My Truth

[tweetmeme source=”Life_With_DID”]

I’m very passionate about mental health and abuse awareness, mainly due to my own expieriances. I am very open about my past, which I know is something that many do not like, but I do not see why I should stay silent – afterall that’s what the abusers told me to do and I can’t let them win can I?

I don’t want nor do I expect pity or sympathy. I do not deserve it, and I do not want it, what happened happened and I am only who I am today because of it. I do not want hugs and people saying they are sorry, what I want, what I fight for every day, is for OTHERS to feel safe that they will not be judged. What I want is to make it so that those who currently suffer in silence scared of what may happen if they open up know that they are not alone, and maybe make it so that they no longer have to fear judgement and blame.

I know that my work and my speaking out will not end abuse, discrimination and suffering, but if I can just let people know that they are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence and maybe if I can make a few people stop and think then I am happy with that. I cannot stop abuse, I cannot change the world, but maybe I can help to plant the seeds of change, plant that idea in to the minds of others, and then they can help that idea to grow until one day change can and does occur. Maybe one day the things which I fight will no longer exist, but I doubt that I will see that day. I can do so little, but it’s the best I can do, I just have to hope that human nature is not as bad as I fear and that these seeds if change and the glimmer of hope will take root.

I tell my story, my truth, not for pity, but for the hope that I can help to ignite change in this world. I know most will not believe this, but I know my truth and I hope that a few of you know this truth too. This is why I spend so long creating websites, writting letters, speaking in schools, raising money and trying to spread awareness. It’s an inconvenient truth I know, but it’s a truth that needs to be known, I cannot just sweep it under the carpet when I know that it could help others. So I fight and strive with the hope of helping, of making the suffering of others that little bit better that bit more bearable.  I wish that this truth was not there, that it did not need to be spread, but it is and it does. And for this I am sorry

This is my truth

Advertisements

Methods to deal with stress and panic

[tweetmeme source=”life_with_DID”]

Practice relaxation techniques such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
Exercise regularly, 20 minutes per day, three days per week. Exercise releases the “feel good” hormones into our blood stream,  lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles and clears the mind.
Your attitude and the way you respond to stressful situations is important. You can choose to let something upset you or not.  You can use a positive attitude to get through a tough time.
Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, caffeine, fats and sugars.
Know your stress signals. When you’re feeling stressed, how does your body react? Does your pulse begin to race? Can you feel your heart pounding? Pay attention to your body language and take steps to calm it down with deep breathing or leaving
the situation.
Eat healthy. Maintaining your energy level and having the strength to keep your attitude positive and your stress under control relies greatly on putting good fuel into your body.
Sleep is important for keeping stress away. When you’re well-rested it’s easier to focus, and you have the energy to accomplish all that needs to be done.
Remember to mentally pat yourself on the back when you have accomplished something, no matter how small.
Don’t waste your time and raise your stress level by reliving mistakes. Every mistake is a learning experience. Learn from it; then move on.
Laughter is often the best remedy for stress. Find reasons to laugh. See a funny movie or visit a comedy club.
When you feel your temper rising, count to to 10. This will give you time to calm down and keep you from saying something you might regret later. If 10 is not enough time to calm down, keep counting.
Sit in a hot tub or sauna. (alternatively a hot bath)
Get a massage.
Enjoy the people in your life that make you happy. Make time to be with them.
Learn to recognise what you can control and what you can’t. Work to let go of what you can’t control.

3 breathing techneiques (provided by Rachel – hence the green text 😛 ):


Clensing Breathes
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sit with your feet flat on the floor with your shoulders down or stand with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Take in as much air as you can through your nose. As soon as you have inhaled breathe all the air out through your nose. Don’t pause in-between breathes. Keep your breathing smooth, centered, and gentle. Let the air flow out of your body don’t force it. Continue this exercise for 20 breathes.


Deep Breathing
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This breathing exercise is very helpful to calm and center you before making important decisions, facing emotional times, or entering meetings that make you feel uncomfortable. Sit with your back straight, shoulders down and relaxed, and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in as much air as possible through your nose in a slow deep breath. Slowly exhale through your nose. Count slowly to three and repeat the exercise six more times.


