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Feb 112015
 

 

 

I got word today from a friend who is also a serious trauma survivor that is also a psych therapist. She is still dealing with trauma from her teenaged years, and though there is always stuff we can’t “totally get over” or undo, as it becomes part of who we are. However, sometimes that old trauma leaves us more vulnerable to future traumas, not necessarily just psychopathic trauma but other kids of trauma as well.

My friend was like I am, a lover of animals, and had a barn full of horses that she loved very much. At 2:00 O’clock on a January morning people driving by pounded on her door and screamed that her barn was on fire. Unfortunately, several of her horses did not survive the blaze, and one horse somehow shed his blanket, but was none the less burned with second and third degree burns over much of his body, though he did survive.

This woman who is very well educated in the human emotions and spends her working days counseling others, fell completely apart and had to cancel her clients until she could finally get herself together enough to go back to work.

I am well aware of the “trauma piled on top of trauma” effects that can change our ability to withstand more trauma.

While traumas are different and some people react differently than others, serious trauma in our past does leave us vulnerable to future traumas of a serious nature. We may be “cranky” or depressed, aggressive or withdrawn.

It may take us longer to “get over” a traumatic event than it would have before the original trauma.
In my own life I realize I am not as resilient as I once was, and things that I might have shrugged off in the past before the plane crash that burned my husband too death and seriously injured my youngest you, and then upon the heals of that, I had to deal not only with the loss of my beloved step-father to cancer, but the Trojan Horse Kenneth Hamilton attacked my family as well.

Life is “full of” traumas of one kind or another, from illness to car wrecks, houses burning down, the losses of those we love to disease or old age, so no matter who you are or how strong you are you are going to experience these traumas. It seems to me though, that the worst sort of trauma though is the psychological damage done to us by “the psychopathic experience” in dealing with directly or indirectly a person who is personality disordered who is an intimate of ours, either by blood or marriage. I think it is easier to come to acceptance of the loss of my husband in the firey plane crash than to accept and learn to live with the betrayal of my son Patrick.

My friend is starting to get back to work, and her co-workers and close friends have been entirely supportive, and she says that working again has helped her but I know that she will mourn for the loss of her animals and her acute stress disorder won’t be “done” over night. She is an incredibly smart and savy woman and I know she will survive, but even with her education in psychology, she is not “invincible” to the traumas in life. None of us are, so as much as we can about all we can do is to be AWARE of the stresses we endure, and to be good to ourselves. When something suddenly happens that takes us unawares, we may  “fall apart” for a while, and that’s okay. The reaction is a normal response to an abnormal situation.

It is very important to our peace, happiness and recovering from any negative event, that we keep it in perspective. Then if there is a loss, we must grieve that loss in a healthy manner and we will eventually come to acceptance, but grief is never easy and the bigger the loss the heavier the grief will be.

While past traumas may in some ways leave us more vulnerable to future traumas, dealing with those older traumas well can also give us tools to deal with the future traumas as well. The “tool kits” we develop in healthy self-care behaviors are valuable to us our entire lives.

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  21 Responses to “Trauma on top of trauma”

  1. article up

  2. While traumatic events can be difficult to deal with, much less move forward and get thru or past, sometimes they are a blessing in disguise. It may be a house fire, car accident or even a forced move due to foreclosure, but they help up purge things we need to let go of or help us in our battle in ways we haven’t foreseen.

    When it is objects, possessions or otherwise ‘stuff’, it can make room for new things we really needed. A newer, more reliable vehicle, a house that’s built stronger and more energy efficient. Sure some things we don’t want to part with, like a piece of jewelry from a favorite aunt or a ‘lucky token’ from an uncle or grandpa. Photos are irreplaceable, but in the end it is all just stuff. The item may be gone, but their memory isn’t. The spath in my life got rid of plenty of my ‘things’, which in reality, looking back it actually helped me. If I had nothing, I had to depend on him for ‘everything’. Or at least that was his way of thinking. Time to move? It’s not mine so I left it behind.

