I think I may be in remission from cPTSD

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Slackjaw99

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I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« on: February 21, 2018, 08:10:26 AM »
This past week I've had 3 psychedelic assisted therapy sessions focused around the grieving process suggested by Pete Walker in his book From Surviving to Thriving. The setting and process was very similar to the MAPS study using MDMA. The psychedelic used in this case was THC (vaped hybrid cannabis concentrate, legal in CA, USA). The process involved went something like this: dark, quiet room, comfortable couch --> ingest THC --> acute vagus nerve stimulation through holotropic breathing --> mindfulness based visualization of traumatic periods of life. Out of nowhere a voice in my head said you now have permission to feel. I then launched into intense grieving for the losses suffered to the point where my body was contorted as if in a grand mal seizure. I grieved the losses of childhood. I grieved the repeated disappointments throughout adulthood. Finally I grieved the loss of relationship with my mother in infancy and understood at the core level that her own cPTSD meant that my infant cries triggered her to recoil from me when she should have comforted me. I then forgave her and grieved for both of us because of the lifetime of guilt she felt for abandoning me emotionally.

Sometime during the second session the grief turned to the realization that rather than learning how to regulate my emotions from my mother's mirroring, I had actually learned to fear my emotions as a threat to my survival. But I simultaneously realized that it's only through unrestricted display of emotion that trauma can be discharged and let go of ... and that's what I had been doing during these sessions. In my third session the outward crying from grief turned into crying out of intense happiness beyond words due to the freedom and relief I was experiencing in knowing that the lynchpin of my cPTSD was broken. From now forward I can grieve over the remaining losses and trauma of my past and know that there is no concept of future trauma because I now have the tool to release rather than hold it. The key is embracing not fearing my emotions. So much of my life was lost because I feared my emotional reaction if an endeavor did not produce a positive result.

So far my hypervigilence, dissociation, and emotional flashbacks are fading, and my hair trigger anger over minutia is gone. What took Pete Walker 30 years to accomplish through conventional therapy, took just one week with psychedelic assisted therapy (albeit I did a tremendous amount of prep since becoming "trauma-informed" one year ago). Neuroscientists speculate that psychotropic compounds might allow us to bypass the PFC allowing our cognitive brain structures to communicate directly with our emotional brain structures in a healing manner.

For 50 years I was a prisoner. Now at 51 I am free!

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Eyessoblue

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2018, 02:17:28 PM »
Thatís really inspiring, I am in a similar position and know if I could just sit with it, and grieve for everything that went wrong in my childhood that I would let go of something major inside. Instead I try to say itís ok I donít need to cry I am strong where as Iím as vulnerable as anything and need to be able to do this, something just keeps pulling me away from my feelings and Iím not sure what that is yet. So pleased for you that you could do this.

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Kizzie

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2018, 07:11:07 PM »
Note  - I moved your post here  Slackjaw, because this is where we ask members to discuss psychoactive substances.  They are still illegal in most countries so we want to use some caution and prudence with the topic. 

Very interesting and such a positive result for you! Once I was able to find my Inner Child I realized how primitive the stored fear I hold is, that it is so very difficult to overcome because she felt like she really would die - that's a big block to why I never wanted to remember and feel those emotions.  I sense that psychoactive substances allow us to access the protective part that reassures the IC  that s/he will be not die (spiritually or physically) and that that s/he has help now to get through it all. I do not have great reaction to even low doses of THC myself, although I have not used it under any kind of T supervision.  Canada is in the middle of legalizing cannabis so once it's available legally I may try again.

Anyway, glad to hear it went well for you.  I did want to ask if this under the supervision of a therapist? 

« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 07:27:21 PM by Kizzie »

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Slackjaw99

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2018, 04:41:50 AM »
Thatís really inspiring, I am in a similar position and know if I could just sit with it, and grieve for everything that went wrong in my childhood that I would let go of something major inside. Instead I try to say itís ok I donít need to cry I am strong where as Iím as vulnerable as anything and need to be able to do this, something just keeps pulling me away from my feelings and Iím not sure what that is yet. So pleased for you that you could do this.
The common denominator among everyone with cPTSD is that we learn to fear emotional expression because in whatever captive situation we were subject to, suppressing our emotional display in response to trauma seemed necessary for survival. The catch-22 is that emotional display (grieving, angering) is how humans discharge stored traumatic energy. The problem is reinforced by Western society which equates emotion to weakness (the British stiff upper lip, American rugged individualism, etc.). That should answer your question as to what "that is".

