Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Sticky: Guide to the blog

New! Now you can subscribe to PTSD and Me to keep up with new posts and comments.

This is sort of the "best of" section where I'll link to the blog entries people seem to read the most. Perhaps I ought to have a page on "What is PTSD" but lots of others have already done that, so I'll just my favorite, a glossary from the Sidhran Institute [link checked 7/12/20].

Two notes before we begin.  First, I am not a professional.  I have kept this blog to share my experience with PTSD, but I cannot help you directly if you are suffering from PTSD.  I only check in here intermittently and it breaks my heart to see someone plea for help and get no response.  Please, if you are in crisis, call 911.  If you are looking for treatment or direct help, please contact the Sidran Institute. They are an excellent resource and can help you find appropriate treatment.  If you are finding out about PTSD in yourself or another and want to know what my experience has been, read on.

Second, if you make comments that contain negative statements about people at various facilities by name, I will not publish them.  Stay general, and even say there are problematic people to avoid, but no names.  Probably best to leave out names of people you consider praiseworthy too.  Self-promoting comments or links to link farms or anything that is the least bit suspicious will be deleted.  I err on the side of caution.  That said, there is a wonderful compendium of knowledge and wisdom in the comments, so thank you to all who have shared there over the years, and please feel free to continue commenting as you see fit.  They are one of the great rewards of writing this blog!

People in crisis often want to know where they can get help. Grounding exercises for PTSD can help get us through the short term. Here is a way of finding US and global treatment centers that specialize in PTSD. That is of course assuming you are privileged enough to have access to these resources. Not everyone is. And in case I forget next winter, here are some tips on PTSD and the holidays.  One of the most disturbing symptoms of PTSD is flashbacks, especially when they result in "non-epilectic seizures" or what a doctor might have called "pseudo-seizures," though there is nothing "pseudo" about them.

If you are looking to help a loved one diagnosed with PTSD, you might want to read my open letter to someone looking to help a loved one with PTSD. My partner, who is a key part of my loving and supportive network of friends, has been absolutely critical to my ongoing recovery, and I share some of the ways she has both helped me when I could not help myself and some of the unfortunate costs she has paid as a result of my PTSD.  It is a hard road, but we have come through stronger than ever, so there is hope.

Picking a therapist can be difficult for someone with PTSD, because often times the PTSD itself messes with our pickers. Through necessity and trial and error and generous borrowing of other people's wisdom, I've come up with a brief subjective guide on how to choose a therapist for ptsd. It contains links to some other, less subjective guides too.

Along with getting medical and psychological help, medication helped get me stabilized even though I was really resistant to it because of being a recovering addict. I wasn't resistant to trying Effexor, and kind of wish I had been (see Battle of the Effexor and Joy of Meds: Effexor withdrawal) I have quite a bit to say about PTSD and 12-step programs. While 12-step programs saved my life, I found that their one-size-fits-all model did more harm than good after the initial haze of the drugs and alcohol wore off. There is more than one type of addict (and some more on the subject here). And although it claims not to hew any one denominational line, it is based on Christianity in some ways that were harmful to my recovery. I finally decided to leave 12 step approaches, a difficult decision. In hindsight, however, some of the most exploitative folks I ever met were from the halls of twelve step rooms and the addictions recovery industry. Spiritual and psychological abuse are real and create huge barriers to recovery.

Betrayal bonds form a major part of PTSD as I have experienced it, so I've spent a lot of time writing about them. You might have heard of this as Stockholm syndrome. They take a number of different forms. Fully understanding the nature and effects of betrayal was key to beginning my recovery from PTSD. While the guy who wrote the book on betrayal bonds associates them with sexual addiction, I have found this ain't necessarily so.

 If you are interested, I can tell you more about my PTSD. Some days are still rough (skin-crawling, time-wasting, losing time, etc) but I have found a certain amount of recovery, and my life is once again bearable, even enjoyable on good days. And I'm still here, yes still here, and even now, still here.  Partly it depends on which dogs I feed. It also helps to have a loving and supportive network of friends. Oh, and to stay far away from toxic relationships.


  1. Hi GettingBetter,
    Take care, keep up the good work. Your site has great information about resources for PTSD.
    Many suffer, your blog offers and provides help. It comes from personal experience which helps the readers of the blog!
    Great work at GettingBetter, stay in touch!

