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Neuroplasticity and limbic retraining

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Barbarannamated

Rhi,

 

Thank you. I was just diagnosed with Polyendocrine Deficiency Syndrome 2 with Addison's/adrenal exhaustion and this is an excellent explanation at the evolutionary basis. http://www.cfsrecovery.com/html/explainCFS.asp

 

The FFF response is fascinating. It is difficult to describe "Freeze" to someone who has not experienced it. To me, it does not feel like a choice, but an automatic survival mechanism. To others, I know it looks like giving up, not trying, weakness. I wake in the morning with every fibre of my being screaming "RUN! ESCAPE!" but my physical body doesn't have the energy. That sounds crazy as I put it in words, but I hope it makes sense to someone.

 

I look forward to learning more.

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Nadia

Barb, that makes so much sense to me. I am both anxious and exhausted. I was doing so much better, but the past few days I've had a real setback, mostly due to stress and anger (I've always been bad with processing anger.) I woke up today for the first time in a long time with the waves of burning in my veins along with the dread an anxiety (did a pretty good job of "just feeling it" and not panicking).

 

Over time I've realized how similar withdrawal is to things like CFS and fibromyalgia and Lupus and other autoimmune diseases. I guess they all involve destabilization of the nervous system. And somehow you can be stable or feel pretty stable, but then some external stressor will set off a reaction and things go haywire again.

 

Over my vacation, having more time to think, I remembered that when I was in college I had mononucleosis and then had it chronic for a few years. I was tired all the time and would have periods of getting fevers out of the blue. The doctors would tell me that it was not possible to have chronic mono, until a doctor at Columbia U. who was an expert in herpes and mono told me that quite the contrary, they were finding that these viruses could wreak havoc long term in your system. I eventually got better in that I didn't have fevers, but I realize now that I was always tired and didn't have the energy I had prior to mono ever. Then at 24 years old I went on ADs and I think they masked that and made me feel like I had more energy (maybe even compulsive energy often). I still slept a ton, but I was again pretty active. Now, making a meal seems like the biggest chore in the world and I'm constantly amazed at how much stuff other people do. I have zero motivation since I've been off ADs. I sometimes wonder if the mono virus is yet another factor in the complexity of my withdrawal.

 

In any case, this is all to say that I am not surprised that people with withdrawal could find respite with a program designed for CFS. I like that Gupta still maintains that there is a physical basis for the diseases. It's high time we stop making this division between body and mind, and saying "you can't help it" when it's body and "pull yourself together and get over it" when it's mind.

 

I will look at Gupta's free videos and will definitely write him with your referral, Rhi. Based on that I'll see if this is something I should afford. I have limited resources, and my mom is really pushing for me to see a therapist and/or a doctor. She says I'm not making any progress on my own and she's frustrated that I refuse to see more doctors. I try to tell her I don't think there's anything conventional doctors can do for me. Maybe I'd be willing to see a neurologist, but it's likely they'd just want to prescribe drugs. But I need my mom's support and she said I'm just refusing to try to find real help (though I've spent all my income on doctors). Now I'm drifting...

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Nadia

Hmm... I wanted to check up on Gupta's credentials, found these threads of discussion. Have you done the treatment, Rhi?

 

http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/clinical-audit-study-on-gupta-amygdala-retraining.6477/

 

http://www.prohealth.com/fibromyalgia/blog/boardDetail.cfm?id=1316333

 

It led me to this other site with a description of the Lightning Process, and one enthusiast:

 

http://www.prohealth.com/me-cfs/blog/boardDetail.cfm?id=1245031

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/49546191/thetimes-co-uk-ME-article

 

Thoughts?

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Barbarannamated

http://www.cfsrecovery.com/html/explainCFS.asp

Wow... most of that sounds so familiar!

 

My exact reaction, Nadia.

 

Regarding body vs. mind... I agree they should never be separated and must now be reintegrated after years of division by medicine. The campaign to increase awareness and acceptance of "mental illness" has increased the division. I find that when I attempt to explain the physiological basis of my condition, people with "mental illness" have embraced that paradigm and are defensive of it, especially if they have experienced relief with psychopharmacology.

 

I don't want to muck up Rhi's excellent thread.. only saying it is challenging to reconnect what should never have been disconnected.

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Rhiannon

I've just begun his program for MCS. (Which is the same program but with a different focus--it's still very much in development.) I don't get the impression Ashok is doing any shady marketing. He's not really doing much marketing at all, that I can tell. I'm not an idiot, I can usually spot a scammer. His methods are still controversial in some circles, especially MCS, which (due to lots of money being pumped into the media by Monsanto and DuPont) is still largely discredited as a "real" "medical" condition, unlike fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which have finally become accepted as "real".

