Coping with PTSD and Anxiety Disorders

If you have PTSD or an anxiety disorder, some days you have to take breaks between your tasks. Different people are triggered by different things and becoming overloaded can result in a complete meltdown or panic attack.

Pushing through your day without a break to calm yourself will drain you. It can take a lot of energy to do errands and activities, when you are being exposed to triggers in your environment.

Being sleep deprived can add to your anxiety. It is important to find ways to get enough rest and sleep. If anxiety keeps you from sleeping well at night, your body and your brain may require naps during the day. Self care is important.

If you need breaks between doing things, try to think ahead to plan enough time to take them. Be gentle and adaptable with yourself.

You are your own best advocate. Draw boundaries when you need them. Think of how you would treat a friend in circumstances like the ones you are in at the time, if your friend also suffered from PTSD. 

Sometimes it gives some perspective to think of what allowances and flexibility you would offer someone else. Looking at yourself from an observer point of view can help you gain some perspective and design coping methods for yourself.

Sending love and healing energies,

Annieūüíē

 

Reducing Holiday Stress

Much of the stress during the holiday season is due to expectations. If you can question the expectations in your head, then you can help yourself deal with the anxiety. 

The first thing to realize is that all of the expectations that you have for yourself were not originally your own. You can make a list of the things that you expect yourself to be able to do and then question each one. 

Take them one at a time and ask yourself if the expectation is reasonable. Then question the expectation as to whether it was your own picture of how the holidays “should” be or if it was programmed into you by someone else.

Some things were programmed into us by our parents from when we were very young. This does not mean that you have to keep it. For example, if you were taught that you have to make dinner and have all the relatives at your house for dinner …ask yourself if that was your desire or of that was someone else’s desire.¬†

On the other hand, maybe you were taught that you have to travel out of state to have dinner with your mother in law on Christmas. Maybe you have faithfully done this every year for 15 years now. 

There is not rule that says you have to do the same thing every year just because you are “expected” to do it this way. You should get a turn to do something you actually want to do.¬†

What is the point of the holidays if you get extreme anxiety preparing for them, no one realizes just how much you sacrificed and then you are relieved when the whole thing is over. 

It can be like a torturous chore that has thankless results. Even the people that have expectations of how you are going to so things, will not really appreciate it. 

Holidays are about peace , happiness, connection and showing others that you care about them. So find the ways that you can show your loved ones that you care….without causing yourself depression and anxiety.

You may come from a family that always buys gifts for each other, but you are a craft lover and would much more enjoy making the gifts yourself. Or maybe your family expects home made gifts but it would be easier with your time constraints, to order them on Amazon. 

Other people are not living your day to day life and they do not know how hard things are for you. The chores of the holiday season can be way too much, on top of your already hectic schedule. 

You can tell people that you are making a few changes this year. Think about what you always do and see what things you do not want to do that way. Think of creative ideas to do things differently this year. 

People may fuss at you. That is true. But you have to weigh dealing with someone else being upset, against all the anxiety you will go through …just for them to complain anyway….

Thanksgiving Meet-up on Gentlekindness Blog

turkey)

On Thursday  you are invited to connect with all of us here. Thanksgiving is the first of the holiday season and can trigger depression and anxiety in many people. Others are feeling lonely during the holidays.

If you are feeling alone or just want to connect, you can come here on Thanksgiving. I will create posts during the day that you can leave comments and also leave links to your own posts.

If you want to contribute a Guest Post , A Poem, or a Letter , feel free to do so. If you want me to post something for you, you can contact me at michelemimimish@gmail.com

If you have posts that you want to post the links to, you will see posts you can put them in the comments section of.

Artwork, poetry , details of what you are doing or how you are feeling are all welcome. Everyone is encouraged  to leave kind, thoughtful comments on anything that others leave.

 

Do the Right Thing – This Song Spoke to Me Today

 

I never like the videos that they put together for these songs, so just listen and read the words. Your own experiences will fill in the meaning for you. 