  2. Look at the bright side 12/31/09 has not come yet. Any way you have great insight and was wondering what are your thoughts about a child moving every 2 years of there life and changing schools? Can this cause trauma in itself? Thanks

  3. I would not presume to judge whether anyone's experience was traumatic or not...I didn't think my experience was traumatic until the effects of PTSD forced me to deal, so I would say figure it out for yourself by the effects in your life if that makes sense.

  4. It's interesting. Thank you for your efforts and your openness. I've read through a lot of your information and find it very "helpful" that isn't the right word but it's closest. I don't suffer from PTSD but someone I love very deeply does and when you mentioned "stay away from toxic relationships" I wonder how you do it or judge what's toxic. My friend as far as I can tell 99% of the the time only really responds to "toxic" interactions. Her rationalizations and commitment to them is so strong. She refuses to acknowledge they are toxic even after they prove to be exactly that. It repeats and repeats. As far as I can tell she only has toxic interactions with men. Me included. Even the good aspects of our friendship got twisted up. I feel really bad because a few times I said to her "the fact you like him and talk about him so much proves to me he's an asshole" she said "how do you know you haven't met him?" My reply cruelly was if "you like he's an asshole." The most amazing part is the things she says about the men she get so wrapped up in. She actually talks about the weird shitty things they do or say and laughs and almost feels complimented. I really wish there were more resources for people in my position. I feel so powerless to understand and be supportive in a way that helps. For years I tried to be understanding and patient and non-critical. But when the same things happened again and again and again. I feel I simple was unable to grasp exactly what she feels and I reacted (I believe) in the exact way she feels she deserved to be treated. How could I understand? It makes no sense to me, do a thing once it doesn't work, ok. Do it twice it doesn't work no problem, I try a different tactic. She does the same thing continually with the exact same results.

    It is the most heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced in my entire life. Absolutely devastating to see it coming like a tide knowing I would have to wait months for her to return to the state that I understand.

    So if all the realtionships are toxic how do you avoid them?

    Just expressing my frustration and applauding your bravery. I know this is a long hard road.

  5. Thnx fr yr comment, cap'n, and nice truck. As far as exploitative relationships go, I still have a tendency toward them, but I bounce things off my friends who either do not have abuse issues or have different ones than me, but whom I have learned over a long haul that I can trust. Over time, I have gotten a bit better at recognizing the exploitation quicker, but I used to joke that I could find the sickest person in a 12 step room every time; it would be whomever I was attracted to. Getting out of 12 step rooms was a big step forward for me. Now I share healthy things with my friends rather than mental problems. Not saying my friends don't have problems...they are people too, just that is not the basis of the friendship as in 12 step rooms.

    Anyway, you ask what can be done, but like my recovery from drugs an alcohol, no one else could help til I was willing, until I had hurt enough to be open to trying things differently. But especially with the stuff that happened while I was in recovery, it was lifesaving that a few real friends were around who perhaps didn't always understand, but stuck by me and gave me a clue about what a real friend might be. Now they have become the loving and supportive network of friends that I depend on. Gonna stop here before it turns into a post, which I don't have time to write right now :) Thanks for reading and commenting and I hope things turn around for your friend.

  6. Thanks brother for your reply. I appreciate your point of view. From what I have seen you must have come a long way. It seems the compulsion to ignore what people who either don't have PTSD issues or different issues say when it comes to interactions. The self destructive or self defeating part seems built in.

    Of course the relationships are toxic. That's the toughest part of seeing it from the outside. It makes no sense whatsoever and honestly feels like the interactions are thought out and intentional From what I've seen, the compulsion to do the exact thing that is going to hurt is far stronger than listening to friends or even asking a friend. You really should be proud. Often attacking the people that care and express concern. It feels like a lose / lose situation. You lose if you speak up and lose if you don't. Either one ends in pain all around.

