Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

Reflections

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My daughter says I try to do things heroically at times.

That stung!

Instead of just healing, I ran a mindfulness group and a blog. Does she have a point, some truth in her statement.

I am guilty, oh my.

In the chronic pain group of 15, I threw my pills away and started hiking uphill strenuously. My therapist thought that was dramatic.

Maybe so, but it worked and I helped one other quit most of his meds, the rest suffered miserably.

Wow am I a drama king?

I do not apologize for my actions there. How many chronic pain patients quit their pain killers on their own?

Not many.

When I was paralyzed from guillian beret, in pain, in rehab, I refused to pace myself. They always preached, do not overtrain.

I said no, you have no idea where overtraining was at.

Arrogant as hell, I said I am an ex pro athlete and a meditator, I am different.

That embarrasses me, such arrogance, it is how athletes compete beyond their abilities.

I did their routine and then put my legs under the biggest load they could handle.

From being told I would be paralyzed, in that wheelchair a minimum of one, maybe two years, needing special chairs and nurses, ten days later I took three steps.

They were surprised. I told them if my upper legs fired, the rest of my body would follow. It happened.

To me this was not heroic. They put me in a gym, called it physical therapy, with an important goal, my life, and nothing else to occupy my mind.

Many of my peers, pro athletes could have done the same thing. We are trained to handle a load like this.

I am excellent at physical challenges, PTSD is my kryptonite.

Our greatest challenges come from our weaknesses people.

This one is kicking my ass lately.

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PTSD: Things that are automatic; Worry

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Pinterest: Zachary Phillips

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Worry.

Worry starts way before thought for me. I know the reasons, know that severe trauma in childhood impacts our genes and undeveloped brain.

My mind worries subconsciously. I have observed it, felt how even in happy times, I never felt safe or free.

I guess it stems from the inevitability of being a prisoner, I could not escape my father, I was trapped, isolated, helpless.

My father told me athletically I needed to be twice as good as everyone else, so no one would question him as coach.

With his constant criticism, this mantra evolved into I need to be twice as good as others just to be normal. Adding to this, school brought ridicule from having a big nose.

Nowhere was safe and free in childhood.

I tried to be perfect everyday. It was the only way I could survive.

That is immense pressure on an extremely unworthy kid.

Worry was always close, always percolating, always with a level of hypervigilance, on guard, life was never safe.

In childhood my worries were accurate, and every week there would be violent beatings and criticism.

When my PTSD is active, danger is alive, close and worry becomes acute.

My work, my goal is twofold. First unplug worry when it surfaces, second change the subconscious patterns.

Exploring my inner world has revealed a mind that is partially hijacked from PTSD.

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Observing my mind::::::::::::Patterns

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Observing my mind during morning meditation, using that space between me and the thoughts, I saw my mind’s pattern.

Before meditating, an email bill from Comcast was double a normal month, my mind engaged automatically.

Ten minutes later focused on the breath, my mind added many trauma worries from the past, emotionally charged events, then I saw my survival mode from a distance.

Subconsciously my mind has always hunted for danger, things that would worry me. My father raised me with violent criticism, he never said a kind word.

I had to know where he was, what mood he was in and make sure I did not do anything to disappoint him.

He wanted perfection, a cold narcissist, fear was my closest companion.

This explains the depth of what I am trying to modify. I would be frustrated if Healing was expected to be easy or quick.

Meditation has allowed me to observe my mind from a distance, I watch my thoughts and patterns at times.

It is scary, depressing to admit or write it down to share.

A decade of therapy has helped me improve, but my mind has always functioned in a hybrid survival mode.

When my complex PTSD is active, survival mode is intense, spotting danger gets the highest clearance. Looking back, I lived in some form of survival mode everyday.

Even when things were going well, feeling some happiness, I was on guard, never trusting life fully. That is difficult to write and know it is true.

I strive to change this everyday.

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Can Trauma Be Passed Down From One Generation to the Next? There’s some pretty strong evidence that parental trauma, like extreme stress (we’re looking right at you coronavirus) can alter how genes are passed down.

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Karina Margit Erdelyi:

We are living in strange times, with much of the world under quarantine for the novel coronavirus—and that’s precisely the kind of stress that may impact future offspring according to some scientists.A growing body of research suggests that trauma (like from extreme stress or starvation among many other things) can be passed from one generation to the next.

Here’s how: Trauma can leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, which can then be passed down to future generations. This mark doesn’t cause a genetic mutation, but it does alter the mechanism by which the gene is expressed. This alteration is not genetic, but epigenetic. 

We spoke with Dr. Chris Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, with appointments at the Tri-Institutional Program in Computational Biology and Medicine between Cornell, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University, and Director of the Mason Lab. He shared that epigenetics, in simplified terms, is the study of the biological control mechanisms of DNA—the light switches that turn genes on or off. What does that mean? In essence: epigenetics control how or why your genes are expressed.”

What would have seemed preposterous 20 years ago has become a fast-emerging field of study. Today the idea that a person’s experience could alter their biology, and behavior of their children and grandchildren has gained serious traction. Animal and some smaller human studies have shown that exposure to stressors like immense stress or cold can trigger metabolic changes in subsequent generations—and we may just be living in such a time as we grapple with the mounting COVID-19 crisis.

