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Have You Been Able To Help Heal Yourself Without Therapy?

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
Hi,

I have posted a number of times about my struggles with therapy. I won’t rehash all of that, as it would take too long, lol.

Anyway, I am currently seeking out help for my obsessive thinking. A big part of the problem is that the therapist wants to talk about my trauma, as she wants to explore why I believe (most of the time) that I am a horrible person. (She wants to blame my mom for it all, based on a very benign statement, but that’s a struggle for another thread.)

So, I thought about it and I realized that while my trauma was the original source of this core belief, the therapeutic world has done its best to reinforce this belief over the last decade and a half, with at least 5 different experiences (all with different therapists/organizations). I wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as I am now if they hadn’t been there reinforcing my core belief.

I am doubtful that I can even get any sort of help from the entity that has done its best to make me worse.

My therapist hasn’t done anything to help me so far and despite my repeated requests to learn skills so that I can help myself, she hasn’t taught me anything. (I find it disgusting that my pleas for help were met with “have you looked into PHP?” Nah, biznach, it’s YOUR JOB to help keep me outta that joint. 🙄 Plus, that kind of help is generalized and I need something specialized.)

Suffice to say, I am realizing that I’m not going to trust a therapist to help me get better. I found online materials that have helped SO MUCH as well as a book by a guy who developed a self-help kind of system for overcoming obsessive thinking.

I am wondering if others have been able to help themselves without therapy, with any sort of struggle (it doesn’t have to just be PTSD/trauma). Have you set up a schedule for yourself? I mean how do you keep yourself moving forward? Have you encountered specific kinds of problems in going it alone?

Thank you.
 
I really truly understand the feeling that therapists haven’t helped at best, and at the very least made things worse. I had a long break for a good number of years without therapy, I did manage quite well until another trauma basically broke me. I have really struggled since with having any sort of faith or trust in the industry, although I am trying my best.

I think it’s possible to manage to an extent alone, I threw myself into work, routine, quite a lot of unhealthy coping unfortunately. But I think if you are self aware and can seek out materials, it’s probably better that way than continuing to have damaging and dismissive experiences with therapists.
 
i don't really believe i could have recovered as far as i have with ONLY specialized professional help. as @Ecdysis pointed out, psychiatry is an infant science with correspondingly few mature solutions to offer. my peer support network has been the village which has been most consistently helpful on my recovery road.
 
the therapeutic world has done its best to reinforce this belief over the last decade and a half, with at least 5 different experiences (all with different therapists/organizations). I wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as I am now if they hadn’t been there reinforcing my core belief.
Providers of therapy are no different from medical providers--they are put on a pedestal in this society as the best, most educated, and only way to go when you're struggling with mental health issues. Truth? They are humans who have learned more (sometimes) than the people they treat and only as much as we currently know. Everything is in its infancy in this world as it pertains to humans, so they are actually quite limited in their scope.

I had a therapist who absolutely made me worse. And not in that worse-before-it-gets-better sort of way. Except the time he threw something at me, he was using widely known and accepted treatment. It just didn't/doesn't work for me.
I am wondering if others have been able to help themselves without therapy, with any sort of struggle (it doesn’t have to just be PTSD/trauma).
I think I do that now (more on that in a minute). After I left the aforementioned therapist, I was over 10 years without therapy. It was the best, most stable I have ever been. I don't remember what precipitated my going back, but I did so with the express understanding that we would *not* dig into all the stuff in my past. It still came up occasionally, but none of it was forced.

I am lots better than I was, and I think that after I did classes in MBSR with my therapist, he was (and continues to be) mostly just a sounding board. I have no one in real-life to talk to, so that's mostly what I use him for these days. I had severe problems with obsessive and intrusive thinking, but formal training and lots of practice in mindfulness helped alleviate a lot of that.

Looking back, I think the bulk of my progress/healing happened, not because of therapy, but because of work I did on my own. Most of the therapists I've had have offered ideas for moving forward, but most of those things just didn't work for me or made me worse.

Most of my issues today are of a more spiritual nature than anything else, I think. I have been able to forgive the people who did me harm, and I hold no anger toward them.
 
I haven't been in therapy for a long time. I can't seem to engage anymore but I get a lot of help here. I have done a lot of healing here. The other thing that turned things around for me was The DBT Workbook. It caused a huge change in me so I do think you can find self help books and websites that will help heal you. I don't know any specific things, but I bet you could find some.
 