To overcome this hurdle a voice from within told me that "I had permission to feel" and subsequently "I no longer had to fear my emotions". Our brains want to heal, and I believe that is where that voice came from. My suggestion would be to try visualizing yourself (as the unconditionally loving adult) holding your "inner child self" and saying these phases to him/her, or something like "you can cry over all the bad things that happened for as long as you want to, and its ok". The best time to do this is during an emotional flashback.

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Slackjaw99

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2018, 05:35:50 AM »
I sense that psychoactive substances allow us to access the protective part that reassures the IC  that s/he will be not die (spiritually or physically) and that that s/he has help now to get through it all. I do not have great reaction to even low doses of THC myself, although I have not used it under any kind of T supervision.  Canada is in the middle of legalizing cannabis so once it's available legally I may try again.

Anyway, glad to hear it went well for you.  I did want to ask if this under the supervision of a therapist?

The current theory is that psychedelics cause parts of the brain to communicate that don't normally do so. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is thought to be the gatekeeper or "protective part" that psychedelics can bypass to reach the emotional centers that get walled off as the brain's reaction to stored trauma. I don't believe THC can be effective without significant vagus nerve stimulation, mindfulness and strong familiarity with the general effects of cannabis. That's why the main MAPS study is looking at MDMA. It removes the "paranoia" that THC can induce making it much gentler for a first time user. The same could be said for psilocybin, but not others like DMT or LSD. I'm familiar with the effects of cannabis since I'd been using medical MJ to fight trauma symptom for a couple years (insomnia, IBS).

The first session took place at my T's office. The second and third took place at home during EFs where I could ingest a greater amount late in the evening when the flashbacks occur. Given that the grieving, etc was happening in my head in a largely non-verbal manner, my T wasn't needed for guidance.

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Kizzie

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2018, 09:37:49 PM »
Quote
...we learn to fear emotional expression because in whatever captive situation we were subject to, suppressing our emotional display in response to trauma seemed necessary for survival. The catch-22 is that emotional display (grieving, angering) is how humans discharge stored traumatic energy.

That intense fear and survival instinct is what I got a first clear look at as an adult when I finally connected with the younger part of me a couple of years back in therapy.  We did an experiential activity in which I wrote with my non-dominant hand and that connected younger me  to adult me (stimulated a part of the brain I was having trouble accessing through talk). It was then I realized just how terrifying those feelings were and why I kept running from them. 

As a result, I did some research and landed on neurofeedback which I ended up doing with a psychologist about a year and a half or ago.  The idea is that it teaches people to use parts of the brain that are under/over communicating to communicate in a more normal manner.  It did help with managing fear/emotions more.   I have been dental phobic most of my life due to a bad experience as a child, but after undergoing the NF treatment it steadily  decreased and now I do not have any issues with going. I am 61 so this was a major shift for me.  Unfortunately we moved and I no longer have access to the NF treatment but I would go if I could.

Back to psychoactive substances like MDMA, if they can provide those of us with Complex PTSD safe access to the parts of the brain that are  willing and able to manage strong emotions better, it is worth considering.  The key for me though is safety as one major concern I have is that it will be too much to open that door.  I applied to participate in the Cdn study for MDMA, but the researchers were looking at PTSD, not Complex PTSD.  Given we have layers of accumulated trauma I think it was wise on their part.  Back then however, I just wanted to be done with CPTSD and would have tried anything within reason. And of course there are legal issues too. I haven't been back to the MAPS site in a while so it's probably worth taking some time to see where things are at now.   

Re cannabis - Unfortunately, for me THC does seem to alert the guards on the wall rather than open the door inward.  I am still interested in trying some of the high CBD strains for health related issues though (e.g., arthritis), and insomnia.  What strain(s) do you use for sleep if you don't mind me asking?  I realize we each react differently, but I'm curious to know what you (and anyone else here) use for this issue (or arthritis for that matter).   

