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2010 Best PTSD Resources for Trauma Survivors ~ Pt 1

BT 2010 Birthday CandleOne year ago, on New Year’s Eve 2009, I launched the first Best Tweets for Trauma Survivors. In the last 51 weeks, I’ve read 2000+ articles and blog posts which were narrowed down to approximately 600 links, posted in much smaller weekly doses. This two-part compilation is my “2010 best of” resources for trauma survivors. (Photo Credit)

Below you’ll find a clickable index to take you to the topics covered in Part 1, which includes general mental health and PTSD resources, trauma defined, and trauma symptoms. Part 2 will be released Friday, January 7, 2011, and cover major symptoms in more depth, therapy issues, and specific sections for child abuse survivors, rape survivors, and war veterans.

As always, my choices are entirely subjective, but will prove to be highly useful and informative. For this index, I’ve removed all of the original Twitter names and tweet text. While I will continue offering Twitter names and text in the weekly Best Tweets series, this index is intended to be lean and cross-platform. If you discover any broken links down the road, please contact me at (sarah.e.olson AT gmail DOT com).

A year ago, I had no idea if there would be a second Best Tweets post the following week. For me, personally, publishing Best Tweets every Friday without fail for a year was a giant leap into self-confidence and accountability. Thank you for your support, and I’ll be back with the regular Best Tweets for Trauma Survivors on January 14, 2011!
 

2010 Best PTSD Resources
for Trauma Survivors ~ Part 1

Part 1 Index

General Mental Health

Suicide Prevention

Trauma Defined

General Mental Health

Compilation Sites

 

National Institute of Mental Health: All Publications on Mental Disorders and Research, and National Institute of Mental Health: Coping with Traumatic Events
[SEO: An excellent database of free printable resources, and many links to government resources and information regarding PTSD.]

40 Excellent Blogs for PTSD Support
[SEO: An outstanding collection of blogs which focus on issues faced by trauma survivors of all types. “No matter the trigger — war, abuse, the death of a loved one, natural disasters and many others — and no matter the person, he or she can find themselves stricken down by this harrowing medical condition. Though PTSD and its co-morbid diagnoses swell from varying circumstances, those suffering from it are not nearly as alone in life as they may feel. Even beyond the resources listed here (in no particular order), other blogs, websites and forums specifically catering to the needs of victims provide an online community promoting hope and the pursuit of healthy therapy. Use them as a stepping stone towards stability and peace, though please understand that none of the advice provided here takes the place of professional therapy.”]

Dissociative Disorders Glossary
[SEO: Dissociation can be an aspect or symptom of PTSD. Various terms defined in this extensive cross-linked glossary crossover to many other PTSD symptoms and related disorders. Sidran Institute’s website provides many free resources for trauma survivors, and is highly recommended.]

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About PTSD, Generally

 

PTSD and Trauma Organizations
[SEO: Good linked list of major sources of information for trauma and PTSD issues.]

National Center for PTSD: For Veterans and the General Public
[SEO: “This section is for Veterans, other trauma survivors, and anyone who wants to learn about traumatic stress.” See the extensive links in the left column pertaining to all aspects of PTSD for both veterans and any trauma survivor.]

National Center for PTSD: Treatment of PTSD
[SEO: This U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs document is a valid starting place for non-veterans as well to gain basic information about PTSD treatment options, regardless of the source of trauma. This may also be a helpful overview for family members, including the section on family therapy, to further their understanding and support.]

PTSD Test
[SEO: Another excellent starting place to educate oneself about PTSD. Includes a PTSD self-test to evaluate your symptoms; and where to go from there in terms of further educational resources, and finding help.]

Popular PTSD Questions
[SEO: Excellent basic PTSD FAQ. Trauma derives from many causes and results in myriad outcomes. The answers to these questions are framed in such a way to reflect that. Also contains links for further education.]

PTSD: So Much to Tell You, and I Can’t Say a Word
[SEO: A detailed post describing what it’s like to live with PTSD, aimed at those who don’t have it but need to understand. Includes a comprehensive list of symptoms, treatment for trauma and flashbacks, and a video, “Understanding PTSD: A Rough Guide”.]

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General Mental Health Issues

 

Strategies for Good Mental Health Wellness
[SEO: Bullet point lists of good coping skills; negative coping skills to avoid; and tips for better mental health. Especially good for anyone trying to understand where to start in a very complex subject, but also a refresher for those of us further down this road.]

