Sunday, November 27, 2005

feeding the right dogs

I am doing a bit better today and yesterday than I was the couple of days before that. Reallynotimportant and Holly stopped by the blog and had helpful things to say. Thanks! Originally, this post was a response to the comments, but I spent a little time on it so I thought I would make it its own entry.

Reallynotimportant suggested a bunch of things for the intrusive thoughts and the nightmares. I do try to do something to distract myself when the intrusive thinking comes up. When I feed the right dogs, I can often get through by seperating me from the abuse and the abuser, realizing that I am not the trauma or what my abuser tried to make me. Sometimes that works. Other times its something good like exercise, playing my guitar, or doing some work, but often I feed the wrong dogs and its internet porn to kill the thoughts and feelings. I don't use drugs or alcohol for the past 20 some-odd years, so fortunately that's not an option. Lately I've been writing in this blog and that has greatly reduced the need for the pain-killing behaviors. The medications help a lot with the intrusive thinking and the compulsive aspects of my reponse to it too.

With the nightmares, I was trying to write them down for a while and taking them into therapy, but often I don't wake up enough to get to that. I hadn't thought about the feelings being more important than the content. Hmmm....

Mostly the nightmares suck because I thrash around and mumble stuff and wake my poor partner up and she won't be able to get back to sleep. This has been going on for 4 or 5 years now, ever since the worst of the ptsd kicked in, so we've mostly worked out a sytem where she'll jostle me and tell me what I'm doing and that will snap me out of it. Often I don't even wake up. She gets kind of resentful about this sometimes, but she knows I am working on it and is really patient. Neither of us wants to sleep alone. I'm pretty grateful for that.

You are right about getting whatever kind of sleep you can. I take a lot of naps. Fortunately with my work, I can schedule things mostly how I want to, with lots of flexibility.


  1. Hi ptsd guy,
    In the beginning I recorded my dreams, nightmares. It did help because if I woke up the recorder was right there. I also noticed the difference with my voice during the recordings. It may be something you could think about. I also did something fun before nighttime, played cards, puzzles, the list can go on and on! If you and your partner could do something together you may find it helpful also. It will be different for everyone. I did find it helped with being able to face the day. It was nice to read that you were feeling better. I admired your courage. Take Care, I have some ideas around feelings! I will have to think about how to expain that one next time I drop in.

  2. holly, ptsd_guy:

    I thought it would be worthwhile talking about the emotions in the dreams as being important rather than the actual theme.

    Before all this crap happenned I was reasonably into Zen and also had a good helping of science stuff related to zen, the mind and so on. When the PTSD triggerred I started to do some serious research to work out WTF was going on.

    I also know the raw terror I felt during the events - something that was for me primal and below the level of conscious control.

    With PTSD what can seem to happen is that part of the memory for the experience and especially the emotions linked to them (which are basically how the body and the primitive mind thinks) kind of get locked away in a side room instead of being neatly cataloged. What happens is that the memories and the feelings then leak into consciousness (daytime) or dreams and nightmares (nighttime).

    When I started to track the contents of my dreams I realised that the broad themes (apart from repetitive) were pretty fucked up anyway and made no sense. However, when I looked at the emotional content it made a lot more sense.
    Things like "In this dream I am afraid of xxxx even though there is no immediate danger" or "In this dream I am afraid that I might have to xxx" or "In this dream, this is something to do with me being afraid that I might xxxx".

    Today, my dreams were only about 3/10 on the badness scale yet I seemed more angry today than normal. So, the meditations I had done in the evening had gave me better dreams (longer to get to sleep) but then the emotions came out in the daytime.....

    Personally, if a bad night gives me a better day, I'll take the bad night.

    As far as going to sleep goes:

    Sex can help (for best results, use a partner).

    Also, some types of music. Steve Halperns "Spectrum Suite" I have found to be quite relaxing when emotions are strong.

    Various enviromental sound tapes can also help (I have found that a tape of just the seashore on a rocky beach soomthing).

