Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

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Biology And Disorder: Can We Learn To Override Enough Of Our Ptsd?

Discussion in 'Studies & Research' started by Muse, Oct 9, 2011.

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  1. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Because I have recently been most troubled by my hyperarousal, and because I have noted a similar symptom in Autism and ADHD children and adults, I have long hypothesized that a similar neurological disorder is at work. After researching the potential similarity between Autism and PTSD and hypersensititity to stimulation, I did finally find that researach is demonstrating similar brain/trauma responses in lab animals and is being studied as the possible etiology (cause) of the problems in the nervous systems and brains of people with PTSD and Autism, although etiology is not being targeted as much as I would like as this is all newly emerging. The etiology of PTSD and corresponding FLASHBACKS as a major difference in trauma survivors who go on to have PTSD is studied in Right/Left brain traumatic Memory storage is discussed on a link to the main site I found here: [DLMURL][/DLMURL]. To summarize: those who have PTSD do not store the trauma memory verbally on the left/frontal side of the brain. They dissociate more during the truama, and thereby store the information on the right/rear area. This is pre-verbal memory, where non-verbal experience is stored, and such memories in that region are primary visual, and other senses, without verbal components. Thus, Flashbacks are not easily narrated, as the memories lack narration. Those who experience their traumatic memories as mostly narrative are less prone to develop PTSD than those who experience them as experiential/sensory and store them on the right.

    The fear/reptillian brain and poly-vagal study by "Stephen W. Porges, Professor and Director of the Brain-Body Center in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, explains that the vagus nerve—the primary nerve for the parasympathetic nervous system—has two major branches: an ancient unmyelinated branch that we share with reptiles and a more recently evolved myelinated branch unique to mammals that "is linked to the cranial nerves that control facial expression and vocalization."
    Porges's polyvagal theory proposes an automatic-response hierarchy emphasizing that when mammals detect they are in a safe environment, their bodies automatically activate the more recently developed myelinated branch of the vagus nerve that promotes "calm states, to self-soothe and to engage." What Porges calls the social engagement system determines the quality of interpersonal exchanges..." (source:

    Thus, if we can narrate and begin to activate the left brain deliberately, can we by pass the right side more?
    #1 Muse, Oct 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
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  3. 712xx

    712xx Well-Known Member

    Maybe, if the personality is a natural extrovert -- where speaking is their primary tool for communication. Don't think this would work for introverts (especially extreme intros who rank above 80%) where speaking isn't a dominant tool. For intros like myself, writing/typing & drawing works much better.

    Left brainers (& extroverts) have little trouble expressing themselves in words. Right brainers (& extreme introverts) know & understand what they mean, but often have trouble finding the words to express what is in their head so that everyone else understands. Listen to people give directions.

    The left brainer >> "From here, go south 2 miles and turn east on Elm. Go 3 miles and turn west ontoDome Rd."

    The right brainer >> "Turn left (pointing left), by the park over there (pointing again). You’ll go by a strip mall and a Sonic. At the next light, turn toward the gas station."

    Right brainers back up everything visually using physical markers. If we don’t write it down, we won't remember it. Information is much better processed when we write & draw than if we only hear & see the info. We have to use the right brain to function, or it would be like a right handed person using their left hand for important tasks – they can learn to do it, but would be much slower, clumsier, and the results will be sloppy.

    Interesting topic! Thanks for posting. Would like to read more of these kinds of ideas. It makes me feel like people are really thinking about these things and want to help. I have a lot of ideas, but there are not many nerds like me who get excited about engineering theories for mental illness cures beyond medication.

    You might enjoy reading the following web page ... here is the site address (take out the spaces)
    web-us . com / brain / lrbrain

    However, I’ve found that education (for me) has helped me override my reactive behavior – doesn’t ease the body’s nervous & immune system reactions – but by knowing the specific biology & chemistry behind what my body is feeling & expressing (like hives, psoriasis, acne, pealing, chest pain, breathing issues … etc) … (& knowing it is an overreaction & will ease with time) … knowledge is kinda like having a industrial handle to hang on to during a class 4-5 tornado. Knowledge, in my case, is the power I needed to help me through the rough patches. Talking has never helped me.
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  4. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Talk therapy for PTSD has had the effect of burnout on both client and therapist. For everyone here who has mentioned this happening, don't take it too personally. If your therapist says that talk therapy is effective for PTSD, where has she or he been for the last thirty to fifty years? More and more, studies and clinical experience have suggested for most that therapists who use EMDR and other modalities have less burnout with trauma patients than those who rely on talk alone.