Do I really need help?
[SEO: ” When mental health problems occur, recognizing them is the first step to recovery.” A great overview of the stereotypes regarding seeking therapy (that it’s only for people with severe disorders, or that it’s not needed until a bigger problem develops). The key for most people is determining whether the problem is impairing good functioning. “It is good to be worried about cars on the road, so you are more careful when you walk across; but when you are so worried that you cannot cross the road at all, it has impaired your functioning.” Includes a list of common symptoms, and how to find a therapist.]

What Not To Do When Dealing With Someone Who Is Mentally Unwell
[SEO: Excellent. A helpful list of things not to do or say to someone with a mental illness, from someone who is there.]

 

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Suicide Prevention

Crisis Resources

 

International Association for Suicide Prevention — Resources: Crisis Centers
[SEO: The International Association for Suicide Prevention’s website is a 24/7 wealth of help and resources if you are suicidal and need to talk with someone who will listen and care. If you are not suicidal, bookmark this site so you can point anyone you meet online to resources in their area, worldwide.]

Are you in crisis? Please call 1-800-273-TALK (USA) 24/7
[SEO: If you, or someone you know, (in the USA) is in crisis, know the lifeline number and get help. Includes a list of suicide warning symptoms, and many other resources.]

Suicide Forum — A support forum for people in crisis
[SEO: Talk to caring people worldwide online at www.suicideforum.com]

If you are thinking about suicide… read this first
[SEO: Compassionate and honest, this speaks to you directly about wanting the pain to end, and how to think about it in ways which don’t include you having to die. It does not judge you for your feelings, it encourages you to understand why you feel them. If you understand the why, you can see better solutions. Includes hotlines to call to talk with someone, and a list of related resources on Metanoia’s site.]

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Educational Resources

 

Help Prevent Suicide
[SEO: Important information about not just the warning signs of someone who is suicidal, but a clue-filled list of what that person’s motivation might be, which may not be all that obvious. Suicide is preventable. Know the signs, get that someone help.]

Embracing life after suicide attempt
[SEO: A tough subject, but one many trauma survivors are acquainted with: surviving a suicide attempt — and what comes next. This article, written by a suicide attempt survivor with bipolar disorder, emphasizes that speaking out about mental health and suicidal tendencies is the way forward. “The dangerous thing about silence is that it breeds shame and isolation, both of which can be much more devastating than any singular psychiatric condition alone. It’s one thing to be crazy. It’s quite another to think that you’re the only crazy person on the planet.”]

Promise Me You Will Be Here Tomorrow (YouTube)
[SEO: This video by a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder is empowering and validating. She speaks to the idea that many times in the healing process it’s so hard, you believe it will kill you. It’s overwhelming, and you think about giving up. Her message is: you won. Don’t give up now. Important powerful stuff that child abuse survivors (the context of the video) need to hear, and a promise to be made that must be honored. But the message is valid for anyone trying to rebuild their life following trauma. If you are in a bad place, watch this. Watch it even if you’re not in a bad place. It’s that powerful, and may help you at some future point.]

Veterans and Suicide — We Must Overcome (YouTube)
[SEO: A short video made by Vets Prevail offers stunning stats of what PTSD and depression are doing to our returning veterans.]

 

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Trauma Defined

The Clinical View

BT2010 Emergency Room

The Missed Diagnosis of PTSD by Dr. Marcia Sirota.

A trio of articles dealing with the basics of trauma: What is Trauma?; The Impact of Trauma; and What  is complex PTSD?, all by Dr. Kathleen Young.

20 Signs of Unresolved Trauma by Kathy Broady, LCSW.

 

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Educational Resources

 

PTSD Test
[SEO: Another excellent starting place to educate oneself about PTSD. Includes a PTSD self-test to evaluate your symptoms; and where to go from there in terms of further educational resources, and finding help.]

Popular PTSD Questions
[SEO: Excellent basic PTSD FAQ. Trauma derives from many causes and results in myriad outcomes. The answers to these questions are framed in such a way to reflect that. Also contains links for further education.]

Information on Child Sexual Abuse
[SEO: Defines the components of child sexual abuse; what it is; its long term impacts and description of various psychological disorders which may occur; and steps one can take when first dealing with all of this. Good primer to offer to anyone new to these issues.]

Veterans Day: The Misunderstood Mental Health Consequences Of War
[SEO: “Thus far [Nov. 2010] 5,798 men and women have died during these [Iraq and Afghanistan] wars and the number of those who have come home with significant physical injuries is approaching 40,000. In addition to the thousands who must deal with physical injuries, many of our returning troops are coming home with the invisible — but expected — injuries of war including post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety. Some studies suggest that as many as 35 percent of those who experience combat will eventually develop some symptoms of post traumatic stress. In addition, approximately 20 percent of those coming home will experience a traumatic brain injury as a result of their service.” And it goes deeper than that, to the families, to the children, dealing with long term separations and loss. “Given that the conflict in Iraq has been underway for over seven long years, tens of thousands of military children have only known the experience of war.”]

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Trauma Symptoms

Recovery and Resilience

General Resources

 

David Baldwin’s Trauma Information Pages
[SEO: David Baldwin’s work has been on the Internet 15+ years, and was the original go-to site for PTSD and trauma issues. He has not updated since November 2006, but there is a wealth of resources here.]

A Recovery Bill of Rights for Trauma Survivors
[SEO: When reeling from the after-effects of trauma, you may not realize that you have rights beyond that which are guaranteed by law. You have rights pertaining to personal space and boundaries; the right to guide the progress of your own recovery; to trust at your own pace; to be in the care of ethical mental health professionals. Some of these rights listed may never have occurred to you before.]

Cool new app seeks to help those struggling with PTSD
[SEO: It’s free, available for iPhone and Android, and designed for veterans and their families. Without having seen it personally, I’d still bet it would be helpful for anyone with PTSD.]

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Trauma Recovery

 

A Path to Keep Trauma from Destroying Your Life
[SEO: How trauma occurs, and how our minds react to it. “The heart of working with trauma is to get to a point where the emotional reaction from the trauma memory is no longer overwhelming. We can learn to ride the edge of this window and allow ourselves to look onto the emotional and physical distress associated with the memory with ‘nonjudgmental awareness.'”]

The Secret That All Clients Should Know but Few Therapists Share
[SEO: What they don’t tell you (usually) is that opening these wounds for healing often makes you feel much worse than before therapy began. It wasn’t until I found a truly great therapist that I experienced this. “…[W]hile you may experience more pain in the beginning, this process is necessary in order to fully explore your situation in a way that will lead to new insights.”]

You Can’t Heal What You Don’t Feel
[SEO: Why addictions and other forms of numbing feelings don’t work, and what to do about it. “How can you make it safe to feel emotions that potentially trigger a sense of devastating loss, wild rage, or deep depression? By cultivating the inner, loving parent who is always there to comfort, protect, and remind your inner child how you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Life’s trials don’t come with a manual, so you can’t always figure out what the lesson is. Patience, and faith in yourself will reveal their purpose, even if it is simply to show you how much you can bear. Developing confidence in your ability to deal with all your feelings only comes from practice.”

The Relational Cost of Trauma
[SEO: Discussion of how the person affected by trauma usually — understandably — copes with and heals from trauma at a slower pace than their friends and loved ones do, even if they are fully aware of what happened. They move on while you’re still in the middle of it. This often leads to the very unfair “why can’t you just get over it?” Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to the people in your life about this, or give them a copy of this article.]

 

Resilience

 

Rescue of Chilean miners provides lesson in human resilience
[SEO: “These men could have just sat there, marking time on the wall. But instead, even in a situation unique and terrifying in their lives, they determined what needed to be done, who should do what and when, and set about giving order and meaning to their experience. That practice, as much as anything else, reflected and promoted their mental and emotional well being. It’s a lesson for the rest of us.”]

Childhood Hardships May Trigger Lifelong Susceptibility to Stress
[SEO: Resilience starts young. “In yet another study that links mental and physical well-being, researchers from Brown University have found that people who experience adversity during childhood are more susceptible to stress throughout the rest of their lives….Psychological resilience does not mean that a person will never become depressed, never be overwhelmed by stress, or never need to find a therapist. But it does mean that a person is in a better position to work through these things, and possibly has more fully developed emotional tools that will help them do so. And as  this recent study shows, resilience starts young.”]

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Self Esteem

Self-Esteem –- Why It Matters
[SEO: “Without a sense of self, it is difficult to be alone, to make decisions, to set boundaries, to identify and accomplish goals, to succeed professionally, and to enjoy healthy, intimate relationships. Poor self-esteem underlies anxiety, depression, addiction, and sexual dysfunction.” Note, this article is addressed to women’s self-esteem issues, but I’m betting men can get something from this discussion as well.]

