Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?

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Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« on: March 30, 2015, 02:03:18 PM »
What works for you? Methods, techniques, lifestyle changes, grounding techniques, Inner Child work, flashback management techniques...?

It occurred to me yesterday that this board is full of useful tips about recovery. But they're scattered everywhere, and I keep on forgetting about them. If you're new to Out Of the Storm, it's probably a daunting task to face the many, many, many threads. No chance is any new member going to find every last useful tip, not unless they take a week off and do nothing but read.

So how about we start a list where we collect everything?

Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2015, 02:40:48 PM »
I'll start.

Less stress. Simply just having CPTSD uses up energy. CPTSD recovery uses up still more energy. Stress also uses up energy. So anything that we can do to de-stress our lives is bound to be helpful. Examples:

-- Look around your flat. Is there anything that makes you think "...oh dear"? Can you get rid of it? (Clothes that no longer fit, half-finished projects, childhood photos, presents from people who hurt you...)
-- Exercize.
-- Do you get enough downtime where you don't have to do anything productive?
-- Does the food you eat make you tired? (Possible culprits: white flour, sugar, junk food, tea, chocolate, coffee, additives)
-- Do you drink enough water?
-- Can you organize your day so there's no need to hurry?
-- Can you avoid multitasking?
-- Do you breathe properly? Sounds weird, but some of us (=Cat) react to stress with shallow breathing. Or they stop breathing for a few seconds.

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So. How about you? What else is there we can use?

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marycontrary

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Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2015, 04:54:51 PM »
SC thanks for the wonderful thread. That is a really good list you have started there.

Here are some of mine (I also do your list too)

Hard core meditation and time alone.
Painting
Long, long walking (now up to 6-12 miles at one time)
Practicing listening to people very closely...very good for staying "grounded"



Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2015, 06:31:18 PM »
Hah, we have the beginnings of a list.  :cheer:  I hope we get more things to add.

Stay safe. When you're caught up in a flashback, it's so easy to just lose touch with the here and now. Sometimes that can make us a little heedless of danger. Please look after yourself. Maybe your folks treated you like you're dispensable, but that's abusive nonsense. You deserve to be treated with care and consideration. Things to avoid: anything that could kill you, get you addicted, make your flashback worse, or get you in trouble later (like leaving bills unpaid, crossing the road without checking that it's safe, or taking a walk without looking where you go and then getting hopelessly lost).

Grounding & Mindfulness. CPTSD flashbacks make us live in our heads and hearts, and we kind of lose touch with the here and now. Anything that helps us stay grounded can help us to not get quite as lost in our flashbacks.

Examples:

Practicing listening to people very closely.
Drinking a few sips of water as slowly and mindfully as possible.
Buy small amounts of healing scents, then "sniff" during an EF.
A slow walk observing closely the smell, sounds and sights.
Putting on make-up, especially mascara and eyeliner (this helps one member to concentrate and steady her hands, an area that feels shaky during an EF).


Less stress. Simply just having CPTSD uses up energy. CPTSD recovery uses up still more energy. Stress also uses up energy. So anything that we can do to de-stress our lives is bound to be helpful. Examples:

Look around your flat. Is there anything that makes you think "...oh dear"? Can you get rid of it? (Clothes that no longer fit, half-finished projects, childhood photos, presents from people who hurt you...)
Exercize. Anything that moves the larger muscle groups gets rid of adrenaline (long, brisk walks, swimming, boxing...).
Dance.
Do you get enough downtime where you don't have to do anything productive?
Does the food you eat make you tired? (Possible culprits: white flour, sugar, junk food, tea, chocolate, coffee, additives)
Do you drink enough water?
Can you organize your day so there's no need to hurry?
Can you avoid multitasking?
Do you breathe properly? Sounds weird, but some of us (=Cat) react to stress with shallow breathing. Or they stop breathing for a few seconds.
Do you have enough time alone?
Meditation.
Creative pursuits (like painting, writing...).
Cleaning your rooms can be relaxing.


Rituals. Sometimes it's helpful to have something real and tangible that expresses a change we want to make. Things that have helped some of us:

Decluttering a room and rearranging the furniture makes Cat's mind feel "tidier".
Burning sage or incense, as C. does. "I place the sage on a special plate, then light it and walk around the spaces in my home with it and blow on it lightly.  You can also stay in one place and move the smoke around your own body.  It burns slowly, with small amounts of smoke.  I sometimes combine this w/prayer or meditation.  This practice is called 'smudging'.  It's a practice of many American Indian tribes.  You can substitute a candle, incense, etc."
Collecting polished stones that represent healing topics (rose quartz for self-love, etc). You can display them or carry them around with you.


Inner Child Work and Self-Parenting. Wasn't this in a thread somewhere... Techniques I remember: ask your Inner Child questions, have her answer in writing and write with your non-dominant hand. Or ask your Inner Child questions directly, and wait to see what emotions or mental images pop up. Maybe your Inner Child wants a present? Positive self-talk: saying soothing and validating things to oneself (either just in your thoughts or out loud if you're alone and it feels okay). The idea of an Inner Teen - not sure if that's official, but I liked it, and my Inner Teen loves doing things that my FOO wouldn't approve of (like painting my toenails or making espresso - my FOO was so overcontrolling that it's ridiculously easy to rebel).