Really interesting discussion Slackjaw  :yes:
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 11:34:45 PM by Kizzie »

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Slackjaw99

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2018, 01:26:00 AM »
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Re cannabis - Unfortunately, for me THC does seem to alert the guards on the wall rather than open the door inward.
Yes, me too... that is until I discovered thru serendipity that the meditative (holotropic) breathing to stimulate the vagus nerve actually defeats this aspect of THC!

My layman's guess is to what's going on is that when a person storing trauma ingests THC there's excessive electrical activity in the brain's fear centers... except when the vagus nerve is engaged. Engaging the vagus nerve may shift the electrical activity towards it's endpoints in the brain which are the pro-social, calming centers that go dark when the brain re-optimizes for fight and flight in response to trauma.

"Psychedelic therapy" is a misnomer. It should really be called something like "hyper-vagal stimulation therapy" since it's all about the vagus nerve which is weaponized with the psychedelic agent. The therapy protocol in the MAPS study also calls for vagus nerve stimulation with music and meditative breathing at the beginning of sessions.

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Slackjaw99

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2018, 02:50:32 AM »
UPDATE: I'm still sorting out all the aspects of my recent healing sessions.

Since my last post, I've had a fourth, very intense plant medicine healing session similar to the previous three. Rather than grieving past losses, it focused on the key developmental arrest of not being able to relate to others from a position of a secure maternal attachment. I had the opportunity to *visualize* myself taking my IC to the playground sandbox to play with the other toddlers. I taught my IC how to share, and how to be aware that the other kids had feelings too. I even introduced my IC to my girlfriend telling him that she was a very nice person, she wanted to be our friend and we could *trust* her. All this time I was outwardly crying as if just learning my entire family was killed in a car wreck. As a child my mother never guided me through these most basic social development tasks, and instead she just labelled me as "shy" while I played by myself afraid of the other kids. In adult life I always saw relationships in selfish terms of how they could fulfill my needs not visa versa. I think the crying may have been the extreme gratitude my IC was feeling from finally having a "loving parent" pay attention to him.

So far my daily, hair-trigger, life-limiting temper tantrums have vanished. The other day I was shocked to find out I wet the bed- not due to emotional issues, but because I now sleep so soundly that I no longer need my arsenal of insomnia meds. My body is much less reactive and inflammatory. The most profound effect if that I now feel at peace with myself to the core. My inner bully (IC) is nearly gone, as are my EFs. In a nutshell, it seems like these sessions have had an immediate impact on my list of somatic issues, and my core emotional issues.

The areas I'm still struggling with seem to be with the layers of dysfunctional habits and thought patterns built up over a lifetime of compensating for my DTD and cPTSD. The analogy of the TBI patient learning how to compensate with the intact portions of their brains seems apt. In the case of cPTSD it's an NTBI (non-traumatic brain injury). I'm also struggling with what I believe is a dysfunctioning dopamine system due to some of the excessive dissociation behaviors I've turned to in recent years. This results in difficulty planning and finding the motivation necessary to complete the tasks necessary to move my life forward. The challenge ahead is continuing to identify, confront, and correct the laundry list of key developmental arrests.

Plant medicine (psychedelic) therapy is by no means a cure-all for everything cPTSD related that the sensationalist stories of Ayahuasca retreats in the Amazon would have you believe. But it does seem to allow a path to inner peace at Star Trek like warp speed. It WILL be the future of cPTSD therapy.

« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 02:54:42 AM by Slackjaw99 »

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Digitality

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2021, 07:45:34 PM »
I'm happy for you! I will show this article to friends who are against marijuana

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HeatherFraser

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Re: I think I may be in remission from cPTSD
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2023, 10:23:57 AM »
Why are they against it?

Marijuana is good. Weed can also exacerbate symptoms and worsen conditions in people with psychotic disorders. And marijuana use, especially during adolescence, can decrease the risk of developing psychotic disorders later in life. But, better to try https://hub420.shop/product-category/thc-vape-pen/ or at least start by quitting smoking pot
« Last Edit: January 05, 2023, 01:13:40 PM by HeatherFraser »