Lyrics to Divisionary (Do the Right Thing ) by Ages and Ages

Do the right thing, do the right thing
Do it all the time, do it all the time
Make yourself right, never mind them
Don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering

I see you up again wandering so diligent
Crossing your t’s as though it weren’t irrelevant
They say formality, this is what they really meant:
They can be the walk, we can, we can be the pavement

Do the right thing, do the right thing
Do it all the time, do it all the time
Make yourself right, never mind them
Don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering

I see you up again wandering so diligent
Crossing your t’s as though it weren’t irrelevant
They say formality, this is what they really meant:
They can be the walk, we can, we can be the pavement

Bullying from Your Boss

narcissistic bosses

Image

Holidays for People with Mental Illness, Depression, Anxiety Disorder

self care

The holiday season can be very difficult for people with mental illness. Depression and anxiety can be triggered and it is hard to deal with all the happy people who are excited about the holiday planning. 

You have to take care of yourself. Don’t feel guilty to say “no” to things if it is too much for you. Everyone may not understand and some people will react to you by trying to make you feel shame or guilt.

People who try to guilt you into doing things are not the people who are the best people for you to be around, especially during the holidays. If you realize that the worst that will happen by saying no is that they will “react” to you, then you can endure that.¬†

People that try to get emotional reactions out of you are just manipulators. They are not on your side and doing things just to avoid disappointing them is not necessary. 

Unfortunately there are those people who will do more that just try to evoke an emotional reaction out of us. Some people will take more steps to make our lives miserable when we do not do what they ask. 

If you are dealing with someone like this then you are in a very difficult situation. Just try to minimize the amount of things you do for them and avoid what you can. 

Take breaks for yourselves and do things just because you like to do them. You can take yourself to the movies or to the local diner for hot chocolate. You can take a Netflix break and watch a funny movie or tv show. 

you are beautiful

 

A warm shower or bath can be very relaxing and no one can disturb you. Find ways to help yourself to feel calm and to feel like you matter. You can make your own traditions for the holidays and forget about what you “always do.”¬†

Doing things the same way every year is not a rule, it is just a habit. If you would be happier making changes to your usual holiday routine then do so. There is no rule that you have to be miserable or that you have to spend all your time making everyone else happy. 

People get extreme stress during the holidays because they are trying to live up to other people’s expectations or even their own expectations. Set you bar lower, so that you will not expect things to be a certain way.¬†

Truthfully these are just days like any other days. Society and your family has done the job of putting expectations on you. Keep in mind that a lot of it has to do with the commercial companies wanting to make money. It is a lot of hype that you are not obligated to fall into. 

The holidays should be about peace and serenity. They should be a time to calm, rest and spiritual connection. Find your peace during this season however it is the most meaningful to you.

 

 

Living with PTSD

It is a terrible thing to feel unsafe. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome causes the sufferer to feel unsafe. The feeling of lack of safety is disabling. It creates mental torment and physical sensations of pain and discomfort.

Post traumatic stress disorder can be caused by different types of trauma. Anytime a person is put into a situation of being threatened for a prolonged period of time, they are in danger of damage to the their neurology.

People are not set up to endure a dangerous situation for extended periods of time. We are set up to be able to handle an immediate danger.

C-PTSD is a form of PTSD that happens when someone is exposed to feeling threatened on an on-going basis, for an extended period of time. PTSD is from a traumatic event or from a shorter period of trauma. The same physiological changes occur in the brain.

The amygdala is the part of the brain that kicks into high alert when we are in danger. This puts is into the fight or flight mode. Our brains and bodies are only designed to sustain this mode for a few minutes at a time.

Our body will gear up for a fight to the death, or to run as fast as we can to escape. Some people go into a state of frozen, incapacitating fear.

When people are in a prolonged dangerous situation like domestic violence, front military lines, living in a dangerous gang-type neighborhood, etc, they are forced to sustain the fight or flight level for way too long.

They are afraid to sleep at night because the danger is constant and they could be injured in their sleep.

This causes people to have sleep disorders later, even when they are no longer living in the threatening environment.

