Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

Part One: IN THE FAMILY TREE Parents’ adverse experiences leave biological traces in children By Rachel Yehuda

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FIGHT, FLIGHT—OR FREEZE

“What did it all mean? Unraveling the tangle of trauma, cortisol and PTSD has occupied me and many other researchers for the decades since. In the classic fight-or-flight response, identified in the 1920s, a threatening encounter triggers the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. The hormones prompt a cascade of changes, such as quickening the pulse and sharpening the senses to enable the threatened person or animal to focus on and react to the immediate danger. These acute effects were believed to dissipate once the danger receded.

In 1980, however, psychiatrists and other advocates for Vietnam War veterans won a prolonged struggle to get post-traumatic stress included in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). It was the first official recognition that trauma could have long-lasting effects. But the diagnosis was controversial. Many psychologists believed that its inclusion in the DSM-III had been politically, rather than scientifically, driven—in part because there were no scientific explanations for how a threat could continue to influence the body long after it was removed.

Complicating matters, studies of Vietnam veterans were generating perplexing results. In the mid-1980s neuroscientists John Mason, Earl Giller and Thomas Kosten of Yale University reported that veterans with PTSD had high levels of adrenaline but lower levels of cortisol than patients with other psychiatric diagnoses. Because stress usually causes stress hormones, including cortisol, to rise, many researchers, including myself, were skeptical of these observations. When I joined the Yale laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow a year later, I studied a different group of veterans using other methods for measuring cortisol. To my astonishment, I replicated the finding.

I still couldn’t believe that the low cortisol levels had anything to do with trauma. Surely the Holocaust was as terrible as the Vietnam War, I reasoned—and growing up as a rabbi’s daughter in a community full of Holocaust survivors, many of them my friends’ parents, I’d noticed nothing out of the ordinary about them. I was sure that they didn’t have either PTSD or low cortisol, I told my mentor, Giller. “That’s a testable hypothesis,” he responded. “Why don’t you study that, instead of conjecturing?”

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Distorted Time

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Yesterday was a tough day.

PTSD feels like distress, time is distorted, and nerves are frayed.

It is not geographical, we can not run from it, it is attached to us.

PTSD overrides all other cognitive functions, life stops, it is called survival mode.

The war is inside my head.

This war occupies enormous amounts of time, the chance to be happy never gets enough time or energy.
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PTSD: My daily challenges

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Parts of every day are filled with trauma memories and depressive thoughts.

Resentment and shame overflow my soul, and unworthiness permeates my being.

This daily battle is the price I pay to stay alive.

Distrust grows when PTSD brings these strong feelings of unworthiness.

I am both ashamed and afraid of these destructive thoughts that enter my consciousness.

A separate entity lives inside kids who were abused.

I battle this demon.

How would you live this life?

Remember I have a decade of intense effort trying to heal using therapists, reading, and meditating.
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PTSD is Invisible like chronic pain

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PTSD is invisible, others can not see it, including family, friends, or strangers.

Inside my 15-person chronic pain group, predominately spinal injuries, those with low back injuries received the most empathy from strangers.

They used a cane or a walker, strangers could see their pain.

Strangers could not see my neck fusions and nerve killings.

Not many see our mental disorder, PTSD.

It too is invisible.

Even if they did, it’s not their problem or concern.

People are wrapped up trying to fulfill their desires or living their own dysfunctional life.

I learned early on, PTSD is our internal battle.

Healing and quality of life are determined by our actions not others’ opinions.

PTSD is like the boogie man from childhood, no one else can see or hear him.

He has a voice, voluminous intrusive thoughts, and those crisis chemicals of cortisol and adrenaline.

It is why I can be with friends in a mundane environment, where I feel panic for my life while they are carefree and calm..

It is invisible to them, all except my numbness, my quietness and my hypervigilance may give me away.

Do we try to act normal, hiding our panic?

Are we feeling vulnerable, ashamed, scared or angry?

How do we express our condition to a friend?

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Hemispheres of the brain

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From Bouncing Back by Linda Graham

The right hemisphere processes our experiences holistically: for example, we recognize someone’s face all at once rather than adding up individual perceptions of the eyes, nose, lips, and other features to make a whole.

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It processes any situation as a gestalt, the big picture, automatically.

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Because of its extensive neural connections with the limbic system in the lower brain the source of our most primitive emotions the right hemisphere is sometimes referred to as our “emotional brain.”

It is the seat of the sense of self who we know ourselves to be in relation to the world and the seat of our common humanity.

In contrast, the left hemisphere processes experience logically (for example, by identifying cause and effect), linearly (by evaluating one piece of data after another in sequence), and through language.

(The verbal processing and speech centers are located on the left side of the brain.)