    When we lose a loved one- family member, spouse, dear friend or beloved pet, it hurts. A LOT! We expect them to still be there in our day-to-day and suddenly they’re not anymore. The grieving process begins and it takes as long as it takes. Some of us are stronger dealing with this and can seemingly cope pretty well. Others fall apart at the seams for a while and getting out of bed is a chore. Knowing our loved ones are looking down from Heaven and watching over us, makes each day a little easier as time goes on, but the first few weeks may be a blur as we stumble thru in a fog of emotions. In the case of pets, the “Rainbow Bridge” may bring comfort. It’s tough and we have all been there, losing someone we cherished or revered.

    As far as a series of traumatic events- they seem to come in waves at times. Anything from a gentle ripple to a full blown tsunami. Many people hold to the idea that things happen in 3’s, good or bad. I’d like to take the good things if I could, thanks… 😉

  3. Joyce, my personal experience with trauma was that the conga line of abuses and personal traumas created a state of anxiety because I had never learned how to process the emotions that accompanied the event. For instance, when my kitten died when I was 7, I wanted to have a funeral and I was very, very sad. Well, the pet funeral was indulged, but not before I was inadvertently ridiculed for HAVING those feelings.

    Because of my personal issues, I never rode out the typical waves of life. We experience losses and traumas – everyone does. But, for me, the loss or trauma always signified the end of creation, as I knew it………all because I hadn’t been allowed and encouraged to FEEL and any expression of those emotions (as a child) were dismissed and ridiculed.

    And, what is odd is that I could take a sudden and immediate threat/danger and turn off my feelings and actually DO something – like being the first at the scene of an accident. The robot self took over, got things done, and so on. But, send in a possible threat, or perceived threat, or not EVEN a threat, and I was a quivering mess.

    This has all been a learning experience for me, these past few years. And, I’m okay with where I am and I’m more balanced and centered in my feelings of grief and loss.

    Good discussion……..

  4. Truthy and Joyce,
    one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that there is a solution to trauma, and that solution is compassion for those who grieve.

    Like you, Truthy, I went through life feeling bad for grieving, as though it made me “weak”. I wasn’t raised to show weakness without being ridiculed.

    Here’s a (((cyber hug))) for you –the little girl who lost her kitty.

    Joyce, your friend is lucky to have a support group to help her cope.

    • ((((((((((Sky)))))))))))) Thank you for the virtual hug and I very much appreciate it.

      Exactly – the beautiful human vulnerabilities were turned into WEAKNESSES to be exploited and abused. So, “feeling” anything was shoved down – I dared NOT express my feelings because I would surely be hurt by doing so.

      And, I agree that Joyce’s friend is very lucky to have the support that she does. Even with the support, however, there HAS to be some PTSD symptoms and issues rearing their nasty heads. Bless her (and, everyone) who’s challenged by trauma….

  5. Guys, I think Feelings being acknowledged is important in our maturing and in our lives, however some people never get that acknowledgment and yet must face the traumas life hands out to some. The abused or ignored child is a good example. Or a child raised in a culture where women and girls are chattel rather than human, or in slavery, or the military etc.

    I often think of Dr. Viktor Frankl, who wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” after he had spent 4 years in the ultimate place of trauma and devaluing a Nazi prison camp. He lost everything and suffered horrible physical tortures, but while he was there he observed and later wrote about the different kinds of responses that his fellow inmates had to the starvation, slavery, death threats, beatings etc. and the UNcertainty of what was happening from minute to minute. The insecurity of it all. Once I was told that the most SECURE person in the world is the condemned man in his cell he knows exactly when and how he will die. There is no uncertainty in his life. I’m not sure that is true because he may be worrying about the afterlife, but there is definitely no earthly uncertainty. Uncertainty can equal ANXIETY. Feeling powerless can also equal anxiety because when we lose any power over our situation and are totally dependent on someone else to decide if we live or die, we are anxious. Those are all normal human responses.

    When “trauma” hits us out of the blue so to speak, I think it magnifies the response within us, takes away our feelings of any control. I know early on when I had gone NC with my mother, I ran into her unexpectedly in Wal Mart and she reached out and touched me, and I “lost it” right there. It was I think the SUDDENNESS of it all.

    “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” produces anxiety. We have been working on a big project here on the farm that requires our tractor and there is a BIG time pressure on it. Also my son has been working on another project that has a time pressure. So, our tractor DIES, but it takes the mechanic 2 weeks to get to it to confirm it’s death. So we lost that good weather opportunity…then, we buy a new used one and 2 days later the starter fries and the company won’t stand by it so we order a part, and a week later we are still waiting for the part…and time marches on and now we are in for a “blizzard” and cold weather for a week…and my son had a gout attack, which I know is very much percipitated by STRESS.

