Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Most Misunderstood Symptom of PTSD

The Most Misunderstood Symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Living the lifestyle of an addict is not an ideal situation.  It can be very dangerous.  

Because of this, I experienced many traumatic events that caused some pretty severe PTSD symptoms.  If anyone has ever experienced extreme emotional symptoms from trauma, they know how challenging life can become when trying to cope.  The frightening experiences I had literally changed the world I live in.  While I don't currently live in continuing danger as I did before, my brain has yet to accept the fact that I am safe.  I experience many of the common symptoms of PTSD, such as, strong feelings of guilt, sleep disturbances, and feelings of worthlessness.  I go into fight or flight mode many times during the day and I still get a couple dozen flashbacks during my day.  Flashbacks that bring me right back into a traumatic event and my body reacts as though I am experiencing it in the moment.  

One of the most challenging symptoms I experience is a feeling that there is imminent danger when there is not.  My brain is constantly looking for the threat.  Its as though is is on a mission to sort out where the danger is, almost continually.  As you can imagine it can be very exhausting.  I use techniques to help remind myself I am not in danger, but my brain is "trained" to seek out the threat to protect me.  

As I got sober and started really feelings my feelings, I recognized that this was happening and wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.  How frustrating!  To make matters worse, I began to judge myself for  it by calling myself paranoid.  I mean really, how many people feel the fight or flight response while making themselves dinner on a normal evening at home?  I felt so paranoid!!  Turns out I am not paranoid at all, I am hyper-vigilant.

Hyper Vigilance VS Paranoia:

There is a major difference between paranoia which is a mental illness and hyper vigilance which is caused by a psychological injury. (such as PTSD)


Is an illness in the brain
Does not get better on its own
Is not recognized by the person experiencing it
Sometimes responds to drug treatment
Is Convinced of their plausibility


Is a response to trauma
Does (albeit SLOWLY) get better on its own
Will recognize it but use the incorrect term of "paranoia" to describe their experience
Drugs have little effect or make it worse by interfering with the body's own healing process
Is convinced of their worthlessness

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Dealing with these symptoms are hard enough without putting incorrect labels such as "paranoid" on ourselves.  We aren't paranoid. We are survivors and we have brains that helped us cope at the time we survived our trauma and those same AMAZING brains are helping us to survive today.  Our brain chemistry will heal over time, we can and will learn a new way to navigate the world.  In the meantime, understanding our symptoms and not judging ourselves is so very important!

The symptoms of PTSD are very serious and are difficult to manage.  If you suspect you or someone else is experiencing symptoms please seek out professional help.  Please see below for some resources on finding help.

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National Center for Victims of Crime

800-FYI-CALL (800-394-2255)
The National Center for Victims of Crime provides information, education, and referrals to local resources across the country. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm and is offered in numerous languages.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233) and 800-787-3224 (TDD)
The mission of the National Domestic Violence Hotline is to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information, and referrals for individuals experiencing domestic violence. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, and assistance is offered in numerous languages.

Mental Health America

800-969-6MHA (6642)
The mission of MHA is to promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation. MHA offers information and resources on numerous mental health topics.

National Organization for Victim Assistance

800-TRY-NOVA (800-879-6682)
NOVA's mission is to promote rights and services for victims of crime and crisis. The hotline provides information and referrals and is available 24 hours a day.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The 6 Signs of Addictive Behavior- How to Tell if You or a Loved One is an Addict

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I don't know that I had just one a-ha moment that told me I was an addict and an alcoholic.  I started using and drinking as a young teenager.   I always knew that I partied harder than anyone around me could keep up.  It was never a secret to myself or anyone in my life that I had a serious problem.

But what if someone doesn't have such an obvious problem as mine?  What if its a behavior that has popped up later in life for someone who has never shown addict behavior previously.  Or what if its a sixteen year old  that thinks, "I'm too young to be an addict."  "I'm just curious and experimenting."

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So the question is: How do you know if you're an addict or alcoholic?

Here are the 6 Signs That Your Addicted to something from Psychology Today:

Importance: How important has it become to your sense of self and the way you live your life? You can determine importance not only by how much you’re doing it, but also by how much you’re not doing other things. Priority equals importance.

Reward response: Does doing it make you feel better, more in control? Does not doing it make you feel worse? Doing things you enjoy makes you feel better. Avoiding things you dislike can make you feel better, at least initially. There is a positive physical payoff to all this activity that can obscure the negative consequences.

Prevalence: Do you find yourself doing it more often and for longer periods of time than you originally planned? This is the never-enough compulsion. If you feel compelled to say, “Just a little bit more,” all the time, you’re carving out more and more space in your life for these activities. The question becomes, in order to carve out this time, to what else are you taking the knife?

Cessation: Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable if you cannot do it or if you just think about not doing it? One way to gauge how important these things have become to you is to consider doing without them. Your initial emotional and physical response can be highly instructive. The higher the level of panic and pain you anticipate, the stronger the hold they have on you.

Disruption: Has doing it disrupted your life and your relationships? Imagine your life as a drawer full of those old-school hanging folders. The drawer only has so much space for files. Every time you add a file called “Texting” or “Facebook” or “Checking in” or “Video Games” you have to push folders around to find room in the drawer. Inside that drawer are already files called “Sleep,” “Family,” “Chores” and “Work.” Some of the files in your drawer aren’t fun; they’re thick and heavy and take up a lot of space. The more new stuff you’re trying to pack into that drawer of your life, the more pressure it puts on the things and people already there.

Reverting: Do you often say to yourself you’re going to do something different but then turn around and keep doing the same thing—or doing it even more? This is the “I’ll diet again on Monday” syndrome. If you’ve already made room in your virtual file drawer for something fun and pleasurable, or at least distracting, just thinking about depriving yourself of it brings up a wealth of rationales and reasons why “right now” is just not the best time to stop.

Admitting there is a problem, is one of the bravest things that someone can do.  It takes humility, courage and strength to see it.  It is not always an easy step.  But it is the first step for a reason.  And because its the first step, its the most important.

Recovery,alcoholic, alcoholic, hope,faith,love,change,motivation,inspiration,change is possible, god, christ, Jesus Christ, JesusIf you can relate to this post, and you feel that an addictive behavior is affecting your quality of life and what’s most important to you, it may be time to seek professional help.

Here are some resources that can help:

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