Nutrition. There's this new theory about a connection between depression and symptoms of an inflammation? Must look this up. There was a thread about that. The bottom line was, eating sensibly helps with the inflammation thing and that in turn improves your mood.


Dungeon-Diving. Also known as Grief Work. Facing up to the abuse we experienced, and working through our grief. Techniques? How do people here a) identify what they need to grieve about, b) feel actual feelings, c) do the actual work - grieving, angering, venting, and that fourth thing I keep forgetting? Only ideas I have so far: journalling, feelings journal, reading books on types of abuse you've probably experienced (bc they often have handy lists of questions you can ask yourself), working off your excess anger by making vegetable soup - the kind where you have to chop up a celeriac root - very cathartic sometimes. There has to be more out there.


Ghostbusting, aka Shrinking the Inner Critic. Link to Pete Walker's texts. There was a thread about this - must research. Maybe something about brainwashing and its effects. Maybe something about what introjects are, how to identify them, and what to do with them later. No idea how this holds true for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, so this section would need a warning. (A book I read says: if you feel like you're split up into several personalities, then it might make matters worse if your T or you give those entities names and address them directly. So for people with DID, it sounds like it's best for them to address that problem separately and consult a T who knows these things.)


Open The Closet, Say Hi To The Skeleton. I'm thinking of things that's made our lives difficult, but no one ever told us about them. Asperger's, High Sensitivity, maybe issues related to Racism, Sexism, Ableism, spiritual abuse, etc - things we had to combat but were taught to ignore, or maybe we were expected to act as if nothing at all was the matter. Maybe also parental problems - poverty, alcoholism, workoholism, narcissism, busy-holism, mental illness, narcissistic family systems... Link to symptoms you show if you're an Adult Child (which turn out to be common to people who've grown up in all kinds of narcissistic family systems).


Discover Yourself. CPTSD shrinks your sense of identity, or you even develop a fake self, or you're just too depressed to even have proper feelings, or you've been conditioned to never have preferences and wishes etc. Do we have techniques for that? Things people did? Success stories? I liked that thread in our Café section about what hot drink we prefer. A small start. Maybe this is linked to Self-Parenting? Befriending the Self? What did everyone do to find out who they truly are?


Resource Work. Anything that gives you energy. Well, anything that gives you energy and is legal and preferrably non-addictive. Examples: ....? (Entertainment, downtime, creativity, laugh-out-loud fun, interesting hobbies,...) (this is probably closely linked to de-stressing yourself and also to rediscovering yourself)
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 02:22:34 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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C.

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Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2015, 08:05:53 PM »
My current & past favorites:

Burn sage:  I place the sage on a special plate, then light it and walk around the spaces in my home with it and blow on it lightly.  You can also stay in one place and move the smoke around your own body.  It burns slowly, with small amounts of smoke.  I sometimes combine this w/prayer or meditation.  This practice is called "smudging".  It's a practice of many American Indian tribes a perhaps others, I don't know.  You can substitute a candle, incense, etc.

Touching, moving and holding rocks:  I have a plate of polished stones of various types I've collected.  They all represent healing topics that I don't always remember, but I know the rose quartz is about self-love, the green one about intellect, the red one physical healing, etc.  They were all quite inexpensive.  I change their placement on the plate and sometimes carry them on me, in a pocket, etc.  I like the feel of how they warm in my hand.

Cleaning:  For me sweeping and cleaning the surfaces in my space is relaxing, plus there's the added benefit of a clean living space.

Make-up (during an EF):  I don't wear much make-up, but the act of putting it on helps me to concentrate and steady my hands, an area that feels shaky during an EF.  Especially mascara and eyeliner.  Not an activity for everyone I know.

Dance:  Moving to music used to bring me joy and requires just enough concentration.  I hope that it works again for me one day.  At the moment it's become a trigger b/c it reminds me of someone.  A lesson to be careful about sharing my healing activities w/others!

Nature:  A slow walk observing closely the smell, sounds and sights.

Scented oils (during an EF):  Buy small amounts of healing scents, then "sniff" during an EF.

Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2015, 07:46:03 AM »
Thanks, C! It's in the list now. Sorry it took me a while, I had a bit of a flashback that flattened me for a while.

Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2015, 11:58:28 AM »
I added a few sections. They sound wonky because they're just things I remembered off the top of my head. If anyone has examples of what worked for them, or things they'd like to add, or if there's a good thread on this forum that we could link to, could you tell me? Thanks! Also, there's bound to be more...

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C.

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Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2015, 08:01:18 PM »
Great list Cat, thank you.  I am glad that you were able to move out of your EF :thumbup:

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shadow

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Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2015, 12:09:23 PM »
Im still searching for things that work for me but thought I would share something that back fired on me seeing as others have mentioned it as a good thing. During an EF I took my dog for a long walk as its something that normally I find relaxing. I live in forestry country and whilst walking got lost in my thoughts...memories....and before I knew it I was lost for real in a massive forest where all the tracks and trees look the same! I was lucky my dog knew the way home....but the panic of being lost as an adult whilst feeling as lost as a child was something I never want to happen again....so please stick to places you know if walking.... <3

Re: Recovery and flashback-busting: what works for us?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2015, 02:23:10 PM »
I put this in a paragraph called "stay safe". Do you think this works?