    It is important that we take care to prevent anxiety when we can, using the tools we learned in our recovery and/or therapy, but even people like me and my friend who have training professionally in trauma surviving besides our own recovery from former traumas, have difficulty putting these things into PRACTICE. We all are, after all HUMAN BEINGS.

    I’m glad that she is starting her recovery and has close by associates and friends who are helping her, but I also think that we (all of us) need to be aware and ACCEPT that trauma can come in many different forms, and when it does we need to be kind to ourselves and utilize all our tools, while giving ourselves room to grieve.

  6. Joyce, you wrote, “….we (all of us) need to be aware and ACCEPT that trauma can come in many different forms…” and this is what I learned in counseling therapy – trauma happens. “Life” happens. Everyone will experience sudden loss, long-awaited loss, inexplicable scenarios, illness, injury, etc……….”life happens.”

    For the individual who was raised in an environment of dysfunction, regular, normal, and typical events in life became catastrophic, on every level. And, it’s that catastrophic anticipation that creates unmanageable anxiety – I know this from my own personal experiences. Flat tires happen. But, in my previous world, a flat tire was DOOM. What to do? Who’s going to help me? How am I going to take care of THIS? Etc., ad nauseum.

    Absolutely, things happen. Life happens, and many things have their own level of trauma. For me, I don’t have to react, anymore. I am learning to RESPOND, rather than REACT, and the two are not alike.

    Yes, using our tools, acknowledging the feelings, and allowing ourselves to FEEL rather than brush it under the rug, as we’ve done so many times, before.

    excellent discussion…..

  7. Truthy, I had a discussion with a dear friend the other day and we were talking about the coming BLIZZARD up north (and a bit of an event weather wise down here in the south) she lives in the North were DEEP snow and bone chilling cold are NORMAL winter weather, some years worse than others. We were talking about how people “panic” when a prediction of bad weather comes, and she told me about two men she saw on the news who were FIGHTING over a loaf of bread (the last one) in a store near her.

    Both she and I try to be PREPARED for unexpected things, I carry a spare tire in my vehicles, in case of a flat, I also carry one of those jumper boxes that if your battery won’t start your car, it will jump it…I also carry other things I might need in case of an emergency, I am AS PREPARED as I can get. We also ahve power outages here in the south from ice storms, one years ago lasted 2 weeks…so I have a generator, and if there is a storm coming, I fill up my bathtubs with water so if the power goes out I can flush the toilets and have some water to heat to wash dishes. I also keep a supply of food so if bad weather comes I have enough to eat without fighting in the grocery store with some guy over the last loaf of bread. LOL

    Of course there are some things you can NOT prepare for, your house burning down or a barn burning, or running into the guy who you divorced because he beat you….but being as prepared as we can be for the traumas we can foresee is a good start. Then for those traumas that we can’t really foresee, like my friend’s barn burning, we use our TOOL KIT from recovery to help us cope, and grieve over losses in a healthy manner.

    I know I can’t “prepare” for EVERY emergency or trauma that anyone can imagine, but I do try to prepare REASONABLY for the things that MIGHT REASONABLY HAPPEN. I have a storm shelter because there are occasional tornadoes in my area. Chance are probably less than 1 in 10,000 that we will be hit, but I think it is reasonable to have on so I had one installed. Just like the spare tire is a good idea. (as a flat tire is a reasonably common thing, even ifyou keep your tires in good shape and don’t drive on slick tires)

    By being prepared as much as we can be we PREVENT some “traumas” and more importantly, the anxiety that worrying about things and how we will manage if we have a flat tire (or something along that line) is lessened.

    I’ve always said that if we run our lives like a good business (rather than basing all decisions on emotion) our lives will run much smoother. I haven’t always DONE that though. I let my emotions rule in some decisions (like with Patrick) rather than cut my loses and moved on where he (and other decisions like that) were concerned.