Centered Breathing
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sit with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. First take 5-6 deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth. These should be deep belly breathes using your diaphragm. Cover your right nostril with your finger and slowly breath in through your left nostril for a count of four. Hold for a count of 2 and switch your finger to the other nostril. Slowly exhaling through the right nostril. Repeat this 5 times then repeat the deep breaths and then this exercise once more.


What is PTSD ?

[tweetmeme source=”life_with_DID”]

PTSD has a unique position as the only psychiatric diagnosis (along with acute stress disorder ) that depends on a factor outside the individual, namely, a traumatic stressor. A patient cannot be given a diagnosis of PTSD unless he or she has been exposed to an event that is considered traumatic. These events include such obvious traumas as rape, military combat, torture, genocide, natural disasters, and transportation or workplace disasters. In addition, it is now recognized that repeated traumas or such traumas of long duration as child abuse , domestic violence, stalking, cult membership, and hostage situations may also produce the symptoms of PTSD in survivors.

A person suffering from PTSD experiences flashbacks, nightmares, or daydreams in which the traumatic event is experienced again. The person may also experience abnormally intense startle responses (hypervigilance) , insomnia , and may have difficulty concentrating. Trauma survivors with PTSD have been effectively treated with group therapy or individual psychological therapy, and other therapies have helped individuals, as well. Some affected individuals have found support groups or peer counseling groups helpful. Treatment may require several years, and in some cases, PTSD may affect a person for the rest of his or her life.

Causes

When PTSD was first suggested as a diagnostic category for DSM-III in 1980, it was controversial precisely because of the central role of outside stressors as causes of the disorder. Psychiatry has generally emphasised the internal weaknesses or deficiencies of individuals as the source of mental disorders; prior to the 1970s, war veterans, rape victims, and other trauma survivors were often blamed for their symptoms and regarded as cowards, moral weaklings, or masochists. The high rate of psychiatric casualties among Vietnam veterans, however, led to studies conducted by the Veterans Administration. These studies helped to establish PTSD as a legitimate diagnostic entity with a complex set of causes.

BIOCHEMICAL/PHYSIOLOGICAL CAUSES. Present neurobiological research indicates that traumatic events cause lasting changes in the human nervous system, including abnormal secretions of stress hormones. In addition, in PTSD patients, researchers have found changes in the amygdala and the hippocampus—the parts of the brain that form links between fear and memory. Experiments with ketamine, a drug that inactivates one of the neurotransmitter chemicals in the central nervous system, suggest that trauma works in a similar way to damage associative pathways in the brain. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of PTSD patients suggest that trauma affects the parts of the brain that govern speech and language.

SOCIOCULTURAL CAUSES. Studies of specific populations of PTSD patients (combat veterans, survivors of rape or genocide, former political hostages or prisoners, etc.) have shed light on the social and cultural causes of PTSD. In general, societies that are highly authoritarian, glorify violence, or sexualize violence have high rates of PTSD even among civilians.

OCCUPATIONAL FACTORS. Persons whose work exposes them to traumatic events or who treat trauma survivors may develop secondary PTSD (also known as compassion fatigue or burnout). These occupations include specialists in emergency medicine, police officers, firefighters, search-and-rescue personnel, psychotherapists, disaster investigators, etc. The degree of risk for PTSD is related to three factors: the amount and intensity of exposure to the suffering of trauma victims; the worker’s degree of empathy and sensitivity; and unresolved issues from the worker’s personal history.

PERSONAL VARIABLES. Although the most important causal factor in PTSD is the traumatic event itself, individuals differ in the intensity of their cognitive and emotional responses to trauma; some persons appear to be more vulnerable than others. In some cases, this greater vulnerability is related to temperament or natural disposition, with shy or introverted people being at greater risk. In other cases, the person’s vulnerability results from chronic illness, a physical disability, or previous traumatization—particularly abuse in childhood. As of 2001, researchers have not found any correlation between race and biological vulnerability to PTSD.