 

So people with MCS are really, really tired of being told "it's all in your head, you're imagining things, you're hysterical, you're mentally ill" et cetera. So when Gupta and the other person using limbic retraining for MCS (Annie Hopper) came along, there was a lot of backlash from people (including me) who thought we were just hearing that same old refrain. Then recently a woman who had been running one of the main blog and forum sites for people with MCS on the Internet (The Canary Report) took her site down for nine months while she worked the program (and she had been one of the greatest skeptics at first), then took it down permanently when she was fully cured. That got the attention of a lot of us.

 

What motivated HER to try it was the success that some OTHER people had had with this approach. My most troublesome symptoms in the past (from the MCS) have been anxiety attacks and brain fog/dizziness. The anxiety is already improved by using the Gupta techniques and the brain fog is improving--it's not a problem with small exposures any more, but still there with bigger exposures. Now what's bothering me more are the bodily symptoms (burning eyes, nose, difficulty breathing). I've only been working the program for a month and a half or so, and not really in a very dedicated manner due to other time commitments, so I'm pleased with my progress so far.

 

The techniques that Gupta uses are not some mysterious secret. You could easily cobble together the same program using meditation, NLP, and EFT (tapping). On the Planet Thrive website there are stories of people who've done that themselves. Gupta does have a technique called the Accelerator that I personally really love--I've been using it for working on issues arising from childhood abuse, actually, more than on the chemical stuff, because it's so effective and those are at least as disruptive to my life, if not more.

 

And he has guided meditations, and a lot of useful techniques, and watching the DVDs is very encouraging--his attitude is so supportive and happy and caring. The DVDs provide a certain structure and motivation that's helpful to me. So if you can afford them, I'd say it's worth every penny. But if you can't, it's not like he's doing something super mysterious. I really love the way he approaches the science. It's clear to me that the man understands the neuroscience he's talking about.

 

I've tracked down some of the references, and his "layman" explanations are right on. Being me, the science nerd, I find that helpful. And it makes it easier to adapt the methods to my personal needs, since I understand what they're attempting to do and how. Anyway, that's really all I want to say about Gupta. I don't want to make this be a thread about the different products out there.

 

And I should mention Annie Hopper's Dynamic Neural Retraining program, which is specifically developed for MCS and lots of people are getting good results with as well. I just went with Gupta because he "clicked" with me more, but from what everyone says, they're equally valuable and helpful. I'm just intrigued by the possibility that the same limbic imprinting type mechanisms that underlie the development of MCS and CFS and fibromyalgia, which are also the same mechanisms that underlie PTSD, may also be contributing in small or large part to prolonged post-acute recovery symptoms. And hence this approach and these techniques might be a useful addition to a taperer's toolbox. And they could help some people who have been suffering for years. Possibly. I'm just speculating, but it's intriguing, and it makes sense.

Edited by KarenB
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Barbarannamated

Rhi,

 

Yes, it does make sense. Thank you.

 

Can you differentiate between "brain fog" and "brain freeze" (my term)? I've experienced fog on and off throughout the years, mostly drug-induced. I've only recently had complete freeze/gridlock and it's very hard to describe. Just curious if there are terms that may help when describing to doctors/neurologists in future.

 

Also, your mention of burning eyes stopped me cold! Ive had dry eyes for years, but in the last few days, it's been to the point that I have to keep my eyes closed. I assumed it was related to steroids that seem to be kicking in.

 

Perhaps i should take this to a different thread?

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Nadia

Rhi,

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain all of that. I guess I'm skeptical of pouring money into yet something else, and fearful of my own desire for a quick solution (though 6 months isn't that quick, I guess!).

 

It does seem like there are a lot of overlaps between these diseases/malfunctions. They all center around the nervous system, faulty HPA axis activity, etc.

 

I've signed up for the free videos and will make a decision based on those. I can afford the DVDs, but not very easily. I'd have to sacrifice other stuff... that's my biggest hesitation.

 

But I've taken a turn for the worse, and feel like I need to do something besides dig my heels in and reject my situation. I'm getting symptoms I hadn't had in months, or worsening of ones that were very light, like DP and DR and being really bothered by smells and sensations.

 

At the same time, I feel like the best I've been is when I've done absolutely nothing and just been outside of my regular life. Maybe distraction is the best medicine. Getting your mind out of a rut.

 

N.

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Maybe

This all sounds very logical and could very well apply to the symptoms of WD.

 

On the other hand, I have a very bad gut feeling when I look at Ashok Guptas website. Its structure and wording reminds me of all those thousands of websites out there, who just aim at getting your money, stating that they have the one and only cure for all your problems.