Exactly the same as you, I have been disappointed by therapy.

Anyway, I am currently seeking out help for my obsessive thinking. A big part of the problem is that the therapist wants to talk about my trauma,
My therapist hasn’t done anything to help me so far and despite my repeated requests to learn skills so that I can help myself, she hasn’t taught me anything.

This is precisely what happened to me, too. So I have fired several therapists and never completed more than about four sessions with any one. It's known in their own profession that many therapists are looking for ways to survive their own problems by become therapists. When a survivor walks into the therapist's room, sometimes the survivor knows things about survival that the therapist doesn't.

Fortunately I am hugely recovered from what were thought to be post-traumatic symptoms, and if what I did for myself could help you, too, then it will be a joy.

1. I took up exercise and time in nature as a sacred ritual. I can cycle all day but am a lousy runner so I started with fast walking and then progressed to jogging on a treadmill before a workout. Nature preserves are are now my church, when on a hike or ride I meet a deer or an eagle or simply a butterfly on a flower it makes me smile. Whatever is making me smile out there also serves to reduce my intrusive, post-traumatic thinking patterns. My life didn't have much of this when I was suffering most and fantasising about 'the only way out', so there was a place for an improvement there.

2. I took control of notoriously unsustainable stimulants that effect our state of mind: I cut coffee to one per day, and I cut alcohol and sugary food to a minimum. I set a boundary for myself by never keeping alcohol or sugary food in the home and having to go out and get it if I want it that badly. I kept consumption awareness in a calendar, so a slice of cake gets an "X" and every unit of alcohol (10 ml of pure alcohol, so about 10 units per bottle of wine) gets a number of units marked in the calendar. I keep it to an average of 14 units per week, as advised by the UK NHS. Thankfully I was never on social media as back in the 2000s I saw the risks a mile off; I would advise to quit that entirely. I was never an alcoholic, nor obese, but I liked a drink and I ate too much. So there was a place for an improvement there.

3. I cut off an abuser who caused me trouble. Strict no contact. I also cut off the sometimes well-meaning "flying monkeys" they sent, to the extent that I wiped out a significant part of my former community. A brutal choice, and the right thing to do.

4. I told my story. I keep an MS Word file that I open nearly every day to deposit my thoughts, which has become a good way of clearing my mind of them. I can then look back to what I was thinking back in say October and it's useful. I also use an audio recorder - all my flashbacks, ruminations, analysing of the past now leaves my head and goes into my recorder. I learned a smarty pants word from Ancient Greece called 'praxis' - the idea of finding something by doing something rather than thinking about doing it; so the act of talking your story into a voice recorder actually serves to build your story, to find your story and to comprehend it. This also should involve owning it, facing one's own wrongdoing and overcoming ones own traits of vulnerable narcissism. I did also tell my story to my partners and therapists, which surely helped.

5. I wrote to a second abuser a long letter in which at last I spoke truth to power. They continued their bullshit, avoiding and distracting and making up stories and diverting blame, but at least they apologized. That was a form of telling my story.

6. I invited a third abuser to family counselling with me. In those sessions I first told them what I understood about their story, invited them to tell more about their story, I then told them my story. I also looked them in the eyes and told them what they did to me was criminal. They agreed and expressed remorse. I forgave them.

7. I looked for a new community, building up friendly networks. When people were disappointing, as we often are, I learned to accept that people are not perfect gods. Everybody is flawed and those flaws are going to be troublesome. I became quicker to walk away when those flaws crossed a behavioural line, and also I reduced my expectations and accepted people more for who they are.

8. I worked hard, persevered and then excelled at my career in which there is now a good work-life balance. That involved luck or good fortune of course, (which was very welcome given the run of bad luck through much of my life). The most important choice involved was that I decided not to give up on life, to keep trying, to keep rolling the dice until I rolled a six. I decided that I was not going to be a victim, I was going to be a survivor. Now I am building the story more than telling it, and I can already feel the weight of too much "me", "my" and "I" in this message.

