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Trauma, Fixation and Reactivity


GiaK
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I'm finding that most of the most troubling stuff that is left for me at this point has much in common with those labeled with Complex PTSD and so I find much help among those who really understand the nervous system of those with Complex PTSD. I don't think we all end up with this but some of us certainly do...and at almost 2 1/2 years out this is the direction my own care is taking me. I also continue to tweak my diet which is clearly a big part of the picture too.

 

In any case I "met" this guy via the wondrous inter-tubes and he agreed to share this brief essay. I hope others find it as helpful as I did.

 

The orginal link is here: http://beyondmeds.com/2012/05/29/traumareactivity/

 

Trauma, Fixation and Reactivity – by Jeff Burkhart

 

Lately I’ve become more aware of how virtually all of my reactivity has an element of traumatic response in it. One definition of trauma is that the nervous system loses its capacity to regulate itself – we’re caught activated and we stay activated. On a smaller scale I see this whenever I am activated. Worry, fear, anxiousness, even just being caught up in stream of thoughts, they all entail a fixation – repetition of thoughts, being stuck in the same vein, awareness narrowing to only include the thoughts and body’s negative reactions to the thoughts.

 

So bringing in some Somatic Experience practices to work with it has been helpful -

 

1) Recognizing that the reactivity is taking place

 

2) Feeling where the reactivity lands in the body – tension in the throat, racing thoughts, pressure in the head center, etc.

 

3) Then checking in with my hands to see if they are activated. Typically the hands and feet aren’t caught up in the reactivity. So tapping my fingers together, rubbing the fingers together, rubbing the palms together, feeling the hands starts to open up the nervous system. Checking in to see if the hands feel safe. Recognizing that sense of safety in the hands.

 

4) And then expanding on that – rotating the hands, stretching them, flexing the wrists, then the forearms. Gradually including more and more of the arms, working up to include the shoulders. And then doing the same with the feet and the legs. Opening that up to include the hips.

 

5) Now recognizing that the arms and legs aren’t caught up, go back to also include where the reactivity is being held in the body. Holding both the sense of safety and the reactivity in awareness, feeling the boundary between them, holding that gently in awareness, touching on one and then to other, breathing into both – this allows the nervous system to resource itself, titrate the reactivity and broaden our awareness.

 

6) With that capacity there is now more room to explore the reactivity. Typically we tend to fixate on the largest reaction – the fear, worry, anger, etc. So recognizing that, allow it to be in an open way, but also being curious about what it is comprised of, what is behind it. Fear can be admired for its strength and clarity. Typically when we are angry it’s because we have been hurt. And the hurt generally has its source in the past. And it usually has more depth to it – the hurt could be over a loss, and there can be sadness with that, helplessness, etc. Being open to all the pieces. It’s as if there was a pane of glass and someone took a hammer to it. Typically we fixate on the largest piece (say the anger). But in the openness we recognize and include all the pieces as they come into awareness.

 

7) And as we deepen, compassion may naturally arise. Holding all these pieces in gentle awareness can melt those pieces back into wholeness.

 

And while using the word trauma tends to denotes a large reaction, I have found these same principles to hold with something as mild as being lost in thoughts. This bringing awareness to sensory experience provides an anchor with which we can have a deeper basis for exploring our experience.

 

Addendum (in response to the question: “What if the hands *are* involved?):You can also start with the feet, or any part of the body that isn’t caught up. And it may be a question of just noticing the difference in the degree that they are activated. The activation may feel really strong in some areas and less so in others. So noticing that difference. Anything that gets you into sensing mode is opening up the capacity of the nervous system. So finding different means of hanging out with that, exploring that. And worst case, if the feelings aren’t accessible you can start with just movement – moving the fingers, moving the elbows up and down. Moving the knees apart and close together is very powerful. Walking at a pace that is in tune with your reactivity and then slowing that down naturally can also be very helpful.

 

Original link: http://beyondmeds.com/2012/05/29/traumareactivity/

 

More posts that consider somatic experience as it pertains to trauma:

 

The body releases trauma and restores goodness

The healing journey revealed (trauma and transformation)

Trauma is often held in the body and experienced as chronic pain

Trauma release exercises (or tension release too) — the body speaks

 

Peter Levine’s work (created Somatic Experience Therapy):

 

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body

Freedom from Pain: Discover Your Body’s Power to Overcome Physical Pain

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds 

https://beyondmeds.com/

withdrawn from a cocktail of 6 psychiatric drugs that included every class of psych drug.
 

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Gia, were you a fly on the wall in my house last nite? ;)

Interested to learn your take on this issue:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2333-psychometric-testing-to-determine-pain-treatment/#entry23097

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Gia, were you a fly on the wall in my house last nite? ;)

Interested to learn your take on this issue:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2333-psychometric-testing-to-determine-pain-treatment/#entry23097

 

I tend to go from apathy/defeat to obsession of a pitbull in 60 seconds or less when I see I might be of use/able to help. It's a tiring cycle and- I think - a result of having no defined purpose for so long.

