anxiety, mental health, mental illness, ptsd

PTSD and Drawing Fuel Away from the Cerebral Cortex

This is going to be a stream of consciousness post because I woke up too early and I am having some anxiety and cannot go back to sleep yet.

I am feeling some post traumatic stress and my brain is into that fight or flight mode. This is that feeling that you are under some kind of threat and you feel the urgent need to fight or run or do something to alleviate the brain’s urgency.

It is a feeling that goes through the entire body and there is no where to put it and nothing to do with it. The mind starts running a hundred miles per hour and there are pictures of things you are afraid of flashing across the computer screen of your brain.

The thoughts and pictures move very quickly and then they become more irrational. The more irrational they become, the more threatening the picture and then it escalates the anxiety.

So, I am writing because expressing your feelings in words, forces the brain to have to think about the thoughts and feelings in an objective and detached way. In order to express your thoughts to another person, you have to think about how to write it so that the other person will understand it.

While you are thinking about how to say it, so that the other person will understand it, you have to see it from the reader’s point of view. When we go back to edit, then we have to that process again.

We are reading through and thinking “Now is this understandable? and Is that worded in a clear way?”

As we are doing this process of seeing it from the point of view of the reader, we have to detach from the emotion and see them as words and thoughts of communication. The process of detaching causes the level of whatever the emotion is, to go down.

The brain uses different parts of the brain to do different things. If it is in an emotional overload, then you want to pull a percentage of the fuel that is centered in feeling emotions, over to another brain process.

Writing and editing, detaching and being analytical, are different that the emotional part of the brain. If we force the percentage of our attention to go to those cognitive functions, then we pull fuel away from the frontal cortex, which controls the fears and fight or flight mode.

Tada ! It is a magic trick of epic proportion. It does not make the anxiety go away all together but it does lower it and bring the focus of your brain onto a different skill.

This is how we can tell our brain what to do. Meditation is great if you are able to clear your mind of everything and “just breath” but that is not a viable option  to me. in the midst of post traumatic stress. The anxiety is too high and there are pictures running through your head.

The last thing I want to do in the middle of that, is to sit quietly and watch all of these threatening pictures even more clearly in my head. You can use the mindfulness meditation but only after you are able to detach from the high level of emotion first.

Once you can force the rational side of your brain to wake up and start drinking energy from the amygdala (the frontal cortex) then you can try the meditation and breathing exercises. They might work.

Any cognitive activity has the ability to pull fuel away from the alarm system of the frontal cortex. You have got to draw the energy away from that part of the brain, in order to reduce it’s power and influence over you.

The act of thinking about your feelings, rather than focusing on feeling them, draws the attention of your brain away sending the “feeling” signals to your body. The brain will slow down and work to process the rational thoughts that you are working on.

You will notice that I did not blog too much about what I was feeling, but I went into thinking about the brain, how it works and why it was causing me to feel that way.

I can not say that this will work for everyone. But I can attest to the fact that those pictures that were flying through my head at a million miles an hour,  ten minutes ago, have slowed way down and have less power over me now.

This works for me when I am having regular anxiety also, the problem is that I am not usually at my laptop at that time. If I happen to have someone that wants to listen to me talk about what I think is happening in my brain, then that would help. There is no one to fo that outside of the blogging world.



c-ptsd, depression, life, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness

Depression; The Darkness That Only We Can See

Depression is like an alternate reality. A dark reality that surrounds us that no one else can see. People do not understand why we are depressed. They point things out to us about our lives that we should be thankful for and tell us to snap out of it.

Depression is an invisible disorder of the mind. There are actual organic and chemical differences in the brain, that are different when someone is depressed, but no one around you can see inside your brain.

There may be things in your life that are making you miserable that are triggering your tendency towards depression. Most likely your brain was primed for depression, during your childhood.

It would not surprise me if you were often in situations that had no control over during your childhood, that were confusing and tormenting to you as a child. Your brain will wire itself to deal with abuse and ongoing anxiety.

The irregular wiring and chemical imbalance, cause by childhood abuse or other trauma in your life, will stay there, long after the trauma. The brain has to be rewired from what happened to us. Your brain needs to be healed.

Many people with mental illness also have C-PTSD from some sort of trauma, physical or mental abuse during their childhood. It is likely that one of your parents had an undiagnosed mental illness.

Maybe one parent was an alcoholic, like mine, and you were constantly on guard because you never knew what to expect next. Maybe you moved often and had one or both parents that were unstable or mentally ill.

The past generation was not as diagnosed with mental illnesses as our is. Mental illness, such as borderline personality disorder was usually not diagnosed or treated in our parents generation. I believe that my mother had borderline personality disorder, since I have looked at the traits of borderline and they are the same as hers.

If you had a parent that used to rage at you for nothing, then you were living in an extreme hyper adrenalized state all the time. This state of fight or flight activates the amygdala. This is not a state of being that we were designed to withstand for extended periods of time.

Maybe you were ignores all together as a child. Your feelings did no count and your opinions were discarded. People were in control of your life and you never had any say about how you were being affected.