Symptoms

  • Traumatic stressor: The patient has been exposed to a catastrophic event involving actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the self or others. During exposure to the trauma, the person’s emotional response was marked by intense fear, feelings of helplessness, or horror. In general, stressors caused intentionally by human beings (genocide, rape, torture, abuse, etc.) are experienced as more traumatic than accidents, natural disasters, or “acts of God.”
  • Intrusive symptoms: The patient experiences flashbacks, traumatic daydreams, or nightmares, in which he or she relives the trauma as if it were recurring in the present. Intrusive symptoms result from an abnormal process of memory formation. Traumatic memories have two distinctive characteristics: 1) they can be triggered by stimuli that remind the patient of the traumatic event; 2) they have a “frozen” or wordless quality, consisting of images and sensations rather than verbal descriptions.
  • Avoidant symptoms: The patient attempts to reduce the possibility of exposure to anything that might trigger memories of the trauma, and to minimize his or her reactions to such memories. This cluster of symptoms includes feeling disconnected from other people, psychic numbing, and avoidance of places, persons, or things associated with the trauma. Patients with PTSD are at increased risk of substance abuse as a form of self-medication to numb painful memories.
  • Hyperarousal: Hyperarousal is a condition in which the patient’s nervous system is always on “red alert” for the return of danger. This symptom cluster includes hypervigilance, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, general irritability, and an extreme startle response. Some clinicians think that this abnormally intense startle response may be the most characteristic symptom of PTSD.
  • Duration of symptoms: The symptoms must persist for at least one month.
  • Significance: The patient suffers from significant social, interpersonal, or work-related problems as a result of the PTSD symptoms. A common social symptom of PTSD is a feeling of disconnection from other people (including loved ones), from the larger society, and from spiritual or other significant sources of meaning.

Syptoms of PTSD

[tweetmeme source=”life_with_DID”]

Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be terrifying. They may disrupt your life and make it hard to continue with your daily activities. It may be hard just to get through the day.

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you probably have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms: reliving the event, avoidance, numbing, and feeling keyed up.

Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):

Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:

  • Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat veteran
  • Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident
  • Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped

Avoiding situations that remind you of the event:

You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.

  • A person who was in an earthquake may avoid watching television shows or movies in which there are earthquakes
  • A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants
  • Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.

Feeling numb:

You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.

  • You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships
  • You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy
  • You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.

Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal):

You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:

  • Suddenly become angry or irritable
  • Have a hard time sleeping
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Fear for your safety and always feel on guard
  • Be very startled when someone surprises you

What are other common problems?

People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:

  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Employment problems
  • Relationships problems including divorce and violence
  • Physical symptoms

Dealing with PTSD symptoms

[tweetmeme source=”life_with_DID”]

1: Understanding the symptom.

The first thing to do is understand what happens to you and why. Ask professionals and do your own research from reliable sources about the symptom.

Understand something about what happens to your body when the symptom is triggered. For example, if you experience panic attacks, why do they happen? – what is the physical process which makes you feel so awful? – how can the physical reactions be controlled?

When you have information about why the symptom happens, then you have something to work with

2: Understand yourself.

When you have information about why a symptom happens, compare this to how you feel and how the symptom is triggered in your life. How does it start? – how does your body react? – what are you thinking? You may be surprised at the similarities.

3: Think of a plan.

When you know why something happens and the real effect it has on you, you are in a position to develop a coping plan.

Emphasis is on ONE THING AT A TIME! Don’t try to rush it!

A common reaction to many symptoms is to try and ‘get away’ from them. Perfectly natural. But you can not do that if you want to control them and reduce their impact on your life.

For example, if a symptom occurs and the trigger is being in a public place, you need to develop an awareness of what the REAL situation is rather than what you THINK it is. So, imagine the scenario in an objective way. Is there a REA L threat to you? Are people REALLY interested in you? Are people REALLY bothered if you are there or not? You HAVE as much right as anyone else to be there!

Another example may be flashbacks. Perhaps your reaction is to get away from them – forget them. But you know what they are so you can do something about them. They are pictures in your mind – they are NOT the REAL situation you are in. So instead of trying to shy away from them, what would happen if you looked at them from an objective viewpoint? Really looked at them? Rationalised why they are happening? Perhaps understanding that a picture is only a picture and can not harm you.