 

I hope that I am wrong and this really might help us to at least get some relief or even a full recovery. I would appreciate a lot if those who try his program could keep us up-to-date and what they think about it :)

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alexjuice

This is interesting. When I went from 6mg of klonopin to 2mg very quickly (while c/t'ing 2 more medications), I wound up in an inpatient dual diagnosis center.

 

They were very caring and everyone was on a structure focused on self-improvement. I stabilized on 3mg klonopin and even though my w/d syndrome rated horrific on arrival, within a month or so, I felt no real benzo w/d symptoms despite halving the dose. Of course I was put back on the other meds which blurs the matter.

 

I believe that being in that environment, with a lot of structured, supportive and purposed social interaction and "work" helped my bzd recovery greatly.

 

I should have tapered down further while I was there, but what did I know. And what did they know?

 

Raising this point here because the relative lack of dynamic multi-faceted social interplay these past years, has been to my detriment, IMO. In the rehab, I regained a sense of safety early in the process and did not experience the hyperactive f(l)ight reflex, etc.

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Phil

 

I believe that being in that environment, with a lot of structured, supportive and purposed social interaction and "work" helped my bzd recovery greatly.

 

I should have tapered down further while I was there, but what did I know. And what did they know?

 

Raising this point here because the relative lack of dynamic multi-faceted social interplay these past years, has been to my detriment, IMO. In the rehab, I regained a sense of safety early in the process and did not experience the hyperactive f(l)ight reflex, etc.

 

I had a similar experience when I visited my family for a week recently. The daily structure and interaction and feeling "cared for" really helped, I feel.

Now I am back home alone, things are much tougher. I've read that being isolated causes stress in itself, so maybe that's the key.

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Rhiannon

I've been doing the limbic retraining exercises for a while now, and I'm really impressed with how they're helping me. I'm frankly using them mostly for dealing with deep imprints left over from childhood trauma, and for dealing with withdrawal symptoms, more than for MCS right now, although that's improving too from what little I'm actually working it.

 

I've spent my whole life gathering techniques for healing and coping with my history of horrific childhood abuse and dissociation. For me, this is doing something I haven't been able to get to efficiently in any other way so far (although now that I understand why it works I can see that EFT might have worked if I'd stuck with it, but I didn't partly because the explanation for how EFT works seemed lame to me.) Those of you who know me know I am not exactly gullible when it comes to pseudoscientific claims. Au quite the contraire, as they say. (Well, as I say anyway....)

 

Gupta's development of his hypothesis was heavily influenced by the work of Joseph LeDoux on emotions and the brain, primarily the PTSD extinction mechanisms. You can find studies on this subject on the Internet. Gupta has a formal journal article type paper that you can get to for free from his website, too. Being the science-nerd-head that I am, I read all the source stuff I could find. It turns out that his simple layman's explanation (which you can get from the free material) is actually pretty much right-on. If you don't want to spend the money on a particular set of methods, you can do this on your own.

 

There's discussion on the Planet Thrive website, people describing other methods that are readily available free or very affordably on the Internet (primarily EFT tapping). (I have to say that some of the posts on the Planet Thrive limbic retraining forum--mostly they're really right on, especially the stuff by "Lady Itchalot/Debbie Truly-Cured--but some of it's people who don't fully understand the underlying principles. It's an Internet forum. Caveat emptor as always.)

 

But I think if you're going to do it on your own, you may want to make sure you really understand the underlying concepts. Bottom line, it appears there is an area of the medial prefrontal cortex (which is in the ""executive", "conscious", choice-making part of the brain) that can override traumatic memory imprints in the amygdala (which is in the limbic brain and may be the seat of PTSD, although this is still all under much discussion). Actual neural paths are laid down. The memory imprints in the amygdala do NOT disappear or go away, they are just overridden, so under stressful conditions the symptoms can return, although I think you can still use your conscious control of the process to override them even then.

 

The point is that since the part of the brain that does the overriding is under your conscious control, you can actually work with it. The methods you use to work with it are not rocket science. Meditation, self-calming, mindfulness, and most important, realizing that you've been reinforcing your limbic system's panic response and you have the choice not to do that, and that's a concrete choice, not just denial or some airy-fairy thing. That was the most important concept for me to get.

 

Gupta's stuff is originally specifically aimed at people with CFS. It turns out that the principles apply to other conditions, but the language of the exercises fits with CFS best, and I think would also fit well with PAWS or withdrawal symptoms. Also, in the case of withdrawal, you have the additional condition of neurochemical instability, particularly in acute withdrawal. I think the intentional brain training can still work and in fact is probably quite beneficial in this state, but it's probably a little different than working with a post-acute extended withdrawal and postwithdrawal symptom situation. Is there anyone else who's interested in trying some of this out? I'd like to have someone to discuss it with.

