The Return From Body Exile After Narcissistic Abuse
Trauma is so profoundly distressing, it exiles you from your body. It forces you to dissociate into your imagination, get lost in compulsive thought, work compulsively, or focus all your energy on another person as a way of distraction through co-dependence.
The only way past trauma is through it. Using the principle of pendulation, you can take the fight to the source. Through movement, touch and vibration, you can awaken the body and, above all, bring it back into the light of your consciousness. Bodywork is a tremendous way of releasing old emotions and learning to manage higher energy states with skill.
Some practices you can try for re-integrating the body are:
In each of the above activities, maintaining awareness of sensations during and after is crucial. You want to feel your body, and be conscious of that feeling. Just be careful of overdoing it, since going too far can induce discomfort or even panic attacks. Easy does it.
Ptsd Symptoms: Difficult But Totally Normal
Maybe you experience nightmares or flashbacks. The anxiety they bring can show up without warning, like the worst kind of surprise houseguest. And you might find yourself sucked into quicksand-like swamps of anger or guilt.
The good news: All of those symptoms are normal. You might be thinking, Thats supposed to be good news? But understanding where your symptoms are coming from is the first step toward healing. And you can heal and recover from PTSD it will just take some time, says psychiatrist Molly Wimbiscus, MD.
Dont Be Too Hard On Yourself
One more thing you should definitely do if you have PTSD: Be kind to yourself. That advice probably makes you roll your eyes but sometimes, cheesy advice rings true. PTSD can cause feelings of guilt, shame and anger. When youre feeling down, it can help to remember that its not you. Its the disorder.
PTSD changes the structure of your brain, Dr. Wimbiscus points out. Think about that: Your brain is physically different than it used to be. PTSD is not caused by weakness, and you cant just make yourself get over it.
So what should you do when youre feeling hopeless? Remember that hopelessness, too, can be a symptom of the disorder.
And try to follow Dr. Wimbiscus advice: Focus on getting through your daily tasks, and know that it gets better. Allow time to do its work. It may be a struggle right now, but time is one of our greatest healers. There is hope.
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Managing Emotional Flashbacks: A Handout For Clients
Say to yourself: “I am having a flashback.”Remind yourself: “I feel afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the present.”Own your right/need to have boundaries.Speak reassuringly to your Inner ChildRemind yourself that you are in an adult bodyEase back into your body.
- Gently ask your body to relax. Feel each of your major muscle groups and softly encourage them to relax.
- Breathe deeply and slowly.
- Slow down. Rushing presses the psyche’s panic button.
- Find a safe place to unwind and soothe yourself: wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a stuffed animal, lie down in a closet or a bath, take a nap.
- Feel the fear in your body without reacting to it. Fear is just an energy in your body that cannot hurt you if you do not run from it or react self-destructively to it.
Resist the Inner Critic’s catastrophizing
Use thought-stopping to halt its exaggeration of danger and need to control the uncontrollable. Refuse to shame, hate or abandon yourself. Channel the anger of self-attack into saying no to unfair self-criticism. Use thought-substitution to replace negative thinking with a memorized list of your qualities and accomplishments.
Allow yourself to grieve.Cultivate safe relationships and seek supportLearn to identify the types of triggers that lead to flashbacks.Figure out what you are flashing back toBe patient with a slow recovery process.
Ptsd In Children And Teenagers
Older children and teenagers experience similar problems to adults when they develop PTSD. Younger children can express distress in a different way. For example, they may re-live the traumatic event through repetitive play rather than having unwanted memories of the event during the day. Many children have frightening dreams without recognisable content rather than that replay the traumatic event. Children may also lose interest in play, become socially withdrawn, or have extreme temper tantrums.
About one third of children who experience a traumatic event will develop PTSD.
Other problems that can develop alongside PTSD include or , defiant behaviour, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and in teenagers and young adults, suicidal thoughts and alcohol or drug use.
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Tip : Take Care Of Yourself
Letting your family members PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout and may even lead to secondary traumatization. You can develop your own trauma symptoms from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to disturbing symptoms like flashbacks. The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk is that youll become traumatized.
In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul and lower your risk for secondary traumatization, you have to nurture and care for yourself.
Take care of your physical needs: get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat properly, and look after any medical issues.
Cultivate your own support system. Lean on other family members, trusted friends, your own therapist or support group, or your faith community. Talking about your feelings and what youre going through can be very cathartic.
Make time for your own life. Dont give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. Its important to have things in your life that you look forward to.
Set boundaries. Be realistic about what youre capable of giving. Know your limits, communicate them to your family member and others involved, and stick to them.
