Grappling with PTSD

OP
Flea

Flea

Beating you all over those fries!
MT Mentor
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
2,005
Reaction score
96
Thanks so much for the responses! It looks like it's time to keep this conversation going after all. :ultracool

Absolutely true in my opinion. People can become identified with their victim hood or their illnesses. If they start to get their identity from their issue, if they get attention sympathy and other benefits they can lose the desire to regain the normalcy and balance that a healthy life requires. It can also become an easy excuse to fail at an attempt (losing the chance to learn from failure) or worse an excuse to not even attempt and can also justify laziness and self-pity.
Brian, this is a major major thing for me. I definitely over-identify with my "issues." Of course, some issues are more equal than others and the trick is finding the balance between self-care and self-pity. I don't claim to know the answer to this very subjective question. My personal dividing line is the moment when (in class, for example) I realize that my anxiety or depression level has reached a point where it is threatening to snowball on its own if I don't take a breather and collect myself. I know precisely where that internal point is, and I've learned the hard way precisely how far I can afford to push it. I guess this also speaks to your comments on sensitization too. I'm very good at reading my internal climate and responding to it. This is usually a healthy thing, although I do occasionally go a bit far in favor of caution. I do my best to challenge myself (especially in class,) but the consequences simply aren't worth it when I go too far. I've grown a lot over the past few years and pushed my threshold way beyond what I ever expected. :cool: Naturally, I speak only for myself on this.

They have not been able to fix their issues even if better able to cope with them and since they are broken and it seems natural then everyone else must also be broken.
In other words, humans universally create or view the world in our own image. I've seen it more times than I can count. People who are angry and lonely chase potential friends away so as to "control" the rejection, making it less scary as it inevitably happens. People who enjoy life draw others in to that. For that matter I see it with dogs too - if the human is an unhappy person, they'll create an unhappy dog whose alpha projects that ... and often takes it out on the dog. So it's only natural that a broken healer would conform a patient/client to their personal model of "health," if it's what they know. That's why I reject therapy myself.

Shesulsa, You're so right about the baby steps. I've been making a point of tuning in to my intuition more lately and finding out that I'm smarter than I give myself credit for. It's a great feeling. I fly by my intuition a lot, so I consider it to be the foundation of my healing in many ways. (Another nod to Brian's sensitization.) The other day I found out that I had dodged an impressive bullet a couple years before by rejecting the advances of someone Not Quite Right ... turns out he was a bit of a sociopath. So I'm learning. I really am. The progress is very gratifying. I'm gravitating back towards the "recovery" mentality of healing being a full time job; I've gotten a lot of messages lately from the Universe that it's time I went back to work in earnest. Between my spirituality, my support group at the shelter, and Systema I'm feeling prepared to clock in.

Thanks again to everyone for listening. It's made a huge difference for me.
 
OP
Flea

Flea

Beating you all over those fries!
MT Mentor
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
2,005
Reaction score
96
For what it's worth, I had an interesting revelation on the way home from class tonight. We worked on beating each other with sticks, and stretching each other, walking on each other's backs, and ... what would you call it? ... deep pressure in the gut. I'm sure all these exercises have catchy names in Russian. :)

At any rate, I realized on the way home that what I got out of it was a deep sense of nurturing. Touch is a deep and universal human need, and I simply don't get it. I live alone, I telecommute for a job that's 4 states away, and I have no mate. So the only physical contact I get is from my adoring pets. I don't take them for granted, but it's just not the same. So even though it left bruises, I got touched tonight. Never mind the context, it felt great.

