Posts Tagged ‘Dissociation’

PTSD: A contracted state of Mind

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From Bouncing Back by Linda Graham

“When we find the space between the stimulus and the response, we alter the rhythm of our doing; we wake up and create space for being.

Awareness is the knowing, not the contents that are known.

We can experience it as a vast sky that can hold all the clouds and storms moving through it.

We usually pay more attention to the contents of clouds and storms than to the sky that contains them.

As the Zen teaching tells us, when we are in a contracted state of mind, it’s like looking at the sky through a pipe.

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With mindfulness of awareness, we become adept at putting down the pipe and looking at the whole sky again.“
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My two cents: Even with PTSD I have developed an awareness practice.

It transports me out of dissociation and back to this moment.

Develop all the tools you can.

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What do you do when Dad is your bully?

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What do you do when the person bullying you is your dad?

Many midwestern fathers wanted star athletes at all costs.

The end justified their means.

This could be labeled conditioned love.

Self-worth equals performance, you never reach worthy in their eyes.

Some mothers and daughters have their destructive dance through childhood also.

My father told me I needed to be twice as good as everyone else, so no one would question his coaching decisions.

Some moms and dads use their kids to fulfill their lost dreams or bring them adulation from parenting.

My family had discussions on how we looked to the world, and how we were judged by others.

The highly dysfunctional family strives to look perfect, they strain to present a positive image.

Not protecting the family’s secret of child abuse was a mortal sin.

I was afraid to report my father, I was a kid, and I was isolated without any support.

No child wants to be abandoned, we need our abuser to survive.

There is no escape, some of us lost the birth lottery.

My father tried to control my entire existence, he ignored my younger sister.

Narcissist value their kids differently, they need adulation and the kid who delivers gets the attention.

That attention brings anger, violence, and criticism, dad demanded perfection.

Their children battle to survive the traumatic situation.

I never thought what happened 60 years ago would be more powerful today than as a kid.

A soldier seems to never be able to forget or let the war go.

Trauma brings the past to life in our subconscious.
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ACE study versus Neuroplasticity

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Neuroscientists and therapists pontificate on the brain’s ability to rewire itself.

They say we can either rewire around the damage or create new pathways to healing.

The literature is optimistic, plasticity avails us the opportunity to heal childhood abuse.

I question their stance and rhetoric.

Reality looks different.

Kaiser’s ACE study says we are more prone to disease, mental illness, cancer, incarceration, trauma, and early death.

Soldiers’ daily suicide rates average double digits.

The military should be the front line for healing trauma.

Why have they failed so miserably?

We can train them to kill but struggle to help them cope with the consequences.

I wish we had statistics on PTSD, who heals, how fast, and what percentage?

How many of us heal?

PTSD is out of control in America and the world.

The current climate of divisiveness, violence, hate, and vitriol makes the world even scarier for PTSD people.

PTSD is far more prevalent than reported, so many are undiagnosed.

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CDC

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Look at the trauma inflicted on Ukraine.

That’s real life and death events, scarring a whole country.

Let’s not forget the Russian soldiers and their acquiring PTSD?

What percentage of seriously abused kids do you think heal?
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The ACE Study

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/about.html

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Beginning in 1994, the “adverse childhood experiences” (ACE) Study, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente assessed the relationship between adult health risk behaviors and childhood abuse and household dysfunction.

  • The study began with a sample of 9,508 individuals representing a 70.5% response rate.
  • Respondents were given a score of one for each ACE category that they experienced.

Findings showed that people who experienced four or more adverse childhood events had:

  • increased risk for smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse
  • increased risk for depression and suicide attempts
  • poor self-rated health
  • 50 or more sexual partners
  • greater likelihood of sexually transmitted disease
  • challenges with physical inactivity, and severe obesity

A follow-up sample combined with baseline data for a total sample of 17,337. Additional findings show that ACE Score is associated with:

  • likelihood of attempted suicide across the lifespan
  • increased risk for broken bones
  • heart disease
  • lung disease
  • liver disease
  • multiple types of cancer

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Check out the blog: https://ccsme.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ACE-Chart-and-ACE-Score-Questions-Feb-2011.pdf

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PTSD: Avoidance

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The question is not if we avoid, but how much.

I avoided the most when my fight or flight mechanism was firing 10 plus times a day.

My agoraphobia lasted six months, it left me scarred, afraid, and lost.

Meditation and exposure therapy helped me past agoraphobia.

It was a great victory however it was painful and I suffered.

Childhood abuse (Complex PTSD) wires the brain differently, mine searched for danger, then fired my fight or flight mechanism for protection.

Remember that shuts down some of the executive branch, our prefrontal cortex.

Triggered, we sense a near-lethal threat, the prefrontal cortex is confused and partially offline.

Our whole being shifts to surviving, we are scared to death.

Thinking is confused as cortisol and adrenaline flood our system.

Forget trying to explain this to others, you have to experience an out-of-control nervous system, the severity, and FEAR produced.

My PTSD and avoidance have matured.

Now, I navigate life a little better but do not even think about going to social functions, crowds, or certain events.

