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Confused About Retraumatisation, Sympathy & Talking About Trauma

Discussion in 'General' started by Awakening, Sep 10, 2007.

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  1. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

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    I've been reading alot on this forum, the internet generally & some books about PTSD.

    Since coming on this forum I really smashed through the denial I reckon I had when I first came on here. I also take ownership for the fact I have a mental illness and only I can help myself. No one is coming to rescue me, except for me. Admittedly I'm disappointed in this but it's the reality and I need to accept it.
    I thank each & everyone of you for that.:claps:

    However, and I'm not starting an argument, but I'm unsure as to whether I'm interpreting this correctly or whether it's different for every individual case.

    I see Anthony & others talk tough & about having no sympathy & the importance of talking about every detail of your trauma.

    My therapist, talks about treading carefully with me because of 'retraumatisation'. Is it true I need to be weary of this or should I just go tearing in? Sometimes when I really push myself in a session I come away much much worse & my symptoms sky rocket. Yet if I tread carefully I slowly but surely make some progress.

    The other thing is about not having sympathy. The problem for me is that I've absolutely avoided all sympathy at all costs. Now, whilst I don't want pity, I appreciate the empathy, support, care & compassion from my therapist. Don't get me wrong she's no softie, and makes no apologies for being tough. If I fail to do homework or something she has the best death glare I've ever seen. :eek: Yet she remains compassionate & sympathetic. If she wasn't I can't imagine continuing IMHO.

    Next thing is - being tough. My therapist has made me realise how incredibly tough I've been on myself when it comes to feeling depressed or angry. If I feel sadness or anger I really beat myself up, tell myself to snap out of it, consider myself a victim, an attention seeker and it's just not good enough. This has only made me feel worse yet I find it so difficult to not beat myself up for this. It's a habit that existed before any trauma. I grew up with a loving but strict father who considered signs of emotion a weakness, and you need to toughen up. It doesn't matter what anyone says to me, it wouldn't beat the inner critic I have going on here.

    My therapist wants me to get more in touch with my feelings and to admit that what happened to me did hurt me. It made me feel awhole bunch of emotions; sadness, fear, powerlessness, rage etc.

    Isn't feeling my emotions and saying my trauma caused x emotion, feeling sorry for myself.?:dont-know

    Finally, my therapist has indicated that I do not need to go through every second of every minute of every trauma. The choice is mine. I chose not to, and I feel better for it. However, I do have to learn to acknowledge what happened to me, it's full effect, apportioning blame (what's mine e.g. disrespecting myself, dwelling, self destructive behaviours, repression & whats not mine), and the feelings & emotions it caused and feel them all out not deny they aren't there.

    I personally feel like I'm on finally on the right track. I'm taking ownership, I'm learning not to berate myself, to feel the feelings but not dwell on them, let my therapist & husband in and not be ashamed of appreciating the compassion & support they offer, reduce anxiety & stressors and next step acknowledge the traumas & the effect it had. Yet, I read on this forum and think have I got this all wrong? Is the same for everyone or not relevant to me? Am I kidding myself?
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Well done.

    Every person is different. I do not generally push a person into how fast they attack their trauma, that aspect is up to them, where I do push hard is when I see someone still in sympathy and denial, because as you now recognise for yourself, they are fooling themselves until such time as they realize the truth, just as you have. This is one aspect I push hard at, and the reason why is because when pushed hard a person in denial gets mad, that means they get honest. Honesty creates progress out of denial, sympathy, so forth. When in those you are not honest with yourself, far from it. You are in a constant state of self lying in order to please yourself and tell yourself only what you want to here.

    So yes, trauma is different for everyone. Trauma must be approached a little differently, where you are pushed a little, then backoff, talk a little more, backoff, then push hard again, and so the cycle continues.

    Where I believe most therapists get it wrong, and have proven it time and time again here, is most are to frightened nowadays of negative impact, in that they want to start at the lesser points of trauma, where in fact that only encourages a person to fear their major trauma. Show a person a little pain from minor trauma, how many typically want to jump in then for the big stuff? None.

    You should always start at the largest, hardest, most severe trauma that you interpret. If you can get through that, you can get through anything.