9. There are people less fortunate than us. We must help them.
 
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My therapist hasn’t done anything to help me so far and despite my repeated requests to learn skills so that I can help myself, she hasn’t taught me anything.
Just to say my experience of therapy has been similarly disappointing. But my experience of psychologists has been very different. Therapists seem to think we already have the answers to our problems, and don't seem to teach useful skills much. But psychologists absolutely do teach evidence based skills.

But to answer your question, yes, I've had successes which I learned from books / YouTube articles online etc.

Learning about acceptance and commitment therapy has been very useful, as has learning to Meditate and practise metta (loving kindness)

Also learning dbt skills like distress Tolerance, cbt skills helped me realise I don't have to buy into my negative thoughts so much etc
 
I’ve found a mix of things helpful and I do think that a certain amount of healing/recovery can take place without a therapist. Trauma therapists should know better than to pressure you into discussing your trauma and definitely should be focusing on skills rather than dismissing requests.
At different points I have needed therapist help, but I’ve had times I’ve been able to get more without them through select books, support groups, working with animals, and other things. I found yoga helpful, particular types not all styles, as it helped me to be aware of my body and present within it. Outlets such as drawing or community musical theatre where I could release my emotions safely and connect with people in a safe way whilst using my body and voice.
I guess I think it’s possible, and that sometimes you need more than or something different to talk therapy, and if talk therapy then it needs to be with someone with a strong background in working with trauma and the different manifestations; none of the helpful therapies forced me to discuss my trauma, in fact it wasn’t often mentioned unless I raised it and then we may explore the aspect I raised, more was on strategies to manage my symptoms and ground myself and cope with arousal levels, and things like bodywork and art therapy, and those and other somatic therapies and gratitude lists etc you can do on your own and can be very helpful. I also found principles from Buddhist meditation helpful, like some practices in the books by Pema Chodron (I’m not religious; a lot of modern mindfulness is based on these principles and I found her work more accessible than a lot of other books on meditation and mindfulness). There’s a lot more options now than there used to be with podcasts, audiobooks, sensory equipment, etc. Do what helps you where you’re at now, and if that means changing therapists or taking a break from therapy in the typical sense then that’s fine. Everyone and each journey is different, and different things help at different times.
 
Hi,

I have posted a number of times about my struggles with therapy. I won’t rehash all of that, as it would take too long, lol.

Anyway, I am currently seeking out help for my obsessive thinking. A big part of the problem is that the therapist wants to talk about my trauma, as she wants to explore why I believe (most of the time) that I am a horrible person. (She wants to blame my mom for it all, based on a very benign statement, but that’s a struggle for another thread.)

So, I thought about it and I realized that while my trauma was the original source of this core belief, the therapeutic world has done its best to reinforce this belief over the last decade and a half, with at least 5 different experiences (all with different therapists/organizations). I wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as I am now if they hadn’t been there reinforcing my core belief.

I am doubtful that I can even get any sort of help from the entity that has done its best to make me worse.

My therapist hasn’t done anything to help me so far and despite my repeated requests to learn skills so that I can help myself, she hasn’t taught me anything. (I find it disgusting that my pleas for help were met with “have you looked into PHP?” Nah, biznach, it’s YOUR JOB to help keep me outta that joint. 🙄 Plus, that kind of help is generalized and I need something specialized.)

Suffice to say, I am realizing that I’m not going to trust a therapist to help me get better. I found online materials that have helped SO MUCH as well as a book by a guy who developed a self-help kind of system for overcoming obsessive thinking.

I am wondering if others have been able to help themselves without therapy, with any sort of struggle (it doesn’t have to just be PTSD/trauma). Have you set up a schedule for yourself? I mean how do you keep yourself moving forward? Have you encountered specific kinds of problems in going it alone?

Thank you.
I hear you. I notice similar trust hardships in the field, for myself.

I don't know if you can, you may know that better then anyone else.

I find, that a combination would be best for me.
Since trauma is often in relationship, it would be impossible for me to fully heal without "other". Doesn't mean therapist percé, but safe people, not alone. I've been living in isolation (with partner) most of my life, so a cabin in the wouds may sound appealing for a few years its often not the full story, but can be a real beginning to some.
Since My trauma is also big part of neglect, I need to learn and be mirrored by other people I think. Otherwise I keep falling into relationship addiction.