This causes the amygdala malfunction. It basically breaks and becomes overactive on a regular basis, It begins to respond to anything that triggers a memory of the original trauma,

Many people wake up the morning in post traumatic stress right away. For some reason the brain wakes up in trauma.

Things that remind the person’s brain of the original traumatic situation, will wake up the amygdala and send them into a terrified state of mind. They feel that they are in immediate danger. They feel threatened in such a frightening way that their body responds with blood pressure raising, nausea, headache and other symptoms, depending on the person.

People with PTSD live with the daily fear that they could relive the terrible feelings of trauma at any time. They develope a new reason for terror. The fear of the possibility of being sucked into the nightmare state is terrifying. They will do things to try to avoid being triggered.

Living with this terror every day is exhausting and disruptive to the person’s life. It gets worse and worse for the person’s mental health to continue to live in the fear of experiencing trauma.

It is critical that people with PTSD can talk to someone about their feelings and what it is like to live this way. It is difficult to find anyone to talk to who will really understand.

This Word Press network has members that suffer from PTSD  and severe anxiety. The more we communicate with each other about our feelings, the more we have the chance to feel validated. PTSD sufferers need to be heard. Our stories need to be told in a safe space.

God bless

Namaste

Annie

Time for all good little Insomniacs to try to Sleep

I have had insomnia for a long time now. I am not sure about all of the reasons for it. I do attribute it to PTSD and anxiety. There is also a feeling of not wanting to go to sleep because I do not want to deal with what tomorrow will be like. Things are starting to get better in my life but there is a habit of dreading the next day. 

So I wonder how many other people stay awake to try to put off the inevitability of waking up in the morning. We know rationally that staying up will not change what time we have to wake up or whether or not we have to wake up…yet it feels like we can just stay in the quiet of our room and never have to leave…if we just don’t go to sleep.¬†

Then we end up sleep deprived and the day is harder than it had to be. As we stay awake later and later, we begin to think about how it will be harder for us tomorrow, if we don’t go to sleep soon. But still…we stay awake and refuse to sleep.¬†

Once we actually turn things off and try to sleep then comes the next problem. The quiet and the dark are peaceful to some people but…if you come from a background of abuse, mental illness, depression or anxiety…then the quiet is not always peaceful at all.¬†

In the quiet you can hear the thoughts in your own mind and they can torment you in a way that is hard to explain. Thoughts that involve intrusive negative thoughts, flashbacks, catastrophic thinking, and severe anxiety can become too much. 

So back on goes the laptop, the cell phone, Netflix , YouTube, WordPress or whatever distracts you from your own brain that wants to torment you to death.

So then it is 2 am…3 am…4 am….5 am….and maybe you will sleep before the sun rises because there is something about being awake when the sun begins to show itself …that feels like a defeat. Then on the other hand …sometimes it feels safer to sleep in the daylight than in the night.

If you ever lived in an abusive situation then you can relate to that feeling that sleep makes you vulnerable. You cannot see someone coming up to you…you cannot know if someone is watching you….if you are asleep. So sleep itself can feel like a dangerous thing.¬†

You begin to wish that you did not have to sleep at all…ever.

That you never had to close off your senses to predators that may approach during the night, while you are not suspecting them. While you are unable to protect and defend yourself. 

If you have PTSD from abuse, it is hard to shake that feeling that being asleep is unsafe…even when that person that you once feared sleeping in the same house with, is no longer a threat. But the threat can still live in your mind as if it is a living thing.¬†

So once again I bid you all good night and wish you peace of mind…as I wish myself peace of mind too.¬†

Much love,

Annie

PTSD Neurology meets Psychology

The following definitions of the Hippocampus, the Amygdala and the Pre-Frontal Cortex are from a worksheet provided online from the Get Self Help web site. The link to their site is getselfhelp.co.uk.com To see the actual worksheet you can check out THIS LINK. There is a picture diagram of the brain ans I think many of you would find it very helpful.

You can see a good diagram of the brain and how trauma affects the brain at this link –¬†TraumaBrain

The way I want to write this post for you is to give you the definitions and then underneath each one of them I will write something that explains it in my own words, as well as adding some opinions and ideas.