If that isn't divine irony, I don't know what is ... as I work overtime to reconcile memories of abuse, I would get such a sense of nurturing and fulfillment from having someone pound me with a stick. Probably a good thing I didn't think to mention it in class ... :barf:

Wow Flea. I don't think I would've had the courage to openly going through PTSD, but you have my utmost respect and kudos.
Ronin74, it's not such a big deal. I'll say just about anything in the anonymity of an online forum. It's a relatively safe space because there's no one there physically to react with body language or the like. What takes real guts is being this forthcoming in Meatspace - something I wouldn't do. In fact, if any of my Meatspace friends came across this thread and recognized my voice, I'd be mortified. That's why I won't give my location - it would be all to easy for someone to track me down as the only woman in the only Systema class for a radius of a few hundred miles. I'm not worried about someone kicking my ****, I'm worried about them putting a face to my neuroses. Now what takes real guts is facing down one's personal demons, and we're both true warriors there.
 

Ronin74

Brown Belt
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
434
Reaction score
13
Ronin74, it's not such a big deal. I'll say just about anything in the anonymity of an online forum. It's a relatively safe space because there's no one there physically to react with body language or the like. What takes real guts is being this forthcoming in Meatspace - something I wouldn't do. In fact, if any of my Meatspace friends came across this thread and recognized my voice, I'd be mortified. That's why I won't give my location - it would be all to easy for someone to track me down as the only woman in the only Systema class for a radius of a few hundred miles. I'm not worried about someone kicking my ****, I'm worried about them putting a face to my neuroses. Now what takes real guts is facing down one's personal demons, and we're both true warriors there.
True, the anonymity of cyberspace does serve as a nice buffer, but even I wasn't ready to open up about it online, just because I know one of my former training partners was a member on this forum, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few others are.

As far as facing our own personal demons, I don't think I could've put it any better. I can't say enough about how much martial arts training helps.

That you are making progress is great news and puts you leaps and bounds ahead of many others who are struggling with the issues without even noticing or acknowledging that they even have the issues. So many deal with lifes daily tensions and stressors by self medicating with alcohol nicotine caffeine and or narcotics. They often cannot even feel the accumulative effects of tension and stress until they erupt in self destructive outbursts often at the slightest little thing (straw that broke the camels back). It is even more difficult for those that are facing unresolved trauma in their past again often not even knowing it. It is great Ronin 74 that you are getting professional help and making progress, the downward spiral has to be terrifying for both you and your loved ones. Please feel free contacting me if you feel the need although not a professional shrink I do believe as E.E. Smith wrote pain shared is pain divided and Joy shared is joy multiplied

Ronin 74 I do not know if your counseling and/or your martial arts training and background included the exploration of different breathing skills or not. Breathing IS a bridge between your somatic and autonomic nervous systems allowing you to help control stress, heart rate etc and is a great tool in learning to deal with trauma (physical mental and spiritual traumas) I highly recommend the book and/or the DVD Let Every Breath by Vladimir Vasiliev and Scott Meredith. It is not difficult but has changed for the positive many many peoples lives.

Thanks Brian. Surprisingly, you painted a fairly accurate picture of what it's been like. It has taken a toll on my family as well as myself, and that "straw that broke the camel's back" has brought some grief to my family. It's not to say that things won't improve, but I can say that relationships between myself and my family won't be healing anytime soon. I think one of the hardest things in all of this is realizing that- at least for now- I need to let go of them and work on healing myself first.

As far as breathing is concerned, I'm probably going to look that book or DVD up. I try to focus on my breathing when I'm at the pool, but that might give mt some good tips as well.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,358
Reaction score
4,653
Location
England
Ronin and Flea don't either of you feel you have to stop posting unless you want to! :)
Brian, your advice is brilliant. Even without PTSD we all have our times when we need help and I for one will be taking some of your advice away with me. thank you.
 

Ronin74

Brown Belt
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
434
Reaction score
13
Thanks to Tez3 and to all prior posters showing their support. I'm with Flea in that neither of us want to feel like we're droning on about ourselves, so it means a lot to know that other forum members are offering encouragment and support.

Something I'd like to share- and maybe you might agree on this one Flea, though I don't mean to speak on your behalf- is that having gone through our own individual traumas does take the wind out of your sails. As the years progressed for me, I found myself becoming more and more paralyzed by fear, to the point that I stopped training for some time. However, getting help, as well as joining the MT forum has allowed me to make progress, in part to the support I get from both my counselor as well as the members here.