    However, as Anthony and others have suggested, talking with someone who is a close and trusted friend or intimate partner is healing, and only takes time and emotional investment. But too often, we try to hide our trauma and everything connected with it (which is "us" by the way) from ourselves and our friends and family. We become Expert at this; it's hardwired into our biology to fight/flight/freeze around trauma, and with PTSD, that response doesn't just "go away" once it's over. No, we get triggered and the first thing we do is FFF with the emotions and unpacking of the trauma. We don't speak of it, even to ourselves. There is often no verbalizing of it, even internally. It stays trapped as raw emotion, raw pain, raw memories, raw body memories, raw terror and animal/body reactions. We feel like an animal, reduced to the primalness of our body and it's ways of dealing with trauma.

    Just this morning as I woke, I was reminded of my trauma, and my left arm, as it has done on many occasions before, began to spasm, to move on its own. Once when receiving a massage from a trusted massage therpist, this same arm broke away from her touch and moved away from her. (As I typed just now, "him" came out on the screen.) My left arm retains memories of trauma and reacts on it's own. But my brain is complicit. It just typed out "him" when I thought "moved away from...". Dissociation is the word that doesn't quite catch what is at work on us when these things happen.

    How we work through our traumas is still somewhat a mystery to all of us. Do we come out the other end different? Certainly. Are we "healed"? That is not clear to me yet. If my body/mind/spirit has carried this for thirty years, and it can get "worse" as it has in the last two years, to this severe a level, then, I have a hard time with the thinking that "time heals all wounds." And the very definition of PTSD is that it does not.

    The body, faced with trauma, breaks up the experiences into fragments and scatters them far and wide. Our minds and bodies become a minefield. It is hard to be happy living life as a walking, living, breathing minefield. I or someone else steps and an explosion occurs, seemingly at random at first, and then, a pattern tends to emerge as triggers appear with regularity. But there are still more days, more years, more mines to trod on.

    And, years go by with minimal fuss, and then, as the last two stressful years have proven, times of change and stress bring on a new low with PTSD. Depths of trauma are uncovered that I thought I had scattered plenty of dirt over, such that I couldn't trigger this stuff. Not so. You can always trigger it under enough pressure.

    Talking about our PTSD and trauma, drawing it, singing it, dancing it, playing it, moving with it, writing about it, whatever. It's the same, because what you are doing is bringing the raw into the symbolic, human-made, creative part of our brain and thinking. Once there, it's our clay to mold into something else. That something else is where we start to think we control "it" instead of the other way around. This is necessary to feel we can survive it. We can use labels and label the emotions and flashback moments. We begin to make sense of it to ourselves and our friends.

    The nightmare I woke from when I first discovered my PTSD was silly: I woke up in a sweat trying to drive a cardbaord "car" with levers and pedals and dials at radom and which didn't work as they should. There were too many of them, and they were located right where they need not be. Some of them worked as I randomed tried them in fear and desperation. I was driving, that much was certain, but some of the gear sticks broke off in my hands. No fear, there were more all over the place, too many to deal with anyway.

    This is what it feels like to grow up with PTSD. You either kill yourself or get accustomed to operating a life that makes no sense and feels overwhelming at times; we have to make some sense of the chaos. This is still within our power. We have to take control even during dissociation and flashbacks. It doesn't Cure us, but we learn to drive this way. Ironically, we may master it such that we appear to be fine or even super high functioning to the outside world, who have no idea what we are suffering daily. Even so, we can, with effort, get through the bulk of it with support from trusted friends, and become proud of ourselves for it. We can make a life out of this.
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  5. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    I'm sorry this has happened. I think it can only be triggered if it's still unresolved, if we feel we can only cover it and always have to control it because to some extent it's still there. And my personal view is that it's triggered in order to be resolved at a deeper level than before. I don't think this is to do with how much time has elapsed, but with what our subconscious mind is gauging we can deal with at that point (even if we don't feel convinced we can deal with it).

