Monday, December 1, 2014

One healing model

One of the challenges I recognize about healing that we each have our own path.  The amazing thing I am learning that it is our belief that counts more than the actual technique.  The relationship with the counselor is in some ways more important than the method.  I am sharing this article I found. 
My comments will be bold in green.

Healing Model
Posted by Marty.
Healing has so many avenues, so many different therapies, so many confusing symptoms, ideas and mind functions, that navigating toward the best solution seems daunting. I have faced this dilemma, wasted my time, got lost, using the hit and miss method.
*In my opinion it is always a hit and miss method since there is no such thing as one size fits all.....none of us came with instructions printed on our bottoms. 

Each therapist will have a different way, depending on their schooling, life experience and personal beliefs and successes. Nothing is standardized except maybe the DSM manual for insurance purposes. No statistics can I find, that say this works better, or this combination is best. There is no effort to even educate what we can do, to just be mentally healthy.
*Unfortunately, mental health classes are not taught in school...probably more useful than calculus but that is education.  Even the Universities teach something different at every school.  This is why it is important to interview more than one counselor or accept that the first person you work with may not be a good fit. 

I have tried EFT, TFT, EMDR, hypnosis, cranial sacral, acupuncture, CBT, ACT, EDIT, holistic, two intuitives etc. Everyone except a proctologist and maybe that would have helped. Maybe I should have tried a comedian.
*Impressive set of alphabet methods.  Some of these made Quack watch Tough thing about PTSD there are no one-size-fits-all recipes.  I was blessed with a counselor that had a background in several different methods and used a combination adapted to my needs.  Norman Cousin in Anatomy of an illness does recommend humor as a way to heal. People keep looking for one quick answer.  Think of healing from PTSD as more of an ultramarathon.   
My long journey educated me on what works, what is available and all the gaps facing us. When you discover that you have PTSD, it can be months of trying to figure out what it is and what to do. The symptoms can keep us from seeking help.
*His journey works for him. Fortunately, more and more information is available.  Some of the myths are being dispelled.  Internet is bringing together people that would not meet in any other way.  10 years ago when I was diagnosed very little could be found.  Now there are entire sites devoted to answering question about PTSD. 
This is how my specific program developed, as I was healing, and then as I was obsessed with finding a better way out. My evaluation included the latest brain science, the cutting edge therapies, the exploration of survivor traits, the mindfulness (meditation) connection, the lack of focus on the body (exercise), the absence of daily support, and the never mentioned urgency that was missing entirely.
* '....finding a better way out' can become an obsession for anyone living in the PTSD labyrinth maze.  Horrors at every turn makes getting out more and more crucial.  When healing is counted in years not weeks anything may be tried.  (Blood letting that with lots of sarcasm. Trying to portray how desperate we can feel to get out.) 
My goal was to assemble just the needed parts, that would lets us focus increased effort and pressure upon our disorder. I found out that PTSD falters when attacked with quiet focus using the breathing track. I found that thinking, freezing or engaging in anything negative towards us or our self worth was detrimental.
*He focused on the parts he needed.  I do agree with Breathing being a powerful relaxer and I agree that negative anything can send PTSD shooting up and my ability to cope plummeting.  Avoiding negativity is helpful but not realistic since the worse is carried around in my own head. 
So here goes with my simple plan. Let me preface with a few major ideas we will adopt going forward. Failure is impossible. We are responsible for one thing, our total effort. Results are far beyond our control and miles above our pay grade. We have plenty to stop worrying about without adding thoughts about past things.
*I would rephrase 'Failure is impossible' to Failure is not an option.  We are responsible for ourselves.  Our past does not define us.  Results vary and expectations can set us up to feel like we are failing even when we are gaining ground.  Hard to exclude past thoughts.  Making peace with my past goes miles towards letting it go. past does not define me. 
From Rick Hanson in his game changing book Buddhas Brain, proves we construct the ego out of random past memories, woven into a believable narrative. The question of “Who am I” has no subject. We make the person so we have identity, not to serve him/her. The ego is not who we are. The ego in comparison to the mind is similar to a golf ball floating in a swimming pool. We are perfect without anyones approval or disapproval. Words, thoughts or ideas, even actions do not change this fact. Our self worth is untouchable, we are perfect all of us.
