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How PTSD Affects Your Life

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Transcript

Let's look at some of the symptoms of PTSD that are less common. I want to start by talking about fatigue. This comes up quite a bit. And because it's common in our world to be tired, we live in a world where stress is relatively normal. We're often running at a high level. Fatigue is something that we can just kind of chalk off as.

I'm just tired today. But if you're finding yourself tired, to a degree that it's interfering with your life. Again, I'm going to invite you to be curious about that. It's not something that you're doing wrong, which is often this feeling that can come up of what's wrong with me. Why am I tired all the time. It's actually something about how your nervous system is responding to your environment, and maybe responding to something that happened a very long time ago, when we're trying to push away unwanted feelings, memories or sensations.

It is an exhausting process when you start to heal When you start to integrate those feelings, while initially that might be very painful, the outcome is that you get to reclaim a sense of your own energy and life force. The next symptom that I want to speak about is flooding. Flooding is extremely common with PTSD. It is the experience of having emotions that take over, often unwanted times in unwanted places, and with people that you may not want to reveal that much about yourself with flooding is related to the concept of emotional hijacking. Emotional hijacking was introduced by Daniel Goleman, the author of emotional intelligence. And what he describes is that we have different layers of the brain that process the world in different ways.

And the mid part of the brain is our limbic system. The limbic system processes, our emotions and our memories. We also have An upper portion of the brain, our neocortex, and our prefrontal cortex. And that part can help us modulate or mediate those emotional feelings, our memories, it can help us have choice about what to do what to say when it can help us with decision making. However, when we feel triggered by something that's reminiscent of an unprocessed trauma, the limbic system can respond in an intense way and can sometimes shut down those upper brain centers. So in those moments where you might be feeling like you're crying and you can't stop or you're getting angry, and you can't seem to pull yourself back, think of that as how your brain is letting you know that there are traumatic memories that need your attention.

When you find yourself having those kinds of flooding symptoms, that is a signal to get support. fawning is another symptom that is important to understand funding. is a way to describe the people pleasing or the compliance that can come along with PTSD. This is especially the case when you are Post Traumatic Stress is related to interpersonal abuse, such as the case of childhood abuse from a parent, or an ongoing abusive relationship or assault. At times, if you were ever told that to speak up about your abuse, would perhaps create greater threat on your life or the life of someone else, you will very likely not speak up, you're going to orient towards the safest solution. And sometimes unfortunately, that means siding with the abuser.

This can be a very confusing state. And again, if you understand that this is something that's biologically driven, you'll be less likely to blame yourself. Another symptom to understand is that it is common to have interpreters problems, relationship problems if you have a history of PTSD, especially if that PTSD has its origin in your childhood, where maybe in a dysfunctional family, what you witnessed or ineffective communication styles, arguing between parents without resolution, or worse, violence between parents. What we do as human beings is we repeat what we know until we know something new. And in your adult relationships, you might repeat some of the things that you learned or witnessed as a child, even if it didn't work for your parents and even if it's not working for you, getting support for knowing new, healthier ways of communication with your partner ways to advocate for yourself and for what feelings you're having, what needs you have, can make a difference.

Examples of these ineffective communication patterns might be consistently blaming them Another being highly critical of yourself or other people withdrawing rather than staying in communication in the context of having a conflict or pushing people away, when really what you need is to be closer. We spoke in the last module about immobilization, the experience of feeling shut down or paralyzed in the face of traumatic events. That immobilization can persist if it's not addressed therapeutically. immobilization for example, might be feeling at times like you feel disconnected from your body, you feel numb, or you just don't want to get out of bed. attending to this with compassion can allow you to explore why did you shut down in the first place? What led you to feel like you couldn't protect yourself?

And in the context of therapy, what we look for is reclaiming some of the movements that maybe we're not available at the time of an abusive experience. For example, if you experienced a rape, and you could not protect yourself by pushing someone off of you, or getting out of the room running away in therapy, you can start to reengage through imagination and through movement, what might it have felt like to actually push and to let yourself feel that now? What might it have been like to actually run away and to let yourself reclaim that experience so that you no longer have to feel stuck in your life today. One of the most common emotions experienced with PTSD is shame. Shame is characterized by a confusion of responsibility. Unfortunately, you blame yourself instead of putting the blame on the person who abused you, or who traumatized you.

This often originates out of childhood When as a child, it is actually easier in a way to say, I'm the bad kid, than to have to confront that you had bad parents. This can lead the abused person to take undue responsibility. in adulthood, if you have been the subject to sexual assault or abuse, it is common to take on shame there as well. You might say, well, I smiled or I laughter I accepted the drink. Therefore, I brought this on myself. Those are messages that are sent to you by our media and by the abusers themselves.

And it's important to differentiate where the fault really lies. Another symptom of PTSD that's often misunderstood is its role in physical pain. It's common to take on the physical experience of the pain that we felt when we don't know how to turn toward the emotional pain. Sometimes this somatic sizing of pain can show up in the jaw for example, clenching or grinding your teeth or a chronic sense of tension that you're carrying across your chest. Sometimes it can roll over into other health problems such as chronic headaches, back pain or digestive problems. The experience of physical health symptoms has been studied in a long term study that came out of Kaiser Permanente.

This is referring back to the aces that we spoke about in Module One, those adverse childhood experiences. Kaiser surveyed 17,000 patients over a period of time and ask them to report the adverse childhood experiences that they had. What they found is that people that had more than four and again, I'll remind you these are childhood verbal, physical sexual abuse, childhood neglect, exposure to domestic violence. in your home, a parent who was using substances or a parent who was incarcerated. And for those patients that endorsed having four or more of those aces that they were exposed to in childhood, had significantly greater mental and physical health concerns in adulthood. It led to greater incidences of heart disease, greater incidences of lung disease, as well as depression, anxiety and suicidality.

So when you are experiencing physical health concerns, and you know that you have unaddressed trauma, or perhaps you're not sure if you have unaddressed trauma, it is wise to seek counsel to get support and to again, be curious about those symptoms. Another physical health concern that is common with unresolved chronic PTSD is the development of auto immune conditions. This is because when we are stuck in a chronic high sympathetic nervous system Again, the fight flight system in the body, that this has an inverse relationship to the immune system. Basically, it can lead your immune system to become hyperactive in a way. But conversely, when we have chronic PTSD, it suppresses our sympathetic nervous system our cortisol is our low. This can lead the the immune system to actually be overactive.

The immune system will seek whatever it needs to seek out in order to do its job. And if there is no virus, if there's no bacteria for you to fight, it will begin to fight the tissues of your body, even those healthy tissues. Another common symptom of PTSD is to have chronic food cravings. This might be for salty foods, sweet foods, vinegar, carbs or spices. And if you find yourself constantly going towards the fridge or the cabinets to eat something, it may be worthwhile to Look at how your eating is, is one way that you're responding to your emotions, it's one way that you might be pushing them down. And you can work with that, especially if eating is having negative health consequences in your life.

Eating is one example of an addiction that might show up as a way to push away unwanted thoughts, feelings and memories. Other addictions, of course, can be the overuse of alcohol, or other substances. If you find yourself constantly spinning your wheels, trying to push away those unwanted thoughts, feelings and emotions, it's time to get help. As you can see, the symptoms of PTSD are not just in your mind, they impact you mentally, physically, and emotionally. by attending to the symptoms of PTSD, you can actually free up your physical health as well as your emotional and mental health. It can restore the energy that you need.

For self care on a daily basis

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