    I know it can feel like the worst time to have to deal with something, but I don't think it's because we can never be free of it. I think it's the opposite - our minds are still trying to process it and heal. They're not giving up on healing.

    I have to say I don't think it is the same. I'm a bit confused because this doesn't seem to be quite in line with what you say about talking earlier - unless here you mean specifically talking with someone close to you rather than a therapist. (I have to say I don't understand that concept at all. I can't imagine anyone close to me being able to listen to it.)

    From my personal experience, talking about it in any literal way is quite different from using art, metaphor, visualisation and other imagery. There's a scientific explanation for it, too. I don't think in scientific terms, and what matters to me is what I experience rather than research studies, but since this thread is about science and research I'll attempt (rather unintelligently - sorry) to paraphrase Belleruth Naparstek ("Invisible Heroes") who has written about this.

    She cites research that the traumatised brain is focussed away from language and fixed on non-verbal danger cues such as movements. Interventions based on talking, cognition and problem solving, which are aimed at higher cortical functions, can't sufficiently impact terror-driven responses. People with PTSD experience exaggerated sensitivity and heightened activity in the parts of the brain that process emotions, sensations and images. So it's more effective and less potentially damaging to communicate and process using imagery and perception for some time, until the amygdala and surrounding neural nework have calmed down enough to allow higher brain functions like talking about, conceptualising, contextualising and integrating the traumatic experiences. Focussing first and foremost on talking/cognition is inadequate and can be retraumatising. Hence the burnout.

    Unfortunately, I don't like Naparstek's own guided imagery at all. But using guided imagery to calm and eliminate symptoms, using art to symbolise and communicate the trauma before I can begin to put it into words and process it cognitively, are the kinds of things that work for me. A change takes place, on a deep level. I'm not left believing that I'm only managing something that's still there. For example, however distressing the remaining work I'm doing in therapy is, I know I won't ever have another flashback or nightmare. It's still not easy to do trauma work - it's grim - and it's not a quick fix, but I don't think PTSD is a life sentence.

    I feel really sad that so few people seem to know about or give credence to the importance of working with imagery. Perhaps according to other people's viewpoints there isn't enough research of the right type, so they don't include it in their toolkit (as a therapist or as a sufferer). But as someone who uses this type of approach and doesn't believe I have to live with PTSD forever, and nor does my psychotherapist, I'm sad to see it said so often that people who've experienced PTSD will always have to control it, and that the symptoms might come back at any time for the rest of their life. I think this is the case only if therapy is geared to this, which in many cases it seems to be.

    Edited to add: I should say that somatic therapy has also been essential for me. Not EMDR, if that's classed as somatic, but the type that works with your central nervous system and facilitates the release of trauma energy held in the cells.

    I know what a lot of research says about there being no "cure". (I wouldn't call it a cure, but healing - including no more symptoms.) But research and prevailing opinion always change over time. Look at how ideas about best practice have changed since PTSD was first identified in the early 20th century. It also depends on what's being funded and researched. The approaches which are the focus of the majority of research are rarely the only ones, just the ones that are being researched more.

    Someone wrote that definition of PTSD. They wrote a different one before, and they'll write a different one at some point in the future. Labels are helpful up to a point, but not when they limit us unnecessarily.
  6. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
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    Muse, I don't entirely understand (well, at all) the differences you mean with talking-(?), but I whole-heartedly agree with your descriptions and explanation, 101%.

    (Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays btw, :hug: . )
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  7. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
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    Muse, is this what you're saying, that we have to 'create', or associate, a dialogue as per trauma(tic events), which currently have none?

    And therefore, speaking with a friend, because of trust or emotion it accesses parts of the right side of the brain, or links emotion to the things we speak of, vs just verbally telling a stranger. Because if it's stored in a non-verbal area, it won't come out in words, anyway. Or needs to get replayed (re-encoded) with words. Like looking up a file based on the color of a tab, not a title, and then adding words and meaning to the pictures...?
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  8. Girl3

    Girl3 Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    The Polyvagal theory has been around since the late 1990's but increasingly research is refuting the importance of it. fMRI studies looking at speaking tasks in autistic patients shows several dysfunctional systems at work whereas in PTSD Broca's motor area literally shuts down when PTSD patients try to talk about their trauma. PTSD patients can talk about other things without any problems in their neural networks whereas Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have a variety of problems. ASD patient can be loquacious in certain areas while other ASD patients might be totally mute. (Most are in between.)