    I was working under a false set of “truths” that were emotionally based, like the “truth” that I was responsible for every one else’s happiness…;and that if I was “good enough” to others they would be good to me. LOL Well, my NEW SET OF TRUTHS that says “not all people are honest, good or loving” and “you are not responsible for every one else’s happiness” allow me to be much more “business like” in my decisions and make ones that take care of me, as well as allow true intimacy with those people who are honest, good, caring and loving people in my life.

    Lately, I’ve had several “set backs” here on the farm with a project we are working on, frustrating things that are OUT OF MY CONTROL but are effecting me and my plans, but funny thing is it is not upsetting to me, I can just ACCEPT it is what it is and I can’t change it, just endure it and work around it to the best of my ability. In years past I would have melted down. LOL

    • Joyce, absolutely 100% spot-on!!!!!!!!!!! As you can imagine, I saddled my counseling therapist with questions for over 2 years, now – most of the answers, she let me uncover, myself. But, the issue of PANIC and catastrophic thinking came to the forefront for me on a frequent basis. Nearly everything that I did was based upon FEAR. And, I’m not talking about actual threats, but “possible” threats or even situations that weren’t threats, at all, but the wiring in my thinking had been routed so that everything was a threat to my safety and security as per the childhood traumas that I experienced.

      She used a word that I wanted to share with everyone that experiences true catastrophic thinking: neutral. Events that happened in my life were NEUTRAL. Like a summer storm that knocked out the power, or a flat tire, or a raging creek, none of these event had my name on them. They weren’t entities that were coming to deal me harm. Same with a flat tire. Yeah, the situation can BE threatening, but the tire didn’t wake up that morning and decide that I needed to be terrorized.

      Being truthful here, I have to say that it took some time and effort to accept that Life Happens, and that overdue bills aren’t sent by the Universe to cause me to panic – “I’m late, they’re going to turn off the power, I’ll be in the dark, the pipes will freeze, the house will collapse……..” etc. Once I was able to process this fact and begin working with it, it is precisely as you described, above: “By being prepared as much as we can be we PREVENT some “traumas” and more importantly, the anxiety that worrying about things and how we will manage if we have a flat tire (or something along that line) is lessened.”

      Additionally, I’ve been unprepared at times since I began my re-wiring processes in my thinking, and the knowledge that it isn’t designed to harm me has helped to reduce the anxiety level, as well. Not everyone or everyTHING is out to “get me.” When I was a child, it felt that way because my fears and feelings were never validated, “Yes, you were alone all night while your mother was passed out from being drunk. You were hungry and frightened, and it’s okay.” Instead, it was, “You’re FINE. You have to understand that your mother was SICK.”

      Yes, life can be frustrating, at times, for certain sure, especially if you’re working a farm! LOL!!!!!!!!!! But, Life doesn’t have it in for us. Life happens, and it’s a tremendous testament to recovery and healing when we can accept the situation, assess what needs to be done (and, what doesn’t), and move forward. I will acknowledge whatever fear-based thing that I’m feeling might be, and tell myself (sometimes, out loud) that I’m FEELING fearful and that I don’t have to because it’s NOT a bona fide threat.

  8. Truthy, I have NO doubt that if and when Patrick gets out he IS A REAL threat to my very life, BUT, that said, I can only do as much as I can to PREVENT THAT happening, and then deal with the situation WHEN it becomes imminent.

    I look back and I remember when I was in the acute stress stages how I ruminated with the “what ifs” and came up with this plan and that plan ad infinitum all the while stressing on which one to pick.

    The choice I made to buy the RV and go iinto hiding while Hamilton was still here on the farm was a good one, and it was a very difficult one because I had to leave my cattle and donkeys behind and also my house and everything I owned except my dogs and a few clothes.

    I could do that again with less anxiety about the THINGS if I had to because things are not that important to me any more, but I hope and pray I would not go into an acute stress response if he was to get a parole date.

    I stay as prepared as I can be (I think) but you know the truth is, I may go into an acute stress response and if I do, I will seek the help and support I need to make good rational and safe decisions.

    • Joyce, one of the more interesting aspects of anxiety that I’ve learned is that, in former days, anxiety was a means to “be prepared” for imminent threats – a predatory animal outside of my dwelling, or knowing that I was in the path of a lava flow that could swallow my village. “Anxiety” isn’t necessarily “bad,” in the sense that it keeps our senses KEEN when we’re walking out to our vehicles alone in the dark.