*First of all, golf balls sink in a pool.  They are far too dense to float, ever.  I haven't read Buddhas Brain.  I just know that for my personal survival as a child, I created 5 different personalities to be able to cope.  After integrating, I was shocked to see PTSD was still with me.  Multiple personalities was how I coped with PTSD.  I do agree that humans are amazing each and every one of us.  Perfect is a word batted about to finally mean very little.  Perfect to one person is imperfect to someone else.  I do agree that I do not need anyone's approval to view myself as a person of worth and value.  My worth does not depend on someone else's opinion.  
The power of our organism is the true self. Thoughts do not have any power. The adrenal stress response or the fight or flight mechanism supplies the drugs that we feel exploding. The large jolt that rocks our world from time to time is cortisol mixed with adrenaline a pain killer and increased respiratory, BP heart rate escalations of defense or offenses. No defenses for us, we avoid and dissociate not attack.
*The true self gets a bit complicated when I had 5 personalities functioning.  What I learned is the true self is the spirit we are born with.  Indestructible through out Eternity.  A favorite quote applies here.  "We are not human beings having spiritual experiences; we are spiritual beings having human experiences."  How are body reacts to thoughts about events is a body experience.  It is measurable, observable and controllable. Learning to control our bodies is one of life's missions. 
So know that the, feeling that the thoughts have this massive fear power is delusion. My thoughts are still here, my triggers also visit me. No cortisol is activated now, in fact good food desires make me more anxious than my childhood.
*I believe that fear uncontrolled is lethal but embracing it as part of the human experience, learning how to use it and how to let it go when it isn't needed.  Triggers still hit me but their tendency to send me into a tail spin is decreasing.
Okay, here we go. First, let us correct our self talk. I did not realize the power this has. Alex, would have this small little snide put down of himself, when he would leave. Finally, he agreed to drop that negative hit on himself. It was immediate, the next day, something had shifted. For the first time, the whole mind body had all the oars in the water, as a complete unit. He stopped going sideways and his practice blossomed from there. Hand and hand with the terminating of negative self talk or entertaining any negative idea or dreams, we add affirmations.
*Be kind to myself.  Love thy neighbor as thyself.  Not instead of yourself, not in spite of yourself, as thyself.  This starts with talking nicely too me.  I would never say to someone else some of the brutal things I say to myself.  Simple things like, "I feel great today" can help brighten a day. 
Daily short recitals of positive supportive affirmations felt strange, uncomfortable for me. I did not believe these glowing things about myself. I felt like an ass doing this, but healing was a million times the desire for me, so I recorded mine. Was easier to play them back. In time, I somehow started to believe some of those damn things. I was amazed. That computer left brain could be programmed, maybe it feels awkward but undeniable it had worked.
*I like the idea of recording positive comments about myself.  What I repeat often enough I will eventually believe, doesn't matter if it is good or bad, repetition is powerful way to reach deep inside my mind.... "I love you ya, ya, ya" really works. 
Next we roll out our air craft carrier of defense. The Breathing Track will develop focus which we will apply where trauma is the most powerful and the most vulnerable. Exactly when we have feared the most and tried to get away the quickest, it is this space that we now practice to go towards, not avoid or away from.
+I don't have the breathing track.  Tried looking it up and found several vague references.  I then followed his link and found another page about the Breathing track, I plan to investigate this some more.
I get an image of the firemen in the twin towers on 9/11 going up the stairs as people like you and me fled in terror for our life. We do not have to be like this however we must go towards our triggers, so we can observe them and see they are delusions.
The breathing track will accommodate us on our journey to our inner world. We will spike our self worth with the soothing nature, a steady mind has to offer. We are not overcoming anything, we are letting go. The breathing Track will make this possible, trust me. If you want to heal, practice this with all your might daily.
*I agree that daily practice of new ways of living are essential.  I sense the sincerity in his belief as to how well this particular track works for him.  I plan to try it myself. 
Make some time and sit for 10 minutes twice a day at first. Then practice briefly during the day. When thoughts are around try to ride the breathing track.
*I noticed that meditation and mindfulness in other articles.  Being totally present, feeling what I feel, acknowledging the moment, touch my environment, is my chair hard or soft, totally focus on this moment.  Takes practice.  I start with just 5 minutes.  I can do anything for 5 minutes.
Thoughts are impermanent as is trauma and complex PTSD. We need to let the body also know this. Thoughts have no real power and exist only in our heads. No one else can really know the contents of our amygdala, which summon the fear we avoid. We will learn these mechanisms are just our own body, trying to support and defend us by bringing all of our capabilities forward for us.
