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Topics - fullofsoundandfury

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General Discussion / why is it so tiring?
« on: September 24, 2018, 05:05:01 AM »
Whenever I acknowledge my CPTSD symptoms I get WIPED OUT TIRED.

If I stay in denial and focus on being busy I have plenty of energy.

If I see a therapist, write about it, or tune into the reality of it, I become incapacitated with exhaustion.

I've been diagnosed by two separate people, roughly four years apart. I haven't done much trauma therapy. 

Does anyone know the biochemical reason for this difference in energy levels?

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Recovery Journals / All panic and no disco
« on: September 24, 2018, 02:02:10 AM »
 :wave:

Just assume that there are trigger warnings in every post in this journal.

I'm having an argument with myself about whether to even do this.

I was being badly triggered at work (new job) and I became cognisant that my own body language and internal experience (armouring, hypervigilance, IC, perfectionism) was creating this awkward tension in the air between me and my new colleagues, but it also seems like I was the only one noticing that.

They haven't indicated anything but acceptance of me.

To define it further: they are relaxed, open and comfortable in their bodies. They are unrehearsed, authentic, uncensored and free. I, by comparison, well. I haven't relaxed since '83 (utero, if even then. Two attempts were made on my life during gestation and the pregnancy wasn't what you'd call peaceful, so I was probably a pretty wigged out foetus)

And that, there, is why to do this - this being the journal. Not the foetus observation, that's old news. But the definition of what led me to therapy. What it was that I noticed so starkly. In the act of writing I've clarified something already. I had a fake persona of a bubbly, exuberant personality. My new colleagues were the real deal. It became unbearable. I wanted the kinds of attachments they have, and the internal attachment to their own selves that they have. That inner security.

So there I was, autonomic robotised person moving around like the Tin Man, eyes dilated like saucers no doubt, amongst all these joyous, happy-go-lucky, rambunctious personalities. Something about it all was strong enough to push me into the dreaded THERAPY. I quit smoking too so I was missing old protection.

The therapist is free through the university I go to so I called her to make an appointment. Very easy compared to most attempts to access help locally.  I knew she was very experienced and had a good reputation. Downside: monthly sessions only. Could be a dangerous amount of time if I leave badly triggered. Upside: monthly sessions. A fair stretch of time between an experience of someone actually seeing me clearly.

I went in saying: I don't have a self. I need a self. She enquired about background. I said the sentence: two alcoholic parents and that was it. She knew within two minutes.

She drew a picture of a face, profile perspective, on her whiteboard and she drew the neck, brain, amygdala. She drew, for me, how CPTSD develops and what it does to the body. She pointed out that I might feel my body is relaxed or in its normal state, but to her it was visibly ready to fight or run.
She asked me to note where I was sitting. I looked down at myself. I still didn't get what she was indicating, so she explained. I was sitting with my body directed at the door, poised to escape. I remember laughing in a stilted, surprised, awkward way. She said that unconsciously I had scanned the room and found the best place to sit with an escape route, and that it had all happened in a split second below my deliberate awareness. I had no idea I had done that, but she was spot on. She said my pupils were dilated and that I was barely breathing. And yet, she pointed out, I was 'presenting' to the untrained eye as a person who was very functional, together, very calm, objective and analytical.
I checked in with my body and she was right: I was barely breathing, now that she mentioned it. My muscles were pumped full of yippy beans. I was very tense. That is a slightly heightened version of my 'normal' so I had not noticed.

It was mind blowing.

I've read Bessel, Tian, Pete. I knew this stuff intellectually. Sitting with a professional pointing it out kindly, giving me the science, giving me the compassion, was life changing. It personalised it and located it in me. It got me in touch with what it is, within me and my body.

She went in to great detail about CPTSD's neurobiological effects on the whole body. I listened, pretending I was hearing it for the first time, because in a way I was. A lot of my equilibrium has been conditional on hiding and appearing normal, so this whole process was agitating the flight/fight/freeze/fawn response even more than usual. This means I've captured a lot of that session photographically because I'd gone into that zone, but a lot of it was also me in a dissociated, dazed, incredulous state lol. Very, very dangerous to allow a person to see you. But I tolerated it because it was also amazing.