So, What Exactly Are These Epigenetic Studies?

Differences among groups who had gone through extreme physical and psychological stress, like Holocaust survivors, those who were born to parents who lived through “The Dutch Hunger Winter,” and sons of Confederate prisoner-of-war soldiers in the American Civil War, all make the case the most clearly, but they’re not the whole picture. There has also been a lot of work in the lab focused on this phenomenon, and that work really accelerated after The Human Genome Project (HGP) was completed in 2003. Here’s a look at what scientists have learned from both case studies and experiments.

How Extreme Situations Have Impacted Offspring

Mason shared that the field of epigenetics gained real traction about a decade ago, when scientists published seminal research on the Dutch Hunger Winter, an extended period of famine that took place towards the end of World War II when the Nazis blocked food supplies in October 1944, thrusting much of the Netherlands into famine. When the Dutch were liberated in May 1945, more than 20,000 had died of starvation. Pregnant women were particularly vulnerable; and the famine impacted the unborn children for the rest of their lives.

Scientists found that those who had been in utero during the famine were a few pounds heavier than average. (The thinking goes that the mothers, because they were starving, automatically quieted a gene in their unborn children involved in burning the body’s fuel.) When the children reached middle age, they had higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They also suffered higher rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and schizophrenia. When scientists looked into why, they found that these children carried a specific chemical mark—an epigenetic signature—on one of their genes.

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Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, conducted a 2015 study on the children of 40 Holocaust survivors.  She found that they had epigenetic changes to a gene linked to their levels of cortisol, a hormone involved in the stress response. She also found a distinctive pattern of DNA methylation, another epigenetic marker. The study concluded that both parents and unborn children were affected on a genetic level.

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PTSD: Revenge or Forgiveness?

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For me, intrusive thoughts are the big issue living with PTSD.

Once a trauma memory gets rolling all the negative emotions engulf us. 

One of my weaknesses is wanting revenge, wanting my abusers to pay a price, basic human nature.

This has not worked out well, actually it has damaged me more, made me suffer.

Forgiveness has been difficult, I have many harshly held resentments for the damage done to me.

This is the essence of PTSD for me now.

My PTSD has become a hybrid form since many of my traumas have been integrated or partially healed.

How much time my intrusive thoughts spend in my consciousness determines the outcome of everyday.

For that reason my mantra, I forgive everyone for everything they have done to harm me, was shortened.

I made the acronym FEE, Forgive Everyone Everything.

When an intrusive thought invades my space, immediately the acronym FEE appears followed by forgive everyone everything. 

FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING……FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING…….FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING…..FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING.

Am I a little OCD?

Repetition till it’s reflexive and intuitive makes our acronym much more effective.

Know your mind, it’s patterns and habits intimately.

When intrusive thoughts are broken, the emotions attached do not get a chance to draw me in.

This is a war between me and my PTSD, who will dominate my thoughts is the ultimate winner.

I healed the first time by not thinking about my father or my abuse.

So far it has helped clear my day of some of traumas turmoil.

Anything we can do to stay present, to stop dissociating, leaving this moment to ruminate, bodes well for us.

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Forgiveness: fertile ground for healing

Pixabay: BenteBoe

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The zoom kundalini groups focus this next 40 days is forgiveness.

My long held trauma wants to punish or take revenge on offenders in my life. Do we not want some to pay, to suffer for betrayals or damage done to us?

So this mantra, I forgive everyone for everything they have done to harm me, startled my inner world. Forgiveness is my most fertile ground, ready for healing.

Forgiving everyone first for harming us, then asking for forgiveness and receiving from anyone we have harmed, followed by forgiving ourselves for all we have done to harm ourselves.

I was taught my Zen meditation practice was better than all others, my Ego relished that feeling of superiority.

Now, I have stumbled on another form of meditation, that is better at healing trauma and much easier to practice for beginners or experienced meditators.

The lesson: Always be open to new ideas and paths, life offers a myriad of new choices.

Healing has only happened when I was able to take action.

I had to be humble and vulnerable to heal.

It is not like we are riding on a white horse conquering the vile enemy, it is being scared to death, vulnerable but still exhibiting the courage to lean into what scares us the most that brings the soothing touch of healing.

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Size of Brain’s Hippocampus Affects Response to PTSD Treatment

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My small hippocampus thought this was funny.

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https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/size-brain’s-hippocampus-affects-response-ptsd-treatment , MENTAL HEALTH May 28 2016

The size of a person’s hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for differentiating between safety and danger, is directly related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its treatment, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

While a smaller hippocampus has been linked to a higher risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, the latest study shows that a larger hippocampus increases the likelihood that treatment will have a positive effect. Findings are published online in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The study continues to strengthen theories that the hippocampus plays a large role in PTSD, including that size can indicate both severity of the condition and how effectively it can be treated, according to Yuval Neria, PhD, professor of Medical Psychology at the Mailman School of Public Health and director of the PTSD Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

“If replicated, these findings have important implications for screening and treating patients who have been exposed to trauma,” said Dr. Neria, who led this study, and is also a professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.

