My life is a constant battle with my PTSD. Sometimes it wins, sometimes I do. Let me tell you how I do it.
If you’ve ever seen me do this: *touches forehead, closes eyes and takes a deep breath* then that probably means my daughter has asked me the same question 10x or cannot find something that is right in front of her. Basically testing my patience, as innocent children tend to do. By taking a deep breath, I do myself a favor by preventing myself from saying something hurtful or stupid that I may later regret.
Something as simple as breathing deeply is so key. If you have PTSD or know someone who does, you may notice some similar behavioral symptoms such as irritability, agitation and self-destructive behavior, just to name a few. I suffer from all of these. Taking deep breaths gives me a chance to stall some time and give myself a minute to really “think before I say”. It helps me, tremendously.
If taking a really quick deep breath doesn’t do the trick for me, I go ahead and take an even longer moment to pull myself together. The best title I could think of for this coping mechanism is a “time out”. Ya, moms get timeouts too. This is when I have to remove myself ENTIRELY from the situation to focus on kicking my PTSD’s ass before getting to that point of emotional explosion or becoming “triggered”. For me, this is usually done in my bathroom at home. I lock myself in there for 5-10 minutes because as most moms know, if you’re lucky enough to get anything close to privacy, it’s going to be in the bathroom.
After I’ve calmed myself down I put myself through this emotional self-examination process where I put a name to my feelings. I call this “reflection” or “coaching myself”” Did I feel angry? Disappointed? Sad? Abandoned? Ashamed? Why? This better helps me understand myself & my feelings.
I usually follow with a few more questions: If I thought my feelings were rational given the situation. How long it took me to get over it? What I did to help myself get over it. This kind of reflection is essential for me because this is where I learn the most about myself, to see if I made any progress. Maybe I didn’t take as long to get over my anger this time, maybe I found a better thought process to pull myself out it…. Maybe I went the opposite way, maybe my anger lasted longer. Reflection helps me track my progress.
Before we get crazy judgmental about meditation. Let me first start by saying a couple of things. I do not own NOR do I oppose to owning a bunch of shiny crystals or rocks to help align my chakras or anything like that. They’d probably be a choking hazard for my kids anyway and to be honest I’m not educated enough on those aspects of “healing”. Totally not trying to knock it. I also don’t believe that it is possible for me to completely clear my mind. My thoughts are always going and going.
But I am able to slow these thoughts down. It took some practice, but I’ve been meditating for about a year now. I should be meditating every other night, but lately it’s been 1-2x a week. About 99% of the time, it’s done in my bed, at the end of my day, right before I go to sleep. 100% of the time it’s a guided meditation that I found on the internet that walks me through the process. I’m not ready to try meditating on my own. Meditating is used as my tool to wipe the slate clean and mentally prep for the next day. I will post the links at the end of the blog for the meditations I listen too.
Finally, there’s talk therapy. Probably the most important way I battle my PTSD. Where I learned ways 1-4 on how to kick my PTSD’s ass. Again, before you get all judgmental on me, hear me out. I am on my 5th psychologist in a time frame of about 10 years. I’ve had previous therapists fall asleep in the middle of a session, I’ve had one whose office was completely white from top to bottom that made me feel like I was in a mental asylum. My point is it took me a while to find one that clicked.
I see my psychologist every two weeks for individual therapy, sessions are an hour and it helps IMMENSELY. To get help from an educated professional who is licensed to do what she does and helps people from a realistic and unbiased point of view is so worth it. Don’t knock it till you try it…. Or at least until you try it 5 times because that’s how long it took me until I found someone I could really talk to.
I know I promised you a vlog this week, due to pregnancy complications, it didn’t happen.
Mahalo for reading this weeks blog!
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a mental health professional. This blog is meant to share the coping mechanisms that I personally use. Just because it works for me does not mean it will necessarily work for you.
Links for guided meditations:
Guided Meditation Practice with Dr. Kristin Neff
Jason Stephenson – Sleep Meditation Music