    Studies performed placing Vagus Nerve Stimulators (VNS) into patients with epilepsy were divided into those with ASD and those without. While VNS do help immensely with uncontrolled epilepsy, they did not show significant help with communication issues in ASD patients. [VNS, like Deep Brain Stimulation, has been thrown at a variety of mental/neurologic issues in hopes that something works.]

    Infants born before 37 weeks have vagus nerve issues regarding breathing and heart function. Likewise, infants born before 37 weeks are more likely to have autism. However, maternal fever and maternal obesity are risk factos for both preterm labor and autism.

    The unmyelinated portion of the vagus nerve primarily affects things below the diaphragm - the gut, bladder, uterus. These fibers are present in amphibians, reptiles, cartilagenous fish like sharks and rays - they are hold-overs of evolution. (God adds but he doesn't take away.) The myelinated portion of the vagus is present in mammals. And while we think of vagus function as part of the autonomic nervous system (automatic and out of our control) - the truth is that people can control certain aspects of it. Yogi-masters for instance can control their heart rates, making them fall into the 20s and 30s without passing out. The cortex (thinking brain) absolutely has input on the limbic system and vice-versa.

    Consequently, I do not think that the vagus nerve is the key to curing or fixing our PTSD, although I do think that eventually the common thread of these disparate parts of our neuroanatomy that dysfunction will be united and help us all.

    I do think the vagus nerve may be why yoga is proving to be helpful in a variety of mental health issues. Yoga teaches us breath control, being in the moment with our body, and gaining mastery of our movements. Yoga puts us in control of our physical body which I don't think many of us "know". We tend to think of the world using us, damaging us, shoving us around. Yoga teaches the opposite.
  9. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    My deep thanks to the three of you who responded to my rambling post. I thank you for your questions also; I will try to speak to those first and stay as focused as I can.

    Junebug and Hashi mentioned the difference I placed on talk therapy and communication with an intimate regarding the integration of the trauma into "something else" symbollically.

    I should try to explain what I meant. I have had a number of triggered PTSD symptoms. I tend to "forget" them, that is to say, they seem to be "state-dependent" in memory. Therefore, I will not be able to mention them in therapy. If I try to journal them, as Hashi stated, it really cannot be done. As Girl3 stated, verballizing seems shut off as a means of conveyance of meaning of the experiences, whatever you want to label them. I will call them flashbacks.

    I got interupted. I will try to finish later.
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  10. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
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    Oh dear Muse, I know exactly what you mean, I have state-dependent memory recall, definitely absolutely completely. (That are not "FB's", proper, though).

    I see maybe where you are headed towards- the ability to have enough safety or trust it emerges, if they do there is recall and words of the past (event), I can remember it clearly and identify how I felt (usually equate it to the same feelings I am having in the present due to a different, current event). (I can work backwards, say "well I feel now 'terror, grief' (etc), guess I felt then as I do now".) I swear I will never forget, but afterwards I cannot remember the memory, yet it was so clear!

    I'll stop now, don't want to presume or hijack your thread.

    Thank you! :hug:
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  11. Abstract

    Abstract I'm a VIP
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    I have some thoughts. I will wait and hear more first though.
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  12. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Thanks, Junebug, I think you are reading me. ;)

    I'm taking some of my follow up from the Article: [DLMURL][/DLMURL]
    Conceptualizing Treatment Nonadherence in Patients with Bipolar Disorder and PTSD by Jeffrey J. Rakofsky, MD, Steven T. Levy, MD, and Boadie W. Dunlop, MD
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  13. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Thank you Muse, must head to work but I will come back to read.

    Maybe it doesn't touch on this at all, but it got me thinking, maybe that is sort of like revisiting the original event- because in that way it is like a FB, because it is more like 'reliving', when such memories surface- but this time with an ally, a witness, safety, help. And then perhaps words (and emotions) can be (re)written to it. But this time with safety, etc. - a different 'feeling'.

