Moving Past Sexual Abuse Group Starting Soon

Raeburn House, Auckland, New Zealand, is running another Moving Past Sexual Abuse group. In the past the group was organised as a support group in which participants would be surrounded by survivors who understood their experiences and sharing one’s stories and supporting each other was the strongest emphasis.

This new Moving Past Sexual Abuse group is about discovering ways of how to leave the abuse and the legacies of the abuse behind oneself. Rather than concentrating on what happened in the past the emphasis is on having a life worth living NOW, today, and the days to come.

You will be shown how it is possible to regain control and reconnect with joy, wisdom, and peace of mind. You will find that the capacity to live in wellness has always been dormant within you waiting for you to connect with it. The Moving Past Abuse group is geared to help you realise that potential!

You can expect that we will address how to deal with anger, difficult emotions, social connections, relationships with self and others, depression, perceptions, thought, and in general how not to be ruled by the past.

Here are the starting dates and details:

When: Mondays, 8 weeks, Starts 30 July
Time:·7:00pm – 9:00pm
Total Cost: $80
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford

For more information contact Raeburn House, phone: (09) 441 8989 or emaillearning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

Find more interesting groups run by Raeburn House by going to their website.

The ABC of Anxiety

I was watching breakfast TV this morning to catch up on the Cold Blast that has a tight grip on New Zealand for some days now. While sipping my hot cuppa after the weather update I listened to a psychologist talking about anxiety, how normal it is (according to her more people are suffering from an anxiety disorder than do from depression), how the body responds, and then offered a smorgasbord of suggestions how to deal with anxiety: relaxation, meditation, yoga, and if nothing helps seek out a health professional. This is the standard advice and treatment given for anxiety – besides drugs. How then is it that anxiety in increasing and people struggle with it for years? Can it be that there is something missing in understanding anxiety?

Anxiety is a derivation of fear. We never speak of a fear disorder, because fear is a NORMAL response to a dangerous situation. In a split-second the brain takes in the circumstances of the environment through the senses, evaluates it on whatever prior knowledge or experience people have of similar circumstances. Then it shoots neurological commands (mainly through the neurotransmitter adrenaline and cortisone) through our body to either freeze, fight, or flight. The commanding thought that goes with it is for example ‘Oh, help, run, or I am going to be killed’! When you stand in the middle of the road and a truck is coming you way, you want to quickly mobilize your body and get out-of-the-way. You will want to run. Fear helps you to do so. When the situation has passed, fear will leave your body and your physical chemistry will go back to ‘normal’.

Anxiety on the other hand, is not so much about a real situation. Anxiety is being fearful of something that is not real. Anxiety is about something PEOPLE THINK is real – but it isn’t because it has not happened yet and may or may not happen at all. Anxiety is a feeling people have because they have a thought or a battery of thoughts about a future situation they are making up inside of their heads. “If I am late for work I will be fired” or “If I speak out I will be hurt” or “The share market will crash and I will lose my money” or “I might lose everything if there is another earthquake” or “If I get closer to my partner I will get hurt”. These are just a few examples of fearful thoughts, worries about possible future events or consequences that are the cause feelings of anxiety.

Unfortunately, the human brain has no way of distinguishing whether something is real or people just think it’s real. It will respond the same way as it does in dangerous situations: adrenaline and cortisone will flood through the body – yet there is nothing OUT THERE to respond to, only an imaginary threat. People don’t have to freeze, flight, or fight. The way I see it, spiralling anxious thoughts leads to more flooding with neuro-chemicals which might lead to a full-blown panic attack.

One might say there is no such thing as an anxiety disorder. It should be classified as a thought disorder – although I think it is not helpful to be seen as a disorder at all. It only benefits the pharmaceutical industry who can sell millions of dollars worth of drugs, without addressing the root cause of the anxiety, people’s thoughts, but instead messing around with people’s chemical make-up.

Anxiety is more about lacking understanding how our brain works. Once individuals can be helped to see that their thinking is causing their feelings, they are in control of changing that. They can let go of their worrisome thought by learning it is just a thought, it’s not real. The average person has 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day. Why not wait for a positive thought about NOW and give energy to that? Let go of the negative thought of what might happen if…, it’s not real. When you are in a calm state your inner wisdom will tell you whether you need to do something about your investment portfolio to be less vulnerable to share market fluctuations. It is not hard to see that a state of high anxiety is not helpful for making good decisions or plans.

 

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.

Fear not Fear

Fear in all  it’s many guises is probably the biggest obstacle survivors of abuse are confronted with. Even though fear is vitally important in warning people of impending danger, most survivors will experience fear, anxiety, panic, or even terror in a very crippling way. Rather than being a warning sign, fear is over-generalised and becomes psychologically unhealthy. 

Rather than assessing the situation that cause feelings of fear and looking for solutions, people focus on the fear itself trying their hardest not to feel the feeling with a general stance of avoiding. Avoiding places, avoiding people, avoiding thinking about their inner life, and avoiding challenging irrational beliefs. A lot of recovery time is spent avoiding those things and situations that trigger feelings of discomfort, fear, and doubt.

If you feel fear it’s no use to ignore it, avoid it, or push it away. Don’t hold your breath in the hope it will disappear. All you do is creating a power struggle between the part of you that feels fear and the part that doesn’t want to feel it. Fear turns into panick and ultimately you end up becoming fearful of the fear, feeling betrayed by your own body.

If you want to help yourself you need to find a way to access your adult rational thinking capacity and assess the situation you are fearful about. Is this about HERE AND NOW or is it about THERE AND THEN? Is your fear realistic, are you in some for of danger? If not, embrace your fear, welcome it, befriend it. Don’t ask it to go away, thank it for letting you know that there is something – probably in your past – that you need to deal with.

It helps if you have a plan to regularly ‘stretch’ by putting yourself into situations that, although safe, create feelings of discomfort or fear for you. Make the fear your friend and you will see, over time you will lose your phobic avoidance reaction (that cause fear to increase). Try it out! You have nothing to lose but the stronghold fear has on you.

Don’t Quit

Closed There are a number of times in a year where people get easily stressed and become vulnerable to get flooded with hurtful memories that then become hard to cope with. Christmas is such a precarious time of struggle where everything feels too hard. Some people end up thinking of quitting.

I would say ‘don’t quit’ because overcoming obstacles teach us about our selves and about the world around us. Overcoming our fears and facing obstacles also makes us resilient and strong. Overcoming obstacles that form a resistance to a planned path of action is necessary for people to grow. Physics teaches us that there is no life without resistance.

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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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6 Tips to Reduce Stress

Beach I have just discovered a great blog about PTSD with very useful articles, one of which was about how to deal with the stress caused by PTSD. It's based on the fact that stress is caused by elevated cortisol levels in the blood and the article lists a number of things you can do to lower your cortisol levels. Here it goes …

1. Mediation lowers the cortisol level by 20%

2. Sleeping (good 8 hours rest) lowers the levels by 50%

3. Dinking black tea leads to a reduction of cortisol by 47%

4. Going out with a funny friend reduces cortisol by 39%

5. Having a massage takes care of 31% reduction of cortisol

6. Spiritual activity reduces cortisol by 25%.

The articles quotes research that came up with these findings. So, if you find your present stress level is too high, make sure you have a good sleep, then meet up with a funny friend(s) and so some silly stuff while drinking some black tea. That should take care of the bad stress for you!

If you want to read some more, go to my articles under the category stress here!

6 Tips to Reduce Stress

Beach I have just discovered a great blog about PTSD with very useful articles, one of which was about how to deal with the stress caused by PTSD. It's based on the fact that stress is caused by elevated cortisol levels in the blood and the article lists a number of things you can do to lower your cortisol levels. Here it goes …

1. Mediation lowers the cortisol level by 20%

2. Sleeping (good 8 hours rest) lowers the levels by 50%

3. Dinking black tea leads to a reduction of cortisol by 47%

4. Going out with a funny friend reduces cortisol by 39%

5. Having a massage takes care of 31% reduction of cortisol

6. Spiritual activity reduces cortisol by 25%.

The articles quotes research that came up with these findings. So, if you find your present stress level is too high, make sure you have a good sleep, then meet up with a funny friend(s) and so some silly stuff while drinking some black tea. That should take care of the bad stress for you!

If you want to read some more, go to my articles under the category stress here!