      What is NOT “normal” or healthy is living in a constant state of anxiety when there is no threat present. That’s how I was living. Everything was perceived as a threat. From someone telling me to have a nice day, to receiving a “Past Due” notice in the mail, everyone (and, every THING) was targeting me to cause damage. Well, that simply is not true.

      In your situation, Patrick is a bona fide THREAT. Whether he’s behind bars, or sending a minion, he is a 100% absolute threat to ANYONE who becomes entangled with him, and any (and, I mean ANY) vigilance that you feel is not only understandable, but it is reasonable.

      Having typed that, there has been a distinct change in your approach to this definite threat, Joyce. And, it’s a beacon of encouragement to those of us who are jumping at shadows and “seeing things that aren’t there.” That encouragement is that, even if we are facing true danger as YOU are, there CAN be a calm and centered balance in our responses and vigilance.

      So, yeah……………even when there is a true and actual threat, you’re teaching ME that I can approach it with calm, balance, and rational sense, rather than my previous reactions of melting down. And, I became VERY good at that reaction, I must say. Remember that phone call that I received from the exspath’s bankruptcy attorney?! LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! I think about that, today, and it’s actually (and, literally) laughable.

      Yes, rational and safe decisions don’t just come to us, Joyce, especially for those who have been raised in an environment of dysfunction – because there never WAS safety or rational approaches by the people that raised us, it’s new ground to walk on.

      • Truthy, I think “anxiety” per se is more being worried about imaginary “dangers” than about being aware of realistic dangers. And anxiety precludes us from considering the REAL dangers.

        People who live in the middle east where ISIS is beheading people would naturally be ANXIOUS, it wouldn’t be normal if they weren’t anxious, but being continually ANXIOUS even for legitimate dangers is counter productive to actually being able to function and make reasonable decisions to protect one self.

        I’ve dealt professionally with people who have continual “panic attacks” and repeatedly they present themselves to the ER thinking they are having a heart attack.

        I’ve had ONE panic attack in my life and my son had one, so he and I both know personally what it is like, but we also know that it IS a release of hormones in our bodies and if we remind ourselves what it is and that it WILL PASS we will fairly quickly recover. There are times anti-anxiety drugs may be required for anxiety, the way that anti depressants are requied for depression but over all, if the patient realizes WHAT is happening with the hormones in the body causing the physical symptoms of racing heart etc they can control the anxiety.

        I realize that the anxiety I had about Patrick getting out is somewhat FACT BASED, but, I also realize that I can only do so much to keep him in, and in the mean time I don’t want to live choked by anxiety to the point I can’t enjoy life or function in a healthy manner. Sooooooo, just like with a panic attack, I tell myself what is going on. I do realize he could send another “friend” to do me in, even his “girl friend” so I am CAUTIOUS around strangers and I stay PREPARED. But living in TOTAL anxiety and PANIC isn’t a good way to survive and I’m doing my best not to allow myself to go there.

        • Joyce, my feeling is that you’re doing a really GOOD job of living in the present and attending to the here-and-now WHILE keeping yourself safe, secure, and balanced. And, what a different world that is, I can attest to, personally! LOL!!!

          I spent so much time spinning in the vortex of anxiety (not “true” danger or threats) that I wound up in the ER a fair number of times with a panic attack. And, I’m learning how to calm myself, how to recognize when it IS a panic attack, and so forth.

          So, you’re providing a seriously strong example of how we can recover and actually LIVE instead of just go through the proverbial motions. Thank you, SO much!!

          • Thanks Truthy, I AM doing much much BETTER than I think I ever have my entire life, but at the same time I realized the vulnerabilities that are within me.

            It isn’t just the intellectual “knowing” things are a threat or not, there is always the emotional and illogical part of us. Like there are people who are TERRIFIED of spiders,though most are harmless and the ones that are poison are not going to jump on you from 10 feet away.

            So if those people even SEE a spider they PANIC. You can TEACH them about the truth of the matter, but their PANIC is very real and FACTS don’t enter into the reaction.