Support for people taking care of veterans
If the person youre caring for is a military veteran, read PTSD in Military Veterans. To find financial and caregiving support:
Get more help
Support and resources in Australia.
Grounding To Offset A Ptsd Episode
Although they come on quickly, a person will usually have a little bit of warning prior to the flashback or dissociation. They may feel they are losing their connection to reality or things may start to look blurry. One method for not completely losing touch with reality is through a technique known as grounding, which is similar to mindfulness.
Just as it sounds, grounding can help a person stay present so that they recognize their oncoming PTSD symptoms for what they are. This technique involves strategies such as these:
- Engaging each of the senses by identifying things in the immediate environment they can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear
- Moving aroundwhether by walking, running, or jumpingto help disrupt the bodys stress response
- Breathing deeply and slowly to help calm themselves
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A More Complex Look At Complex Ptsd
?The traumatic stress field has adopted the term Complex Trauma to describe the experience of multiple and/or chronic and prolonged, developmentally adverse traumatic events, most often of an interpersonal nature and early-life onset. These exposures often occur within the childs caregiving system and include physical, emotional, and educational neglect and child maltreatment beginning in early childhood.?
What Are The Different Types Of Triggers
Anything that reminds you of what happened right before or during a trauma is a potential trigger. Theyre usually tied to your senses. You may see, feel, smell, touch, or taste something that brings on your symptoms. While triggers themselves are usually harmless, they cause your body to react as if youre in danger.
A number of things can trigger your PTSD. Some of the most common include:
People: Seeing a person related to the trauma may set off a PTSD reaction. Or someone may have a physical trait thats a reminder. For example, if someone with a beard mugged you, other bearded men may bring back memories.
Thoughts and emotions: The way you felt during a traumatic event could cause symptoms.
Things: Seeing an object that reminds you of the trauma can cue your PTSD symptoms.
Scents: Smells are strongly tied to memories. For instance, someone who survived a fire might become upset from the smoky smell of a barbecue.
Places: Returning to the scene of a trauma is often a trigger. Or a type of place, like a dark hallway, may be enough to bring on a reaction.
TV shows, news reports, and movies: Seeing a similar trauma often sets off symptoms. This includes scenes from a television show or movie, or a news report.
Feelings: Some sensations, such as , are triggers. For survivors of assault, a touch on a certain body part may lead to a flashback.
Tastes: The taste of something, like , may remind you of a traumatic event.
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Genetics May Play A Role
Another possibility is that there is some kind of genetic factor involved in the development of both PTSD and depression. Family history is known to be a major risk factor for the development of depression. Research has also suggested that there may be a genetic predisposition for PTSD. So it makes sense that genetics may also play a role in the co-occurrence of the two conditions.
Activating The Warrior: Standing Your Ground Against C
Narcissistic abuse remains lodged in a persons body and soul as trauma. At the time of the abuse, the target of narcissism did not have the ability to process it because their mental capacity and willpower were compromised. The source of the abuse is now gone. This shame-and-fear-based energy finally has a chance to bubble to the surface. It wants your Higher Self to recognise it, to legitimise its right to exist, and finally, to provide it space where it can be expressed. This means being present with it, and allowing it to roam and play itself out in Your presence. Your is in capital letters here because it represents not your mind or your ego, but the you which lies beyond and above your mind.
However, standing in front of the dragon is not always a wise strategy. You could get burnt to a crisp. Rather, you need agility and guile if you are to succeed in this fight. You need to pendulate in and out of the hot zone.
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How To Deal With Ptsd Flashbacks
Flashbacks can feel terrifying and disorienting. When you can, use coping skills to manage your distress during or after a flashback. The following self-care tips may help:
Remind yourself that you are having a flashback and that the traumatic event isnt actually happening right now no matter how awful it might feel.
Practice mindfulness, such as by taking deep, slow breaths, to alleviate the panic or anxiety you may be feeling. You can also touch or smell an item that has a calming or strong scent, such as a piece of scented fabric.
Apply grounding techniques to help you step out of the past and into the here and now. For example, look around you and take in what you see. Play music or tune into the sounds around you. Concentrate on your to-do list for the day.
After the flashback, make a note of what happened during the episode and what might have triggered it. This may give you a better understanding of your flashbacks.
Are Flashbacks A Symptom Of Ptsd
Flashbacks are common among people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder . Its one of the criteria listed in the DSM your mental health provider will use to make a diagnosis. Not everyone with PTSD experiences flashbacks, however. Other intrusive symptoms can include unexpected memories of your trauma and difficult dreams or nightmares.