    Yours is a smart and sensible way of approaching the relationship thing. Good for you for working on it and getting there. I used to joke a little how my friend could find the biggest loser in any given room the same way as you. I'm serious and I mean this I'm seriously convinced there is some subtle thing that is being conveyed. Body language or ?? Not being predator or prey per say, I don't see it but I tell you it honestly looks like a magnet pulling a ball bearing across the floor. If there was one person in the room who interacting with would cause that switch to flip. Guaranteed they would make contact and of course the thing would happen. I swear it is like seeing a person under hypnosis. That isn't a joke or any attempt at levity. It is like watching a force of nature in action. Like no matter how hard they try they want that switch to flip, you can watch the focus change and body language shift, almost a sense of determination to make this thing happen with that person.

    It would often take effort and work to pursue the interactions where doing nothing would have had positive results. One of the rare times in life doing nothing would have far better results than doing something. It almost felt like there is a hunger for unhealthy relationships. Which I guess there is......

    I hope you feel very proud and draw strength from knowing what you are accomplishing. From what I've seen the wrong relationships are a huge factor in undoing progress really quickly. They help alienate and cause shame which is a perfect way to perpetuate more of the same.

    take care and thanks for your blog it's helping me come to terms with the things that have happened and not take them so personally. I doubt you will draw comfort from this but loving someone with PTSD is a really hard thing. (not in any realm to be compared with having it but nonetheless really really hard on the other side)

    It's cliche but it truly is like watching a train wreck in slow motion but the worst part is you see it coming around the bend and no matter how hard you scream that train is gonna crash no matter what the guy screaming on the side does. That's heartbreaking.

    Especially when they pick themselves up dust off and get stable only to do it all over again. As if they live in some parallel world where a different logic is at work and it really makes sense. Just not from where you are standing.

  7. Cap'n wrote:
    "I doubt you will draw comfort from this but loving someone with PTSD is a really hard thing. (not in any realm to be compared with having it but nonetheless really really hard on the other side)"

    I'm am very much aware of how difficult my PTSD has been on my partner and I'm forever grateful she stuck with me through the worst of it. It made all the difference and ultimately made us both stronger better people for it, but she could have certainly done without my PTSD! The train wreck analogy is apt from both feels that way for the PTSD-er too. I constantly used to and still occadionally do still walk around with an impending sense of doom. David Bowie wrote a song, "Always crashing in the same car" the title of which has always summed it up for me.

  8. AnonymousJuly 16, 2009

    This blog is so very helpful! I found it just when I needed it. It helps that you are someone who actually suffered/suffers with PTSD. I am sorry for all the hell you have been through. I am glad you found the strength to manage your symptoms. Your writing is clear and relatable to me. Thank you.

  9. You are welcome. I'm glad you find it useful.

  10. I appreciate your blog. After reading, I have taken steps to try to work through my own PTSD issues. I have begun The Betrayal Bond and, while very difficult, find that it is helping me already. I am grateful because, had I not stumbled upon your blog, I would have not tried again - I have experienced some of the bad side of professional assistance, myself.

    I had developed a considerable denial of my PTSD diagnosis because the treatments and facilities were so ineffective and damaging that I couldn't believe I actually had what they said I did. I don't know if that makes any sense...

    I am beginning to feel a small niggling of reemerging hope, thanks to you.

  11. Good luck with your recovery! I am glad you found the blog useful. Having the very people who are supposed to help you hurt you more is one of the hardest things things to get through for me, so I appreciate your troubles and hope you are able to foster a loving and supportive network of people you can trust to help you through this time.

  12. I know it's been awhile since the last interaction on this page, but I just wanted to leave a comment nonetheless.

    I've been reading your blog since September and I can say it's been very helpful for me. I don't suffer from PTSD, but my husband does. Apart from me, there's no one else close to him who knows the extent of his condition. I'm the only one who lives with him, and thus, the only one who really gets to witness everything firsthand.

    Your blog has given me so much insight into what PTSD sufferers go through.

    In fact, it has inspired me to create my own blog: I made this blog for people who are like me -- the family members and loved ones of PTSD sufferers.

    There's so little you can find online to help people like me... so I decided to take matters into my own hands and do something... in the hopes that somewhere along the way, somewhere out there, there's someone who like me, is reaching out to the universe and asking for help on how to help me survive this as well, without giving hope on my husband and helping him through this.

    More power to you, and please do keep on writing. People like you give me hope that better days do come.