            The anxiety I felt was somewhat reality based, Patrick IS a danger to me, as already demonstrated, BUT I was in a TOTAL MELT DOWN like someone was standing there in front of me with a gun. So my anxiety, fear and panic was NOT justified, but like the folks afraid of spiders, It was difficult to let reality reign. I hope that never happens to me again, but if it does I have to deal with it,both emotionally and logically.

            It also may be that some of us have an “anxiety gene” as well and are more prone to anxiety than others.

          • Joyce, I believe that the anxiety that you experienced with Patrick’s parole looming was 100% fact-based. He is, indeed, a true and real danger to ANYONE who comes into contact with him, not just the people with whom he has some sort of vendetta against.

            But, having worked through that particular event, the next time Patrick is up for parole may not be as difficult as the last one was.

            And, I “get it” about facts and panic! LMAO!!!!!!!! I’m one of those people that was absolutely unable to separate anything from anything else – it was ALL designed to cause me issues, and I always reacted (not “responded”) accordingly. I would have a meltdown over a lunar eclipse……..LOL!!

  9. Truthy, in response to your last post, yes, even FACT based anxiety can kill you if it keeps you from being able to FUNCTION in a dangerous situation. If you allow your anxiety to make you UN-functional, then you are not able to save yourself by making good decisions.

    So yes, a LITTLE anxiety in the face of danger is a good thing, but a LOT of anxiety and panic in a dangerous situation is NOT a good thing.

    So we must learn to “keep our heads” when danger comes around in whatever form, so that we can FUNCTION and make reasonable decisions to avert disaster.

    I realized in retrospect that I went into a 6 month panic attack over the last parole protest, and you know, the thing is that it eventually effected both my thinking and my health and well being. I don’t doubt that I will have SOME anxiety about his next parole hearing, but the thing is I MUST keep my head and not let it go into PANIC.

    My husband was one of those people who kept his head in an emergency situations, in fact, the day he died, he kept his head and prevented the plane from killing all 4 of the people in it. And my youngest son is just like him, he keeps his head in emergency situations. I’m not sure if that is a learned thing or something else, but I realize that I have the tendency to freeze and then dissociate.

    I was in a motor vehicle crash that I saw coming and thought (reasonably) that I might die in it, and I remember dissociating, just accepting what was coming and then TURNED OFF MY MIND completely BEFORE the crash, and didn’t “come to” until the car had rolled over 3 times and landed at the foot of a high embankment. At the time I was preg with the oldest son and I remember thinking “I’m sorry the baby has to die with me”

    Like a deer in the headlights, sometimes I freeze…other times I keep on functioning on auto-pilot, like I did at the scene of the plane crash. I was in shock, but yet I kept on doing things that needed to be done, from call 911 to making the burn victims that were walking sit down. Even though I had severe PTSD I was able to function on auto=pilot until I tried to go back to work, and couldn’t function because of the lack of short term memory. My doctor told me the memory would come back and it has to some extent, not like it was before the plane crash and the subsequent drama/traumas but where I am at least functional now.

    The “stress scale” of Holmes and Rae http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm can be used to estimate just how much stress you are experiencing and you are not limited to the number of times a stressor can be added to the numbers. It is for a 3 year period. I think over the 3 year period my score was well over 1500 and since this is not a research project, you can add in any thing not listed on the list and rate it yourself using the other ratings as a guide.

    • Joyce, absolutely STRESS KILLS, and the medical and behavioral health communities do agree on that fact.

      For me, I was living in a fear-based and anxiety-driven Universe because that’s how I had been programmed to function. I had NO IDEA that I was reacting to even the most mundane of all events with extreme anxiety and stress. Seriously. I put on SUCH a “good front” of being calm and collected that I was literally boiling, inside.

      The first indicator that I was stressed was when I began having inexplicable nosebleeds – out of nowhere, my nose would just start gushing! This developed shortly after the stalker began tampering with my vehicle and right after I learned of Victor’s death. What a mess………..my blood pressure was recorded numerous times as being somewhere around 280/140. So, yeah……….absolutely, stress most certainly kills.