    Your symptoms are supposed to sky rocket, that is the point. Trauma therapy is not meant to be soft, its not meant to hold your hand and let you crawl if you should be walking. Therapy and trauma therapy, two different things.

    Yes, retraumatisation is a risk with anyone who is traumatised, yet PTSD is doing that to you anyway, compared to someone who has trauma without PTSD. PTSD is a retraumatising illness, that is one of its unique features, in that it will take one small issue and manifest it into something you never even did, but your mind will believe you did it. Welcome to the reality of PTSD.

    Therapist forget this, or they simply do not understand it. The longer you take to heal your existing trauma, the more retraumatisation PTSD is doing on your behalf within your sub-conscious. You talk about one little issue, PTSD creates another two for you. You end up in therapy for 20 years still with little to no avail or drastic change in your life.

    Some people think I am all tough towards my approach, yet you do not see where I do most of my work, behind closed doors to the public eye. Once a person is out of denial, there is no real need to be hard all the time, merely only pass out the occassional kick in the arse when a sufferer does fall back into some self pity during a depressive state. Depression requires a kick in the arse to get motivated and take control, it really does require it. Generally discussion here is done with exactly what your saying. Don't focus on one person being given a hard time by myself because I am trying to get them out of denial. Far different. I am blunt in working with people due to my lack of time, though I only generally push or kick in the arse if required. Some people think any kick in the arse or push is bad for them, which they obviously need a few more kicks because they must accept their responsibilities, they must take control of themselves in order to get through healing PTSD and learning how to manage it. If your weak with PTSD you must grow strong to take control of it, this is a fact.

    This is different again. There is no point in being tough on yourself because of anger, especially when anger isn't even an emotion, its an emotional response. You must find what makes you angry, what you feel below anger in order to cease the anger itself. Beating yourself up only creates more internal turmoil, something which you do not control yet, though you must learn.

    Your therapist is correct. You must identify your feeling below the anger, ie. frustration is a feeling, typically anger comes from frustration. Frustration is the emotion, anger is the response. I would suggest reading the [DLMURL]http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread12.html[/DLMURL] for a more indepth look at how your internal emotional model works.
    No, that is being honest with yourself. If you don't understand what you feel, then how can you fix it? The core root of healing trauma is to heal the emotion felt, which is what causes the negative fear, which is what feeds PTSD. Feeling sorry for yourself is when you sit in sympathy instead of doing something about correcting the problems. Feeling sorry for yourself is not wanting to fix a thing, instead wanting others to pity you for being a victim.

    Again, accurate and correct. If you start at the largest trauma, by default from what you will learn working through that major trauma, most of your smaller trauma suddenly also heal due to the reasoning you use with the one big one flows across your smaller one's automatically. You end up dealing with less trauma when you do it this way, compared to the other way around.

    Honestly, starting at anything less than your major trauma is a waste of time. It is very rare that you would have to start small, and even then, that is typically only to test the waters then jump straight upon the biggest trauma.

    Evie is the only person on this forum thus far I ever recommended to start small before going larger, and that was to test the waters due to the severity of the trauma itself.

    I am well and truly impressed with your opening statement, in that you are discovering yourself and what you must own, what you must take control off in order to fight this illness. Well done and congratulations for coming to terms with the hardest part, denial.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
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  4. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

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    Anthony, thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my post.

    You've cleared up a lot of confusion for me, and yep, I've definitely misinterpreted some things from various posts. It's not that I thought you, or those in this forum were uncaring because I've seen enough other posts that are caring.

    It's with some of the posts from yourself & others, I've not actually understood what you are doing. I guess that's simply because I still have alot to learn. I got what you meant by denial to extent (although I'm still learning about denial & how deeply it can get into your mind and how hard it is to let go of) but I didn't get the sympathy thing. Now I'm getting what you mean.

    What you are saying above is consistent with my therapist, who is a trauma/ptsd therapist, so right now I'm feeling relief. Relief that I think I might be actually on the right track after 2 therapists and a couple of years of therapy, various doctors, medications. I feel like maybe I might actually be able to make this thing manageable. Got awhile to go, but maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There's going to be tough times, set backs, but bit by bit maybe I'm going to get there.