Edited by KarenB
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Nikki

Hi Rhi...

 

The Mindful Meditation Class I attend on Thursday evenings is facilitated by a friend of mine who is a retired Neurologist and he puts out videos and medial reports on FB about how Meditation can change the plasticity of the brain. I believe it.

 

Can you tell me where you are getting your lessons from. Is it a one-on-one counselor or an at home program??

 

Thank you

 

Hugs

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Rhiannon

 

 

I believe that being in that environment, with a lot of structured, supportive and purposed social interaction and "work" helped my bzd recovery greatly.

 

I should have tapered down further while I was there, but what did I know. And what did they know?

 

Raising this point here because the relative lack of dynamic multi-faceted social interplay these past years, has been to my detriment, IMO. In the rehab, I regained a sense of safety early in the process and did not experience the hyperactive f(l)ight reflex, etc.

 

I had a similar experience when I visited my family for a week recently. The daily structure and interaction and feeling "cared for" really helped, I feel.

Now I am back home alone, things are much tougher. I've read that being isolated causes stress in itself, so maybe that's the key.

 

Kind of a non sequiteur in this thread, but I've found exactly the same thing--being with family makes me feel better in spite of the stress of traveling.

 

I think isolation is a lot of it--now that I'm making more friends and getting out more I get the same benefit from those connections. But it only works if I really feel like I "belong." Like, for example, hanging out at peoples' houses is more helpful than going on a group hike or something. Although any social interaction is better than none, I find.

 

But this is another big and I think important subject. It's related but maybe it needs its own thread. I know I'm supposed to be able to do that but I don't know how...Alto? somebody?

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Rhiannon

Hi Rhi...

 

The Mindful Meditation Class I attend on Thursday evenings is facilitated by a friend of mine who is a retired Neurologist and he puts out videos and medial reports on FB about how Meditation can change the plasticity of the brain. I believe it.

 

Can you tell me where you are getting your lessons from. Is it a one-on-one counselor or an at home program??

 

Thank you

 

Hugs

 

Hi Nikki--I'm using Ashok Gupta's DVD program. (Although frankly I'm using the audio CDs that come with it way more than I'm using the DVDs. I haven't even watched all of them yet.)

 

From what I've read it sounds like meditation affects the frontal cortex "executive" part of the brain most. (In a beneficial way.) The Gupta program includes daily meditation.

 

There's a program put together by a woman named Annie Hopper, too, which I haven't checked out yet.

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Rhiannon

One more thing: the Planet Thrive website has a special site dedicated to limbic retraining, with a forum. There are lots of good posts on there. Also some confusing ones from people who don't quite get it.

 

Anyway, there's someone who used to post on there a lot, who goes by the name "Lady Itchalot/Debbie Truly-Cured". In spite of her goofy handles, her posts are good. I learned a lot from them before I got the Gupta stuff, and in fact it was from experimenting with the stuff she described and seeing results that I decided to plunk down the bucks for Gupta.

 

But let me make it clear that I'm not promoting any specific method or developer; Gupta's is just what I'm using.

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dalsaan

HI Rhi,

 

I am just in the process of working through issues relating to childhood sexual assault. For the best part of 30 years I tried to ignore it/dismiss it etc. I am now putting two and two together in terms of the impacts it has had - depression, insomnia, hypervigilance etc.

 

I have long thought my stress response was broken and that I needed to learn how to retrain it. I'm thinking the Gupta stuff might be the go. I'm keen to know, did you have sleep issues and did the Gupta regime help with that?

 

How much time do you invest doing the techniques each day and how long did it take to notice an impact?

 

Any info much appreciated

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Rhiannon

HI Rhi,

 

I am just in the process of working through issues relating to childhood sexual assault. For the best part of 30 years I tried to ignore it/dismiss it etc. I am now putting two and two together in terms of the impacts it has had - depression, insomnia, hypervigilance etc.

 

I have long thought my stress response was broken and that I needed to learn how to retrain it. I'm thinking the Gupta stuff might be the go. I'm keen to know, did you have sleep issues and did the Gupta regime help with that?

 

How much time do you invest doing the techniques each day and how long did it take to notice an impact?

 

Any info much appreciated

 

Dalsaan I don't have much time today but totally would love to discuss this more. Gupta did seem to help with sleep before I made my most recent cut; right now having my usual post-cut less-good sleep. I do fall asleep quickly listening to his meditations, although they're not really designed for that.

 

I'm mostly using the program for my overactive stress/threat perception and response. Also for working with some deep-seated thought/emotion patterns from abuse history. I have already done a ton of memory work, getting back dissociated memories, so that when stuff comes up I usually recognize it and know where it comes from. I'm not sure how I would do this work if I hadn't already done that.