I admire how you've turned your situation into helping so many others, Gia. Your work touches me so often.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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I came onto the site this morning because after this last drop I have returned to fixation, anger. etc. and here is this post explaing it.

 

Lately I’ve become more aware of how virtually all of my reactivity has an element of traumatic response in it. One definition of trauma is that the nervous system loses its capacity to regulate itself – we’re caught activated and we stay activated. On a smaller scale I see this whenever I am activated. Worry, fear, anxiousness, even just being caught up in stream of thoughts, they all entail a fixation – repetition of thoughts, being stuck in the same vein, awareness narrowing to only include the thoughts and body’s negative reactions to the thoughts.

 

Thank you Gia.

 

I have bcome 'activated' and drive myself crazy obsessing with the same thoughts over and over again, mornings are when it starts and goes on for hours.

 

God, this is such work trying to be normal. I struggle to have normal thoughts, normal reactions, just NORMAL.

 

Does anyone else here struggle with trying to be normal? Stopping anxiety, changing thoughts, overly emtionally, impatience, there is a feeling/thought I wake with every morning. I don't feel normal. I am anxious, worried, scared and obsess/fixate on it every day.

 

I had a good spell for about 2 weeks, it has ended. Honestly, I can't stand living like this. It's all in betwee my ears.

 

I am trying to rebuild my life. The Celexa has not helped me cope. It works against my thoughts.

 

Disgusted. Will practice the tips in that article..

Intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1902-nikki-hi-my-rundown-with-ads/

 

Paxil 1997-2004

Crossed over to Lexapro Paxil not available

at Pharmacies GSK halted deliveries

Lexapro 40mgs

Lexapro taper (2years)

Imipramine

Imipramine and Celexa

Now Nefazadone/Imipramine 50mgs. each

45mgs. Serzone  50mgs. Imipramine

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Nikki,

I have all those struggles, yes.

 

though I've found trying to force change isn't the way to go...the best I can do is watch the unpleasant thoughts, feelings etc. Trying to banish them tends to have the opposite effect and magnifies suffering.

 

it's one of those paradoxical truths and I think those of us with chronic illness...doesn't matter what caused it, come up against this truth a lot.

 

you're not alone...I can offer that and the fact that I do have faith that there is a way through...I'm still finding my way as well.

 

I do find body awareness as in the post that was shared very very helpful.

 

for me yoga and mindful walking...as well as mindful anything I do with my body...dishes, gardening, etc...helps me...getting into my body and appreciating what it CAN do...even while it cannot do many things...

 

anyway...that's me...

 

best to you.

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds 

https://beyondmeds.com/

withdrawn from a cocktail of 6 psychiatric drugs that included every class of psych drug.
 

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I was just reading on your site the article by John Breeding about Withdrawal and Emotional Healing.

 

It was great. I am always looking to find something to help myself because of how I feel which is stuck.

Being stuck was pointed out in that article.

 

I will need to read it again and take the Guidelines he recommended and do some work on it. I would love to be able to do that here with friends. We are all looking for the same thing. Maybe if it is okay with Alto we could post the guidelines and stat a thread where we can collectively practice them in a group setting in the finding meaning section.

 

Thanks Gia.

Intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1902-nikki-hi-my-rundown-with-ads/

 

Paxil 1997-2004

Crossed over to Lexapro Paxil not available

at Pharmacies GSK halted deliveries

Lexapro 40mgs

Lexapro taper (2years)

Imipramine

Imipramine and Celexa

Now Nefazadone/Imipramine 50mgs. each

45mgs. Serzone  50mgs. Imipramine

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Share on other sites

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Lovely, thank you.

 

I'm working through a particular traumatic horrific event from childhood these days (apparently) and the resources on your blog are great.

 

It's a bit bumpy going. I think it might be partly brought on by getting rid of that damned Neurontin -- memory stuff opening up. It's good, overall, of course, it's a deep and critical hurt I need to heal to have the life I want (or some semblance of it). Just, you know, sucks. So help is great.

 

(I also always appreciate prayers and good thoughts in case that's something anyone likes to do.)

 

Thanks as always for your good work Gianna.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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Nikki,

I decided a long time ago that "normal" is overrated and not something I strive for. And the big question.... who defines "normal"?? I do know what you mean, though, about feeling at peace/not churned up/purposeful, etc. The purposeful part is something I've struggled with for many years and it's magnified now.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Gianna, thankyou for posting about this on Beyond Meds, it has helped me a lot in the past week.

 

When I feel myself getting too stuck in rumination, I get in touch with my hands and feet, and it really helps.

 

 

 

I tend to go from apathy/defeat to obsession of a pitbull in 60 seconds or less when I see I might be of use/able to help. It's a tiring cycle and- I think - a result of having no defined purpose for so long.

 

Snap! I'm like this too. You described it well haha.

Off Lexapro since 3rd November 2011.

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