I will write anything that is my own take on things in this purple color and the definitions will be in this blue color, so that you can tell what is quoted from the worksheet. 

Hippocampus   The hippocampus processes trauma memories, by recycling the memory, mostly at night via dreams, which takes place over weeks or months. It then transfers the integrated stored memory to another part of the brain. High levels of stress hormones causes the hippocampus to shrink or under-develop, resulting in impaired function.

Childhood trauma exaggerates this effect. The trauma memory therefore remains unprocessed in the hippocampus, disintegrated, fragmented, and feels ‚Äėcurrent‚Äô rather than in the past. (Some people may be born with a smaller hippocampus making them more vulnerable to develop PTSD.)

The hippocampus is a funny sounding name for a part of the brain that a lot of people are unaware of. Unless you have done research about PTSD and neurology, you probably have not come across this word. I am aware that some of you have done quite a bit of research about these topics, and for those of you that have the terms will be familar.

Do not feel intimidated by any of these terms.

Neurology is somewhat complex but you are perfectly capable of understanding the basics of how the different parts of the brain function and interact with each other. Having a general understanding of how the brain works is important when you are struggling to heal from abuse, trauma and PTSD.

In my opinion there is a lot of healing that be attained simply by developing an understanding of how your brain responds to trauma and abuse.

Let go of any feelings of shame about your PTSD

You can see that there is no reason for feeling shame about the symptoms you are experiencing. Understanding how PTSD works in the brain will also allow you to feel that you have more ground to stand on when you are trying to interact with other people in regards to your PTSD and your symptoms.

Integrated Memories and Experiences 

The hippocampus has the job of helping you to integrate memories. It goes through the memory of your trauma many times and often causes you to dream about the memory. You will think about the memory and the hippocampus tries to help you to make sense of the memory in order that it can be integrated into other parts of your brain as an integrated memory. 

Integrated memories are felt as though they happened in the past. They become part of the brain and your remembered experiences. The memories are assigned meaning by associations that your brain makes between the event and other information that the brain believes to be true. 

Non-Integrated Traumatic memories are memories in which the process of integration has been interfered with. Traumatic situations cause high levels of stress on you. Chemicals are released by the brain and circulate throughout your body.

Being in an extremely terrifying situation can cause the brain to be unable to do its job in the normal way. thus the memories about the trauma do not become integrated properly.One traumatic event can cause PTSD.

This may be a situation where you felt your life was threatened, or a situation that you could not accept into your reality due to the horror or feeling of unsafety at  some level.

We can feel our safety threatened in many ways including physical safety, mental and emotional safety and psychological safety. 

Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an on-going situation of abuse and trauma which causes layers of memories. C-PTSD is multi levels and layers of PTSD. There were many situations which causes it.

You felt entrapped and unable to remove yourself from situations that were threatening to you over many months or many years.

These memories are from different time periods and often abuse was inflicted by different people. Mental and emotional abuse have the same level of interference with the hippocampus and memory integration as physical abuse. 

Amygdala ¬†The brain‚Äôs ‚Äėfear centre‚Äô. The amygdala helps to store memories, particularly emotions and physical sensations. It also controls activation of stress hormones ‚Äď the body‚Äôs fight or flight response. In PTSD, the amygdala becomes over-reactive causing frequent or near constant high levels of stress hormones.

The amygdala is the “Fight or Flight” center of the brain. Most people have heard of the concept of “fight or flight” and have a basic understanding of what that is, but do not realize the importance and the implications of any interference with this function of the brain.¬†

Situations such as emotional abuse or neglect during childhood will cause for the amygdala to become disregulated. This is also true with living with an abusive partner, or being in any situation where you feel in danger for extended periods of time day after day. 

The fight or flight mode is designed to get you out of a dangerous situation quickly. The on-going situations like being in an active military situation, cause the stress hormones to be released on an almost constant basis. This is not how the system was designed to work so it causes disregulation. 