 

I wanted to say to anyone interested in this limbic retraining stuff that I highly recommend reading The Brain That Changes Itself by Doidges (Norman Doidges, I think) as a first step. Especially if you're like me and you need to understand what's happening and why something works before you can really get behind it.

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Shanti

This was a good thread Rhi. It didn't seem "jelly like" to me lol. You, Alto, Bar and many others here are so smart, expressing and writing so well that it doesn't seem like you're in the middle of w/ds. This is reassuring information here too about the healing ability of the brain.

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Rhiannon

Okay, just have a minute, and something Shanti wrote in another thread inspired a line of thought I want to get down before it goes away. She said something about how knowing that what she was experiencing was withdrawal actually helped her calm herself. That's been a piece of the limbic retraining (redirecting? overriding?) for me. Let me back up: The amygdala, your unconscious, recognizes a symptom that has been associated with stress, panic, and life-threat (as it interprets it) in the past (for example, when you were in extreme withdrawal and your CNS was badly out of whack, which the body interprets as a threat to survival or life.)

 

Say you experience a symptom again now. Your amygdala recognizes it as a threat. It signals to your medial prefrontal cortex, your conscious mind, and that's the point where you consciously experience anxiety, "uh-oh", "here it is again", et cetera. At that point we think 'oh s***, here it goes again..." and we fall into suffering, panic, et cetera--these neurological "grooves" that have been patterned into our brains by our traumatic withdrawal experiences.

 

The amygdala hears this as a "yes, this is a present danger, you are correct about that" and it goes into defense mode, doing all sorts of hormonal and neurological and immune things which make us feel sicker. We feel those things and interpret them as yes, we are sick, and we reinforce it again telling the amygdala yes, this is dangerous, et cetera. And it's an ongoing self-reinforcing circle. If you're familiar with PTSD this will be familiar to you.

 

But the thing is, we are also wired with a way to DE-program our PTSD and interrupt that cycle. It's naturally built in. PTSD is built in to help the organism survive a threat, and the ability to extinguish PTSD is also wired in, because that too is necessary to survival. For example, say one of our ancestors was gathering food one day and encountered a predator and had a near-miss. They were imprinted with PTSD so that that place and any sounds, smells, sensations etc. associated with that place caused a sense of panic and need to flee.

 

But say that place was the best place in the forest to gather a particularly nutritious food; and say that the predator was lost there, had wandered far from home, and actually never came back to that spot again. Then the ancestor really needs to be able to extinguish that PTSD, or she has lost the access to an important source of food. That same scenario plays out over and over again. We are designed to be able to override PTSD. The memory imprint in the amygdala (according to current research) doesn't seem to actually go away, but we build neural pathways from the medial prefrontal cortex (which is in the conscious, "executive" portion of the brain) which actually reach to the amygdala and override those PTSD reactions.

 

So becoming consciously aware that what you're experiencing is a withdrawal symptom, or even just something that feels like a withdrawal symptom, is the first step to getting some control over the cycle. First, recognize that you're having withdrawal symptoms, and relax, knowing you're not being attacked, you don't need to jump up and do something, they can't hurt you, they're just symptoms. That's the part that Shanti's comment reminded me of--it can be reassuring to realize that what you're experiencing isn't something new and unknown.

 

But the second part is one we don't talk about much here--and that is, it's okay to relax about them--yes, it's not fun, but most of what's making you suffer so much is your own limbic system's reaction--not something outside of you that you need to defend yourself against. Second, use techniques to enlist your executive functions (frontal lobes) to direct and override your emotions and thoughts, to calm and reassure the limbic system and break the cycle.

 

(And one of the most helpful things Gupta says about this is, at first, you aren't trying to actually change the symptoms; you start by just changing your thoughts ABOUT the symptoms. Your actual cognitive conscious awareness and the ability to choose how to respond to your symptoms, can enlist the PTSD extinguishing mechanism.) And you do this over and over for a long enough time (about six months or so) to allow your brain to lay down those new neuronal pathways.

 

That's sort of the principle. I think. It's all I have time to write today, anyway. In my experimenting on myself, it's definitely powerful. I have to say it's also definitely work, like "training", like training for a marathon or to play an instrument or something. You do have to practice. Which fits with what's known about the brain changing itself and building new neuronal pathways--it seems to happen in response to focused effort and choice, kind of like training muscles. (And part of what happens when you're training muscles is that you're training the neuronal connections that control those muscles and fine-tune the coordination, so it makes sense.)