If you grew up feeling like you were a prisoner in your life, like you did not matter, then you were primed to have depression as an adult.

Any ongoing situations where you felt your life was out of control and there was nothing you could do about it, could have caused your brain to go into a state of protecting itself.

You probably protected yourself by living in a fantasy world, as a child. You  may have had imaginary friends or some alternate imaginary life, where you had more control. It is the issue of having no control that draws you into depression.

Now you feel that your life is out of your control , but it is not the same because you are an adult. You are “supposed” to be in control of your life. It seems like the other adults around you are in control of their lives and you are the only one who is not.

You feel like something is wrong with you that is making you unable to have the same kind of control over  your life, that the other people have.You feel like there is darkness all around you and it seems to follow you.

There might be someone who is still playing mind games with you. If one of your parents was mentally ill when you were growing up, then they still are. If they are still in your life, then they may still be causing you to feel out of control

You may have ended up in relationships where the other person was mentally ill. It feels normal to be in relationships with mentally ill people, if we grew up with mentally ill parents. I know I have ended up staying in relationships with mentally ill people, and did not realize it until the relationship was over.

We were trained to process our reality in a different way than people who grew up in normal families. We were trained to see the abnormal as normal.

We were conditioned to see abuse as our fault. When someone does something which would normally cross another person’s boundaries, we do not recognize it as wrong.

These continued patterns of accepting abuse, and feeling like we are “supposed to” act happy, when we are not, are still with us.

As a child you could not speak up and say “no.” You could not express your true thoughts and feelings.

We are so conditioned not to express our feelings, that we cannot even identify them sometimes. We may be in situations where we should feel angry or offended, but instead we just go into depression.

We are not used to standing up for ourselves in a healthy wa and may not even know how. Social anxiety, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses are usually conditioned responses that were caused by our brains trying to protect themselves.

There was no one to protect us as a child, We never learned what it was like to feel safe. The feeling of never being really safe, is also a cause of depression.

We were never really given the tools to have self esteem or to function autonomously. We may not know how to parent ourselves. Adults take care of themselves and are their own parents. They had examples  of how parents should take care of their children and now they take care of their own emotional and physical needs well.

Maybe your needs were not met as a child. Everyone has basic needs of shelter, safety, food, personal boundaries, and emotional support. If any of those needs were consistently not met when you were growing up, then you were primed for having depression.

As adults, we need to explore what happened to us, during our childhood and teenage years. We need to see what needs of ours were not met and what developmental stages were missed. We need to learn all the things that we should have learned as children and teenagers.

if we are still around our abusive parents, then  we are going to continue to feel triggered and trapped. The only way to have relationships with our parents, is for us to draw the boundaries that should have been there all along.

If we are in a relationship that is a recurrent pattern of our childhood, we need to get out and learn to draw proper boundaries that we should have learned to do, a long time ago.

The lack of feeling like you are as valuable and entitles to boundaries as everyone else, will cause depression. The feeling that others have more rights to say “no” to people and we do not, is a cause of depression.

As long as we continue to feel trapped in the patterns of our childhood and keep re-living them, the worse our depression will become.

We need to educate ourselves about how to parent ourselves and how to draw proper boundaries. We need to read and get materials that will teach us the skills that we are missing to be adults. It is not fair that other people can manage their lives better than we can.

In addition to reading and learning about boundaries and assertiveness, we can watch other people that we feel are functioning well. See what they are doing that is different that you are doing.

Do these people get caught up in being manipulated by others? Do these people follow their own dreams or do they do what others manipulate them into doing?

People that are living fulfilled lives draw boundaries and they follow the dreams that come from inside of them. People that grew up with abuse are used to living their lives in order to ensure the happiness of others.

We cannot live for other adults. We cannot follow the dreams that other people have for us. We cannot always do things to make other people happy.

it is good to have compassion for other people, and to love them. But loving someone does not mean you have to do everything they want you to do. Other people cannot know what will make us happy.

Take a look at your relationships and see if you do anything that sacrifices yourself for another adult. Other adults, including our parents and partners are supposed to love us. They should want us to follow our dreams. If people are being manipulative of us, then they are not being loving.

Just because you were primed to go into the dark reality of depression, does not mean that it has to stay that way forever. You can learn the things you were never taught as a child.

You can learn to identify what you really want out of life and what would make you happy. You can learn to prioritize your needs , and still love other people. You can learn to stop sacrificing your own happiness, and to stop holding back on the person that you really are

We can find our own identity and do the things that fit in with that identity. We can be the person that we want to be. If other people are upset by any changes we make, they will get over it. If they don’t , then  maybe they did not really love you as much as they told you.

People are happy when they feel like they are being themselves. When we are in depression, we feel invisible and out of touch with our true selves. We feel that we are not living life the way that we would like to be.

You matter. Your dreams matter. You have the right to say “no” You have the right to draw boundaries that are fair. The other people have boundaries that you are expected to respect.

You have a right to feel depressed but you also have a right to begin to re-train yourself to be more fulfilled.