If I have to go to a function, I can block out and distract myself to limit the damage.

Normal people do not understand how much energy and pain we go through preparing to face our PTSD Triggers.

Then there are all the questions and exploration of the interaction afterward.

Our mind wants to judge, and prepare for the next time we venture into dangerous waters.

Childhood abuse brings a danger that never leaves our brain, it is like a big stain ruining the whole carpet.

How does avoidance impact your life?
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PTSD: Failure is Subjective

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My father raised me to fear failure and demanded perfection, a regular narcissistic behavior.

He told me I needed to be twice as good as everyone else, it was not a suggestion.

It was hard to fit in, to make friends when I was tasked with destroying them.

He wanted me to be separate, and isolated to strengthen his influence.

I was a thing to my father, a tool to make him look good.

Lacking empathy, he enforced his doctrine with violence and criticism, the whole experience was abusive.

Most of my desires in life were connected to this pursuit. Failure would trigger me, fear of failure impacted my behavior and nervous system

I would do almost anything to not fail.

This was true at 10, at 25 and now at 70. It has survived untouched for six decades.

How?

The drive to be perfect, a success, dominated a frantic childhood, then followed me into baseball and adult life.

Survivors of serious abuse live a life without direction, it is a dysfunctional and confusing existence.

At 30 I felt like a failure after graduating college and playing 6 years of pro baseball.

The only explanation is Complex PTSD?

Normal kids acted differently than me when I entered school.
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Part two: How Emotional Abuse in Childhood Changes the Brain

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“This outcome could be related to attachment theory, or the idea that our early relationships with caregivers influence the way we relate to people later on in life.

Emotional abuse and neglect don’t allow for a secure attachment to form between a child and caregiver, which causes distress for the child and influences the way they see themselves and others.


Adults who went through childhood emotional abuse or neglect may also experience:

. Emotional dysregulation

. Feelings of hopelessness

. Low self-esteem

. Negative automatic thoughts

. Problems coping with stressors

How childhood abuse or neglect affects children later in life depends on a variety of factors:

. How often the abuse occurred

. The age the child was during the abuse

. Who the abuser was

. Whether or not the child had a dependable, loving adult in their life

. How long the abuse lasted

. If there were any interventions in the abuse

. The kind and severity of the abuse

. Other individual factors”
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How PTSD and Emotions Like Worry Are Connected

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By Matthew Tull, PhD

PTSD and Worry

“Several studies have found that people with PTSD may be more likely to worry than those without PTSD.

Why do we often see excessive worry among people with PTSD?

Well, PTSD is associated with high levels of anxious arousal, as well as other strong emotions.

In addition, people with PTSD may have difficulties identifying healthy ways of managing these intense emotional experiences.

Therefore, given that worry may temporarily bring down arousal and can distract people from more emotionally distressing topics, people with PTSD may worry in order to obtain some relief from their distress.

In fact, one study found that desires to avoid emotions explained the association between PTSD and worry.

Unfortunately, as with other emotionally avoidant coping strategies, this relief will be short-lived.

Because the anxiety is not really being addressed or processed, it will only come back and sometimes stronger than before.“
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My two cents: Worry is connected to fear, survival mode, and PTSD.

Worry helps spot danger, in a way my subconscious uses it to protect me.

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Old age and PTSD

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At 70, therapy has been productive, however, the residual trauma combined with my dysfunctional brain wiring brings suffering.

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It is all emotional but powerful, mostly abstract, and always confusing.

I fight for free parts of my day, space where PTSD thoughts fade for a while.

I do not trust the universe, the unknown, or what else could happen today, tomorrow, or next week.

I am old and weak now, the mirage of being healed has long passed me by.

It has been a driven life, grinding through decades without direction, running from something deep inside.

Deep attachments have been few, as fear and distrust made relationships shallow and dysfunctional.

Covid and old age have given my PTSD enormous power over the last two years.

Life changed instantly and drastically when my PTSD exploded during a family crisis over a decade ago.

It wears you out, even if you are brave enough to take action and improve.

It’s never-ending, the thoughts never stop, and the pain never leaves for good.

How do you stop a brain wired to spot danger, set up to worry for protection?

Therapy never rewired my brain.

How much rewiring is possible?

Do they even know?
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Fear and worry arrive before Thought

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My kid brain was always grappling with fear, worry, and doubt, always receiving negative feedback from my caregivers, always anxious, and on edge.

This made a lasting impact on early habits, the fear must have been off the charts to emblazon such a permanent trait.

Worry, doubt, and fear were my dominant emotions, I hid back then, trying to avoid failure.

I find myself at 70 becoming aware of this negative river flowing under the surface, in my subconscious.

It is all abstract, the mind’s pattern of thought, our neural network, what comes out of the ether.

What’s the point?

To attempt change, awareness is the first necessity.

How do you change that which precedes thought, and consciousness?

My fear and worry show up before thought.

So far my successes have come from discounting the fear and worry after they enter consciousness.

I am at a loss to change my worry and doubt in my subconscious, sort of changing the wiring of my brain.

At 70 is that even feasible.

Healing starts with awareness.
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