Edited by KarenB
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Rhiannon

I just want to add that I don't actually KNOW that withdrawal works this way, but in my own experimenting on myself and from what I'm learning, it seems to me that this kind of limbic system reactivity is probably a good chunk of the problem with any kind of postacute withdrawal. Even if it's just 40%, if we can get a handle on that 40%, it's got to be a good thing.

 

The more we can calm the panic and allow our parasympathetic responses (calm, heal, "rest and digest") to kick in, the more likely we are going to be able to heal ourselves, seems to me. I secretly suspect that this limbic system overreactivity, and all the various physical/mental/emotional symptoms it causes, is a BIG contributing factor both to acute and postacute withdrawal. It's important to remember here that our bodies don't make a distinction between "mental" and "physical."

 

That's a split that's philosophical and linguistic, invented by humans, in particular some Western philosophers and scientists in past centuries. Actually our body and our mind are not separate entities and there's no such thing as two separate categories of "physical" and "mental" symptoms. They all always overlap and blend and affect each other together. The hormones and neurotransmitters and immune system modulators that are involved in controlling our bodily functions are the same ones that are involved in modulating our emotions and thoughts. You can't separate them. Psych drugs affect our digestion and our hormones and everything else in our bodies for this very reason--you can't cut apart "mind" and "body."

 

So when the limbic system is activated, it produces a confusing mix of symptoms, some of which people call "physical" and some of which people call "mental." The amygdala doesn't care what we call it. Our bodies don't care what we call it. They evolved long before we invented those weird concepts.

Edited by KarenB
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dalsaan

Thanks Rhi, I am finding this stuff really interesting and useful. In some respects I had come to these conclusions myself in a layperson kind of a way. I thought my system was broken in terms of being stuck on and I had to find a way to fix it. Originally I was thinking in terms of my system having forgotten something eg how to relax, sleep but now I understand its more about the memories/markers/imprints it holds.

 

I have been reading some trauma material and stuff on neuroplasticity. The key question I had was what kinds of exercises should I do to retrain my brain. I am starting to collect these and have ordered the Gupta DVDs so will let you know how I go. I have just finished a book by Babette Rothschild called 8 keys to safe trauma recovery. She talks about the body remembering in that. In regard to past trauma, she recommends writing an epilogue to update your consciousness to recognise that the trauma is in the past and you survived.

 

Your epilogue is basically your life story since your trauma stopped. It can include major events - good and bad - age milestones etc, all of which indicate the passing of time and put distance between you - in the here and now - and your past trauma. She says this is important because 'often during trauma the ultra high levels of stress hormones-necessary for fight, flight or freeze- stop the hippocampus for functioning properly.

 

When that happens, an accurate time frame of events does not get logged. Typical in trauma, without the hippocampus able to carry out its role, it may not register that the trauma actually ended'. She also says that if you cant sleep due to hypervigilance, trying to relax can trigger a response because your body views this as a risk. She says holding your body a little tight rather than trying to relax your body might help you sleep.

 

I really like this book, it had some stuff that was counter intuitive but made sense if you thought about it. I am also reading a book by Ronald Ruden called When the past is always present: emotional traumatization causes and cures which looks at the use of sensory input (mainly tapping I think) to alter an emotionally traumatised brain. The other book I want to read is You are not your brain by Schwartz All of these have the theme of retraining the brain. Its nice to read the science behind the hunch I had about what was going on. I used to say to my Dr 'its like I have a switch stuck on' and 'the stress is coming from my body', 'I'm too alert to drop off to sleep'.

Edited by KarenB
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Rhiannon

Dalsaan, that's some really helpful stuff, thank you. I have totally noticed the thing of being stuck in feeling like the unsafe conditions are here and now. Since my abuse was intermittent but repeated throughout my childhood, that one got really stuck for me, and I work on it a lot, but I hadn't thought of the "epilogue" concept.

 

I did stumble across this, in my own experience: when I'm doing the retraining, there's something about saying to myself, "it's OVER." and breathing and relaxing. Something about the "it's over"-ness seems to reach somewhere deep, maybe sort of primal, like an animal realizing the dangerous conditions have passed and letting go and moving on.

 

I'm going to take a look at those materials you suggest.

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Nadia

Okay, just have a minute, and something Shanti wrote in another thread inspired a line of thought I want to get down before it goes away.

 

She said something about how knowing that what she was experiencing was withdrawal actually helped her calm herself.

 

That's been a piece of the limbic retraining (redirecting? overriding?) for me.

 

Let me back up: The amygdala, your unconscious, recognizes a symptom that has been associated with stress, panic, and life-threat (as it interprets it) in the past (for example, when you were in extreme withdrawal and your CNS was badly out of whack, which the body interprets as a threat to survival or life.)