      And, I was always dissociated with imminent danger – my emotional functions would shut down and I would go into cognitive mode, particularly if someone was injured. After the event was concluded, I would experience a complete meltdown, particularly if children were involved. But, I could “maintain an even strain” DURING the emergency, which made me think that I was handling all of this stuff like a champ! LOLOLOLOLOLOL

      For me, personally, it was ONLY through this intensive therapy that I finally “got it” about my anxiety, depression, and stress levels. I’m certainly not “cured,” by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m also not in a constant state of catastrophic thinking, anymore. My anxiety levels are beginning to even out within the “normal” range, but it’s taken a LOT of hard work and focus to get here. I never, ever want to go back to that previous state, Joyce. I was literally dying just from being alive – if that makes sense! LOL

  10. I tried to comment on your post yesterday, Truthy, and I lost the post when it made me sign in again and I was so frustrated…I walked away from the computer. LOL

    Yea, our childhoods do influence how we perceive dangers, both from how we are taught and I think also our genetic tendency to be more or less anxious. I am a firm believer that we are definitely NOT a “blank slate” when we are born, that there is a tendency for this or that personality type there. Like Clay in a potter’s hands we can be molded into different shapes, but the consistency of the clay itself will determine what it is that we can be molded into.

    As adults I think that examining our lives and the decisions (both good and bad) that we have made in our lives can give us insight into what we are and what we can become. As long as a person has the genetic capacity for empathy and conscience then we CAN change, grow, improve our thinking. Not only does genetics play part in who we are, but environment (including our culture) works together to mold us.

    Look at some of the conflicts in the world today in the middle east. Some of those people doing what WE think of as totally HORRIFIC acts, have a conscience that tells them that this kind of behavior is DESIRABLE and RIGHT, even to blowing themselves up.

    I do think that there are psychopathic manipulators eager for POWER and CONTROL that are driving this, but I think the vast majority of people engaging in such tactics trulty believe.

    Through the ages, if you look at history, man has behaved this way….”civilization” has supposedly made us kinder and better, but still even in western society there are powerful people behind the scenes pulling the strings. I sit here and shake my head at man’s inhumanity to his fellow men, but it is a fact of life.

    We can only change ourselves and do what we think is right for ourselves, do our best not to hurt others, but at the same time, to defend ourselves against those who would hurt us.

    Though I have “suffered” many things (a great deal of them because I didn’t use “common sense” and get away from those disordered folks who hurt me soon enough) at the same time, I realize that my suffering, though, “terrible” is nothing compared to what many others go through on a daily basis. Sometimes through their own inability to separate from an abusive spouse, or because they have NO control over their lives, where they were born, or what bombs fall on their heads.

    Dr. Viktor Fankl’s book was an “Ah ha” moment for me…I realized that I may not be able to control what happens in the world or my country, and I may be an innocent victim, just as he was because he was Jewish in a Nazi Germany, but no matter what happens or why, I can still find MEANING in my life and not allow myself to be over come with fear, anxiety or bitterness. I have a choice, and I choose to live in a manner that is conducive to PEACE within my own mind and heart. It’s been a long journey, but I intend to stay out of the ABYSS of terror, anxiety and misery.

    I count the many blessings I have, and compared to very many people in this world, I am among the most fortunate. I also realize I am NOT alone in having a loved one become a monster, and that I could not have prevented it or changed HIS choices. He has free will, knows right from wrong, just doesn’t CARE.

    • Joyce, what an insightful response.

      I truly believe in the genetic factor, as well. I also believe that those things can be managed IF they are recognized and dealt with.

      Everyone experiences trauma, bar none. Some people experience random acts of violence, while others experience Nature’s fury in the form of a storm or flood. The list of traumatic experiences is endless.

      None of us is “alone” in our personal traumatic experiences – there will always be others who have experiences something similar. The challenge that I have, personally, is connecting with those who are emotionally healthy enough to be a support rather than a vehicle to drive me down into the rabbit hole even faster than I could accomplish on my own! LOL

      I have absolutely no control over what happens in the world, and I have come to “accept” this fact. But, just because I “accept” it doesn’t mean that I am obligated to LIKE it. I don’t “like” the fact that babies have (and, always WILL) die from SIDS. I don’t “like” the fact that tidal waves will occur, again, to destroy villages and lives. I don’t “like” the fact that most sociopaths are everyday individuals who will never even be charged with their crimes, let alone be incarcerated for them. “Acceptance” has been one of the most liberating things for me because it absolves me of that particular “control issue.” I cannot, will not, and have never been able to cause a favorable outcome with anyone or anyTHING except myself. Period. And, I particularly did NOT “like” the fact that the exspath doesn’t care, either. But, I am not obligate to “like” it – just to accept it.

