Cities vs. Nature

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DV

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Cities vs. Nature
« on: August 31, 2019, 03:58:53 PM »
Wasn't sure whether to put this here or elsewhere (e.g. the recovery section). It's a pretty general topic, and deals with symptoms but also I think is relevant for recovery.

Anyone else here find themselves really negatively affected by living in big cities vs. living in more rural, or even suburban, areas?

For me, I spent a lot of my life in a major city. And for most of my time there, I didn't really notice any signficantly negative affects.

But as my health worsened (increasing CPTSD, burnout, etc.) and as I've moved back and forth between living in more urban and rural areas, I've come to the point where I can feel the negative impact very quickly and strongly moving from more rural areas back to a big urban area.

The negative effects are numerous, but I guess a lot of it just falls into a general category of negative sensory overload from things like too much noise, too many crowds, too much hectic and rushed activity, unpleasant smells, lack of personal space, etc. etc. Basically, I explained it to someone else as if, the second I stepped back into a busy city street, it was like my brain was just telling me that it was overwhelmed and wanted to get out of there asap. Public transportation, especially when it's overly crowded, is a total nightmare and honestly one of the most exhausting and unpleasant things I can think of experiencing on a day-to-day basis.

For me, at least, I feel like I need to get out of the city again as soon as I can, that it's very hard for me to try to keep up any sort of generally good health (mental/physical/etc.) while I'm living in that sort of environment.

Being out in nature, on the other hand, I find to be healing in so many ways... the air is cleaner, the environment is quieter and whatever sounds you do find are generally relaxing (a river, the wind blowing, birds chirping, etc.), the scenery is actually pleasant, there often isn't a single person anywhere around you (and certainly not the crowds you find in cities), and so on.

Anyway, I'm curious about what other people's thoughts and experiences have been in this area. I'm not suggesting that living out in nature is enough to "cure" CPTSD or anything, but I find it generally helps me to feel a lot better and eases a lot of the symptoms. There are potential dangers too, I realize, like if you live somewhere too rural, ending up feeling overly isolated, not having the same opportunities to make friends or interact socially, etc. Overall though, at least for myself, I find it to be a much more positive environment for me to be in compared to cities.

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Kizzie

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2019, 04:43:08 PM »
I think living in a more rural environment does help us to be less hypervigilant.  When I am in a city I feel like everything is moving too fast, there's too much happening and I can't track it all. Light. movement, noise, smells - it's all too much for a nervous system that has been flooded with chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol  :stars:

We are moving out of a rural location closer to a city, but in a small satellite town.  I'm looking forward to having more services and amenities especially trauma related options, but without having to live right in the midst of all the things that cause my hypervigilance to ramp up. 

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woodsgnome

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2019, 05:35:19 PM »
Several decades ago I literally moved far away from the city I'd started life in. A mini-career (role-play acting) I fell into got me back there enough, but at least I was able to skedaddle back to the woods afterwards. My hyper-vigilance and social awkwardness (despite the acting gigs) were close to overwhelm in the urban wilds.

Most important for me was being away from the crush of traffic, noise, and troubling people. Just knowing there were larger numbers of those around rattled my being. Sure I chose a rather escapist option in literally escaping but the ultimate cause was saving my mental well-being and I'm done apologizing for it.

I found out that the bad vibes on which my life started followed me, in the form of EF's and easy triggers. Then I ended up working for a narcissist even out here in the 'sticks', so complete escape remained elusive.

Still I had the bottom line -- a home set in a natural space where I could at least find some degree of solace. The cptsd troubles, I find, followed in one form or another; but at least the biggie -- social anxiety -- was helped. While the isolation can be problematic, it's also where I found the balance I needed -- mind you, my 'balance' is heavily tilted towards the isoation aspect than many would be.

So while I chose this form of rustic living as a step towards a calmer mental life, it's probably not for everyone. I did have social contacts via the acting gigs, which I was able to 'localize' somewhat by helping to atart a theatre/arts group in this area which, despite its isolation, is a bit of a summer vacation area.

This is just my take -- yes, I literally found the rural/urban divide a real factor that has weighed heavily on my life's choices, especially in dealing with the embedded strains of cptsd that follow me no matter where I am.

 

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Jazzy

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2019, 11:27:55 PM »
I do far better way out in nature than I do living here in the city... but then I'm told I'm just avoiding my problems. So seems like there is no winning.  :Idunno:

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Kizzie

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2019, 01:22:31 AM »
FWIW Jazzy, I would compare my avoiding high stress areas like cities or my NPD family to my avoiding cats (I'm very allergic).  I avoid them because they impact my health negatively. 