  13. Thanks for your comment and the link. I read a little of your blog, and got a little insight into how rough it is for the people who have acted as our caregivers too! I know my partner suffered from secondary trauma issues, but came through, and things got better as I slowly got better. I hope the same for you and that the trauma you are suffering stays secondary and that your partner gets better too.

  14. You may find this documentary to be useful to watch:

  15. AnonymousJune 04, 2011

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. I am suffering from PTSD. My rocket launcher blew up on me when I was firing shoulder fired rockets in the desert while serving in the Marines.

    I am writing about my story with PTSD. You can visit it here and perhaps guest post on it from time to time.
    Veteran's Guide to PTSD and Benefits

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. There is great information and sharing on this blog. I wish it were still active as it is probably very helpful for many people. Good and informative blogs can be hard to find.

  20. I am pretty busy with the rest of my life. I have a few ideas for posts and still ckeep an eye on the comments, just don't have much time for writing here and I have said most of what I needed to and don't want to start repeating myself. Glad you find it useful, and I'll try to post some more soon.

  21. AnonymousJuly 09, 2012

    I was on guard, always. At one point I remember just being to exhausted to fight it anymore. I remember just 'giving in to it', in a way hoping something bad would happen to me so this whole nightmere would end. Then something amazing happened. Nothing. Nothing bad happened to me and from there I started to rebuild myself. I found a psychologist who told me it's ok to cry, to be angry, to be sad, to be afraid, to lock my doors....I got permission and for some reason I needed that. Before I felt 'crazy', wrong to feel these things. I was hiding my emotions. Now I feel like it's my right to feel this way. I deserve this time to break down, cry, hid and HEAL. Best part. I'm starting to recognize my old self again. It's been 5 years. The world has changed for me and truthfully I'm not that egar to step out yet. In my healing I've seen a lot of ugly. Ugly in the system; insurance company's, doctors,employeers,co-workers, etc. I'm unsure of how to overcome this 'new world' that I have uncovered. Initially I was afraid of one person. Then my employeer who lied about me to save a few bucks. Insurance companys were a nightmere. Unqualified doctors. As a PTSD suffer, the trama isn't the only thing that we suffer. In my experience, time,truth and validation was my biggest healer. The enemy, lack of support,money,knowledge and hope. Without these things, it just gets worst.

  22. Thank you for this Blog, I have struggled with anxiety disorders since traumatic experiences in childhood. Mine now plagues me as OCD, but I still found this site very useful.

  23. gonnabfine1dayNovember 27, 2012

    Thank you. I appreciate your blog. I found it by accident yesterday and needed to read your posts. Take care.

  24. AnonymousJuly 08, 2013

    Thank you for making this blog. I have to say your ability to express yourself in words is astounding; like a good book, you grab someone's interest in how you depict the psychology. It's humanizing. I've been in a hospital, and i've gone through betrayal bonds most of my life, and to see someone else resolving - even if bit by bit- and against clinical norms, is a ray of hope. I was shaking when i found your blog from having to just call the cops for a noise complaint - i can flip a car and not even have high blood pressure, but listening to a few hours of screaming has me puking. Listlessly finding something to do at 2 am has proved rewarding this morning, and I hope you really feel rewarded in yourself for being badass. Be proud of yourself. They were all assholes, and you've got something else going on. The truth.

  25. Thank you anon, insert whatever the emoji for blush is here. The writing is good to the extent it is because I try to stick with my own experience instead of what you should do. Free advice is generally worth the cost. I am very gratified that my experience and the sharing it has touched off in the comments is helpful to people. It actually helps me heal, so I am grateful to have the opportunity and grateful others find it helpful too. I don't know about THE truth, but I try to speak up about my truth and that is a good process for me. For too long I lived under the illusion of my abusers' constructions ofrealities for me, and stepping out of that is a step into the light for me. LOL, but they were @$$holes though, weren't they.

  26. Very brave blog. A lot of people are not only afraid to confront the reality of PTSD, they are are afraid to confront some the people and practices who take advantage of many. Thanks for this blog and sharing your experiences.