Whatever plan you develop for a symptom is flexible. You can change it to suit you at any time. The important thing is to have a plan in the first place.

On thing of note is that you may not be able to make the symptom go away forever. It may still be present in some form for a very long time. You will need to accept this, but your attitude to it is the key. If the symptom happens, try not to get stressed – just let it pass then carry on.

4: Using the plan.

It is important that you realise that things take time and persistence. There is no ‘magic. With a plan you are informed and ready.

The first few times you use your plan you may find it extremely difficult, and it may be disturbing. STOP! DO NOT force yourself.

Try it again, and again – small steps. Also, you may have ups and downs. One time your plan may work and a few tries later it becomes very disturbing or difficult. That is OK. Just keep trying it.

If your plan doesn’t work at all, reassess the information you have and think of another plan – KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Conclusion

Not everything works for everybody all the time. The important thing is to think about the things that you need to do and how to overcome symptoms that stop you doing them.

We could go in-depth, but the important thing is you understand the general principle.

Stigma of PTSD
Groundng and triggers
Grounding for flashbacks

Headaches and dissociaite identity disorder

[tweetmeme source=”Life_With_DID”]

The single most common neurological symptom reported in DID/MPD is headache. Suffering frequent headaches is so typical an experience for multiples that it is one of the major clues psychologists look for when diagnosing DID. Most multiples report that their headaches are extremely painful, often to the point of being literally blinding. Medication seldom works to relieve the pressure or pain. There are some different explanations for why multiples get more headaches than the general population.

STRESS: Life can be very stressful for multiples. In addition to normal daily problems, you have to deal with post-traumatic stress arising from your abuse history. Other stresses specific to multiples include lost time, waking up in the middle of situations and having to appear as if you know what is going on, and trying to find ways to continue functioning when all you want is to hide under your bed forever. All of this can leave your nerves ragged and muscles bunched up in tension. It can also drain you of emotional strength. Headaches are a natural result.
Considerable physical stress is also a consequence of having a dissociative disorder as you use your physical senses to contain and come to terms with your psychological disabilities and “strange” experiences. Take derealisation, for example, the effort to focus your vision all the time can cause eye strain and, subsequently, acute headache. On top of this, it can be incredibly distressing, frustrating, and frightening to experience episodes of derealisation. The emotional toll is enough in itself to cause headache. But it doesn’t end there because, in addition to the physical effects of trying to deal with dissociative misperceptions, and the emotional effects of it, most dissociators also fight hard to hold everything together and look “normal” to the outside world. This can be exhausting, especially when selves are struggling to get out. As the brain works furiously to manage all these layers of stress, the dissociator develops a worsening headache.
To ease stress headaches – find what works best for you to decrease swollen, tense muscles. This is different for everyone – some prefer ice whereas others need to stand in a warm shower. Massage can be helpful. Music is soothing but, for some people, the noise simply adds another layer of stimulus onto the load the brain is already having to deal with. Some find the only thing they can do to help the pain is sleep. This works by giving your body a chance to rest and revitalize. There are also a number of self-hypnotic techniques you can use to let the stress and pain go. As dissociators are highly hypnotizable, these techniques can be particularly effective. You can create any hypnotic scenario you want from your own imagination. For example, fill your mind with a gentle, soothing color that washes the pain away.