    Perhaps a sign of progress there might be that eventually (then) those memories become 'true' memories- not state-dependent (because they're no longer as horrific, terrifying, etc.)?

    That would be, kind of like a mini-chance to rewrite history. :)

    ((((((((((Big Hugs))))) :hug: .
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  14. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    As Junebug stated, trust, as described eloquently in the article above, is problematic for those with PTSD arising from childhood Abuse from an "authority figure." As such, I have tried to override biology and trust a therapist. Even when I deem the therapist trustworthy or of merit, I cannot "feel" trust or an ability to talk with them openly as in a trusting relationship. In fact, I feel so Anxiety-ridden just going to therapy that I freeze up inside, literally cold and paralyzed. I can't unfreeze my emotions well, or I just cry. Not real helpful if you ask me. I cannot be myself. As the article states, the relationship does not ensue; therefore, therapy does not ensue.

    Thus, the only talk therapy I can actually DO involves talking with my husband, who is empathetic and trustworthy, but not trained, obviously.

    Ironically, I don't think my therapists and I ever get to "burnout" because we can't get off the ground.

    I posted the article for the PTSD elements, which I thought were well explicated for my problem. However, my sister has comorbid PTSD/Bipolar, supposedly, diagnosed in the psych ward after a Suicide attempt.
    When I read the article, I was struck by the fact that I was reading my sister's behavior over her childhood and adult life precisely. I never knew what she was dealing with and was often on the receiving end of her risk-taking behavior, which on one occassion got me hurt and bleeding, and on another, nearly got both of us in a head-on auto collision. This article puts a depressing light on my sister's condition, and everyone with severe BP and PTSD. It makes me feel that there are others worse off than me, and yet, I cannot attend talk therapy for this, and the other reason, which is to say, they know far less about PTSD than I do. I feel I should be charging them. :sneaky:

    But on to Hashi's statement that gets at a deeper ideology. Hashi, you state that someone "doesn't give up on us or our healing" and I think I can see what you mean. You see the arising of traumatic memory as a kind of healing crisis then? Partly, I tend to agree with you. Only partly, however, because the healing crisis is, in fact, symptoms of a disorder that make life quite painful and truly unbearable at times. Let me be specific.

    In a recent flashback, I was back in the time directly after one of the many traumas in which I was abandoned by my raping father. The emotional state I felt was unbearable. As I tried to say with Junebug, there really are not words for the sense of it. I just remember not even being able to cry, the physical and emotional agony being so severe, all I wished for was death.

    The fact death did not come seemed the final straw. It was as if something in us knows that in severe trauma, especially physical, we are supposed to leave our bodies and "go home" as it were. With this kind of severe emotional trauma with severe physical and emotional pain, without death, the mind feels cheated out of the release and crushed that after such severe trauma, I would be subject to further repeat torture. It's no wonder I learned to dissociate completely and entirely upon demand. I can instantly check out/black out, and leave for several minutes to try to avoid this utter hellish state.

    I don't think having such flashbacks can be viewed in my mind as "healing" per se in an uncomplicated sense. If I didn't have the support of my husband after that lastest episode (or someone) I would have in that state of mind ended my life, as that was the only thing I wanted when feeling that way. I just wanted out!

    Hashi is quite correct that what I've used thus far for 36 years to remain functional is "control." He rightly read the dream of the chaotic vehicle as such. Now, I call it "emotional numbing," as do many therapists. Whatever it is, I have been able to rely on it to get through life.

    Without it, I could not be as high-functioning as I am. It's how I was able to get educated and learned to focus when in hell. Dissociation was used also, but that is more a mystery, and should be in it's own thread for now.

    It will take the rest of my life, I'm sure, to lessen the need to control, and to slowly relinguish the choke hold upon myself that I need to survive and function as a human being. Removing the need to know what's coming and to feel in control is a hallmark of PTSD avoidance. (We don't like surprises!) Removal of control is not desired as a milestone of healing. It is something to work with. Everyone needs to feel a locus of control within them. Research shows that those who have an internal locus of control are much more able to be successful in life. Therefore, this is not necessarily a negative. However, it can be too much of a good thing for sure!

    I think what you mean, Hashi, is to lessen the avoidance, lessen the control, and allow exposure for therapuetic purposes. I also agree with that. However, support is needed and symptoms will appear, will they not? Retraumatization is not desirable. Nor is Suicidality. Talk therapy does not help me with this dilema.

    My conclusion is that those receiving the other modalities deal with the same biological limitations I do, however, they possess access to supports that address the biological realities better than those unable to use talk therapy with professionals unfamiliar with trauma.

    I also conclude that I am not able to feel as Hashi does because I do not have access to the supports he has. If I did, I might see my symptoms in less negative a light and embrace healing more. In the absense of therapy, I feel lost in a sea of symptoms. No meds have helped. Benzos are an avoidant crutch (see article) and I agree.

    Those of us with Complex PTSD, or childhood attachment trauma, are not as optimistic for good reason. How can a tree bent at its inception be expected to grow straight without such trauma as to kill the tree? Look at nature for examples. We are as we are. Thusly, I expect healing is nothing more than learning to live this way. In a word, Acceptance.
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  15. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    I would like to "Like" this post 100 times! Yes! You were able to write it out completely and capture my meaning entirely. Thank you!!! I could not put the words to it as this was a couple weeks ago, and I loose the thread so fast. I was told to journal. Is that why you can recall this? Just curious. You have the pulse of it better than I.

    Have a good New Year's Eve! :)
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  16. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Full agreement with Junebug. My point is that I no longer hunt for healing as the same word. Healing is not total remission for me. I've never experienced it, and do not believe in it. That, to me, would change my diagnosis from PTSD to PTS. The D is a life sentence. Hashi, I have to accept that in order to accept myself for who I am. Otherwise, I live in denial and I don't take responsibility for my actions.

    You may be at a different point on a different healing journey than me, and that's okay. I fully respect and admire yours. :)

    What I describe is no less optimistic. I take my cue from survivors such as Viktor Frankl who have lived through hell. We do not live in the hope of discarding hell. Rather, we live in the hope of making the world better in some way for someone by our own efforts. We radically accept the hell will always be part of us now, but we desire to put it to some use, change it, as Junebug said, to mold it into "something else" until we can be "somewhere else." I added the last part. Rather than axiously await release/death, living, not just surviving, requires self-care and the care of something or someone greater than us. We need a good cause. We need to love and look outside ourselves.

    I believe this is a good thing, spiritually, for everyone, but that it is even more vital for those with trauma. The ability to raise the experience into the symbolic is human. All cultures have stories. We write our lives into our story in words and pictures and other symbols. We create ourselves out of the hand we are dealt and with creative power.

    Right now, Hashi sees a light at the end of the tunnel. I see a trail leading into a thick forest. Where does it end? I have never been worried about the destination. I am not afraid of life after death. It's life here that most harms us, and most concerns me. It is simply being "here" that worries me. The foreshortened future is what looms in the shadow. Rather than focus on that, I try to do what I can, day by day, to make the world a brighter place for those I care about and love. My work makes the world better for many young people. By working to brighten their future, I create one for myself, in love, one day at a time.

    Love to all on this special day!
  17. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    Sorry it's taken me so long to come back to this thread, I didn't seem to get alerts that there were more replies (probably a problem with me rather than the alerts system).

    Muse, I respect that we each have our own beliefs and our own individual journeys.

    I wanted to clarify some of the things I meant. I have a dilemma in doing this, though. I'm creating a website about healing from a particular type of trauma, and I've realised that there are things I've put in this thread that I need to cover in my website.

    If I post explanations here they'll become the copyright of this site. Then I wouldn't be able to use them on my own. So I think it would be best not to try to explain my thoughts any more here. It'll be on my own website with more explanation eventually.

    It sounds like you have decided a way forward that feels right for you. Sending you every good wish.
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  18. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Thanks, Hashi, I think I understand.

    I'm glad to hear about your site. I would like to see that.