“For example, new recruits for military service may be scanned before an assignment to determine whether they are capable of dealing with the expected stress and trauma. Having a smaller hippocampus may be a contraindication for prolonged exposure to trauma.”

For the study, researchers recruited 76 people — 40 with PTSD and 36 trauma-exposed but healthy, resilient people — to undergo clinical assessments and MRI, and then go through 10 weeks of prolonged exposure treatment.

Among the participants, the healthy people and 23 PTSD patients who responded to treatment had larger hippocampal volume at the start of the study than the 17 PTSD patients who did not respond to the treatment.

While the researchers say the study supports ideas that hippocampal size is important both to the development of PTSD and response to treatment, more research is needed to confirm the connection and find more effective treatment.

Future research may also help to determine if PTSD patients with a smaller hippocampus respond better to medication, either alone or in combination with psychotherapy.

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LOST CHILDHOOD Mystery of the sleeping refugee children who shut down in bizarre coma-like state for YEARS after horrors of war

Two sisters lay in bed in Sweden after being struck down with resignation syndromeCredit: AP:Associated Press

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Mark Hodge: 31 Mar 2021,

“CHILDREN from refugee families in Sweden are mysteriously falling into coma-like states and not waking up for years.

The condition, called ‘resignation syndrome‘, has baffled doctors as tests on the kids’ brain show they are responsive to waking and sleeping despite being seemingly unconscious.

According to reports, the mystery illness was first seen in Sweden in the 1990s – but grew rapidly by the mid-2000s.

Between 2003 and 2005, 424 cases were reported and hundreds more children have since been struck down with the syndrome.

What is bizarre about the condition is that it only affects kids from refugee families in one country in the world.

Neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan travelled to Stockholm to study two sisters suffering from the condition.

Describing the onset of symptoms in The Times, she wrote: “Children initially became anxious and depressed.

“Their behaviour changed: they stopped playing with other children and, over time, stopped playing altogether.

“They slowly withdrew into themselves, and soon they couldn’t go to school. They spoke less and less, until they didn’t speak at all.

“Eventually they took to bed. If they entered the deepest stage, they could no longer eat or open their eyes. They became completely immobile…

“They ceased having any active participation in the world.”

The patients – whose ages range from seven to 19 – are fed through tubes and their families keep their joints mobile through physiotherapy.

According to Dr O’Sullivan, the kids “were traumatised long before they fell ill.”

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My take: Codependent

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The previous codependency post is painful to read, every molecule wants to deny all of it.

Many things about boundaries, love and pain, unworthiness, shame and guilt plus the desire for approval ring so true.

I entered adulthood without a clear autonomy, few boundaries and a ton of anxiety.

This is how childhood trauma impacts our brains, this is the area we need to heal, to integrate and work to change.

Remember, awareness is always first, take stock and identify what codependent traits you own.

I have changed some of these symptoms but stress will bring my old behavior out to play.

My meditation practice, spiritual journey allowed me to step back and observe my behavior without being part of that behavior.

We believe we are what we think or what we do.

That could not be farther from the truth.

Hell,wait til you get my age, who cares what we did at 70.

I guess high accomplishment attracts attention on the senior dating apps, but any connection to happiness is a mirage.

Healing is an inward exploration, then a clearing out of the trash, that trauma has created in our brains and bodies.

Healing is taking care of these small pieces of trauma.

Your next trigger is an opportunity to heal.

Can you take three breaths before you avoid, deny, distract or freeze.

Next time maybe we take five breaths before we scatter.

Healing happens in small increments with daily work, my opinion.

You have to take action to improve.

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Sense awareness and focusing inward

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Awareness is ever present in its purest form, our observer senses now, this present moment, unencumbered by judgment or thought.

Awareness always starts change, a healing journey, impossible to fix that which is hidden. Narcissists rarely change, they never become aware of their weaknesses. It’s like a peacock totally focused on spreading those feathers, pumping up that ego, at all costs.

Reflection never starts, behavior never modified.

Examples of awareness: hearing, listening. We fine tune our listening skills, deepening our capabilities. I sit quietly listening for the lowest decibel sound in my environment.

Then I travel beneath it, noticing the sound of my inhales and exhales first. With this accomplished, I move on to listening for my heartbeat. After that I turn my hearing inward, I listen inside my head, exploring my inner world.

All healing happens inside, this is excellent practice for integrating trauma, later on.

I have heard a symphony playing inside my head on high focus days. It was startling the first time it played.

We have an entire world inside our mind and body, this inside wellbeing impacts our external wellbeing.

If we can quiet down this much, thoughts fade away, the mind steadies and starts repairing itself.

For extra credit visualize a scenario: Sitting in a chair, back to the edge of a dense jungle, it has not rained in six months, listening like your life depended on it.

Something is coming at you from deep inside that jungle.

Instead of trying to listen far out into the jungle, quiet down inside your ears.

Be so quiet internally that the tiniest sound will ring out.

We can use our senses to ground us quickly, in a second, bringing us back to now.

Future posts about our visual awareness, smell and tactile senses to follow.

Please add your awareness insights and practices.

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