About five years ago my friend Tuck married a woman with PTSD. Prior to the wedding Jane (not her real name) worked on her recovery just enough to stop her nightmares and flashbacks. With those big problems eliminated Jane decided she didn’t want to continue with recovery work even though significant issues still remained. Tuck, wanting to respect Jane’s decision, didn’t press the matter. Instead, he put set up a lifestyle that expected, accepted and supported Jane’s symptoms.

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Back when I was struggling with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I was also struggling with mercury poisoning, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Celiac Disease and suspected liver cancer. Sounds crazy, right?

How your body expresses the level of psychological stress in your mind is a very real and very treatable situation. Keep reading »

It’s a fact: There are some days, weeks, months or even years when you will feel it’s impossible for you to move forward on your quest to feel better from symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We all face those moments. Fear, disappointment, doubt and disorientation all promote the idea that you’re stuck the way you are forever.

Of course, that’s all it is, an “idea” because you can’t know for certain that you’re doomed. Especially when research and science point to the fact that your brain contains the possibility to change until you take your last breath, which means the possibility for you to heal is imminent in every moment. Keep reading »

If Putting Out Negative Energy, Are You Attracting The Right People?

One problem I see often in survivors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) moving through trauma recovery is unhappy self-discovery: They don’t like themselves much.

I remember feeling that way myself. Years after my college graduation, I hadn’t been able to build or sustain a career, income or professional or personal relationships. My ties to my family were terribly strained by both my self-imposed isolation and my raging to keep everyone at arm’s length.

Sleep deprived and anxious, I was convinced I was insane and beyond help. Moving through the private hell of my everyday life, I thought pretty poorly of myself. (Could you blame me?) Keep reading »

Dear Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Caregivers,

Most of the time those of us in the PTSD healing community focus on survivors. Today, I’m focusing on you (survivors, share this with the caregivers in your life!) because supporting you helps you better support your survivor.

I know the PTSD journey is tough for you. It’s hard to live and cope with, endure and anticipate PTSD symptoms, plus support someone who at times behaves in a crazy manner. You and your life can get swallowed up in the process and so it makes total sense that you want recovery to happen as quickly as possible.

The truth is, anyone struggling with symptoms of PTSD wants to heal as quickly as possible, but that’s not always an option.
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After trauma, the number one thing I hear survivors say is, “I just want things to go back to the way they were.” That’s a normal wish and desire. Before trauma, you felt a sense of safety, security, surety and certainty that made you feel like you understood the world and your place in it. Even if your trauma happened so early that you can’t remember life before it, the idea of safety holds true.

Of course, you can’t go back to who you were or could have been before. You can only go forward to discover the new you.
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All too often we’re told (or we tell ourselves) the wrong things in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery. For example, a woman recently wrote to me:

How do you maintain acceptance of PTSD and its symptoms while pursuing healing?

My answer: You don’t have to.

And then a man I met at a survivor event last week asked me:

If you’re constantly pursuing healing aren’t you in a different state of mind than acceptance?

My answer: Yes, and no. Both these questions depend on how you define “acceptance.”

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A few weeks ago I wrote about how to stop PTSD anxiety, flashbacks and panic from the perspective of putting mindfulness and intention into action. My colleague, Megan Ross (Trauma Therapy Coordinator at Timberline Knolls) and I had a whole conversation about this and I wanted to share her insights with you.

But there was a cliffhanger: Once you understand PTSD symptoms and how mindfulness can help change your physiological experience, the question arises, “What do I do now?” Specifically, what can you do to interrupt or stop flashbacks?

Megan Ross and I talked about this too. See what you think about the tips that we covered.

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In the world of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) we’re all in the same space together (as survivors), but so often we feel enormously separate, don’t we? PTSD symptoms and the lifestyle they create open a void between you and everyone else.

New research, however, points out how important it can be to have a social support network to prevent PTSD. Keep reading »

When Dr. Dan Siegel talks about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and integration in trauma recovery, he explains PTSD symptoms as pulling survivors between the two extremes of a riverbank: On one side is rigidity and on the other side, chaos. Keep reading »