Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

My breakthroughs have always been simple

Pixabay: Care2 is the world’s largest social network for good, a…



An exercise of visualizing me as near perfect in the future has opened a 🚪 door.

First I examined my nervous system. Marty, calm, confident, relaxed, enjoying people. Oh my, that feels warm, soothing.

Could I visualize an open heart, connecting to others without effort.

I saw myself as being whole, healed, without worry, doubt or any unworthiness for the first time ever.

This felt like an important change but it was all abstract.

Then a trauma thought of betrayal, an emotional nightmare for me, my worst trigger, played in my consciousness.

My mind would wrestle, resist, challenge and then just suffer for an hour or so.

Then I switched into that new perfect me.

I was in observer mode, feeling detached from the upsetting emotions.

This new me could let all this fade without effort. I froze for a second, is this real.

Can this work?

I was amazed. For six months this trigger had haunted me everyday without mercy.

All my other skills failed to integrate this piece of old trauma.

Breakthroughs are amazing moments for those of us who suffer from PTSD.

My mind did not bring that trigger up again the rest of the day.

It had lost a little power.

Healing has not come easy or without feeling helpless and hopeless at times.

A wise man would assume it is part of the healing path for PTSD suffers.

PTSD has always presented itself as extremely complex.

Healing skills have been extremely simple, focus on the breath and creating a future perfect me.

PTSD has weaknesses, we need to find the small cracks and exploit them.

Always keep searching, never give up, never give in.



Stress, PTSD and our Heart

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A growing body of compelling scientific evidence is demonstrating a link between mental and emotional attitudes, physiological health and long-term well-being:

* 60% to 80% of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients receive stress management help.

* In a study of 5,716 middle-aged people, those with the highest self-regulation abilities were over 50 times more likely to be alive and without chronic disease 15 years later than those with the lowest self-regulation scores.

* Positive emotions are a reliable predictor of better health, even for those without food or shelter while negative emotions are a reliable predictor of worse health even when basic needs like food, shelter and safety are met.

* A Harvard Medical School Study of 1,623 heart attack survivors found that when subjects became angry during emotional conflicts, their risk of subsequent heart attacks was more than double that of those who remained calm.

* A review of 225 studies concluded that positive emotions promote and foster sociability and activity, altruism, strong bodies and immune systems, effective conflict resolution skills, success and thriving.

* A study of elderly nuns found that those who expressed the most positive emotions in early adulthood lived an average of 10 years longer.

* Men who complain of high anxiety are up to six times more likely than calmer men to suffer sudden cardiac death.

* In a groundbreaking study of 1,200 people at high risk of poor health, those who learned to alter unhealthy mental and emotional attitudes through self-regulation training were over four times more likely to be alive 13 years later than an equal-sized control group.

* A 20-year study of over 1,700 older men conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that worry about social conditions, health and personal finances all significantly increased the risk of coronary heart disease.

* Over one-half of heart disease cases are not explained by the standard risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking or sedentary lifestyle.

* An international study of 2,829 people ages 55 to 85 found that individuals who reported the highest levels of personal mastery – feelings of control over life events – had a nearly 60% lower risk of than those who felt relatively helpless in the face of life’s challenges.

* According to a Mayo Clinic study of individuals with heart disease, psychological stress was the strongest predictor of future cardiac events such as cardiac death, cardiac arrest and heart attacks.

* Three 10-year studies concluded that emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease than from smoking; people who were unable to effectively manage their stress had a 40% higher death rate than nonstressed individuals.

* A study of heart attack survivors showed that patients’ emotional states and relationships in the period after myocardial infarction were as important as the disease severity in determining their prognosis.

* Separate studies showed that the risk of developing heart disease is significantly increased for people who impulsively vent their anger as well as for those who tend to repress angry feelings.



The Heart as a Hormonal Gland



“In addition to its extensive neurological interactions, the heart also communicates with the brain and body biochemically by way of the hormones it produces. Although not typically thought of as an endocrine gland, the heart actually manufactures and secretes a number of hormones and neurotransmitters that have a wide-ranging impact on the body as a whole.

The heart was reclassified as part of the hormonal system in 1983, when a new hormone produced and secreted by the atria of the heart was discovered. This hormone has been called by several different names – atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and atrial peptide.

Nicknamed the balance hormone, it plays an important role in fluid and electrolyte balance and helps regulate the blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and many regulatory centers in the brain.

Increased atrial peptide inhibits the release of stress hormones, reduces sympathetic outflow and appears to interact with the immune system. Even more intriguing, experiments suggest atrial peptide can influence motivation and behavior.

It was later discovered the heart contains cells that synthesize and release catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine), which are neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by neurons in the brain and ganglia.

More recently, it was discovered the heart also manufactures and secretes oxytocin, which can act as a neurotransmitter and commonly is referred to as the love or socialbonding hormone.