Something I've been finding inspiring is how in many ways, this mirrors some of the more positive aspects of the martial arts. Much like our different styles, our opinions differ from one another, and given the topic at hand, can result in a clear, but still civil disputes that we can still learn and grow from. However, when a fellow martial artist is down, we reach out and try to offer some help, regardless of style or background.

That is one of the things in martial arts that I've always admired, and one of the things I'm glad to see here on the MT forums.
 
OP
Flea

Flea

Beating you all over those fries!
MT Mentor
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
2,005
Reaction score
96
Much like our different styles, our opinions differ from one another, and given the topic at hand, can result in a clear, but still civil disputes that we can still learn and grow from. However, when a fellow martial artist is down, we reach out and try to offer some help, regardless of style or background.

Ronin74, that reminds me of a phrase used sometimes in my religious path; "in perfect love and perfect trust." It's an unrealistic standard to be sure, but it encapsulates what a community can be if it strives for that level of civility and mutual care. If only we could find that in our day-to-day ... like the Golden Rule, the phrase is a tool for mindfulness as we strive toward the goal.
 

Ronin74

Brown Belt
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
434
Reaction score
13
Ronin74, that reminds me of a phrase used sometimes in my religious path; "in perfect love and perfect trust." It's an unrealistic standard to be sure, but it encapsulates what a community can be if it strives for that level of civility and mutual care. If only we could find that in our day-to-day ... like the Golden Rule, the phrase is a tool for mindfulness as we strive toward the goal.
It's definitely a goal that takes a lot of work, and once accomplished, is even harder to maintain. However, the outcomes are almost always beneficial for all.

I think a major key is to remember what brings us together, rather than what keeps us apart. Using MT as an example, distance, anonymity, differences in styles and opinions, experience and background are just a few of the things that keep us seperated. However, I think it would be next to impossible to find a forum member who's interest in martial arts is just a "passing interest", and it's that love for the arts alone that brings everyone to the table for healthy discussion.
 
OP
Flea

Flea

Beating you all over those fries!
MT Mentor
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
2,005
Reaction score
96
For what it's worth ...

I spoke with a non-specialist the other day and she theorized that PTSD is a management condition, like diabetes. There is no cure, it may go into remission from time to time, but it always needs monitoring.

Is this true? Does anyone know? I'd hate to think it is, but it resonates with my own experience.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,358
Reaction score
4,653
Location
England
For what it's worth ...

I spoke with a non-specialist the other day and she theorized that PTSD is a management condition, like diabetes. There is no cure, it may go into remission from time to time, but it always needs monitoring.

Is this true? Does anyone know? I'd hate to think it is, but it resonates with my own experience.

I don't know but I know several people who'll give me their opinion on what the current military medical thinking is here if that helps.
 

shesulsa

Columbia Martial Arts Academy
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
May 27, 2004
Messages
27,182
Reaction score
480
Location
Not BC, Not DC
For what it's worth ...

I spoke with a non-specialist the other day and she theorized that PTSD is a management condition, like diabetes. There is no cure, it may go into remission from time to time, but it always needs monitoring.

Is this true? Does anyone know? I'd hate to think it is, but it resonates with my own experience.

That resonates with my own experience as well and everyone else I have known with PTSD. I'm pretty fortunate - my teacher has worked with me for twelve years and though I still startle at loud noises, it's only half the time it used to be. Truthfully, I've never had flashbacks, though I can remember the events that traumatized me as though they happened this morning - I remember smells, colors, clothing, hair styles, background details, the length of my fingernails, etcetera. I can see it as though it were a picture and video through my own eyes.

Keep on keepin' on, Flea. Baby steps and lots of support.

Listen ... don't be too proud to get some very real professional help if you have to. Don't hesitate - you're more than worth it, okay?
 

Ronin74

Brown Belt
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
434
Reaction score
13
For what it's worth ...

I spoke with a non-specialist the other day and she theorized that PTSD is a management condition, like diabetes. There is no cure, it may go into remission from time to time, but it always needs monitoring.

