Reading Forum Increases Symptoms!

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I want to extend the overall benefit of what reading and posting on any community related to your trauma will do for you.

Exposure therapy, being a part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is aimed at getting you increased exposure to your fears. Reading and writing in direct, or indirect, fashion to your own fears and trauma, will raise your symptom level, or SUDS level, to an elevated level.

When reading or writing about your trauma, history, fears and symptoms, the idea is a constant, but low level, exposure to your improved ability to cope with your symptoms. To cope and learn how to manage symptoms, firstly you must be exposed to them at a more intense level than when relaxed, or little symptom outbreak within a given day.

Exposure therapy has various methods in which to improve your overall long term gain to your symptoms, this forum being a lower scale of direct trauma exposure therapy. Basically though, your short term pain from exposure to your fears here at lower intensity, is only to improve your long term gain with symptom control.

Currently many attempt to control their PTSD with avoidance, substance abuse, work-aholism, etc etc…any key distraction method to not deal with the past pain. The problem is, the symptoms are still coming back and back, and each time more often with intensity. This is your body progressively telling you that you need to face this fear; whether slowly or quickly, you need to face it. These techniques are proven time and time again as non-effective, hence why many end up here at a point where they want to finally deal with their past, and wanting to know where to start.

What is hoped that some are now discovering, being generally those who have been upon this board actively discussing their issues and others’ for several months now, is that if you walk away from this board for a week or two, you should start to feel better than you have before. The reason is that you need to allow your mind some space to recover, and constant exposure will not give you that space – i.e., if you’re on this board every day constantly, you are getting no recovery time. I understand that you may be telling yourself and believing you need to be dependent upon this board, or even your counsellor who you may have on speed dial, but a counsellor will tell you the same thing: that you need time to process, analyse and reflect upon what you have learnt.

At this point, you come back and hit the board again, at which point you’re either going to now start seeing less symptoms because of reading and posting, or you are going to return to the same level as before. If you return to the same level, then you still haven’t dealt with your trauma and you need more work, more discussion, more exposure.

Reading over and over your own posts, recollections and replies will slowly decrease your intensity levels of symptom exposure. This is the idea of exposure therapy. You read until such time that you are no longer as fearful of what you’re reading, no longer fearful of your own traumas, triggers and past.

Reading this forum you will get intensity, you will get exposure in small and large doses, you will get negatively moody, and you will feel as though you are getting worse. This is the short term pain for the long term benefit and gain towards a better you. If this is you, then this means you are healing, which is the best news you most likely just got today. Congratulations.
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This makes as much concrete sense as anything else in therapy, and of course one does not see the therapist every day and so has time for reflection. My questions would be these, if anyone reads this and has time to answer.Have members found that a few months of general participation is around the amount found to be the effective 'take a forum-break' time? andIn the history of the forum somewhere is there a thread or conversation between members who have implemented the 'break, think and heal' plan ( for sad want of a better term)?Thanks much for the article. There are so many to browse here and all need to be seperately digested, so to speak.Anni
I find I do spend alot of time on PTSD forum, I am here at least once per day, it is part of my new routine to pop in from time to time, check whats new and journal if I need to. Exposure Therapy will make you feel worse; having been there, I completely agree. In therapy, I haven't done an exposure since September...we've gone into break mode and we've focussed on the CBT component more. There are times when you need a break. I've been doing alot of reflecting on my life, my experiences and my reactions to my trauma, putting them in perspective. I realize that with time/distance and exposure, I am getting less afraid to journey nearer and nearer to my critical point. It is still difficult. The therapy is extremely difficult, painful and emotionally taxing...its no wonder ones symptoms worsen. To place it in perspective, I can now mentally walk into my trauma, wander around the room and only feel slightly uncomfortable, I am still not to the point of 'seeing' the critical part but at this time last year, I couldn't even imagine the room without dissociating. It is a very tough journey and resting on that journey is important.

Thanks for the reminder.
Exposure therapy hasn't worked for me. I remember trying to explain EFT to a therapist who cut me short and told me that what she does is the best thing. This therapist was the one who asked me to reference Highly Sensitve Persons because she felt I was one.

