Can't Breathe! I think I know why. I need your help!!

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Lauren Rose

Today is a better day. Yesterday I got some acceptance around the difficulty in breathing and took my focus off of it. I think I got exhausted. Shrug. Whatever, today I have a break from that insane anxiety. My breathing is very shallow but I am not gasping to take that catch up breath. When I do have to up the O2 it is a gentle deep breath. I feel numbed out but hopeful. I have made a task list to do for the next few days to ensure I don't lose momentum. I would much rather lay down and pretend to sleep but ... I have set a bunch of things in motion and I simply need to follow through. I have a trust that things are going to work themselves out. This morning in my journal made a list of all the gifts this storm is giving me thus far and it is amazing. I am looking forward to celebrating the victory once I get my feelings back.

-> made an 'in the flesh" friend who unfortunately has my brand of PTSD and fortunately is very grounded in his recovery. It is simply wonderful to finally have someone in my physical world I can reach out and hug and be hugged in return. Just sitting together in a meeting is amazing.

-> reconnected with you. My people. An entire community of humans who on one level or another have experienced or are experiencing the traumas I have and am experiencing and are learning to live life while they continue to ease suffering within themselves and others. For this I have no words.... just a swelling of emotion in my chest and a "knowing" that I will be able to pay it forward.

-> I have reached out and made a new acquaintance and as a result of that conversation with her I not only got a cool grounding exercise to play with, but I got an answer that has been plaguing me for most of my life. Why I lose my breath. And I have a solid direction to turn my energies toward healing that particular suffering. There is no price that can be put on that.

-> I have also been put in touch with a couple who practice buddhism and meditation and yoga and who also have PTSD. Especially the man because he has had similar brainwashing experiences as I have. I have a video "date" with them this coming Thursday. He has indicated that sometimes people need different healings and he is very well connected so if they are suited for me he can put me in touch with someone who may.

-> And then yesterday I went online and sourced out the buddhist temples close to me. There is one that has meditations every Tuesday night so that is what I am doing tomorrow. I am so nervous, an organization which terrifies me for the most part, but I am also aware that I need the help and if it works out for me then.... thank the gods yes. If it doesn't, I will continue to search and source out a quiet space that will help me grow my spiritual contentment.

-> And most importantly, I am surviving the storm. Each and every time I do it strengthens me and takes away the fear that it is going to swallow me whole and I will be lost from existence.


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My breath is escaping me once again and I am having to conscious work on not panicking. I am in a significant PTSD storm and it is such a struggle to keep my emotional head above the very tumultuous emotional waters. It is even more challenging because every time I force myself to relax when I get too amped up, I lose my breath and am left gasping until I can turn my attention away and let my body mechanically find its rhythm. It has been a constant battle every since I broke with PTSD 13 years ago. And now that everything is activated, it is exhausting giving myself the constant pep talk to keep going when all I want to do is lay down and die. Sounds peaceful.

For the past 12 years I have been asking everyone I know - lay peeps and professionals alike - why I lose my breath every single time I put attention to it. No one has an answer. And everyone always seemed so surpised and it made me feel defective... less than. I got to the point where I simply didn't pay any attention to my breath - problem solved. Not really because I had to keep a vigilance to NOT pay attention to it so I was still a prisoner of my own mind ... just in a different way.

When I got sucked into this present storm I lost my breath even unconsciously. I feel like I have been running a marathon at full speed and can't seem to get a good breath. Or the air doesn't have any substance to it. I can breathe in down to the bottom of my lungs, but there is no satisfaction. I am constantly gasping for air, taking that "catch up breath" because I am shallow breathing.

But it is familiar. So I am not panicking ... sort of. It is like a low grade panic actually, not quite strong enough to medicate but strong enough to require constant observation. Did I mention exhausting?

My method of maintaining my stability until this storm passes is to seek out new coping mechanisms. I made a new friend who also suffers from my style of PTSD and it has been life giving talking with him in the flesh. I haven't found anyone who understands what I am going through in a number of years. Thank you my Universe. What a gift. He put me in touch with a friend of his who profoundly helped him with grounding.

