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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Steps To PTSD Recovery - Success Or Failure

Discussion in 'Therapy' started by anthony, Dec 23, 2009.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Master of none!


    I want to share a little piece of knowledge with everyone, in the aspect of recovery from PTSD, and the best method to achieve a stable recovery. Regardless of how you do it, or what method of treatment you decide works best for you, baby steps is the only way to a quality recovery, without making yourself much worse along the way. Let me explain why!

    Whether you use CBT, EMDR, etc., etc., etc., you still have to get going, get motivated, and function before you even get treatment. Generally even with treatment, you will never actually be cured as such, so you will always relapse at some point if triggered, or if a particular scenario occurs. Its not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN it will happen. So, remember this for your entire life.

    Many people have written books, articles and so forth on taking baby steps within recovery. The reason why so much information has been produced is because it's very relevant to the stability of your recovery. You may have every single symptom of PTSD at once, all upon you, and you may want to get yourself clear as quick as possible, speedy recovery, etc., so you can get on with your life, but let me give you the hard hitting reality of the situation: you will make yourself worse, and that's a near 99.99% chance of occurrence.

    When you break your symptoms down, you work on one thing at a time. As you conquer (learn to control) each sub-symptom of a major symptom, you then move to the next relevant stage. Where problems generally begin, though, is that people get too confident in their approach I guess, and they stop looking for tell-tale signs and symptoms of previously conquered sub-symptoms, and whether or not they are showing a presence again.

    This is where baby steps comes into action. Because you are on the next sub-symptom / symptom, you never stop looking backwards for signs of previously analyzed symptoms recurring, because they generally will. Because you have worked through them for the most part, to get control of them again may only take a small portion of time, but is a significant step in order to ensure those previously conquered symptoms do not combine with others to end in relapse. Baby steps basically means: you may take two steps forward, and one step back to touch-up a previously worked area, but quickly controlled, which allows you to take a further two steps forward again.

    This is how the entire road to recovery works, and it's an endless cycle. You don't need to over analyze your every thought, action or reaction, but you need to remain cognisant of all aspects of your illness, your specific signs and symptoms, triggers and tell-tale traits, so you can manage and control every aspect of your PTSD. When you stop doing this, what begins to happen is that you take one step forward, two steps back, and this cycle continues until you have relapsed completely.

    Relapse is much faster than recovery, because it's common ground that the mind and body have already covered - thus they are familiar with the territory, and opposed to recovery, in which the mind and body are constantly discovering new ground, new territory as such.

    A really easy way to think about your recovery, and how to best maintain your recovery is this. Your mind is a 5 acre paddock, which you have to mow completely with a push mower. Basically, by the time you would have finished mowing 5 acres with a push mower, where you started has begun to grow again, though it is not the length it was when you first started. It may have grown half an inch in length, so when you finish mowing the entire paddock, and return to the start, the effort is now less, as the grass is shorter. Imagine the grass as being your trauma.

    Now, the more efficient you become at mowing that grass, the shorter it gets, so then you get smarter, and begin mowing the same paddock with a ride-on lawn mower instead. Now when you have finished, you have more time before you have to start mowing again, because your efficiency to cut the grass has increased. This now leaves scope for you to spend a little time on other areas that may need work: rebuilding a social life for yourself, active group interests, etc., etc...take your pick.

    Now, you are getting much cleaner and efficient, so you upgrade to a slasher, which now cuts the time in half from the ride-on lawn mower. This now makes the process of controlling the length of grass much faster, easier, and less time consuming. One could say it would become second nature to the mind by this stage. Now you have even more time to now reach out into other areas of your trauma, life, and so forth.

    So, as you become more efficient, without placing a timeline upon this: you started with a push mower, then upgraded slowly as you became more efficient and smarter about how to control the grass (being your trauma).

    I hope this puts a really simple spin on how taking baby steps to achieve the end result with stability is accomplished.
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  3. seaworthy

    seaworthy Active Member

    This is so helpful. I have been so disoriented just trying to find out what has happened to me. In my case, I did deliberate, focused, and thorough Trauma resolution work and had zero disturbance with the childhood Trauma that had ruled my life. Then, ten years later, I got seriously re-Traumatized, only this time, it was with 4 serious head injuries in a year followed by a decade of psychological Trauma and then another brain injury in 2005. I didn't suffer a relapse of my previous Trauma resolution, but my knowledge of PTSD didn't make me immune to events beyond human comprehension. It's only been in the last year that I've been able to read and write again and only in the last few months that I've become fully aware again that buried in all my medical problems is my PTSD with dissociation. I'm ready now to start taking 'baby steps' again in resolving and integrating all the events of my life, many of which are not known to me now. seaworthy
  4. Lauren

    Lauren Active Member

    I understand what you are saying Anthony, but boy is that hard to do. I just want to get this done and over with. Accepting that it is life long is frustrating and pisses me off. Not at the fact that I will always be pushed around to some degree by the past. I am not a passive person when I decide to do something....I dig in and do the work to get it done. In fact I can be quite complusive about it. It's the pits that I have to do this in baby steps, but I am finding out that is exactly how it has to be done.
  5. somegirl

    somegirl New Member

    Lauren - I am with you 100%

    I'm wondering why you can't get even smarter about it and eventually hire a landscaping company?! Or better yet, sell the land and buy a nicer plot for yourself....

    Wishful thinking? Maybe. Possible? Why not also maybe??

    I may be in complete denial, I may not yet know what I am in for, but I do feel that even though I wasn't dealing with my trauma before, I knew it was there and still funtioned at a high level. I can't help but think that with help, and digging in and dealing with it, I will be even stronger than I was before, if only in a more pure sense of what my potential strength is.

    It is disheartening to hear this so early in the game. And if it is that way, I might end up taking a few steps back before I get on to baby steps.

    I also wonder... could this be a difference in PTSD and CPTSD?? Where PTSD'ers know how they've been affected and strain to get back to that, denying themselves the facts of what they went through, thus not incorporating it into themselves (not dealing with it and becoming the person that they now are, trauma and all). And perhaps CPTSD'ers know they've been affected but not necessarily how, so they have already integrated their trauma into their being yet don't know how to work well in society and cope with certain things. Once they learn that, maybe they can go on without a "relapse" per se. Maybe in their case it's not so much mowing a lawn to get it back to what it was (manageable) but filling in some dead spots with seed and tending to it until the lawn is lush and green again....

    I hope I'm not just being naive and that this hope can actually exist without being detrimental to me.
  6. JadeBear

    JadeBear I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I really didn't "get" this before, but now I think I understand. I have been working hard on dealing with my symptoms. From this I get that while I'm working on symptoms I still need to pay attention to the ones I have previously dealt with should they arise and deal with them right away( Which should be easier since I've already worked on them).

    So, if I'm working on how to deal with flashbacks and I suddenly start panicking when I'm in a closed room again, I go back to the beginning of Exposure therapy and try shutting the door for 5 minutes at a time again? And hopefully since I've done that before, maybe just doing that for 5 minutes once or twice may be all it takes? Am I understanding this correctly?
  7. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    Pretty much... you have to understand that PTSD is a revolving cycle without a timer, as the timer is dependent upon each individuals life, trauma, level of healing, time since trauma, and a lot of other factors. Hence why there is no one shoe fits all with PTSD. The idea is that as you improve, you lessen the the impact of the cycle, the duration, the recovery time. What used to knock me out for weeks may knock me out for a few hours to a couple of days now, which is very little in comparison to weeks or months as previous.

    The cycle never goes away, hence the Incurable aspect, but the impact of the cycle will change as you heal, exactly what you are eluding to above.
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