The next therapist brought out the EFT tapping meridian instructions. I said, Oh, Gary Craig, very interesting. She then started to explain Borderline Personality Disorder and I said, Oh NO, you don't go there with me. I read all about Borderline and no it doesn't fit me. BiPolar Disorder didn't fit. And ADHD on woman has some similarities. She wasn't up on Highly Sensitve Persons yet.

When I read "The Highly Sensitive Person", it was accurate. I believe that many woman diagnosed with ADHD are actually HSP's.

I have some very good ideas regarding what I feel would work for us. Because I am not a therapist, who cares to listen? No one sadly. Yet the fact is, therapists have a very high failure rate. I've not only read this, I've lived it.

When they say HSP's are born teachers, I believe this. My search is to find others who are able to look outside the box. Hey guys, the DSM isn't written in stone. Like the Bible it will be edited over and over. Maybe its time we value ourselves more, ya dink? SeaBreeze
Having just read your forum makes me realize that I have been in complete avoidance for close to a year. I have kept telling myself, "I will get better if I just focus on helping my kids." Now I know why I cry myself to sleep at night. Denial isn't such a wonderful thing after all.
This forum has made more conscience of my symptonms. It has made me realize the monster I have been. I blmaed everything on my ex-and while his belittling of me did not help matters, it also very much did get to me, I realze. I think this must be a characteristic of those of initiallly diagnosed -- we want o try to go back and fix things. We want to get married, we wantt o have children. and face it, thought not for me, there are many of us who cannot do this. Yet in my capacity as a field tech, I was often on the fullscene. Who gets to repoduce. Who am I to say so?? My chatolic upbringing bedamned...what was right was rightand I had my burdens as the decisions I made..
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At this point, you come back and hit the board again, at which point you’re either going to now start seeing less symptoms because of reading and posting, or you are going to return to the same level as before. If you return to the same level, then you still haven’t dealt with your trauma and you need more work, more discussion, more exposure.

I have a question that maybe you can answer Anthony..... I have found that I have gotten better, the last time for several months, and find I don't want to be on the forum much. Then I get hit between the eyes again and am back on here more frequently. It's frustrating. Does this happen with people who have experienced one major trauma too or is it because of the long term abuse and having had numerous major traumas?

It's pretty obvious that this happens to me when I start dealing with a different trauma in therapy. Dealing with a different trauma for the first time also seems to throw me back into having to work more with a previously dealt with trauma. Is that typical as well?

I have read your article on how long most sufferers should be on the forum yet I have been in therapy for 18months and it seems I still have a long way to go. Makes me wonder if I am doing something wrong?
Yes, its normal to see such behaviours from people as they shift in and out of trauma's. Here is the thing though... if the forum makes you worse, then it means you are at a point when you need to be using the tools learnt, the knowledge, the skills you have applied to your previous trauma, and applying it all to each. The methods you use for one trauma shift to each other trauma. The only thing that changes, is the details of the trauma and emotions felt. The techniques to invoke change remain the same.

Moral of the story: at some point you have to draw that line in the sand for yourself, where you stop seeking the answers, but instead start putting into action what you know, and start walking the path by yourself, without the constant requirement of support. Support is a part of life, we all use it, we all need it, but it is a negative if you become dependent upon it vs. working things out yourself.

Its like a person living at home with their parents... they become so comfortable and dependent upon the easy life, maybe mum still washes their clothes, picks up after them, at 20... then still at 25, 30, 35, 40 years of age... it become a dependency because the person has been negatively supported, ie. reliant, even abusive to expect the parents to feed them, put a roof over their head, etc... when in fact the parents should have kicked them out of the house and made them go and start learning about life, to remove the dependence and negative behaviours.

Me as an example: I don't use the forum as support nowadays, compared to when I first created it. I don't come on here and read through others long writings of their trauma... because whilst it used to help me understand, it now only makes me ill constantly reading another's trauma. Its like re-traumatizing yourself over and over, when in fact your brain has reached an acceptable level of remission, or recovery, and needs to shift away from dependent behaviour.
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