Does it scare you?

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Does it scare you?
« on: September 09, 2014, 06:31:55 PM »
I have been reading much on PTSD, and CPTSD.  I recently got Judith Hermann's book, and got thru chapter 1.  I recognize myself in all the trauma symptoms.  Basically, in the long run, trauma narrows your world.  I worried that I didn't have the intrusive thoughts as a symptom.  Hermann says that after a while, they fade and the primary symptom becomes the numbing.  People that haven't gotten to the ability to put themselves into the self trance (as she calls it), use alcohol and opiates.  Check mark here.  I don't need them anymore, because I have put myself into a relatively constant state of numbness.

I can't speak to nightmares, as I have been on seroquel for probably at least a decade - well before the PTSD/CPTSD began full force.

I went to my T in tears today.  Is there hope for recovery, and what is it?  She says there is hope, people do recovery.  It may be a long time.  I can't remember the last time I had anything other than just waking up to wonder when I could go back to sleep.  I have no joy in life.  That is part of trauma - you lose the pain AND the joy.  You stop planning for the future.  You stop caring.

I want to believe that.  I want to believe there is hope.  My T offers EMDR as the "cure".  I hope that will do it.  We have to go slow, because I am in a particularly sensitive time now. 

Does anyone wonder if it will ever get better?

Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 07:28:33 PM »
I do. I've made a lot of progress, but it's taken me many, many years. (Without therapy though.) It's been slow going, and there are plateaus where nothing seems to happen at all... but every now and then things happen that just move things forwards all at once. Those times are great. It's like learning a new language, or any new skill. You do the put in the hours and it's tedious and discouraging, but over time you notice that there was progress after all.

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globetrotter

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 11:19:34 PM »

I feel like that a lot, too. I know when I look back that I have made huge strides, like SK, without therapy.

I went into therapy two years ago for something else, and now I am facing the trauma. NOW I feel like there is no progress. I go through stages like this, off and on. I have gained a lot of awareness, not sure if that is the same as progress...or change. I now see how irrational I am, but I am still irrational!!!

Anyway, it is easy to get discouraged, I've found, because it's not like losing weight where you can get on a scale and measure your success. It could be tiny steps forward and one big step back, then another step forward. But hang in there. It is frustrating when the pace is slow or looks like nothing is happening.

I'm dealing with that a lot lately. I think most of it is my own responsibility because I have such a hard time opening up in therapy.

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rtfm

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2014, 05:16:03 AM »
Hi EO, I wonder a lot if it will get better.  I wonder a lot if I'll ever heal.  I wonder if I'll ever actually feel again on my own, in the present tense.  I wonder if I'll ever stop being hit in the middle of an otherwise normal day by intrusive thoughts and emotions from crap that happened 30 years or more ago, and some crap that kept happening for 37 years until I went NC.  I struggle a lot with feeling like I'm just riding out a particularly long numb patch and not terribly interested in what comes next.  I'm scared, a lot, that nothing will ever make this stop.

It seems the numbness and lack of joy or even hope is pretty common for C/PTSD folks. It makes sense. The way my T explained it to me is that I lived the first half of my life with the emotional volume at 15 on a scale of 10...so learning to "hear" emotions at normal level is hard.  And all of those "loud" experiences naturally take center stage, even well after the fact, and overshadow the "quieter" normal stuff. 

All of that said, I absolutely believe that small changes - even tiny changes - add up over time. Right now I feel a lot like nothing could possibly heal me from everything I'm dealing with. But I also know that if I don't try, even a tiny bit, then there's no possibility at all of healing.  Many days, getting out of bed and saying "today I won't give up just yet" counts as trying. Over time, making that one decision adds up to thousands of opportunities for other tiny changes, and if that's the only decision I can make that day, that's OK.

We're all fighters here, in our own ways, and I think everybody on this board has hope or else we wouldn't be looking for answers.  Be as kind to yourself as you can, and hang in there.

Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2014, 09:29:50 AM »
It seems the numbness and lack of joy or even hope is pretty common for C/PTSD folks. It makes sense. The way my T explained it to me is that I lived the first half of my life with the emotional volume at 15 on a scale of 10...so learning to "hear" emotions at normal level is hard.  And all of those "loud" experiences naturally take center stage, even well after the fact, and overshadow the "quieter" normal stuff. 

Ah ha. That's an excellent point. Thank you for sharing it.

And of course, any quieter normal (even pleasant) stuff was always just the quiet before yet another storm. I remember now.  Any good times were always ruined by the knowledge: this won't last, it's just a flash in the pan. Maybe that makes it difficult to let myself really feel the normal, pleasant quietness now.

I hope you all have the wind at your backs, at least a little.

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pam

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2014, 03:13:09 PM »
I know things improve, just not at the rate I'd like.  ::)

Since my mood pretty much dictates what I think (and even what I'm able to remember), I got a journal and write ONLY GOOD THINGS that have happened in it. Just so I have a record of them. Not that I ignore negativity in life, but this one is specifically to record good things that I've done or any kind of personal success. I do it by the month. To try to find positive things every day is unrealistic for me and would set me up to fail, so I do it by the month, lol. I write the event or action, and then how I felt about it.