She led me through a breathing exercise and the weirdest thing happened. My physical VISION changed when I opened my eyes after it. Everything was brighter and I had better peripheral vision. Again, I hadn't noticed that I'd had literal tunnel vision earlier in the session.

So her idea is that it's a bad idea to even begin examining or attempting to process any memories while my body's so hot-wired. First thing is to calm the body, like Bessel says, so I feel I may be in good hands.

She acknowledged that deep breathing, being present in the body and yoga would be very uncomfortable for me. Yes.

I can feel the front section of my head being flooded with this force trying to make it stop, making it blank. Making it forget. And a strong urge to delete this. I wonder what all that is. I'm trying a thing where I just write it and acknowledge it. I'm having an argument about whether to do this. My brain is swiping itself out into numbness and stillness. Just acknowledge it and keep going. There is dizziness. Now an internal suggestion to go to sleep. Now a feeling to run.

The thing with the session is I went in thinking I don't have a self. She said I have a very well defined self, but I do have CPTSD. Her explanation helped me make the distinction, for the first time in my life, that the physical and psychological symptoms are not the same thing as 'me'. This is the opposite of disowning it but it's understanding what it is. It gave me a lot of hope and clarity.

She explained to me, without asking if these are things I experience, why I don't eat, why I can't sleep, even things like why I can be prone to nasal congestion. All those things are to do with the constant flooding of cortisol. Digestion, for example, just isn't a thing. Your body isn't going to suggest you sit down for a meal if it's under the impression that someone is coming to kill you any moment.

She said my response was normal and unavoidable. Normal to be like this for any human. How true and reasonable and comforting. This session took so much of my self-judgment and self-rejection down a notch.
It also kinda got me in touch with the long term physical effects. This would have to shorten a life span. All the chemical components and stress on the organs.

I was supposed to practice:
deep belly breathing
looking up at a point between my eyes to stop thoughts
alternate nostril breathing

She asked if I have fun. I said no. I barely understand the concept. She asked what I do to relax. I said I flop on the couch in front of TV and zone out (dissociate?) She said that is GOOD. To stop thinking, stop reacting. She said my triggers would be everywhere (they are). Her giving me permission to be distracted was huge for me, a game changer. I used to think I had to let myself swing all over the place and that distraction was copping out, an act for the weak. But distraction can calm the body which is my first step.

It's really cool that she knew all this without me having to explain. She knew it from her long experience, knowledge, astute observation. She did all the heavy lifting in the session, then she said I had achieved a lot. But all I had done was listen and realise and connect.

Maybe this is an Emperor's New Clothes thing and I think I'm not obviously hyper vigilant but really I am, ha!

She said showing up was brave. At the time I thought that was ridiculous but now that I have strong urges never to go back, I see what she means.  I do have strong temptation to abandon it.  It is a part of myself who has very successfully helped me by keeping a lid on all of this, and keeping denial up, and just protecting me from it - that part suggests avoiding the next appointment. I appreciate this part of me, I do. I may be ready to do this now though. I wasn't before and I'm grateful that the denial and avoidance kept me OK.

I'm the most functional I've ever been. I'm working and studying and the house is clean and things are relatively organised. I haven't been triggered into a dissociated freeze response that lasts weeks, for a long time. I don't want to risk that. The therapist calls the amygdala "Pandora's Box" and that's what it feels like.

My hope here is that this journal can be an anchor point for me so that I can continue the sessions and have a safe space to explore. I don't have an external human I can talk to about my true experience.

The second session was supposed to happen a week or so ago, but we had scheduled it at 12:30 (I am always in class at that time) and my mind thought the appointment was 2 (straight after class).
Possibilities:
  • we agreed to 2pm on the day, and she accidentally typed it in as 12:30
    the same part of me who scans rooms for exit strategies, wants to protect me from this volatile journey, and sabotaged the next appointment by agreeing to a time it knew it couldn't make, then cementing 2pm in the brain so I wouldn't check

The second one may be far fetched but I don't know. The truth is I lose a lot of time. The truth is I do a lot of things and forget I have done them. The truth is, I was only vaguely aware that my body might be quite tense. The truth is, anything is possible right now.

