did not have a constant intensity or duration.

PTSD rotated from calm to extremely triggered in seconds. Some times were calm and easier, others pure terror.

Chronic pain has an ebb and flow, intense times along with easier times.

My relationship with chronic pain was different than the other 14 in our chronic pain group. I took action, lost the fear of my pain and improved.

They lived a sedentary life filled with 30 pills a day, they suffered.

I hiked uphill causing my pain to spike, then the music was cranked, my goal was to never let pain stop my legs from moving.

Hiking another 15 minutes with my pain as a companion, in a month my chronic pain started to compress. I did not fear my pain after that month.

PTSD was a roller coaster ride of terror, followed by mental anguish and then worry about future anxiety.

The only breaks happened during times getting lost in a chore, nature or a hobby.

I found meditation provided the focus and platform to observe my fears without being part of them.

It takes time, courage and willpower.

My recent eruption of a buried trauma has challenged my skills.

I forgot how intense a serious trauma can be.

Taking action, even the slightest action moves us out of victimhood.

Better to resist, to take action.

Being sedentary powers chronic pain and PTSD.

Thoughts proliferate in a sedentary environment of Pain or Trauma.

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Purpose

Sam Rowley’s “Station Squabble” has been picked from more than 48,000 images to claim a wildlife photography award from London’s Natural History Museum, voted for by the public.

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My purpose for starting this blog was to fill in the areas that were missing in my healing journey.

 

There were many things that I learned from research and daily action that therapists never mentioned.

 

Hell, no therapist challenged me or gave me homework. I brought the books and questions to them.

 

From my exhaustive research and actions to heal, important things were kept while things that did not work were jettisoned.

 

From all this, a healing model emerged with a breathing track as focus.

 

There were no phrases like post traumatic growth or books like “Buddhas Brain” detailing the new discoveries of neuroscience. Meditations impact on healing trauma, created two new therapies, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Dialectic Behavioral Therapy.

 

I had developed skills while surviving childhood abuse, determined willpower, ability to endure pain and isolation that other kids had little exposure to.

 

PTSD is confusing and healing feels like triggers erupting at times. A mentor can point the correct direction, triggers are opportunities to heal.

 

Never heard a therapist say that, but it is the easiest path to healing. Stay present, focused on the breath while your fight or flight erupts allows healing to begin.

 

I had found a way out of a deep, terrifying hole of complex PTSD. I suffered with my fight or flight exploding 15 times a day, hiding in my dark garage.

 

PTSD was horrible and death would have been the easy way out.

 

A big lesson, we never give in, never give up, we die in the end anyway. I had determined not to die a victim but a person trying to get better.

 

Results were out of my control, but my effort each day would be total.

 

That gave my life purpose when nothing else helped.

 

After healing, improving or whatever word you choose, I had enormous amounts of time available. My dissociating had curtailed, my Worry had faded and an almost euphoric feeling from not suffering, not being terrified brought a smile.

 

Well that has faded and life is still a challenged.

 

One of my most valuable possessions, supporting others, sharing their healing journey, is priceless to me, permanent.

 

This blog was built to support those trying to improve, taking daily action, then needing their questions answered.

 

What is your Purpose?

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Our doors are open

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It takes strong focus skills to withstand a trigger firing. Our defense mechanism has detected a life threatening situation, reason stops working when this fight or flight fires.

The mind speeds up, time is distorted, perception clouds, panic spreads.

Irrational or PTSD fear makes no difference to a body trying to survive a perceived lethal threat. Cortisol and adrenaline are dumped, respiration, BP and heart rate spike.

Loss of fine motor skills and tunnel vision add to our time distortion and confusing state.

We try to escape at all costs. It is an internal hurricane blowing 200 mph scary thoughts at us.

Sitting quietly, grounded, surrendering to these fears is our ultimate goal.

This is the door to wellbeing, a healing portal of transformation.

We heal by not running, not avoiding, not thinking but accepting, then surrendering to our thoughts (trauma).

This seems an enormous, complex undertaking.

Start with mastering one breath.

Build focus, practice daily, progress to five breaths, then ten, etc.

This simple, specific, concrete, immediate task holds gargantuan, humongous, colossal power.

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Does your life with Chronic Pain feel like this?

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My chronic pain was like the wind, invisible, powerful and relentless at times.

How was I going to battle such a ghost. I named my pain Mr P. after the old Happy Days show, Mr. C.

Mr. P. Was my nemesis when I hiked. Mr. P. wanted to stop my legs from moving, from confronting my fear, from taking control of my mind back.

My mindset was centered around my greatest strength, my willpower, determination. Always incorporate your strengths as part of your solutions.

My mindset as usual, a jock accepts the challenge before him/her. No way was Pain going stop my legs from moving!

My exercise routine became an emotional battle between pain and my will.

In a way it was exhilarating. I convinced myself not many humans could hike in such pain day after day.

We jocks always imagined being at bat with the bases loaded, two outs bottom of ninth, game seven of World Series. This was my chronic pain version.

Visualization is powerful. I would imagine myself in “The Last of the Mohicans” running with Hawkeye, running for our life.

Music gave me a beat that I could synchronize my legs with. My legs would move to a beat when they were exhausted, ready to quit.

Chronic pain became a friend. Adversity makes us stronger.

Chronic pain strengthened my meditation practice. I truly learned how to focus and dissipate my pain level.

Pain constricted, became much more bearable, then faded as months passed. Aerobic exercise and meditation were my tools.

I would set in the middle of my pain with my breath, no judgments just observing.

My breath could dissipate my pain. My familiarity allowed me to sit calmly inside my pain. My pain received no energy from fear, attention or thought.

After a few years I had compartmentalzed my chronic pain.

Acute pain is a different animal.

Pain eats energy but does not touch my soul, or my enthusiasm for life.

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