I have Social Anxiety, so for me an example of an entry would be:
EVENT: Had a spontaneous conversation with a woman in the waiting room.
HOW IT MADE ME FEEL: I was comfortable, even with the quiet pauses. I initiated parts of it, didn't sweat, panic, turn red, etc. It felt NICE!

So when I feel discouraged, I look at this and see PROOF that I can do so much more, and feel much better, than I could/did before. (I started it in 2011) This helps keep the Inner Critic silent too because he knows I have this book so he cannot taunt me and say I'm not getting better. :)

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globetrotter

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2014, 03:19:01 PM »
That journal is an excellent idea, Pam! We need to retrain our thinking and give more power to the positive than the negative, and writing and referring back to it is an excellent way to reinforce that.

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Kizzie

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2014, 07:05:24 PM »
I have Social Anxiety, so for me an example of an entry would be:
EVENT: Had a spontaneous conversation with a woman in the waiting room.
HOW IT MADE ME FEEL: I was comfortable, even with the quiet pauses. I initiated parts of it, didn't sweat, panic, turn red, etc. It felt NICE!

So when I feel discouraged, I look at this and see PROOF that I can do so much more, and feel much better, than I could/did before. (I started it in 2011) This helps keep the Inner Critic silent too because he knows I have this book so he cannot taunt me and say I'm not getting better. :)

Ditto what Globetrotter said, it's a great idea and I love that you listen to yourself (i.e., it would be too much to do it daily so you do it monthly). And as you say, you're not ignoring the negative, just focusing on the positives and retraining your brain to allow the good stuff and balance things out.   

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bee

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2014, 04:23:29 AM »
Scares me too. Reading authors who understand the effects of trauma is validating and scary.

The last year has been my lowest. I compare myself to my siblings, who choose to ignore stuff as much as they can. They acknowledge that our childhood was wrong, but somehow keep themselves in denial at the same time. Anyway, they seem to be carrying on with life normally. While it seems that my CPTSD symptoms are increasing. I worry that soon I will be a complete recluse, reliant on my husband for everything. I know I shouldn't compare, but it is impossible not to. I hate that I am so affected. I fight hard to overcome it. But it is exhausting. There are days that I feel like I am dragging myself on my stomach through mud with barbed wire overhead, land mines everywhere, and bombs going off.

Just this week I asked my T if it is going to get better, cause it feels like it is getting worse. She assured me that it will. She said to accept my limitations(to not push myself to hard), and to think about asking for support from my H. He would I know, but I am fiercely independent. Asking for support is the hardest thing I can think of. She has said before that a persons mind only brings up what they are strong enough to deal with at the time. If that's the case my mind has a lot of faith in my strength right now.

Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2014, 08:25:28 AM »
My brother's like that, too, bee. But he had a different life from mine. I think it's to do with the roles children of dysfunctional families adopt. He was a Hero Child / Mascot, and I was a Lost Child / Scapegoat. It's been a huge relief to read that it's quite normal, this thing where you have a family that LOOKS fine, and they have one kid that LOOKS like it's the only damaged or weird one... but then it turns out that the family's dysfunction really just earthed itself into the poor kid, and he's really the one of the lot of them who's least in denial, and who's living an authentic and emotionally honest life. From what you write, it sounds like you deserve to give yourself credit for that, too. You're emotionally honest, you're facing facts, you're not escaping into a pretty lie, you're working to overcome your problems, you're talking about the elephant in the room.  :hug:
I hope life is treating you kindly, and I wish that you'll soon have the wind at your back. Hang in there.  :bighug:

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spryte

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2014, 04:20:36 PM »
Emotion Overload - It does get better. It's just so slow sometimes that it definitely doesn't look like it is. I think all the tricks that we can use to maintain perspective is one of the more important aspects of all of this. As someone mentioned, the "negative filter" that we all have which causes us to get mired in the negatives, immediately discounting the forward progress. I LOVE Pam's "positive notebook". I too have started making little lists of things in my journal that have improved greatly. I've caught myself recently where you are...freaking out about the fact that the stuff that *I* want to be working on, that *I* think needs to change, doesn't seem to be budging. Except...there are a bunch of other areas that I HAVE improved on. And for all I know, those issues that I've been internally tantruming about might be on the bottom of this pile of crap...and maybe I'm halfway down, trying to sort it and get it all out of the way to get to those behaviors.

I'm working on having patience, and faith in my process.

And, speaking specifically to your "numbing" issue...I KNOW that that can get better...because I had the same exact issue 5 years ago. Complete with really scary dissociative episodes that felt like I got slipped some brown acid. Seriously scary. But, the numbing was a serious issue for years. The behaviors that I'm struggling with right now are escapist behaviors, so in some ways I still numb...but it isn't a constant state that I live in anymore. I can feel sadness, and joy again. It was a long, slow process though - and at times even now...even joy is too intense for me to handle and I sort of "switch off". I have much more control over that switch now though.