Is this true? Does anyone know? I'd hate to think it is, but it resonates with my own experience.
Hey Flea. I had a similar conversation when I first began counseling, and the therapist mentioned something you may find relevant. She said that labeling it- whether by name or by trying to classify it- was something that I shouldn't worry about. What she said was that taking the initiative to work at it was the most important thing. Personally, I don't think it would need "monitoring" in the same sense of having diabetes, but when the bad days come, it important to remember our coping skills.

We might never be "cured" (if there is such a thing for this), but I don't think it negates any chances of us leading full and normal lives. It may take us time, but it's definitely not impossible.
 
OP
Flea

Flea

Beating you all over those fries!
MT Mentor
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
2,005
Reaction score
96
Words of wisdom right there.

Wisdom indeed!

I consider my MA to be my front line of professional help; I've made more progress in five months of that than I've made in 20 years on the couch. My current secondary "help" is attending a domestic violence support group at my city's shelter. It's a weird experience. Everyone else in the group is in the trenches, neck deep in restraining orders, safety plans, and bitter child custody disputes. Some show up with fresh bruises every week. :angry: I've thought about showing them some simple evasive moves, but once when I offered the woman thought I was suggesting that she beat up her kid.

It feels very strange to me to be there since my experience was so many years ago, but everyone has embraced me. Occasionally the therapist holds me up as "Exhibit A" that one really can come through this. (But if that were the case, would I really need that group?) It still amazes me just how naive I was at the time. I'd never heard of a shelter, I'd never even really heard of the concept of domestic violence in the first place. My parents were snubbing me because I was 'living in sin,' and we lived at the end of a looooooooong road in a very scary neighborhood where it wasn't even a good idea for a woman to walk alone in broad daylight. So I really was at his mercy. I digress.

At this point I don't know what else to do but put one foot in front of the other. I'm not having the fun in class that I used to because I'm buried pretty deep in my head. But I keep going because I do still enjoy it, and I know it's good for me on so many levels. And as I've said before, while quitting may be a seductively easy way to smooth dirt back over this mess, it won't change the past. Above all I'm not sure what else to do and I have to do something.

Thanks for reading.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,358
Reaction score
4,653
Location
England
From my RAF psychiatric nurse mate (and MA training partner) yes it can be cured, not instantly of course and it takes a competant therapist to work with you. Takes support (that'll be us lot :)) and work but there's plenty of hope! I think Ronin's right labelling it is maybe not a good idea, we all have bad days, I do, when I really struggle to get out of bed and find any meaning to life but we all have ways to work it out.
For someone to say to you that every bad day is because you have PTSD and it can't be cured, could make you you think that you are worse than you are and you'll feel despondant, sometimes we have bad days and you would anyway. Sometimes life gets us down anyway so we have to accept it and find our particular way of coping, there's been threads on here before on how different people cope with a lousy day. When it is a bad day because of the PTSD you will have your coping stategies for that.
Sometimes having a condition means everything is labeled as being down to that condition, a couple of years ago I went to the doctor because I thought I was going mad, I couldn't remember things, I'd put weight on, was depressed, kept fainting, was exhausted and he put it all down to menopause saying "you have to accept it's your age" gave me anti depressives though they didn't work funnily enough, telling me it has to be put up with. After I ended up in hospital it was found I had quite a severe (probably because it had been left too long) thyroid problem. While I feel better now I'm still trying to get the weight off. That doctor actually got the sack though nothing to do with me, if I see him I may just have to shake him warmly by the throat!