Some other random things that cross my mind, and please take or ignore what fits you best:

Obsessive thinking, may be a way to cope. In a way you try to think your way out of what started as a feeling problem. This is an impossible loop.
You may need to resolve the feeling, with feeling.

Some reading/ youtube:
- eckhart tolle the power of now.
- how your nervous systemworks and how thinking is part of the stress response.
- fysical excercises to calm your nerveus system.
- 12 step programs can be very helpfull to. Like aca? I think. There are way more then I knew and also online.

Pmt therapy could help. But maybe a massage therapist or other fysical forms could work to. (I have no personal expierance with this yet).

The self motivation is not an issue for me. I actually might be to involved overwhelming my system at times. That has his own downsides!!!
You can make a list, and work on a specific topic for a week, a month or how long it takes. You can journal about it and reflect your progress. Take what works and discard what doesn't work, or put it on a maybe later list.
Really follow your body in this, it will guide you... if you are capabele to connect with it though, if not really do consider some help with that. I hated it when therapist mentioned that, but 15 years later it is the fundament for really rocking self help, ironicly enough.
I notice Im very chaotic in my learning, so its hard to stick with a routine and really practise that and intergrate things, this really slows me down, having someone keeping you acountable may be helpfull. Learned helplesness also really slowed me down. A therapist might have the aweser but it could also be an guru or someone on youtube. 100% owning my responsibility as adviced by some dude on youtube realy kicked me into a higher gear.

Self help, can be a very powerfull healing tool and I wouldn't be where I am now without it!
Yet I do wanna warn you for its dangerours:

1 be aware of cults, its a real thing and they pray upon people in "need" and with trauma back ground. Learn how cults work, it gives you a better chance. I was groomed 2 times, but I walked out even in the love bomb fase, 1 I stayed longer but never close to the core, so I made some rules for myself: I don't pay other than for books, see how they react if I oppose some of there core believes in the early beginning, don't stay to long/ take time apart do they guilt trip you get out. Be aware of systems, with different "levels"/ inner circles/ vips/ golden memberships. Better be rigid and saying no 1 time to often, than stuck in a cult ;). If something seems really to good its often not good, is that is real. Have someone to question you if you get to involved and listen to them.
2 you may find, that you only work on things you are aware of and not the things you might actually need. Since I aproach it chaotic I actually often stumble upon things I didn't know I needed, but to some it can keep them astray because of a self protection mode.
This is one of the reasons I like to do both to make sure I don't fall into it after all.
3 wrong information. Though therapy has had its own wrongfully informered mindsets at times, internet is not always right...
4 you believe you are flawed, so you fix something with selfhelp from a place of selfrejection. This will never work.

What I gained though is invaluable!
I had chronic nerve pain due to broken bones. 10+ years of crazy making pain and harsh criticysm from doctors that it was up in my head, yet the affected body part would be really swollen and warm... I downloaded a free app with meditation explaining how pain works.
That it was 100% normal that my body coped with it in the way it did, due to mental trauma/ perfectionism being more prone for chronic pain loop. In half an hour I had my first expieriance of letting go of the pain!!! It was like turning of a light switch!!!
I did get help with emdr after and its way better now.

I left my narcistic family and toxic partner although therapist didn't see it comming that it was that toxic and wasnt sure if I needed to leave... im proud and every single day still happy I did!!! I also left the therapist.

So yeah... up to you, take the wheel and go where you have to go! But don't forget to listen to others to! Good luck
 
The first time I ‘dealt with’ (read; became entirely asymptomatic for a decade) my PTSD, it was without therapy.

Although, peer based, I learned a fast & dirty way of doing exposure therapy. And then tweaked it, to do solo.

It took me about 5 years to completely unf*ck my head & heart. The exposure therapy? About 1/3 of that process.

I’ve spent over 10 years, this go round, in & out of therapy. When I was HOPING therapy could cut the time I spent/wasted, instead.

NOPE!

Increased timeline, instead of decreased.

Faaaawk.

I “should” have just done what I did before… says most of me, most of the time.

The rest of me values actually knowing what’s up, and nailing shit down.

IE REAL PROCESSING.

But? I’m also not a fan. Because I’ve not been “stable” since 2012, there may be serious bias, there. Probably is. If I were actually stable? It probably WOULD take less time to sort this shit. But life is what it is. Amd luck is what it is. And it’s all been hard as hell.
 
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