Rain - I do a lot of "inner kid" and critic work too. Your description of how you deal with yours made me smile. I love how creative and inventive we can get in dealing with these issues.

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bee

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2014, 07:20:06 PM »
schrödinger's cat and Rain - thank you so much for your kind words. They made me feel good. To have people understand is such a relief.
It's been a huge relief to read that it's quite normal, this thing where you have a family that LOOKS fine, and they have one kid that LOOKS like it's the only damaged or weird one... but then it turns out that the family's dysfunction really just earthed itself into the poor kid, and he's really the one of the lot of them who's least in denial, and who's living an authentic and emotionally honest life.
That is reassuring.

chocolate-covered * with a pretty little bow on it
gave me a belly laugh.

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Badmemories

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2014, 11:08:32 PM »
The One thing that gives me hope is this: I read somewhere that IF You WORK on Healing from P/CPTSD it is possible to get off of meds completely! That is MY GOAL!

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spryte

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Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2014, 01:19:28 PM »
Rain - I'm a very visual person, so much of my inner work has been done with visualizations. I have a "safe place" that I have built in my head where I do meditations, healing, and communicate with my "higher self" which is also like, future me...healed, strong, balanced, capable - all the things that I've been wishing that I was for so many years. The gap between she and I is getting smaller. She does not feel so "other" as she has before.

As far as my critic...a few years ago, I recognized how "fragmented" I was. (I swear I was just a few trauma's away from a split personality). I had/have all these different aspects of myself...so I decided that it was time that we all started working together. This kind of integrates both my inner child work and critic stuff. I envisioned a "board room" of sorts, where we all get to sit around a round table, discussing things. Some of my aspects change, but my inner child is always there...and sometimes we color together, or I sit and talk with her to find out what she's frightened about, or reassure her.

When my critic was out of control, I used to envision how it felt. Like she was sitting beside me, in the board room, in real life, just constantly poking at my side with a sharp dagger. The intensity varied, and my ability to withstand the constant torture varied. Some days, I'd just be sitting there, talking normally, while my side bled, and she kept poking, and no one noticed the giant red stain on my shirt. Some days, I'd fallen out of my chair and I'd just lay on the floor, while she kicked me.

Then I built her a locked closet.

In the corner, I made a little closet/room with a door that I could lock from the outside. I started talking back, sometimes I'd envision physically taking her and shoving her into that room, slamming the door, and locking it. She would either get quiet, or her voice would be very dim through the door.

I did that for years too. And again, it all depended on my strength. There were days when she was locked up tight, and there were days when that door was blown off it's hinges and she was at it again.

Most recently, I've started talking to her, giving her gratitude. I learned about the ways that the critic is actually trying to keep us "safe" in a super twisted tough love kind of way. (Did you see the link I posted somewhere to the excerpt for that Self-Esteem book? It explains that.) Exactly like my mother used to, actually. So, I acknowledge whatever it is that she's trying to keep me safe from, and suggest that we try it another way. Point out that her way is not working, it's not necessary, I can handle it myself.

Our conversations are getting much more civil.

The biggest change that came recently though was when I recognized myself in an article that I read about demand resistance. Out of nowhere there was suddenly this really angry little boy inside of me (I am definitely a girl, so that's kind of weird) who just got sick and tired of being told what to do by everyone, including me, having everything fun turned into a "should" "need to" or "must" and who just started screaming "You're not the boss of me!"

It was like we were playing tug of war, me trying to get things done, not getting them done, and then tearing myself apart because of it. I recently just..dropped the rope, kind of put him in charge. That critical voice got waaaaay quiet. It was kind of amazing. I'm still not getting done what I want to get done, yet, but...my head is a much more peaceful place right now and I'm, for the first time, able to FEEL myself loving myself, despite the things I'm not getting done. I have a gut feeling that it's only a matter of time before I start naturally doing the things that need to be done because I WANT to do them...not because I'm guilting/shaming myself into doing them.

Also...I named my critic Bi*chface McMeany Pants.

Re: Does it scare you?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2014, 03:18:42 PM »
...I had/have all these different aspects of myself...so I decided that it was time that we all started working together. This kind of integrates both my inner child work and critic stuff. I envisioned a "board room" of sorts, where we all get to sit around a round table, discussing things. Some of my aspects change, but my inner child is always there...

Oh hey, I've got a board room too! High five!

Mine came from something I read. Before that, my aspects met in a coffeeshop. I added the boardroom for talking through difficult issues. The text I read suggested having a huge monitor or something, so if you wanted to revisit an old memory, you could visualize it as simply just a black-and-white documentary on this monitor, with dials so you could turn the volume down or switch it off. But yeah, board room.

I'm feeling less weird now, which is nice.