So I guess that about wraps up the first entry but I might come back and write a couple more things.

In the session when she asked if I ever have fun or relax and I said no, she asked if there are any things I remember enjoying or that could be fun. It ended up with me agreeing to put on a song I like and letting loose, dancing to it, letting my body do whatever. I haven't done that one. The other one was writing, as long as it didn't become a chore.

If I don't do this journal, I have zero self expression. All I ever do is practical and achieving: work, study, home admin. If I do, I might get lost in the huge amount of grief and pain inside.

I'm grateful that this board exists and grateful to you all who keep it alive and safe and ready for the likes of me to have a soft space to land. It's brutal being alone. Thank you.
 

3
Introductory Post / Hi everyone
« on: September 23, 2018, 11:12:42 PM »
Hi everyone,

I have been here before but was too mentally scattered to intro myself.

I'm very easily triggered and trying hard to teach the body to be calm,
so I may not be able to read much on the other parts of the forum, but I'm about to start therapy and feel scared, so I'm hoping to be able to use this board and a recovery journal as an anchor to safety, info and understanding.

IC is shouting that I should delete this post, that it's embarrassing and wrong. IC does that every time I try to post  :disappear:

Thanks for being here everybody and all the best

4
General Discussion / Truth, CPTSD symptoms and socialisation
« on: April 07, 2018, 03:29:19 AM »
 ???

In my head, it feels like puzzle pieces are beginning to drift together across vast oceans.

So.

Stimuli happens. Trigger. Stress response. The stress response is the truth: I don't like this. The socialised part says: NO. I'm not allowed to feel that, say that, act on that, be that, have that, want that. The socialised part rejects the inner truth. The person attempts to live a life divorced from the inner truth. Comorbid symptoms emerge.

This would only be relevant where the habituated stress response was flight, freeze or fawn. Fighters don't have this as badly. Fighters act out their truth quickly.

I think it's compounded by all the inner rejection we have.

This must be why assertive communication skills are a big part of Pete Walker's therapy approach with some people.

Let me know if this makes sense to anyone....

I feel like my relapse thing has put me back in touch with my authentic self in some ways. Not that the terror feelings are my authentic self, but that they point, loudly, to things I am not OK with, and they are right.

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General Discussion / return of symtpoms - flooding
« on: April 05, 2018, 02:46:44 AM »
Hi guys,

I had been doing SO well. I hadn't had any symptoms of my CPTSD for 6 months or so.

Over Easter I saw my FOO. I didn't prevent it because I considered myself cured of CPTSD lol.

The visit itself seemed fine. I used a lot of distraction techniques: I put on loud music and started dancing and singing and being silly to bring levity. Everyone joined in. I noticed when I was with them, behaviours that would have once triggered me immediately on the spot, didn't. My front personality, cognitive self, can tolerate them.

BUT

Ever since that day my old symptoms have returned. I've done a lot of numbing, immersion in distractions like TV, paralysis, deliberate sleep deprivation/avoidance of bed, and insomnia. No appetite, self starvation again. A very abusive inner voice has returned. I've lost impulse control - I'm in a dream. At work today I just left, got in my car and started driving with no set plan or conscious reason why. I can't concentrate or co-ordinate. I feel intense fear and anger.

On one hand, this is FASCINATING. The body truly does keep the score. All of these protective measures emerged subconsciously and automatically in me. My mind thought it was all OK and was proud of improvements it had noted, but deeper parts are not OK with it at all. A tsunami of trauma memories were woken up and my system is doing all it can to protect the conscious mind from them.

Remind me: what do we do here? I forget. I totally forget.



 



 

6
Hi guys,

Earlier in the year when I was here, there was a little banner above the forums sharing the news that CPTSD had officially been included in the DSM-5. I need that info for an essay, can anyone share it again here or point me in the right direction? Initial Google searches haven't been very productive.

Thanks in advance


7
General Discussion / stuck behind freeze/fawn
« on: August 31, 2017, 02:39:19 PM »
Hi guys  :grouphug:

Hope you're all having a nice day.