I spoke with her on the phone yesterday. She took me through a grounding exercise that has great potential to be helpful. It was a typical “sit and let your feet grow roots down to the middle of the earth and let the earth energy flow up through you out your crown and down your body back to the earth” but spoken in a way that I could really latch on to and relate. It was amazing. After the 15 minute exercise, I began asking her some questions.

Is it normal to have waves crash through you? One wave where my tears were literally flowing down my face soaking my chest? And the next wave I was literally vibrating with rage energy and had to will myself to sit and continue the exercise? Or another wave where I was swallowing so hard because the bile wanted to eject from my body onto my carpet?

Oh she said. No. She told me if it got that intense that I should stop and pull back. I explored that with her and came to my conclusion that as always, I needed to push myself to uncomfortable and stop before breaking … to desensitize and to build my stamina being with me.

As I was explaining to her why I have such a hard time trusting myself, I began to understand perhaps why I lose my breath so badly so often.

Going to get personal… in a general way.

When I was small ages 5-8 some of the adults in my parents life used to come into my room and … well you can imagine. I used to hold my breath every time I heard a noise outside. And when I was 27 and assaulted by 2 men, I had run from them and leapt into the bushes and went “dead” and held my breath but they caught me. And and and…. so many times I have held my breath. And this is in the waking world. In my terror dreams… same.

I think what is happening is that when I focus on my breath, my highly tuned survival instinct sees this behaviour and immediately thinks I am in mortal danger. My fight/flight/freeze instinct is tripped and my reasoning mind is disconnected and my survival self is in charge. It knows that in order for me to have even the smallest chance to escape life threatening disaster, I need to be silent. My breath needs to be barely there. I need to be still.

This makes so much sense to me. But … I have such a hard time trusting myself especially when I am in a PTSD storm, I have doubts. But I trust you. What do you think? Does this make sense to you?

If it is sound then I have a visible mark to hit - FINALLY! I can sit with a grounding rock in my hands and do a focused meditation that “I Am Safe” and change the terms of engagement I currently have with focusing on my breath.

I really hope you will comment because I desperately need your thoughts. If this is full of shit .. I need to know that so I can keep seeking an answer.

Forever grateful… me.
Wellness and wellbeing an exercise to relax involves concentrating on your breathing why is this?. Our breath tells us we are alive but we pay little attention to this .If we stopped breathing within seconds we would be dead . An exercise to sleep involves crossing your arms across your chest and concentrate on just breathing in and out slowly feeling your chest rise and fall nothing more until you sleep. Revictimization ( seeking abuse seen as normal behaviour ) happens in 57% of cases to those with DID where they seek re-enactment of past abuse in the hope of a better outcome. Your shortness of breath reminds you that to stop breathing means you are no longer here no longer in pain . It then reminds you why you do this and for what reason . So turn this negative into a positive and remind yourself you are alive and you are a survivor not a victim and that concentrating on your breath whilst you lie in bed will remind you that there is nothing to fear except fear itself. Take control of your life by taking control of your breathing and remember yesterday is history tomorrow a mystery all we have is today and today is a gift and that is why we call it the present. What happened to you was not your fault breathe easy you are not alone . The breathing exercise is from mindfulness reminding us why we breath and raising awareness of the breath of life and its importance . Be happy in the knowledge and seek those pleasures that take your breath away but not literally . Take care T

Lauren Rose

Thank you @ROBERT TALON. I will try the laying down with arms crossed to focus on my breath and rewire my brain to know that I am safe. I was sitting on my yoga ball with a grounding rock but I like the idea of laying down. Arms crossed I am assuming would give my body that sensation of being protected and allow my mind to know that I am safe. It's been so exhilarating learning the cause of such a powerful trigger and I am so very excited to be able to meditate without this particular trigger getting in the way. Smile.
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