*I partially agree.  One of the symptoms of PTSD is intrusive thoughts...pesky, persistent fear bending thoughts are hard to battle.  It gets better over time. 
Our nervous system is just disordered for now. Trauma has stolen the remote for our amygdala for now. That is not permanent but it takes action by us to repair the mistake.
Now, therapist or scientist have not made the connection between competitive sports and achievement for the whole mind body. Exercise is recommended as exercise helps. The body can move the mind when the mind is frozen with terror from cortisol levels and the constant threat of doom, danger.
*I read an article encouraging the use of martial arts as a way to tap into this exercise benefit.  I tried it.  I was astounded how much more it gave me than exercise alone.  I also participated in a mud run.  Climbing, crawling, running, jumping through an elaborate obstacle course was an amazing experience. 
I have lived through times, shivering in my dark garage for days that my mind was my enemy, my body was all I could depend on. Thought I could be mad but I could still go out and press my endurance past wanting to stop. This always brought a rush to me, exhilarating plus the cortisol was diminished for a while.
*I am fascinated how I can use my body to help me push past what I think are barriers in my mind.  Paying attention to my posture.  Are my shoulders hunched or back? Am I hanging my head or do I lift it up?  Trying skipping when no one is looking. I did and marvel at how refreshed my body feels. 
Later, my thoughts went to maximize this ability that I had from professional sports. I would walk with my chronic pain and injuries until my ego, body wanted to quit, take it easy, retire. My ego would bring all sorts of justifications that would have sufficed without my willpower, I had built all my life. I always say, use your strengths, adapt what you learn to your strengths.
*Do not underestimate willpower?  That inner firer once lit can sustain me through really difficult challenges.
When my body wanted to stop, my music would be turned up and I would lock onto that music, my pain and a little trick of focusing only on my right arm as it crosses my left knee in stride.
*Music is a big boost or a real downer. I learned that I need to be careful about the music I listen to.  Do I feel more up or down when I listen to my music?  Music enlivens the entire brain. 
A simple fine focus point of linking a loud beat in the music I choose, to a part of my walking stride. Every time the drum beats in certain songs, my right arm is with that knee. This is all that exists, we are focused with our physical aerobic qualities of exercise building.
*March music was written for a reason, it works. 
Now we place our trauma as opponent, enemy or whatever and walk or whatever your choice of exercise. The trauma thoughts are trying to make you stop. You keep going by your focus and concentration. This will give your mind and body achievement. You have proven to yourself, you can move, well, you can exert and be strong even when trauma is around. The mind gets to have success and accomplishment, maybe for the first time with PTSD.
*I noticed that when I acknowledge the little steps my body and mind overcome, I am better able to take on more complex challenges.  Too often I try to take too big a jump, baby steps will get me there when a big jump flattens me. 
You have moved while it was present, now expand this. Exercise, aerobic exercise can move us when all else is not working.
*Hiking. running, karate, anything that pushes your body to the point where all I can focus on is moving my body. 
Checking for progress could be done maybe every two weeks as we want to harbor no goals, but do the work everyday, rain or shine. Build your ability to focus on the breathing track.
Now let’s talk about what this is not. It eliminates many things and concentrates on the symptom of dissociation, that is leaving this moment to engage in thoughts about the past or worry about the future.
*Check in with myself and my counselor.  My counselor is part of my success team.  For some people it may be a friend or a clergy or a family member that helps keep them on task to moving forward daily.   
This is how trauma spends time in our consciousness, fuels itself and revs up more ideas to ponder. This is like an alcoholic in a bar for us. Stay present, be aware of each second. It is tiring at first, but gets easier, then it becomes habit. You can practice this plan, easily, everyday without thought.
*Staying present does take PRACTICE that means I don't do it perfectly every day but I keep working on it every day. Some days are easier than others.  Practice makes it easier to do.
All other symptoms will fade when this one is dealt with. Any other therapy will easily compliment your dedication and effort you are putting forth. It takes action to heal, mostly mental but as much aerobic as you can add helps.
*I noticed that once I started making progress towards thriving that momentum moved me forward to each new step. 
Go for it, I m here to answer any questions?
Marty I appreciate Marty sharing his ideas on learning to thrive.  thanks.

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