My friend did say that often people aren't considered cured because they aren't 'happy, bouncy' people who walk through life with a big smile on their faces (now thats not normal!) and the truth is that no one is, we all have to accept that life isn't smooth that being down is also normal and shouldn't be confused with being sick or depressed just because one has a condition that may make you down as well. We have to allow for the normal rhythms of life, then you can deal with the things that aren't normal for you.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,358
Reaction score
4,653
Location
England
Flea, you will get get where you want to be, I don't doubt it. If you can keep with the martial arts do,they are good for so many reasons. Training with your head somewhere else happens to everyone at times, you're not the 'odd' one, it's the ebb and flow of life, you're doing fine girl! :)
 

Ronin74

Brown Belt
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
434
Reaction score
13
Some show up with fresh bruises every week. :angry: I've thought about showing them some simple evasive moves, but once when I offered the woman thought I was suggesting that she beat up her kid.
I was once told that when we start getting help, it can be empowering enough to mke us want to share that and help others. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready for it. I once tried to teach self-defense to a good friend of mine, but she initially interpreted it as using violence against violence.

It feels very strange to me to be there since my experience was so many years ago, but everyone has embraced me. Occasionally the therapist holds me up as "Exhibit A" that one really can come through this. (But if that were the case, would I really need that group?) It still amazes me just how naive I was at the time. I'd never heard of a shelter, I'd never even really heard of the concept of domestic violence in the first place. My parents were snubbing me because I was 'living in sin,' and we lived at the end of a looooooooong road in a very scary neighborhood where it wasn't even a good idea for a woman to walk alone in broad daylight. So I really was at his mercy. I digress.
I try to look at getting through trauma as some of the "baby steps" that Shelusa refers to. Even when we've gotten over it, we still need to re-learn how to walk again, and from there begin progressing even further.

At this point I don't know what else to do but put one foot in front of the other. I'm not having the fun in class that I used to because I'm buried pretty deep in my head. But I keep going because I do still enjoy it, and I know it's good for me on so many levels. And as I've said before, while quitting may be a seductively easy way to smooth dirt back over this mess, it won't change the past. Above all I'm not sure what else to do and I have to do something.
The key thing is you're enjoying it. I used to teach martial arts, it felt like a burden sometimes, and when things went bad, I really sort of walked away from martial arts. Then someone once told me to start training again. My mind snapped back to it feeling like a burden to teach, but they told me to do it for myself this time- not so I can be a teacher, or a fighter, or whatever- but to be me. So when I was looking at some of the weapons I put into storage, it brought me back to something I had read where a burnt-out swordsman was confronted by his teacher. While showing him his sword, he told him "don't look at it as your burden, but as your salvation."

Our past traumas make it so hard to do things we used to enjoy. As of this moment, I'm trying to get myself fired up to hit the gym- and I used to be an exercise addict. However, as hard as it may be- and there's nothing wrong with taking time off to recollect- I get myself in there when I can because I know it's part of that "road back" to where I want to be and want to go.

As corny as it sounds, I try to look at martial arts as the perfect mate. Once I met her, I was instantly smitten, and never got tired of her, even during the rough spots. We gave each other our all, and it was mutual. If I gave a passing glance to another, she forgave me, but if my attention went elsewhere, I dealt with the consequences. During these past few years, she never left me, even though my own personal demons put a barrier between us. But now that I'm ready to re-commit, she's still there, waiting with open arms and whatever love I can take in. It won't be easy, but she's still there. Now with a mate like that, who wouldn't go back?

But that's just my two cents.
 
OP
Flea

Flea

Beating you all over those fries!
MT Mentor
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
2,005
Reaction score
96
For what it's worth ... I grappled for almost 20 minutes this morning, really light simple stuff. I did about 15, then had to stop for a while, then went back!!

:headbangin:

So I'm getting there. I knew I could. I just have to pace myself; I think I've done very well.
 

KELLYG

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
717
Reaction score
21
Location
North Carolina
15 minutes grappling. That is awesome knowing how it has affected you in the past. Take the 't out of can't. It is amazing once you have changed your personal perception of what you can do and what you can't do, how quickly things work out. Keep nibbling at it and you will be astounded at what you can do.
 

bluekey88

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
Messages
2,056
Reaction score
89
That's really awesone Flea. Keep up the good work there.

Peace,
Erik
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
540
Location
NH
Fanstastic job Flea! :asian:
 

Latest Discussions

Top