Healing In Action

How-to and step-by-step ideas for healing PTSD.

Can Symptoms of PTSD Be Healed?

Years ago when I started working as a post-trauma coast my first client was a suicidal man who’d had PTSD since childhood; almost fifty years. Butch (not his real name) had been under the care of a psychiatrist and psychologist for the previous ten years, and they had him on a cocktail of three medications. Every time Butch explained that his PTSD symptoms continued to rage out of control the psychiatrist and psychologist had the same answer, “You can’t heal PTSD; you just have to learn how to live with it. We’ll increase your medication until you can better cope with symptoms.” So, they upped and upped his dosages and kept making appointments to talk about his traumas until, completely dysfunctional, unemployed, crazy with insomnia, terrified of nightmares, and over-medicated to the point of suicidal ideation he reached out to me. Now, I’m no miracle-worker and I can’t predict who will experience what gains in how to heal PTSD, but I do have this going for me: I believe everyone has healing potential; the goal is learning to access it. So, armed with my professional training and buoyed by my personal belief I set about helping Butch discover how to access his resilience and personal recovery process. Through coaching, hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming — plus the dedication of working every week for two years — Butch reached an incredible place: Off all meds, sleeping through the night, free of PTSD symptoms and back engaged in living and creating a meaningful life of family, friends and work. That was several years ago. Today, it tickles and delights me every time I receive update...

How to Reduce Fear in Healing Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms

How to reduce fear in healing anxiety and PTSD symptoms is a big issue for every survivor. After all, fear is the reason we experience anxiety. And PTSD symptoms are driven by fear in the extreme so…. how can we reduce it, and can it be beneficial in healing? Actually, yes, fear can support recovery in ways that are so significant they can bust blocks, increase momentum and even lead you to straight into discovering how to heal symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. In a weird twist, learning to use fear in healing PTSD actually helps to reduce its effects. For a long time during my battle with PTSD I fought fear in three really successful (I’m joking) ways: Suppression — I shoved fear down and pressed on. Of course, it popped back up at all the worst moments, but I got good at quickly pushing it down again. Denial — I got super proficient at pretending I didn’t notice fear. (“Fear? What fear?”) Later, when I healed and the fear vanished, I was shocked by how “normal” fear had felt. Appeasement — I gave in to it, letting it flow over me, destroy the moment I was in and pretty much put me out of commission for hours if not days. All of these fear management tactics slowed my PTSD recovery process enormously. In addition to sapping me of energy I really could have used for healing suppression, denial and appeasement left me feeling powerless, hopeless and distracted. Using Fear to Heal Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms If you’ve read about how I healed PTSD, then you know that the major turning point of...

Symptoms of Acute PTSD: Anxiety and Insanity

Symptoms of acute PTSD made me think I was insane, literally. For over twenty years I struggled with the anguish of anxiety, fear and terror, plus the despair of sleep-deprivation, insomnia, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, mood alterations and emotional swings that were impossible to predict. I raged at the drop of the dime or within seconds was wailing in a tearful deluge that could not be comforted. I was powerless inside my own mind. This can’t be normal, I used to think. I must be crazy. Beneath all the symptoms of acute PTSD ran an oppressive depression-driven darkness so heavy I thought it would eventually kill me. How do you live when you feel life isn’t worth living for? What’s the point of going through the motions of life when death is all you think about, and often desire? During so many mad days and nights when I felt out of step with the world, unloved, unlovable, unpredictable and unsalvageable I soothed myself with this sentence, Some people are meant to be crazy; I’m one of them. For a long time I believed that sentence. I treated myself as if it was incontrovertible truth. I gave in to self-destructive “crazy” behaviors, allowed people to use and abuse me, made poor choices about relationships, work environments and lifestyle and all the while explained these things to myself as doing my best to live as a crazy person. If I’m crazy then I’ll do crazy as well as anyone! During all those crazy symptoms of acute PTSD, however, there was a small voice echoing somewhere in the depths of my mind. It was a soft...