 

Say you experience a symptom again now. Your amygdala recognizes it as a threat. It signals to your medial prefrontal cortex, your conscious mind, and that's the point where you consciously experience anxiety, "uh-oh", "here it is again", et cetera. At that point we think 'oh s***, here it goes again..." and we fall into suffering, panic, et cetera--these neurological "grooves" that have been patterned into our brains by our traumatic withdrawal experiences. The amygdala hears this as a "yes, this is a present danger, you are correct about that" and it goes into defense mode, doing all sorts of hormonal and neurological and immune things which make us feel sicker. We feel those things and interpret them as yes, we are sick, and we reinforce it again telling the amygdala yes, this is dangerous, et cetera. And it's an ongoing self-reinforcing circle.

 

If you're familiar with PTSD this will be familiar to you.

 

But the thing is, we are also wired with a way to DE-program our PTSD and interrupt that cycle. It's naturally built in. PTSD is built in to help the organism survive a threat, and the ability to extinguish PTSD is also wired in, because that too is necessary to survival. For example, say one of our ancestors was gathering food one day and encountered a predator and had a near-miss. They were imprinted with PTSD so that that place and any sounds, smells, sensations etc. associated with that place caused a sense of panic and need to flee. But say that place was the best place in the forest to gather a particularly nutritious food; and say that the predator was lost there, had wandered far from home, and actually never came back to that spot again. Then the ancestor really needs to be able to extinguish that PTSD, or she has lost the access to an important source of food.

 

That same scenario plays out over and over again. We are designed to be able to override PTSD. The memory imprint in the amygdala (according to current research) doesn't seem to actually go away, but we build neural pathways from the medial prefrontal cortex (which is in the conscious, "executive" portion of the brain) which actually reach to the amygdala and override those PTSD reactions.

 

So becoming consciously aware that what you're experiencing is a withdrawal symptom, or even just something that feels like a withdrawal symptom, is the first step to getting some control over the cycle.

 

First, recognize that you're having withdrawal symptoms, and relax, knowing you're not being attacked, you don't need to jump up and do something, they can't hurt you, they're just symptoms.

 

That's the part that Shanti's comment reminded me of--it can be reassuring to realize that what you're experiencing isn't something new and unknown. But the second part is one we don't talk about much here--and that is, it's okay to relax about them--yes, it's not fun, but most of what's making you suffer so much is your own limbic system's reaction--not something outside of you that you need to defend yourself against.

 

Second, use techniques to enlist your executive functions (frontal lobes) to direct and override your emotions and thoughts, to calm and reassure the limbic system and break the cycle. (And one of the most helpful things Gupta says about this is, at first, you aren't trying to actually change the symptoms; you start by just changing your thoughts ABOUT the symptoms. Your actual cognitive conscious awareness and the ability to choose how to respond to your symptoms, can enlist the PTSD extinguishing mechanism.)

 

And you do this over and over for a long enough time (about six months or so) to allow your brain to lay down those new neuronal pathways.

 

That's sort of the principle. I think. It's all I have time to write today, anyway. In my experimenting on myself, it's definitely powerful.

 

I have to say it's also definitely work, like "training", like training for a marathon or to play an instrument or something. You do have to practice. Which fits with what's known about the brain changing itself and building new neuronal pathways--it seems to happen in response to focused effort and choice, kind of like training muscles. (And part of what happens when you're training muscles is that you're training the neuronal connections that control those muscles and fine-tune the coordination, so it makes sense.)

 

 

Excellent post, Rhi... so well articulated. I had not kept up on this thread but I think it had an impact on me before and it also coincides with my own gut feelings. Especially what you say about a groove... I had called it a rut to myself. I am actively trying to train myself out of the bad grooves and trying to create more positive grooves. I used to use this method against depression before, and would call it spiraling out of the depression... a spiral, because the things you do don't always have a direct or immediate effect, but you slowly spiral away from the bad ruts or grooves.

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GiaK

perfect! I wish I had seen that post before I did my post today...I would have included that video...it's great...

 

My post today I wrote:

 

We can change how our brain functions. We can change the very structure of the brain. There are enormous implications here for anyone who has ever been labeled with a psychiatric illness. We can change and heal our minds and brains and we need not do it in detrimental fashion with neurotoxic medications.

 

Self-compassion and awareness are the qualities we need to start to heal our mind and body. Bringing mindfulness to a problem is the beginning of change. Paying attention to a process is changing the process! Even before any behavior changes.

Neuroplasticity: enormous implications for anyone who has been labeled with a psychiatric illness

http://beyondmeds.com/2013/01/17/neuroplasticity-enormous-implications/

 

now I have to figure out a way to include this video...and course...maybe another post...thanks for sharing!!