Beyond its well-known functions in childbirth and lactation, oxytocin also has been shown to be involved in cognition, tolerance, trust and friendship and the establishment of enduring pair-bonds.

Remarkably, concentrations of oxytocin produced in the heart are in the same range as those produced in the brain.”



Triggers and our fight or flight mechanism



This is a common sense look, not an intense scientific diatribe, more my organic experience.

When PTSD literally exploded, that is my fight or flight fired one day, life was never the same. No one understands a nervous system running on tilt with all those drugs.

Cortisol and adrenaline were dumped into my blood stream. Our Sympathetic nervous system powers up instantly, jolted into action.

The problem became the number of times my fight or flight mechanism fired each day.

10 maybe 15 times a day, PTSD spotted imminent danger, dumping more and more cortisol and adrenaline.

I was so wired my body shook. I stopped functioning, not leaving the house for six months.

Fight, flight or freeze does not happen after the first couple of triggers firing.

We freeze solid, try to avoid at all costs, start to isolate and live in a panic stage for a while.

I did little healing during this extremely uncomfortable feeling.

Cortisol is used to defend us in a life and death circumstance, not be our normal at rest daily existence.

Our fight or flight mechanism rarely fires in a non traumatized brain.

We rarely run into a 1200 pound mother bear charging at us before lunch.

This pandemic and quarantine are an invisible danger that has impacted our children and every person suffering from any mental disorder.

Have gratitude for the ability to resist and take action.

Many who follow this blog take daily action and are looking for wisdom to find a way out.

We have to want to heal more than any other desire in our life.

Our loved ones need for us to do this also fir their benefit.

Lots of purpose for all of us.



Neurocardiology: The Brain Of the Heart

Figure 1.2 Microscopic image of interconnected intrinsic cardiac ganglia in the human heart. The thin, light-blue structures are multiple axons that connect the ganglia.

Courtesy of Dr. J. Andrew Armour



“While the Laceys were conducting their research in psychophysiology, a small group of cardiologists joined forces with a group of neurophysiologists and neuroanatomists to explore areas of mutual interest. This represented the beginning of the new discipline now called neurocardiology. One of their early findings is that the heart has a complex neural network that is sufficiently extensive to be characterized as a brain on the heart (Figure 1.2).

The heart-brain, as it is commonly called, or intrinsic cardiac nervous system, is an intricate network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, the same as those of the brain in the head.

The heart-brain’s neural circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain to learn, remember, make decisions and even feel and sense.

Descending activity from the brain in the head via the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS is integrated into the heart’s intrinsic nervous system along with signals arising from sensory neurons in the heart that detect pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and hormones.

The anatomy and functions of the intrinsic cardiac nervous system and its connections with the brain have been explored extensively by neurocardiologists. In terms of heart-brain communication, it is generally well-known that the efferent (descending) pathways in the autonomic nervous system are involved in the regulation of the heart.

However, it is less appreciated that the majority of fibers in the vagus nerves are afferent (ascending) in nature. Furthermore, more of these ascending neural pathways are related to the heart (and cardiovascular system) than to any other organ.



This means the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.



More recent research shows that the neural interactions between the heart and brain are more complex than previously thought.

In addition, the intrinsic cardiac nervous system has both short-term and long-term memory functions and can operate independently of central neuronal command.”



Heart-Brain Communication



“Traditionally, the study of communication pathways between the head and heart has been approached from a rather one-sided perspective, with scientists focusing primarily on the heart’s responses to the brain’s commands.

We have learned, however, that communication between the heart and brain actually is a dynamic, ongoing, two-way dialogue, with each organ continuously influencing the other’s function.

Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions).

Communication along all these conduits significantly affects the brain’s activity. Moreover, our research shows that messages the heart sends to the brain also can affect performance.”

The heart communicates with the brain and body in four ways:

Neurological communication (nervous system)

Biochemical communication (hormones)

Biophysical communication (pulse wave)

Energetic communication (electromagnetic fields)



PTSD does not own me: Attitude




Yes, I am damaged from serious childhood abuse, but PTSD does not own me!

Yes, I suffer at times, whine and complain, but my attitude of never giving up, persists.

There is a space inside me that will never give up, that will suffer with a good attitude and all our effort even without results.




Winning does not depend on me healing, it depends on me not giving up in the face of my struggles.




In the beginning of my struggles, when things got bad, I always increased my effort. My jock mentality knew trauma was the enemy and weakness was the last thing needed.

We have to find that space in our heart, that holds firm when things feel hopeless. We have to define our goals and attitude.

PTSD can humble us to our core, scare the hell out of us with what we fear most. Can you keep a good attitude and increase effort when things are bleak?

Trauma fear arrives as the scariest space we encounter, reinforced with our fight or flight mechanism dumping cortisol and adrenaline into the blood stream.