I'm increasingly noticing within myself that when it is time for me to talk, I totally dissociate. I just flee, blank out - where does my consciousness go? It must be so weird for them!! (whoever is looking at me, talking to me, waiting for a response)

There is tremendous fear present but I do not feel it, I am just aware of it.... I can watch the symptoms of it physiologically - **** this stuff is hard to put into words!

Here's the kicker - I know I am smart. I have important things that I want to say. It is important for all people, including me, to be able to express themselves.  I should have that right.
Also, sometimes it is important for me to defend myself, assert myself, protect myself with words. This is currently completely outside my scope of capacity. I am hijacked and short circuited by an immediate emotional trigger which sends me into profound dissociation. My body becomes a marionette going through the motions.

I notice if an authority figure at work comes and says stuff at me, I dissociate and smile and nod and fawn, but forget most of the things they have said because I've left the building. I think people would be able to see in my eyes that I'm glazed over and not present or alert.

This contributes to my toxic shame as well.

For a long time I was comfortable with this fawn/freeze response and deflecting, listening, asking questions, encouraging others to monologue, going along with what others wanted, never asserting or informing others, suited me. Now it is no longer viable professionally or personally.

I need to be able to show others myself, my mind, etc.

Has anyone had this experience and had any success in reducing the automatic shut-down triggered response?












8
General Discussion / food restriction/disordered eating of any kind
« on: August 02, 2017, 07:04:04 AM »
I'm coming out of denial about some of my symptoms, in a pleasant, gentle way, which is a first. Usually it is an internal abuser who realizes I'm doing something weird, and then lashes me for it, using it to reinforce how deeply flawed I supposedly am. So this is nice, just becoming gently aware in a dispassionate yet caring way. I am sure I am becoming aware and willing to investigate in this nice, calmer way, because I have learned some things about CPTSD that make it less fraught with self-hating judgment and despair.

I have known I have CPTSD for a while now, but didn't know what to do about it and couldn't concentrate enough to understand information I tried to read. I couldn't do therapy because I cannot trust anyone (yet!  ;D) and become very badly triggered if I sit and talk to someone about myself. So I just kind of ignored it. This is all to say, I'm new to actual active attempts at recovery.

One of the trickiest things about my CPTSD is the denial, self protection, avoidance side of it. It means that I do things and I don't know why, and I don't seem to have access to solutions. It's like subconscious parts of me are in control and I can't communicate with those subconscious aspects. I know they are trying to help me. I think toxic shame might be separating me from my inner reasons or compulsions.

One of the things I do, is avoid eating.

It is almost 5pm here now, and I haven't eaten. I am not deliberately, consciously doing it to keep slim or anything like that. That is the problem, I'm not consciously doing it. It's automatic. I can't remember to eat. I don't feel hunger. I'm not interested in food. I don't enjoy food. I hate having to cook and clean up after it. I might be restricting food to stay slim, I don't know! Could be anything.

I have had some coffees and cigarettes.

I am wondering if anyone has come across any information about disordered relationships to food, in your research into CPTSD? I think that food restriction or over-eating can be common in traumatised people, is that right?

Perhaps I am being too analytical. I like having information, if I can connect dots I find it easier to accept and then work towards change.

I would appreciate your experiences with eating, if you have any, and if anyone has any links, or ideas about what food restriction might be linked to, internally?

I guess it could be a frozen part who doesn't really want to be alive, it could be so many things....

I've just been to the shops and purchased all the ingredients for one of my all-time favorite childhood meals, something my paternal grandmother (who is still insane but was stable enough to cook) made for me when I was young  :) It's very healthy and nourishing. I won't enjoy it, eating for me is going through the motions.

Wow, a memory just surfaced!!!!

TW
I am the eldest child. I used to argue with my mother about her abusive treatment of us, and try to protect the younger ones. I was highly motivated to stop her, change her, protect everyone. She would punish me sometimes by locking me in my bedroom. I wasn't allowed to have my light on or have any food. One night she ordered Chinese take-out for everyone but I wasn't allowed to have any.
END TW

Wow, my mind is co-operating me by showing me scenes connected to my eating, just because I'm asking about it! That was quite nice. My mind just floated the memories up as visuals, like I was back there again, but without the terrible emotions. So it's connected to that.

Now what?




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