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Jemima

Here's an intriguing book that was advertised on the same website:

 

The Brain That Changes Itself

 

That's next on my reading list. The chapter on Brain Lock Unlocked, Using Plasticity to Stop Worries, Obsessions, Compulsions, and Bad Habits is especially interesting to me.

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Nikki

I was looking at a video with Louse Hay (from FB) on tapping along with positive affirmations.

 

I did see a therapist who did the tapping with me at the end of the session and it really helps dissolve trauma. I went to see her during my Lexapro taper. The Psych Nurse Practitioner suggested it and it was great.

 

Nikki

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GiaK

Here's an intriguing book that was advertised on the same website:

 

The Brain That Changes Itself

 

That's next on my reading list. The chapter on Brain Lock Unlocked, Using Plasticity to Stop Worries, Obsessions, Compulsions, and Bad Habits is especially interesting to me.

 

 

Here is a post with a video interview of the author of the book you mention....it's a nice video...it's one of the links on the neuroplasticity page I included above.

 

The brain that changes (grows, heals and repairs)

http://beyondmeds.com/2011/10/28/brainheals/

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GiaK

there is a nice tapping video for benzo withdrawal that would be easy to modify for ADs etc...

 

 

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Sally3

This is such a wonderful thread and I wish I had read it earlier. It gives me hope that there can be some help for me and I am going to look up all the resources mentioned here. I like the fact that the "bodymind" is emphasized, instead of just worrying that this w/d is all in your mind.... It's really in both ....and I need to work on both....

 

I have so many questions about all of this, but couldn't begin to phrase them intelligently right now...so I will look at the resources and perhaps some of my questions will be answered there.

I believe Rhiannon asked if anyone out here would like to try any of this and I definitely would...and I would love to hear an update from Rhiannon on how she is doing and how these techniques are working for her.

I am in PAWS from Klonopin and am tapering Prozac right now and am at 5 mgs.... suffering from one or the other or both....

Thank you

Sally3

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Rhiannon

I'm doing well, Sally. Still tapering very slowly. It's hard to say how much of my improvement is due to the reduction in psych meds over time, and how much is due to other things, including the limbic retraining work.

 

I don't really work hard at it any more. I guess the new "ruts" are getting stronger, because I just do about one meditation exercise a day, or some days not at all if I'm doing well.

 

When I get into a rough time I practice it as much as I have time to. Like I say, it seems like it's easier and easier, probably because the neurological synaptic paths are being reinforced. According to the Doidge book it sounds like about six months is the point where learning by practice is really solidified, and that's about how long I've been at it, so maybe that's why.

 

Nice to have something that's actually getting EASIER, eh?

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Jemima

Also nice that there's a reasonable estimate of the time involved, unlike withdrawal.

 

I'm working on something like this using the book The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, which is basically a book about staying in the present moment and doing some meditations to make that happen. When I can do it, it's a powerful weapon against anxiety and depression.

 

I'm thinking that any sort of redirection of the mind away from withdrawal symptoms and unhelpful thinking patterns from the past is probably helpful in limbic re-training.

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peggy

there is another good book called Mindsight, by Dan Siegal - that talks a lot about this - he calls it 'the neurons that fire together, wire together. So, when you are learning a new skill, the more you practice, the better you get - so those neuronal pathways are being strengthened.

 

In my case, when i am anxious or worried and i keep ruminating about it (usually about the withdrawal situation and feeling like this) i am making those pathways stronger. I look it like the ruts tires make in the road, its easier to keep going on the well worn ruts and it takes more effort to make a new way, but in time the old way will be flattened out.

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cmusic

Hello,

 

I have been reading this thread with interest and also fear. I do think my situation has a large component of hyper vigilance and PTSD like symptoms that have developed. So much in fact that I can feel everyday events creating traumatic memories.

 

The issue for me is exactly this. The withdrawal experience itself is the traumatic experience. It has been an absolute nightmare. I have developed so many horrific memories of the experiences I have had in then last few years. Every poor decision led to more pain which I have vivid memory of.

 

It's now at the point where every single thing triggers intense fear. I have intense fear from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep. And even in the sleep. It doesn't relent. I can't start to believe that 'it's over' because it keeps happening every day. And I can't sort out whether the situation is the traumatic event and the feelings of terror are post traumatic, or if I'm still experiencing the equivalent of trauma every day. If so how does one begin to get past this?

 

I am only on 5mg Prozac now and hoping I can just leave it alone for a long time and give my system a chance to stabilize before changing anything again. Even though it may be causing physical damage I can't get rid of it quickly again. So to say - the uncertainty about drugs and the situation and being trapped is all behind me - maybe that's a start. But the pain I experience every day seems to create and reinforce the trauma nonetheless.

 

Any thoughts on how to break this cycle?

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