Hypnotherapy: Dealing With PTSD and Trauma

If you’ve read about how I kicked 25+ years of PTSD then you know that hypnosis played a key role in my healing rampage. This week’s post is contributed by Amy Smeaton, a hypnotherapist giving us the inside scoop on how hypnosis can be used to heal symptoms of PTSD. It’s often the case when clients come to me for hypnotherapy that there are further issues that they wish to address and that the initial appointment is my ‘test’ to see if I am the right person for their needs. I welcome this with clients because it means that they have acknowledge that they need the right person for them if they are going to choose hypnotherapy. During my initial consultation with clients my aim is to make them feel relaxed and able to share their thoughts with me. I have a strict no judgement policy which gives clients the ability and confidence to tell me anything they need. I find that after the initial treatment that clients are more empowered to open up to me and help me deal with the underlying issues. More and more often clients are coming to me with details of trauma and PTSD which I recognise but has been undiagnosed as they may not ‘fit’ the PTSD criteria. Every client is different in the way that trauma such as sexual abuse- either as a victim, observer or perpetrator (I said no judgement), domestic abuse, violent crime, trauma in the line of duty, childhood illness. Has affected them and no one can say how deeply something should or does affect someone. When using hypnotherapy to treat trauma there are several recognised methods which can...

Healing PTSD Symptoms Hurts: How To Lessen The Pain

Back in 2004 an unfortunate accident with my Wheaten Terrier (that’s Baylee in the pic — he looks harmless but when he chases a squirrel, watch out!) broke the last two fingers on my dominant left hand. Reset by the orthopedist for the NY Jets (don’t ask how that came to be) the fingers healed but in a crooked way that sort of fused them together. By the time the bandages were removed the fingers were tense, tight and unable to bend. Clearly, I had my work cut out for me in physical therapy. I went to a physical therapist in downtown Manhattan near where I worked. I walked in, sat down, was told to soak my hand in paraffin to soften things up and then…. I was given a handful of what looked like Play-Doh and told to form a fist. I tried to curl the fingers — no go. They were stiff and stuck in their frozen position. The therapist insisted I start bending the fingers despite the pain. I resisted; she insisted and gently cupped my hand in hers and started to force the bend. I just about jumped out of my seat from the pain. I stuck it out for a few more sessions before deciding that the pain of healing my fingers wasn’t worth it. Surely they would loosen up on their own over time, right? Wasn’t it reasonable to expect that they would learn to curl and bend with regular use? I decided to wait and see what would happen. After a month I discovered why that was a bad idea: The fingers remained...

How To Control Feelings That Create PTSD Symptoms

You know those sensations — the ones that come out of nowhere — those feelings that create PTSD symptoms you just can’t control. We’ve all been there. During my PTSD years this happened often in medical situations when I’d suddenly find myself shaking so much my teeth would chatter. How do feelings create PTSD symptoms? The simplified answer is that it happens like this: Your senses deliver stimuli information to your brain. Your mind assesses the info and develops an interpretation of the data. (This is where the whole process hinges: Your (negative, positive or neutral) interpretation affects the rest of the chain reaction.) In response to the interpretation your mind forms a thought which releases chemicals in your brain that create a sensation in your body that compels you toward an action (fight, flight or freeze). At the end of all that your mind registers a response to the meaning of the experience. Whew, with a process so complex it’s no wonder that how feelings create PTSD symptoms is exhausting! To break it down and make it easier to see I’ve created this infographic:   The crux of learning how to interrupt the full-blown process of how a feeling creates PTSD symptoms means learning to intervene in the interpretation phase. One way to do this is to immediately start asking yourself, “What’s another way to look at this?” or… “What’s another explanation for what’s happening in this moment?” True, the feeling creation process happens quickly and at first you may not be adept at slowing it down enough to fully explore other interpretations. However, you can ask yourself to imagine other interpretations at any point...
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Helpful Resources

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