      So……….{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}} all around for everyone!!!!

  11. Truthy, you sum up “acceptance” very well, and it is one of the THREE things I think are necessary to a healthy outlook and life. ACCEPTANCE, GRATITUDE and ALTRUISM. We must accept what we can not change, or our lives will be shattered. No matter how bad a situation is if we can’t change it and we don’t accept that fact, we end up bashing our mental heads against a mental brick wall, never making any progress in fixing what the problem is OR in coming to peace with it.

    Sure, if you get cancer, get all the treatment that can or may help you, but you still must ACCEPT that you do have cancer.

    I had a patient once who came to me with a large, draining knot on her breast and it was infected…I gave her some antibiotics for the infection and asked her if she had had a mammogram in the last year or so and she replied NO, IF I HAVE CANCER I DON’T WANT TO KNOW IT! She refused to get a mammogram and left the office. I spoke to my supervising physician and he called her and finally got her to go for a mammogram, and of course it WAS cancer. And I’ve had other patients who couldn’t ACCEPT a diagnosis they didn’t like and stayed in denial about it or the consequences of not treating it.

    ACCEPTANCE means we get the heck out of DENIAL and that we decide if we can have an impact on the FACT we are accepting, and what we should do to help ourselves. DENIAL keeps us from actually doing anything. Sell, sometimes we have to ACCEPT that there is nothing we can do, like the Ebola outbreak in Africa, we can’t “fix” that, but some of those people who COULD help there decided to go and try to help, knowing the risks they were taking. But you and I could not have done anything about it except ACCEPT that it is a horrible thing (along with many other horrible things in this world).

    I have to ACCEPT that my son is a psychopathic monster. I have to get out of denial and realize that there is NOTHING I CAN DO to change it and quit trying to find “just the right words” to make him “see the light” That was NOT an easy thing for me to do. I stayed in DENIAL of what he was like the woman with the huge knot on her breast (her delay eventually cost her her life whereas if she had sought treatment sooner or had a mammogram she might have been cured.

    From some research I have read about I do think that those of us who have high anxiety and dissociation have some genetic quirk that makes us more prone to those responses, just as the psychopath is HARD WIRED Ii think to an equal extent so are we, just more apt to deny and try to fix things, or worry over t5hings we can’t change or fix, like storms.

    I live in an area where tornadoes come in the spring and fall. The ODDS of one hitting my house are pretty low though, BUT it made sense to me to install a storm shelter that would protect me if there was danger of such a storm in my area. A few years back one ran down a road about a mile north of me and wiped out 30 houses completely, so it is certainly not out of the question that one COULD hit me, so it made sense to me to get a shelter and quit worrying when the weather is reporting storms.

    Anxiety over a danger is not always a bad thing, sometimes it can make us take ACTION to quell a possible threat.

    My friend whose barn burned is still STRESSED out about it, but she is seeking treatment from a trauma therapist, though she IS a therapist. She is also rebuilding her barn with more of a FIRE protection and security system. Just like a security system for your home that dials the fire department if a smoke detector goes off even if you are not home or are asleep and don’t wake up. So though she is still in shock about the fire that killed some of her horses, she is also ACCEPTING that it is real, ACCEPTING the fact that she has had a severe STRESS response and seeking treatment for that. So all that is a GOOD thing, and just like my storm shelter diminishes my anxiety about storms, her anxiety about future fires will be less because she is getting a warning security system installed.

    Big traumas may cause us stress, and maybe we are genetically more prone to the anxiety and stress response but that doesn’t mean that we can’t ACCEPT what is REAL and what are potentially real threats to our health and welfare and take action. Sure we are human, but we don’t have to be anxiety ridden forever, and we can seek treatment for what ails us.

    I’m sure if a storm hit my place and wiped out my house while I huddled in the shelter, I would be traumatized like my friend is over her barn burning, but at least I would be alive because my anxiety about storms made me have the shelter built. And I might need to go back to therapy again after that storm, but I know that whatever happens, I can work through it to acceptance. I HAVE TO in order to live a healthy and terror free life.

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