    When it comes to denial, I'm great at it. Resistant is another term that was thrown around about me. "My life is perfect" - I maintained this for years despite all the evidence to the contrary, and despite the fact that nothing, noone & life itself isn't perfect.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

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    Awakening

    Oh, Awakening, you have beautifully spoken many things I have been feeling inside in the last 3 weeks but unable to express.
     
  6. pandora

    pandora I'm a VIP

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    Me too............and Anthonys explanation was great.
    I think it is amazing how far you have come in a short amt of time on the forum.. Great job!
    Take Care...........Good luck as you continue to heal...you can do this!
     
  7. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

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    I just read the link "Iceberg of Emotions".

    It's really good, if people haven't read yet, Anthony put the link in on his post.

    I read it because this morning, I've been feral. I still have no idea why exactly.

    Poor husband made the mistake of asking me to do 2 errands and I got extremely angry. It seems little things that are required of me; write a letter to a client, make a phone call to update our new address, buy washing powder, call back a client etc annoys the crap out of me.

    I know full well that it aint a big deal, I even know I can do it. But I'm furious that I have these demands on me, even though they are not that demanding, and I resent people.

    My body is coursing with anger and I want to punch/throw something. Im not sure what is 'triggering' about having to do day to day things. It's not like I don't have the time. And sure, sometimes there are things in life we have to do that you don't really want to and that might make you feel a little frustrated, but what I'm feeling is anger/rage wanting to lash out. Because I have to ring a provider & change my address. And that makes me angry.

    WTH?
     
  8. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    To understand your internal stress model which is what helps cause your anger buildup from ignored emotional state, read [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/attachments/forum12/307d1190893659-understanding-ptsd1.pdf"]understanding PTSD[/DLMURL] which outlines pretty clearly what occurs and how it occurs.
     
  9. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

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    Read understanding PTSD.

    Sometimes, I strongly suspect that Anthony has been observing my behaviour, tracking my movements, wired into my thoughts and then written up bulletins based on this. Sought of a David Attenborough figure making a documentary about a rare and unusual species except this time the beast is called PTSD.

    Now I can't use my defense of 'but no-one gets me, no-one understands, there's nothing that can be done'. I've had stuff about "depression" stuff about "anxiety", both of which I accept I have, but I've been banging my head against a brick wall trying to explain it's more then that. I've tried to do things recommended based on overcoming anxiety & depression with little success.

    The exact thing I've been saying mainly to my husband is 'you don't understand, I don't have the reserves right now to do x, y or z.' Sometimes I request more time 'to build my reserves up, then I might be able to do it'. I've been describing the stress cup and not knowing it.

    And YES I've been clueless as to why I've dropped going to the gym, hobbies, interests, friends and mostly work (do the bare minimum hope to christ no-one finds out). Let bills, housework pile up. Can't go grocery shopping. Don't want to cook, shower, get out of bed. I have NOT understood why I've been unable to do these things, this has led to me beating myself up, which leds to frustration...the whole vicious circle. Then other days I can do them again.

    Kah-ching! That's the sound of the penny dropping.
     
  10. pandora

    pandora I'm a VIP

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    Awakening...You had what I call...an "Aha" moment. Good for you! Realizing what is going on and getting out of denial really helped me a lot too. Now it is just learning to live with this i guess.
     
  11. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Not just learning to live with it IMHO. You must accept you have to live with PTSD, but you can take control of PTSD for the most part. You will never totally control it because we do not totally understand it, if we did, it could be cured I dare say. You can control the stress model though for the most part, most days, most years. It is only things out of the blue that will jump you, ie. someone dies suddenly, that you are typically not prepared for and PTSD will produce symptoms based on how much, little you discuss it and open up about your feelings during the entire process.

    We all lockup our emotions at times, none of us are immune to it, PTSD or not. It really just depends on the level of stress to whether we are easily tuned to talking about it or not, forcibly or not.
     
  12. pandora

    pandora I'm a VIP

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    That is a better way to say it..thanx Anthony.
     
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