Pre-frontal cortex  The pre-frontal cortex helps us to assess threats, manage emotion, plan responses, and control impulses. It is the centre of rational thinking. Childhood trauma causes under-development of the pre-frontal cortex, which results in impaired ability to assess threat through rational thinking, manage emotions and control impulses.

The pre-frontal cortex helps us to asses threats and to know what the danger level is. If you have PTSD  or C-PTSD, your normal ability to identify and asses threat and danger has been corrupted. Flashbacks from PTSD appear to the brain as real threats in real time. The stress hormones are then sent into the body which cause the feelings that happen with PTSD. 

These parts of the brain are responsible for protecting us from danger. When there is trauma or abuse, the parts become over-reactive. Understanding about the brain can help to deal with PTSD. At least you can know that there are real organic differences in your brain. 

When people do not believe that your symptoms are real it can be re-traumatizing. Having some information to share with people can aide in communication about the disorder if someone is willing to listen and understand you. 

Blessings,

Annie

You are Not Your Mental Illness

you are not your mental illness

About 1 in 5 people in the U.S. and England suffer from some kind of mental disorder. Other European countries have similar statistics from about 27 percent to 30 percent.  Studies in South Africa say that over 30 percent of adults have suffered from some form of mental illness during their lifetime.

The statistics that have been gathered are similar is most countries with mental illness affecting about 1 in 4 to 1 in 6 people. This is based on information that has been able to be gathered but keep in mind that many people never seek treatment.

People have reasons for not seeking mental health diagnosis due to fear of stigma, lack of enough mental health facilities, lack of health insurance and other personal reasons that deter them.

A mental disorder does not mean you cannot function, keep a job, be a good parent, or that you are not as good as other people. Something is defined as a “disorder” when it interferes in your life in some way. This varies from person to person as to how your life may be affected.

Many people with a mental illness need medication in order to attain their best functionality and their best quality of life. Others are able to manage their mental illness with therapy or other intervention type treatments. Some people choose to use holistic or spiritual methods to deal with their mental illness.

There are many different mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorders such as PTSD and C-PTSD, Everyone is not born with mental illness and all mental illness does not have a genetic factor.

The brain can be affected by trauma and by abuse. Disorders such as PTSD and C-PTSD are caused by abuse or trauma. Other disorders like depression and severe anxiety disorders can have roots in abuse including emotional and mental abuse. There is also a high number of people with other disorders that also either had abuse during their childhood or domestic violence as adults.

Mental and emotional trauma can be caused by violence upon or around a person. It can be caused by being in a traumatic event or witnessing a traumatic event. Other things like living through a natural disaster, living in poverty, the loss of a child, wartime exposure, and many other things.

invisible illness

The brain creates associations related to what it has experienced. Associations in the brain can cause emotional responses that arise from connections in the neural pathways. Different parts of the brain are affected by different mental illnesses. These can be seen in CT scans which were done to study the brains of people with bipolar. depression, OCD and other mental disorders.

If you or a loved one suffers from mental illness you are not alone. With the percentage of mental disorders being around 30 percent most people have friends, family members or loved ones that have a mental disorder of some kind. You may not know about mental illness in all of your friends or family because some people keep it a secret from others.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. The stigma about mental illness makes the problem worse by causing people to fear seeking help or to talk to anyone about it.

You are not your mental illness. Neither is your friend or family member. People with mental illness are not usually dangerous. There are only a few mental illnesses that predispose people to violence. Most people with mental illness are suffering within themselves and not causing harm to others at all.

Suicide rates are high in every country. There many death related to suicide and the feelings of hopelessness, shame, guilt , fear and worthlessness that people live with. People who suffer from mental illness are not all the same. People are people and they are all individuals.

Please do not see yourself as your diagnosis or as a label. You are unique and no one is just like you. Each person was born with value and worth that is innate. If you suffer from mental illness you should not have to feel shame about it. You just have an illness that is just as real as any physical illness.

People with physical diseases and illnesses are more likely to be recognized and less likely to be judged as a person, in regards to their diagnosis. Just because mental illness is invisible does not make it any less real or the suffering any less.

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