Our courage is connected to our attitude.

If we are afraid, Attitude suffers.

We heal by heading directly towards our trauma.

How many PTSD sufferers head towards their trauma?

That’s how we heal.

Avoidance powers PTSD.

I avoided at all costs in the beginning.

I learned the hard way how to heal by making every mistake.

Learn from my path, my experience, take action.

Meditation heads directly at our trauma.



PTSD: giving up is the worst decision

Pixabay: mohamed_hassan



15 years ago when my childhood abuse exploded, I had no idea how life was going to change.

You would of found a different person entirely, depending on the condition of my PTSD.

At my lowest, nervous system completely upside down, shaking uncontrollably at times, life was harsh.

PTSD had clearly won at my lowest. I got lost trying to think my way out. It made things worse, I felt helpless to impact it.

Depends on when we decide to give up. That will decide who wins.

This is when willpower is needed most.

Willpower allowed me to keep trying, keep taking action, even if nothing changed.

I had come to a place where improving may never happen.

Do I give up?

Your dad will win, came a voice from deep inside.

My fathers abuse developed my willpower as a kid.

Ironic that this willpower is what helped heal me.

Our paths and abuse are specific to us, but trauma is stored the same way.

I was shocked how humble then vulnerable I had to be to heal.

That healing of our inner world is both terrifying and soothing at times.

Even if I do not heal, my effort will not wane.

Our soul, core, true self needs to know that level of commitment.



PTSD takes one of two paths



From what I know and have read, after a traumatic event, one of three things will happen.

Some will not get PTSD, in fact there is a low percentage of people who will not develop PTSD.

Some will develop PTSD within a couple of months or immediately.

If we are going to develop PTSD, being aware of it immediately gives us a chance to heal the quickest.

Then there are people like me, who develop PTSD decades later. A crisis later in life along with getting older, weaker, exposes long buried terror. My trauma kind of fermented subconsciously.

It impacts our behavior without us knowing its presence.

For me, I knew something was different, wrong, damaged about me. It was always a mystery, I had some symptoms but never knew the cause.

So we limp along through life, we have never known anything different since childhood.

My two biggest traumas were different. My dad was nuts, a violent narcissist, I was always aware something was wrong.

This other trauma was repressed into memory, completely out of consciousness for 50 years. I do not understand how. It was shocking when it exploded.

How do you deal with trauma that is 50 years old?

The PTSD emotions are that of a 19 year old, strong, almost overpowering for a 69 year old guy.

Trauma is stored at the time it happens with all the attached emotions.

Our minds try to change the event or our reaction to the trauma. How can it feel so real?

It presents itself as near life and death.

It is irrational, cognitively impossible, but PTSD has special power until we integrate it.

I have not found a path to healing without pain, turbulence and suffering.

There is no way around our trauma. No easy solutions.

Each of us must face our trauma head on if we want relief.

This is why so few heal from serious prolonged abuse.




PTSD: Things that bring relief



My first break with fighting PTSD came when I found meditation inside Acceptance and Committment therapy.

Building focus on my breath countered my intrusive thoughts. I found a way to let thoughts clear for short periods of time.

Next, meditation slowly unplugged my fight or flight mechanism from firing for PTSD triggers. This was a monumental step towards healing and calming the fear.

Without our nervous system hitting tilt all the time, trauma loses some of its teeth.

Next, I was taught to enter a task, drop the concept of time, getting done quickly or any cognitive judgment. Be the knife that slowly slices the vegetables.

We are preparing the best meal with our present ingredients. Each task deserves our complete awareness.

That is living in a mindful way. We start by picking a mundane chore and then practice entering, deeper and deeper, until time stops.

Doing laundry used to be a chore, now my purpose is to make my grandkids look as good as possible. Time melts. Each blouse and shirt is meticulously put on a hanger.

My mind calms, my nervous system applies the brakes, I experience a soothing, grounded feeling.

This feeling is unique, I need to expand into other tasks.

Forget about time, complete the task with focus, precision and purpose.

Learn to just be (observer), without needing to judge an event as good or bad, right or wrong. Our mind always wants to look ahead, be engrossed in thought, preoccupied.

Realize preoccupied has no chance at happiness. It’s close to multitasking, awareness disappears.

With PTSD, being aware, mindful of right now, stops many of PTSD symptoms.

All healing happens in this moment, not in the past and surely not the future.

We do not act like this is true.

Wellbeing comes down to the thoughts we grasp and the awareness of this present moment.

Even if you heal, it will not last if you leave this present moment.

I have experienced being healed then plunged backward into the abyss again.

I have developed the ability to stay present, in a focused mindful way even during traumas explosion.

I can take a step back, focus, then see reality more clearly.

We have two lives, one during calm times and the other when PTSD dominates our soul.



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