  27. I am new member of your group. Just now having my eyes opened to what my real life is and has been (48 years of that now), I've had a hard time accepting I'm a victim, and an even harder time accepting that those who have victimized and betrayed me were doing just that. My AA sponsor made me go to the local Sexual Assault Center for treatment and that has turned my life upside down. 48 years is a long time to be in denial and learning to be honest with myself isn't easy. For the sake of full disclosure, I did fire my sponsor and stopped going to meetings. I credit her for saving my life, but I have some of the same issues with the 12 step programs as you have mentioned and I've given myself permission to step away from that group for now. The short of it, I've been sexually abused all my life, I have addiction issues (alcohol, drugs, etc.), I received my PTSD diagnosis, and now I'm learning about betrayal bonding. I catch myself trying to talk myself out of continuing my treatment, rationalizing and justifying everything that has happened, trying to explain it all away and trying even harder to take responsibility for the abuse I've received at the hands of others. Even as I type the words I understand it's a learned dysfunction and I need help, but I still catch myself trying to explain away everything. I was terrified when I realized that all the different questions I was being asked that 98% of the time my honest answer answer was yes. I finally told my therapist that I was afraid to be completely honest with her because I was afraid of what would happen if she knew the truth. Confusion, shame, rational, fear, all of these feelings just keep coming. She has given me some tools to help me get re-grounded when I start spiraling, and they have helped. I know I'm on the right road, but it is a very new road and I'm scared.

  28. Thank you for sharing anonymous, and sorry to take so long to post your comment. If you read this, I hope you are continuing to find your path to recovery. It is slow and hard to see sometimes, as well as difficult, but recovery does happen. I have had some shifts in my thinking about victims and perpetrators and have landed up on the term "survivor" but I don't push that too much either, because as I have gotten better, I slowly learn how to do more than just survive. But survivor as a self identification gave me more room to work with than "victim," because the surviving of the trauma was something I did myself, whereas victimization is beyond me and happens to me. It did, but I found I could get stuck in a sort of helplessness with victimhood, spinning my tires. Being a survivor was like putting chains on the tires and gave me enough traction to begin working my way through the PTSD. Thank you for sharing and thank you for reading.

  29. Hi Getting Better,
    Well I'm definitely going through an unraveling process now. I had to leave my last job. I was crying all the time and had at least one breakdown.
    Nothing has been making sense, everything I try seems to fall apart. And I'm realizing I have major unresolved trauma- compressed energy trapped deep within.
    I've been reading a lot of Waking the Tiger- Healing Trauma by Peter Levine. So I've been trying this Somatic Experiencing which has been helpful except sometimes lately I'm getting trapped in the mass of ugly stuff and can't get out- losing hope, etc. My boyfriend is amazing and pulls me out of it, even as I am stubborn.
    About ten years ago I had a relationship with an inappropriate person that I know now was a betrayal bond. The aftermath of this was nightmarish. I repeated the scenario many times (5 at least) and always went to the hospital feeling suicidal.
    Later I joined some twelve step programs which I dived into vigorously at first and ended up leaving for various reasons. And tried lots of therapy.
    And now just general struggles. Feeling pretty alone with what I'm going through. No-one seems to understand. And it's pegged anxiety disorder or bipolar or whatever and I'm tired of trying to explain things.
    Thank-you for your blog it is very helpful.

  30. Sorry to be so slow on the comments, and thanks for your kind words. People have mixed results with twelve step programs and with therapists. If you keep trying (if you have the resources to) with therapists, you may be able to find one that understands PTSD. It is a huge help, and just figuring out what is going on with some of the crazy stuff PTSD and betrayal bonds bring is a relief, though the path to healing is long and slow. Hope you are hanging in there.

  31. I am fighting to recover from C-PTSD, I need you to know just how much you helped me. I read every single post of yours. Followed every single link. For the first time in my life when I found you, I felt less alone. I have vowed to also do my best to let others know they too are not alone. Thank you. From the bottom of my bleeding heart!

    I do need to ask... How are you?

  32. Thank you so much. Writing this blog was part of my path to recovery and I'm glad you found good in it. I am doing fine, thanks for asking!

  33. PTSD recovery needs time. Though there are a number of resources including PTSD books available for gaining information about the disorder, such blogs touch the hearts of those suffering. They make the PTSD patients feel that they are not alone. My war experiences made me suffer the disorder and urged me to help those who are suffering. I developed empathy for them. Your work is truly commendable. Is Stockholm syndrome a complex form of PTSD?