The left hemisphere matures in the developing brain significantly later than the right and so it has fewer neural connections with the limbic system than the “emotional” right does.

The left hemisphere has been dubbed the rational side of the brain: its massive powers of analysis, judgment, and planning are what have made science and civilization possible.

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Approval and Condemnation

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“As much as we thirst for approval we dread condemnation.”

Hans Selye

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My two cents: Approval is far more important than we realize.

We want our families’ support and approval from strangers.

It is why we join teams, organizations, political parties, and gangs.

We fear criticism and condemnation.

I fear condemnation more than I crave approval.

How about you?

PTSD: Never Good Enough

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The consequences of my dad demanding perfection: As one therapist put it, on your gravestone is etched, “Never Good Enough”.

My first revelation that my childhood was horrific came out of his mouth.

My dad never showed remorse, he was a tyrant inside our house, but his presentation toward the world was different.

Constant criticism and violence were the weapons of enforcement dad used.

I became the ultimate overachiever, fear and the need for approval dominated my life.

Being the ultimate grinder, thinking I could reach peace of mind through accomplishment failed miserably.

Failure did not dull my effort while I was younger.

Being 70, I am older and weaker, not able to muster a herculean effort and attitude anymore.

I always blamed my unworthiness for my plight.

Unworthiness was a constant companion, I thought it was my failure, not my abusive father’s.

We are so confused when our caregiver harms us.

I have studied normal people, they have amazing abilities.

They trust, attach and feel safe with each other.

They have a natural joy around others while we feel danger and mistrust.

Our anxiety and fear levels are foreign to them.

I have lived my life predominately in survival mode.

It makes all the difference in the world, survival mode is designed for surviving imminent threats, not a way of living.

A nonabused child rarely enters survival mode and if he/she does it is for short periods.

It is the difference between having peace of mind, and feeling safe compared to spotting and avoiding danger at all costs.


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PTSD: Relationships

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Abused kids struggle in adult life with relationships.

We bring drama, mood swings, anxiety, lack of trust, and PTSD with us.

If we are married it takes a special mate to navigate our PTSD symptoms.

We can not act normally when triggers explode or PTSD activates with emotional intrusive thoughts.

When we isolate or avoid, how do we explain this to our mate?

We struggle with relationship responsibilities.

Before my PTSD exploded, I was married.

Afterward I was a completely different person, life narrowed for me.

In due time, the marriage collapsed. Looking back, it was mainly my fault.

A triple rollover, followed by spinal fusions, and nerve killings delivered chronic pain to my PTSD.

Hard to have a relationship when you go agoraphobic.

Inside the 15-person chronic pain group, all but one of us lost our mate.

The men left the women immediately, followed by the wives and girlfriends who stuck it out a little longer.

I subconsciously picked the female version of my abusive father for a wife.

We are attracted to familiarity without being aware of it.

PTSD is generational in my family, my dad, my first wife and the father of my grandkids all share strong narcissistic traits.

My life before PTSD exploded was different.

I can not envision that guy in my head anymore.
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PTSD; Feeling Disconnected

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When PTSD is active, life feels disconnected.

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It is like having a barrier between me and the world.

Avoiding or isolating enhances PTSD’s thick fog of confusion.

I inhabit my inner world when PTSD explodes.

A battle of emotions connected to traumatic thought unfolds.

It is high anxiety, and perceived danger connected to perceived fear.

The danger rarely materializes, but it does not seem to matter in this abstract world.

My life before PTSD activated was drastically different.

I did not know what PTSD was before it exploded at 55.

I had mild symptoms that we’re not recognized as PTSD, they we’re just odd habits and strange quirks.

Life changed one night, PTSD exploded, and it has never been the same.

The damage abuse wrought on a child seems permanent.

Like a soldier haunted by flashbacks, it never quite goes away.

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PTSD: Expectations

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Does PTSD or do we lower expectations? I am way too close to decipher.

The bottom line, we avoid till life feels safe.

I think expectations are connected to desires. Desires expand expectations, whether satisfaction follows or not.

Complex PTSD narrows our lives, restricts our expectations.

I know why sufferers numb themselves into oblivion or kill themselves.

We have very dark moments, weaknesses and incredibly powerful chemicals that reinforce those negative thoughts.

It is not a fulfilling life, not a happy existence, it is a vast empty desert.

Our lack of attachment is startling, we can exist with minimal contact.

At times we avoid public spaces, crowds, theaters, etc.

Life feels safer this way.

Facing my fears, using exposure therapy for my triggers, calmed my nervous system.

Unfortunately, it did not heal my PTSD.

Any further healing for me will come from opening my heart or a spiritual healing not more therapy.
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