OVERSTIMULATION: Multiples are very prone to pressure-type headaches caused by too much incoming stimulus. This barrage of psychic “noise” includes things which impact on all our senses and overwhelm them. It may come from inside – for example, too many alter selves standing near the front of consciousness. The noise may also come from outside – too much sound, too many bright colors that blur in front of your eyes. There are two probable reasons why multiples are overly sensitive to external stimuli – because of their chronic abuse experiences, multiples have developed a hyper-alertness which means they are constantly aware of everything around them incase danger is lurking – and because they have so many different “eyes” perceiving the world around them, often simultaneously. As one survivor put it, “Sometimes things have too much meaning. It’s as if we’re all looking at something at the same time, and our different perceptions get jumbled-up and become too much to cope with, and then our head feels as if it’s going to explode. And of course we all have separate feelings and opinions for what we see. It can be unbearable. There are so many eyes/minds, but only one sensory system to process everything. Even just a walk down the city street can leave us with a crippling (but somehow painless) headache.”
To help ease headaches cause by over stimulation – ask inside for everyone to step back and give you some space and quiet. Explain that it is more effective for them to tell you about their experiences when you have time and energy to listen properly. Alternatively, they may like to write their thoughts/feelings in a journal if they can’t wait. Some multiples find it helpful to carry pen and paper around with them for this purpose. There are ways to achieve ventilation of some of the noise – deep breathing exercises are good for this, and again you can use a number of self-hypnotic techniques, such as picturing a steam-valve on the side of your neck. If you find it overwhelming to go out in public surrounded by “noise pollution”, you could try wearing a walkman that playing peaceful, soothing music which blocks out the other noise.

SWITCHING: Switching from one alter self to another causes headache mainly when there is some kind of conflict between the selves for control. The solution to this is better communication and cooperation within your system. When there is a disagreement about who should be “out”, many selves may be happy to accept a third party to take the out position as act as a mediator so both voices can be heard through her. Often this third party is an automaton self who has few sensitivities of her own, and so is not disturbed by being a channel through which others can communicate. Another suggestion is that, instead of coming completely out, the two selves stand in a place on the edge of inside, where they can be heard without a complete switch having to occur. Most people find that, as their co-consciousness increases, struggles for control (and the consequent headaches) cease to be a problem. There are some multiples who experience headache or other symptoms, such as nausea or dizziness, with even the most uncomplicated and unconflicted switches. This is usually the case for those who are early in their healing process, or whose dissociative barriers are profound. It is not surprising when you consider the physiological changes that happen when a multiple switches between alter selves. It has been proven that selves have their own unique pattern of brainwaves. Furthermore, everyone has at different ages a different biochemistry and mental capacity – thus the switch from adult to child is going to be more physiologically complex than between two adults.

SPILLAGE: When alters have disputes between themselves at a subconscious level, or when one is seething because of some anxiety they have, the tension often emerges in the form of headache. In this way, the person who is out may have a migraine without being aware that it is being caused by a stroppy teenager who is figuratively stomping around inside because she is angry about something. Alter selves are also notorious for sending headaches to the front person as a kind of message. This headache can be seen as a kind of acting out. In cases like these, pain-killing medication is of no use, because there is no actual physiological problem – the pain results from emotional disturbance. To help with these it is necessary to get the selves talking to you about what is going on for them. If they are willing to do this, there is a better chance they will get their needs met than if they simply radiate wordless feelings and pain.

Slip-ups are part of ED recovery

[tweetmeme source=”Life_With_DID”]

Hi, I’m Rachel (hense the green lol – we all colour coded ourselves here


Anyway, I wanted to take part, to help. We have been thinking a lot on eating disorders recsntly, in part as Sarah is struggling with ED thoughts at the moment which is effecting all of us in a negative light what it comes to food.


We had a slight ED slip-up last week, but these ARE part of recovery, and I wish to explain why this is and how it’s all a case of  HOW you think or percieve it.


Instead of thinking about it as, “There goes all my hard work, screw it then, might as well eat and purge forever now!” think about it as what it was – A bump on the road to recovery.I mean noone said that the path to recovery was easy nor smooth

The all-or-nothing thinking of eating disorders can sabotage us in recovery, because it tells us that one slip-up immediately means we have failed. In reality, recovery is a process – a marathon and not a sprint.


So, you ate well for a week? So… 7 days, 3 meals a day. That means that you had 21 opportunities to fail, right? 21 chances to eat, then puke. …But you? You succeeded 20 of those times. 20 outta 21 ain’t bad.

In fact: *does math on calculator*… You’ve scored 95.3% on recovery!!!!!!!!!!!!!


That is nowhere near bad, nowhere near failing, nowhere near ground zero. Just get up where you fell down. No need to backtrack.

Rachel

%d bloggers like this: