Hearing Voices: From The Inside Out

This is a lovely 14 minute clip of Eleanor Longden describing her journey from a perceived madness to recovery. Besides any doubts we may have of her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her process of recovery sounds very much like recovery from DID. Take care, take faith, and take hope.

New: Moving Past Sexual Abuse Seminar

Raeburn House is running again a sexual abuse survivor group. In previous years the survivor groups were ongoing support groups that accommodated survivors to attend for several terms. They were designed following the three stages of Judith Herman’s model described in Trauma and Recovery (1992). Since then our understanding of recovery has evolved and the new group will take place with an emphasis on learning rather than sharing one’s experiences.

We will explore the three principles that are behind our psychological experience so that people can overcome the debilitating symptoms often found in the aftermath of sexual abuse. That involves gaining an understanding of how our feelings are created, how to deal with low moods, how to discern between low quality of thinking and high quality of thinking, and how to cope/deal with distressing feelings.

When: Wednesdays, 8 weeks, Starts 2 May 2012
Time:·12:30pm – 2:30pm
Total Cost: $60
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford

To enrol contact Raeburn House directly on (09) 441 8989 or email learning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

So Simple – So Powerful

I have lately written a number of posts that reflected my understanding of the 3 Principles. I posted the trailer here for those who might be interested in getting an idea what this is all about. My understanding is still at a beginner’s level – yet as it deepens more and more, things make sense to me now that have been puzzling me as long as I can remember. For example:

How come I can look at clients and see the beautiful, good, and caring persons while they can see only ugliness, broken-ness, and fault when they look in the mirror?

We are both looking at the same person. The only difference is how we both think about him or her.

How come recovery leaps ahead when people realise abuse wasn’t their fault, that they are OK, that they are capable etc.?

The difference is the shift in thinking. Letting go of the habitual thinking from (early) childhood and looking with love and compassion at oneself through uncontaminated spectacles enables the shift.

I could come up with many more examples. What stays with me this morning as I am writing this is the importance of looking at oneself (and I mean all parts of oneself) with deep love and compassion, knowing that at any point in time people do the best they can with the resources they have and under the circumstances they are under. Knowing that deep inside every person is a part that is whole, resilient, and unbreakable. You may call is soul, or spirit, or something else altogether – it is there and it is magnificent!

Messages From The Past

Messages from the past are a bit of a mixed bag, aren’t they? Remember the movie ‘The Goonies’, where kids are finding an old treasure map in the attic and get quite excited about the possibility of helping their parents out financially, ending up – after overcoming dangerous booby traps – finding an old pirate ship full of jewels and gold?  Happy ending, but a nail-biter in between. I suppose, one could say the message was a positive one, given that it evoked excitement and hope.

Other messages from the past are not so positive. Most people who read this blog have had a history of abuse and neglect. They struggle with old messages either given through hurtful words and actions or through neglect, the absence of caring and nurturing words and behaviours. In short these messages can be summed up as ‘you are not worthy of care, love, and protection. One can easily see that the later messages are negative ones given they can be emotionally crippling and causing symptoms (low/no self-confidence, lack of self-care, lack of emotion regulation skills) some people label as ‘mental illness’.

Most survivors, if I would be able to take them onto a journey into the past whereby we could visit a fellow survivor in her childhood and observe a situation when they are being hurt, would say without hesitation that the fellow survivor does not deserve to be hurt, it’s not her fault, there was nothing she did wrong. Indeed they would immediately see that the parent and/or abuser were accountable of their acts no matter what excuses they would utter.

How come that people carry these message for years and years in their hearts? Partially because there are strong painful emotions accompanying abuse and emotions act like glue, they make memories stick! Another reason is that abuse happens mostly in childhood when the kid’s cognitive development is mainly shaped by egocentrism causing her to believe that she ‘made’ it happen.

Looking back as adults, we can see easily the fault in such thinking. How then are we to understand survivors tendency to nurture these old negative messages from the past? Especially given that often the message sender was ‘out of his/her mind’? Given that what a person says or does has all to do with that person and with nobody else. Given that a statement such as “you are …. xyz” can’t possibly be true and accurate given that whatever a person perceives is filtered through his/her own history, filters, biases and subject to distortion, deletion, and generalisations.

I hope that survivors give some attention to the function of thought in human’s experience of creating reality and scrutinize their own thoughts about themselves. Thinking “I am not OK” or anything negative about themself can’t possibly be real because it does not take the whole person into consideration and completely ignores that thoughts are just thoughts. They are like a picture of a person but never the living person. A living person is more than a picture can ever convey.

I wonder what help my readers with putting their self-perceptions into perspective. If you want to know how understanding the processes of thought, mind, and consciousness can help you to have a better life, and if you want to know how to let go of a child’s perspective, follow this link and contact me.

Letter To My Younger Self

Today I came across a lovely blog post from a fellow blogger. The title is “Letter to My Younger Self”. I became curious to see what Rachel (the blogger) wrote. Those of you who know me will understand that: I hold the strong belief that a big part of the recovery journey  is to find a place of compassion, love, understanding, respect, and appreciation for the younger SELF who managed to cope with the abuse.