    I have re-read your post on healing, and I think I see more in it, giving a listen to the ideas again. I like how you mention that trying to hold the trauma back and avoid and control it can be a coping or crutch that keeps it stuck at the same level of potential PTSD. I do think that makes sense. Even though this has been a terrible two years, maybe someday the work done in it will matter. Maybe I will feel better somehow. Perhaps this is what healing feels like and I'm just not able to see it yet.

    However, as a lifelong PTSD sufferer, I don't know what I'm supposed to be aiming for except for better than this. I want a better life for my family; they shouldn't have to live with a wife/mom who is so sad and serious or trembling and wanting to be alone almost all the time. I can't have people over anymore without severe stress. It's surprised me how bad I am now compared to when I was in denial.

    If I'm moving through healing, all I know is my kids deserve better than this, and I wish it would hurry up so they can have a mom back.
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  19. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
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    Dear Muse, I'm sure you've never stopped being a mom or wife, and especially not one your children and husband ever stopped loving, for you as you are.

    As you said,
    You do for your family, also.

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  20. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    Just to explain a little - yes, that's exactly what I think about trying to keep things pushed back and controlled. They'll always be there in that case.

    I don't think Exposure therapy is always the answer. It hasn't been for me, but it might be for someone else. The most important point is that even if exposure therapy, talk therapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is going to be right for someone, I think there has to be a stage before that of dealing with the non-rational fears at the non-rational level.

    Flashbacks come from a part of us that can't be reasoned with or reached with words. If we use only reasoning, verbal and/or behavioural approaches to control the fears, we will never reach that part enough to heal it. We can only push it down. Imagery is a way to calm the responses and then permanently change them, because that non-verbal, non-rational part of us responds to symbolism and images.

    Belleruth Naparstek does explain it well in "Invisible Heroes". As a therapist, she found she was actually doing more harm than good by getting her clients to talk about trauma while still very vulnerable to trauma responses. They needed to work in a different way first.
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  21. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I think maybe also some things are too raw, or for some of us may forever be. I have heard a saying coined, "too bruised to be touched", I get that, it hurts too much, but it's not an 'intentional' response, not sure if I'd even call it 'rational' or 'irrational'. It just 'is'. But maybe it's not (necessarily) inevitable, for everyone.
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  22. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    I think you are both correct from where I stand. Hashi, I think the responsiveness to imagery, or what we may think of as archetypal is intriguing. I would like to read that book or any source of more. Any other books? Thanks for sharing. Where can I get a copy? :)
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  23. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    I got mine secondhand on Amazon (it's quite expensive to buy new). I don't know what country you're in, but here's the Amazon UK link which has the details:

    She includes some guided imagery in the book. This must be helpful to a lot of people because she's developed it by working with clients and making recordings for them. Personally, I don't like her guided imagery, especially because she likes bringing in some sort of "being" and although it's always benign and there to help, this is too risky for me. My reasons for saying this are:

    1) You might like her guided imagery and if so, great. If you don't, don't let it put you off because there are other ways to do it.

    2) You need to be careful about the images that you use. What's fine for one person isn't for another - always check them first to make sure you're comfortable with all the images.

    What I much prefer is to use a direct, strong metaphor, like the Stone Metaphor she describes in Chapter 2 and the spontaneous imagery right at the beginning of Chapter 10. I make up my own images along these lines, both to express my feelings and reactions, and to change them.

    I hope you find it some help. :)

    Another book which has helped me is "Psychic Protection" by William Bloom. This isn't specific to trauma, and the focus is mainly on protecting from other people's negativity, aggression and ill will. Still, I found it very helpful to get an idea of grounding, and how to use imagery to feel safe on a deep level. Even though the image examples in the book weren't often ones I wanted to use myself, by the time I'd read it I had a good idea of the type of thing, and what I needed for myself.

    Something to note about this and a lot of imagery/psychic protection advice, is that they focus on protecting yourself from something outside getting to you. As a trauma survivor, I've internalised a lot of scary things, so I need to be careful not to block them inside by putting some sort of defence all around me. My image has to include driving out things that come up from within, too, like a part of me chasing them out of me.
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  24. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Thank you, Hashi, I will check these out and like the ideas you shared from them.

    I can totally understand the images that come from internal and deciding how to not block or control but to limit and decide to allow them to go. This is an orientation that makes sense to me.
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