If you have CPTSD your nervous system has been overloaded for years, sometimes decades so avoiding whatever strains/overwhelms it (people, places) can be thought of as a necessary form of health/self care IMO.  :)

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Jazzy

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2019, 11:13:07 PM »
Thanks for sharing that Kizzie. Its an interesting way to look at it. I will give it more thought.

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DV

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2019, 12:10:57 AM »
Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences and views.

Agree with what Kizzie said as well... I really believe that there's some sort of accumulative damage and/or just wearing down of the brain/nervous system/other body systems by all the trauma and even general stress over the years. And that urban areas tend to significantly worsen a lot of the symptoms people with CPTSD experience. It's an area of science I wish I was more knowledgeable of, and to be frank, I think even the "experts" out there have only really scratched the surface of everything there is to know in that general area.

And yeah, the whole "avoiding the problem" thing may apply in some situations in life but I really don't think it does here. It's like saying someone is "avoiding their problems" when they have a compromised immune system and avoid being out in crowded areas... which most people would probably agree would be a pretty ridiculous thing to say. I think the fact that so few people in the general population really know much (or anything) about CPTSD makes it easier for them to be dismissive of those dealing with very real issues and limitations caused by it.

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Kizzie

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2019, 12:54:03 PM »
Spot on DV   :yeahthat:

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woodsgnome

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2019, 11:45:27 PM »
Although this thread was first posted a a couple weeks back, I just want to give a belated acknowledgment to the relevance of what DV had to say about the necessity of finding survival in the country vs. sticking it out in some urban area (for me urban includes even small towns/villages -- I can visit but living there would be problematic; fortunately I have this choice).

First, to quote DV:

" ... the whole 'avoiding the problem' thing may apply in some situations in life but I really don't think it does here. It's like saying someone is "avoiding their problems" when they have a compromised immune system and avoid being out in crowded areas... which most people would probably agree would be a pretty ridiculous thing to say. I think the fact that so few people in the general population really know much (or anything) about CPTSD makes it easier for them to be dismissive of those dealing with very real issues and limitations caused by it."

DV's observations ring 100% true in my own situation. And reminds me of something I've done frequently but am determined to put a stop to, starting now. Specifically, I'm tired of the tendency I have to apologize for having taken to the woods, literally; and associating that as reacting to cptsd (which in my case originated and intensified in an urban setting).

So many times I've sense people who disapprove or tut-tut my choice to live where I could gain some equilibrium in my life. Albeit, some of the avoidance slant didn't match up with my vocations, which were quite social but didn't require residence in an urban area.

Long story short, DV summarized it well. And for me, reading that post was an important reminder that I have nothing to apologize for, as some have implied over the years. Like DV said, there are many reasons this may be essential to survival.

This tendency to needlessly apologize  carries over into other areas as well; and I've no need to -- many of my life-style decisions stem directly from the cptsd scenario. My handle on self-esteem needs strengthening and DV's post pointed to a huge part of that need.

So here's a heartfelt thank you, DV; for your reminder and call-out that sometime there are things we needn't apologize for. ...  :hug:



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DV

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Re: Cities vs. Nature
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2019, 12:12:31 AM »
Glad to hear my post was helpful to you in some way, woodsgnome. Really, thanks for sharing that, it was encouraging for me to read as well.

Learning to not apologize for things that we don't need to apologize for is a good step on the road to recovery and just personal growth. I know it's something that's been a process for me as well, and still is.

Also, just wanted to add: even in cases where it could be argued that those with CPTSD *are* avoiding something problematic, they probably have pretty good reason to do so! For example, someone with CPTSD might very well not trust other people at all, and who on earth is anyone (especially someone with no experience of CPTSD) to say that they're wrong to do so? "Oh you just met a few bad apples, not everyone is like that. You can't give up, you just have to put yourself out there and try again..." blah blah etc.  That's all very easy to say when you haven't actually lived in someone else's shoes and seen the huge cost of that broken trust they've experienced, and what it would mean for them to experience it again.

Anyway, don't mean to go off on a rant, but this sort of judgmental/shaming attitude is unfortunately something pretty prevalent in our society and something I've personally gotten pretty sick and tired of. In any case, even when people don't really mean anything bad (and are mostly just coming from a place of ignorance), it's good to be able to recognize that sort of thing for what it is so that we can handle it appropriately.