Other diagnoses that may have flashbacks as a symptom include:
- Acute stress disorder
While flashbacks are most strongly associated with PTSD and trauma-related conditions, some researchers have looked at cases where people with other mental health diagnoses experienced flashbacks. One such case study focused on flashbacks in social anxiety disorder, but this research isnt conclusive.
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When To Seek Help For Ptsd
A person who has experienced a traumatic event should seek professional help if they:
- dont feel any better after two weeks
- feel highly anxious or distressed
- have reactions to the traumatic event that are interfering with home, work and/or relationships
- are thinking of harming themselves or someone else.
Some of the signs that a problem may be developing are:
- being constantly on edge or irritable
- having difficulty performing tasks at home or at work
- being unable to respond emotionally to others
- being unusually busy to avoid issues
- using alcohol, drugs or gambling to cope
- having severe sleeping difficulties.
What Do Flashbacks Feel Like
Flashbacks feel different for different people. They can happen at anytime, even when we’re feeling happy.
They can be very scary and distressing as you re-experience your trauma and it can feel like it’s really happening. You may see what happened as single images or like a film, hear sounds or words, or feel as though you’re being touched. You might be able to smell or taste something linked to your trauma and your body might react the same way by your heart beating fast or sweating.
Flashbacks can make you feel vulnerable, anxious and scared. They can leave you feeling isolated and not wanting to talk to anyone. You might experience intense feelings of anger, shame or numbness.
Why Does It Happen
To understand the long-term impact of PTSD on the body, we have to recall what happens when an episode or flashback strikes.
As the limbic system kicks into high gear, your body experiences the fight, flight, or freeze response. A surge of stress hormones, like cortisol, rush through your body to prepare you for danger, whether real or imagined. If this occurs often enough, it creates a consistent state of hypervigilance.
Over the long term, this state leads to lasting changes in the brain, particularly in the amygdala, which deals with emotional regulation, and in the hippocampus, which is related to learning, processing, concentration, and memory.
Even with PTSD treatment, the effects of inflammation and
However, its unknown whether these medications will have any impact on residual symptoms of PTSD, as more research is needed.
Each person is unique, so each treatment plan will be tailored specifically for that individual. What works for one person might not work for another.
When you feel up to it, explain to your loved ones what youre experiencing. You can also try to incorporate as many healthy habits into your everyday routine as possible, including:
- eating a healthy diet of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods
- spending time in nature preferably one hour a day
- exercising or getting some type of movement
- developing a meditation practice
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Ptsd
People with PTSD have symptoms of , , and that include many of the following:
Intrusive thoughts or memories of the event
- unwanted memories of the event that keep coming back
- upsetting dreams or
- acting or feeling as though the event is happening again
- heartache and fear when reminded of the event
- feeling jumpy, startled, or nervous when something triggers memories of the event
- children may reenact what happened in their play or drawings
Avoidance of any reminders of the event
- avoiding thinking about or talking about the trauma
- avoiding activities, places, or people that are reminders of the event
- being unable to remember important parts of what happened
Negative thinking or mood since the event happened
- lasting worries and beliefs about people and the world being unsafe
- blaming oneself for the traumatic event
- lack of interest in participating in regular activities
- feelings of anger, shame, fear, or guilt about what happened
- feeling detached or estranged from people
- not able to have positive emotions
Lasting feelings of anxiety or physical reactions
- trouble falling or staying asleep
- feeling cranky, grouchy, or angry
- problems paying attention or focusing
- always being on the lookout for danger or warning signs
- easily startled
Signs of PTSD in teens are similar to those in adults. But PTSD in children can look a little different. Younger kids can show more fearful and regressive behaviors. They may reenact the trauma through play.
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Emotional Flashbacks And The Brain
Chronic exposure to abuse in childhood often leads to the development of complex post-traumatic stress disorder leaving the victims, now adults, reliving the abuse over again later in life in the form of emotional flashbacks.
The original traumatic events harmed the brains ability to calm down from a potential or perceived danger recognized by an overactive amygdala.
To better understand this reaction, one must first comprehend two parts of the automatic nervous system , the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
I found a wonderful description of these vital brain regions in an article written by Doctor Arielle Schwartz from 2016 titled The Neurobiology of Trauma1, it states:
The autonomic nervous system plays a significant role in our emotional and physiological responses to stress and trauma.
The ANS to have two primary systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is associated with the fight or flight response and the release of cortisol throughout the bloodstream.
The parasympathetic nervous system puts the brakes on the sympathetic nervous system, so the body stops releasing stress chemicals and shifts toward relaxation, digestion, and regeneration.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are meant to work in a rhythmic alternation that supports healthy digestion, sleep, and immune system functioning.