Authentic Self-Esteem
[SEO: Excellent article about what authentic self-esteem is, and isn’t, and how modern advertising distorts our perceptions of reality.]

10 Steps to Genuine Self-acceptance
[SEO: It’s always a struggle, but it’s nice to have a road map like this.]

How Trauma Impacts Your Sense of “Me-ness” – Part I and Part II
[SEO: “Before a traumatic life experience it is common to trust that you can and do make good decisions, that you are able to control your environment and keep yourself safe. Trauma smashes these beliefs and leads to new beliefs, namely that you cannot count on your judgment, for you once judged a situation/person/behavior/etc… to be safe and it proved to be traumatic, that your actions cannot change or influence things, that you cannot control your fate and that forces beyond your power dictate your safety. These new beliefs feel more accurate and become more convincing than your pre-trauma beliefs and thereby lead to a reduced sense of agency and safety. A natural consequence of a decrease in your sense of agency and safety is more frequent and intense feelings of vulnerability and fearfulness.”]

When You Don’t Like Yourself: Self-hatred: What can you do to change it?
[SEO: “… If we want to like ourselves we have to earn our own respect. Luckily, doing this doesn’t require that we become people of extraordinary physical attractiveness or accomplishment. It only requires we become people of extraordinary character — something anyone can do.”]

The Power of Empathy
[SEO: An excellent in-depth look at what empathy is, how it is beneficial, and how to become more empathic. “Empathy is not sympathy. When we’re sympathetic, we often pity someone else but maintain our distance (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from their feelings or experience. Empathy is more a sense that we can truly understand, relate to, or imagine the depth of another person’s emotional state or situation. It implies feeling with a person rather than feeling sorry for a person. And in some cases that ‘person’ is actually us.”]

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Healthy Boundaries and Saying “No”

A Short Guide to Setting Boundaries
[SEO: This is just excellent. “A personal boundary is a clear line which says ‘this is where my space begins and you’re not welcome in here.'” How to recognize the anger that develops when your boundaries have been violated; and to identify and set your boundaries.]

Establishing Healthy Boundaries
[SEO: “Being compassionate toward yourself around your not-so-good boundaries will go a long way in helping you to heal them, and this will allow you to feel safer and more empowered in your adult life.”]

Setting Healthy Boundaries In Relationships — A How To Guide
[SEO: “Why bother having them? They are an integral part of your sense of confidence and self-esteem. Low confidence and low esteem almost always comes hand-in-hand with crappy boundaries.”]

Learning How to Say ‘NO’
[SEO: Learning how to say no is part and parcel of exercising good boundaries. This article poses the idea that saying yes and no are linked, in that if you say yes to “A”, by definition you are saying no to “B”. “So maybe it’s more the kind of ‘no’ that’s worth looking at. For if you’re saying yes to everyone else’s needs first, then you’re probably speaking a lot of big internal ‘no’s.”]

The Halfhearted Yes: Why We Don’t Say No and How to Start
[SEO: “How many of us take what is handed to us, follow what is put in front of us or say yes to things that don’t really align with who we are or what we want in our lives? I’m a huge fan of the word yes. But I also realize that sometimes we say yes to things that don’t matter to us. We pass the time with the word yes, and don’t really utilize our choice in the matter.”]

The Art and Craft of Saying ‘No’
[SEO: “…when delivered with thought and care, this one tiny word opens magnificent spaces in our lives, allowing us the time to pursue truly meaningful activities and use our talents for the highest good.”]

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Coping

Trauma and Numbing
[SEO: The focus of this article is child abuse survivors, but numbing is commonly used by trauma survivors of any causation. “Everyone uses numbing at times as a method of coping. The problem is when it becomes obsessive or addictive. When the numbing is so often and so intense it blocks all emotions.” The author also discusses cultural norms by which grieving people are told to stop crying, or that “it’s okay”, which reinforces messages previously learned whereby having no feelings at all begins to equate to “happiness”.]

The Health Benefits of Tears
[SEO: This article propounds that crying is good for you, physically and emotionally, and discusses some of the science behind tears and their direct connection to stress relief. “Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and ‘tear expert’ Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and ‘feel-good’ hormones.”]