  3. Hmmm, I think I'll try the tape recorder thing Holly. I tried writing them but I am too groggy to deal with the lights and the pen and paper and all that. Maybe a little digital recorder will be easier to manage. Doing fun things at night also seems like its worth a try, but my partner is a bit of a workaholic right now so I might have to come up with stuff on my own. Looking forward to your explanation of your ideas about feelings.

    Reallynotimportant, the side room analogy is interesting. I agree that finding ways to deal with the emotions relative to the trauma is crucial. That gets pretty complex for me. The perpetrators are in absolute denial (my family of origin)or pretty much inaccessible. I looked into a lawsuit concerning the cult stuff, but the lawyer said there was not enough money at stake to make it worthwhile. He suggested a class action suit, and there were others, but I was too hurt and messed up from the whole ordeal to pursue that kind of thing so I let it go. The last perpetrator didn't do anything illegal, just utterly evil. Again there is nothing I could do about it. I know that the last one acted out of abusive past and misdirected that at me, but that does not really help me deal with the feelings and beliefs about myself. I just tried to avoid replicating the acting out on whoever happened to be around and that I think is why a lot of the ptsd symptoms were so acute. I had no place to go but inward with stuff that needed to get out.

    Halpern's music is really interesting in an intellectual sense. He is the guy that works out all the frequecies and rhythms to match those of the brain in a relaxed state, right? I think I have some of his tapes around somewhere. That kind of new agey music drives my partner gaga though. I used to live in a place where birds would wake me up each morning. My partner really liked this, so before we moved to a more urban area, I taped the birds and hooked them up to a timer oon the computer to go off every morning at the same time. The sex part I'll have to put up in another post. I wish that was simple but its not.

    Sweet dreams to both of you, and me too.

  4. ptsd_guy:

    I liked the birdsong idea. During the summer/fall I slept with the bedroom window open so that I was less detached from the natural sounds. I wasn't woken by the birds but it was better.

    During another part of the summer exhaustion had set in big-time so instead of commuting to work some distance I went and camped near where I was working (I didn't tell anyone). This meant that I could have a 'mini-holiday'.

    In the morning I would wake up and make breakfast and be in beautiful surroundings full of natural sounds.

    In the evening I could watch the sunset or chill out or do whatever, but again in natural surroundings. Somehow, when it was dark it was easier to go to bed early.

    From it I learnt that putting myself into natural surroundings seemed to reset my body and stop my mind racing away so much.

  5. ptsd_guy, holly:

    It struck me that we are all using different strategies to cope with what has happenned. Sometimes we do the same types of things and sometimes we don't. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't.

    The trigger events for all 3 of us were different, but we exhibit similar symptoms but deal with them in different ways. The 3 web sites are also quite different.
    That should say quite a lot about the complexity of PTSD and why it is really just an arbitrary label

  6. ptsd_guy:
    I can understand your desire to want to try and understand everything and why people did what they did. It is natural. I have been there myself.

    Ultimately, I think it is pointless and self-destructive.

    For me, I decided in the end that some people did some bad stuff and deliberately tried to fuck up my (not personal though) life. Why they did it - well I really don't care. They did what they did. I have no desire left to 'understand' them.

    If a mosquito bites me I don't try to understand it, I squash it.

    My life, is of course defined as 'before' and 'after' and the two are different. I choose most of the time not to compare one with the other. This current life may be fucked up at times but it is the only one I have so I make the most of it - when I can.

    Final thought: You can believe whatever you want to believe about yourself for good or bad. It doesn't make any difference to who you really are. Who you really are is much more than a bunch of labels stuck together loosely. "I am a rocket scientist", "I am a man", "I am a pumpkin", "I am suffering from PTSD". All of these could be valid labels but none of them actually help. Who is it that eats breakfast or has a morning cup of coffee or goes to work?

  7. "Not important," Bingo.

    For years before I quit drinking, I had a vague "intellectual" memory of some of my abuse.

    Within a month or so of quitting, the emotional content came up like a tidal wave.