When I make this statement I hear frequently “Yes, maybe, BUT see how much I am struggling, see how much I am in pain, see how difficult it is to reverse the dissociation”. The way the younger Self coped is creating a whole lot of problems today.

My counter argument is usually: The younger You cope with something horrendously difficult and confusing the best thing s/he could. With the limited resources and understanding a child has; and often with barely any support. You can now, as an adult, make the necessary changes.

However, the first step is to give recognition to the child in the form of love, care, respect, understanding, appreciation. It won’t be long until one by one your problems will start melting away. I encourage you to read the ‘Letter to my younger self” by clicking on the link!

Coping When Disaster Strikes

A terrifying disaster like the Christchurch Earthquake has a huge impact on people. We are confronted with the fragility of life, with the unpredictability of our physical safety on this planet, and with our inability to protect ourselves and loved ones from such tragedies. Trauma people may have experienced earlier in their lives often gets triggered and they find themselves thrown back again into the depth of traumatisation.

When you have been touched by a traumatic event and you feel emotionally numb, irritable, angry, or tearful, don’t be self-critical because these feelings are some of the normal feelings people have as a response to an un-normal event. You might experience sleeplessness, hypervigilance, nightmares, or avoid thinking about what happend: all these reactions are normal. These symptoms may go on for several months and in some cases they could turn into a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Whilst we cannot ‘not’ be affected by trauma one way or the other, most people are free of any symptoms after a few months. However, there are a few things people can do to help coping whilst they experience trauma symptoms and to avoid longlasting problems.

The world has seen devastating catastrophic events such as natural disasters, extreme poverty and famine, wars, political terror, slavery, and the abuse of individuals on a grand scale. Yet, in the aftermath of devastation, traumatized individuals have usually been able to recover and rebuild their lives and their countries. One characteristic of human societies is that people come together and seek closeness with others to help with the integration of traumatic experiences. “Emotional attachment is probably the primary protection against feelings of helplessness and meaninglessness; it is essential for biological survival in children, and without it, existential meaning is unthinkable in adults” (Kolk & McFarlane, Traumatic Stress, 1996, p. 24).  Seeking and giving support when traumatic events strike is one of the most effective ways to help people cope.

In times of crisis and heightened stress the first rule of conduct is: BACK TO BASICS. In order to be able to keep up with the extra pressure on your emotional and physical functioning, its vital that you look after your basic needs first. You can only be of help to others when you are taken care of. A car without petrol is no use to anybody … it won’t run.

Make sure you get some decent amount of food – actually, foods high on carbohydrates (sugars) have a stress reducing effect – and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Without enough fluids we humans tend to not function that well. It is also important to get enough sleep, and if you can’t sleep, get some rest somehow. Stay active by either helping with the clean-up, running, cleaning up your yard or house, giving a hand to people in need.

It helps to stay away from alcohol, recreational drugs, and cigarettes. These substances compromise your thinking speed and quality, and they are an extra stress on your body.

Staying Safe Over The Holidays

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The Christmas season is known as the ‘Merry Season’, the season of good-will where people come together with loved ones, families, and friends. Preparing for such gatherings, people buzz from shop to shop to presents, decorations for their home, and food. (Did I say cookies, chocolates, Stollen, and marzipan?)

For survivors, however, the holiday season can be anything but joyful. For some this time of the year triggers memories of abuse and they can feel stressed, anxious, depressed, or even suicidal. While that is often hard to avoid, it is possible to take some precautions to make this time as safe as possible. Here are some tips:

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Grounding Meditation

Here is another relaxation / meditation exercise. This one is more focused on grounding yourself. Grounding is one of the concepts used in therapy quite a bit. In the widest sense it means 'getting both of your feet firmly on the ground'.

Do you feel shaky, spacey, or confused? A grounding exercise might be just what you need. Because all meditations/visualisations emphasise deep breathing, you will get the relaxing benefit of breathing regularly and deeply. This in itself brings you more fully into your body.

I found the meditation on YouTube

ENJOY! and let me know how you find it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/v/MNrYM38LTzc?fs=1&hl=en_US

STOP – BREATHE – RELAX

Have you ever wondered how you can relax? You will have heard about tapes that help you to get into a relaxed state – but usually you can't find it the moment you need it.

Here is some good advice. Relaxation is something that you need to practice. Ideally you practice it every day for maybe 5 min at a time. So when you are getting stessed and start 'losing it', you only have to remind yourself of 'relaxation' and you'll go immediately into the relaxed state, because your mind remembers it from your weeks of exercising.

Don't take my word for it – try it out for yourself. But remember, you have to practice at least for a month every day. Watch the following video I found on YouTube and let me know how that was for your.

http://www.youtube.com/v/P-ygq1W681A?fs=1&hl=en_US

Can You Trust Your Feelings?

Emptiness A big part of recovery from the legacies of sexual abuse is getting to a point where you have a sense of control over your emotional states. That means not to be thrown around all the time – or a lot of the time – by feelings of hurt, anxiety, fear, panic, suspicion, envy, hopelessness,"self-loathing, and hate.

On one hand we are taught to trust our feelings and use them as a guide for the way we behave and interact in this world. "How do you feel about this …?" A common questions we are asked to answer, not only in therapy but also in all other areas of life.

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