Surrender into Support
[SEO: “I realize now that I have been overly judgmental about the idea of helpless and have not really given surrender a chance. I have always thought being helpless was needy and cloying -– it was a bad thing. I always thought of helpless as bad words — like pathetic, loser, useless. Words you use to judge yourself as less than capable. When I took the negative judgment out of the word and allowed myself to say, ‘I am helpless right now to change this situation; I have shown up for myself, advocated, done everything I could do, I am living my best life, I now surrender.’ Something happened! I cried in relief!”]

Does Self-Care Mean Others Don’t?
[SEO: “Imagine your therapist introduces the topic of self-care, or assesses how you currently handle strong negative feelings or times of crisis. How would you interpret this sort of intervention? Does it mean your therapist doesn’t care? That others can’t care for or comfort you? Is it a kind of passing the buck? Do specific coping behaviors feel trivial compared to the magnitude of your pain?” A great conversation continues in the comments!]

7 Quick Ways to Avoid a Meltdown
[SEO: Simple things to change direction and calm down. Simple but not easy when in the thick of a meltdown, so keep this list handy. Includes the “Four Square” method of breathing to relieve anxiety. Worth a try!]

16 Ways to Get Emotionally or Mentally Unstuck
[SEO: I tend to get good and stuck when anxious. Many of the ideas offered here are just “out there” enough to give them a shot next time I can’t seem to break out of my anxiety. By “out there” I mean: “time travel” (!) or “go to 10,000 feet” (in your mind!). It’s a provocative list!]

6 Tips for Fighting Boredom
[SEO: Positing that boredom contributes to unhappiness, this post outlines six unusual ways to combat boredom.]

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Negative Thinking

PTSD And The Brain’s Reward Response: Can We Never Be Happy?
[This is a fascinating essay, technical in places but boiled down to its essence for the reader: Does PTSD change the way the brain handles reward response, so we don’t feel happiness the way we once did? (Or, by my own extension, if a traumatic childhood short-circuited our experience of happiness, can the brain’s reward response be changed to make us authentically feel it?) From the comments: “It explains a lot: why, after all the hard work I’ve done, I’m still not really what one would call happy, why I have a few good days occasionally, but my brain then slides back into the gray, why it’s so difficult to pull myself back out of the gray, why “nothing means anything” a lot of the time, despite having given my all to recovery tools/programs/methods.” Note: I do not see this as a reason to just give up on recovery work. There’s still lots to be done that is rewarding in other ways.]

Replacing Your Negative Thoughts
[SEO: Thought replacement offered as a tool for managing depression.]

Do You Have a Hard Time When Good Things Happen For You?
[SEO: “In the past, whenever I would come to the brink of a big success, I would feel these feelings of unworthiness and fear and subconsciously do whatever it took to either keep myself from moving any further forward, or to sabotage myself and take myself down a peg. That means bingeing, reverting back to old habits of being late, procrastinating and any number of other self-destructive behaviors.”]

10 Negative Thinking Patterns to Avoid
[SEO: How to identify and control cognitive distortions.]

Hearing Negative Self Talk?
[SEO: “I became aware years ago of the negative self talk that went on in my head. I tried all sorts of ways to deal with it or combat it. I heard all kinds of cute sayings and instructions such as ‘tell the committee to shut up, the meeting is over’ and tell them to ‘stop renting space in my head’. … Maybe I thought it made sense to ignore the voices because like many of us I grew up with my needs being ignored, so it was familiar and comfortable to ignore them myself. I don’t think I ever saw those nagging critical voices as expressing a need but maybe they were after all. Maybe I thought it made sense to ignore them because I didn’t have any other solutions about what to do about negative self talk.”Much discussion continues in the comments.]

Top 10 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging You (and How to Beat It)
[SEO: “An unexamined brain is a tricky thing to carry around. You’ve got unintentional biases, marketing weaknesses, “overclocking” issues, and all kinds of other mental bugs you may not know about. Here’s a helpful list of the mind’s weird ways.” The items described are not the most obvious ways that I think of as self-sabotage. Each item links to more on its topic.]

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Procrastination

Many Doorways

A Procrastination Test to Uncover Delay Patterns
[SEO: “The Procrastination Test is a set of self-assessment questions that spotlight areas of changeable procrastination thinking, emotions, and behavior.” After you identify your procrastination hot spots, page 2 of the article lists numerous articles about aspects of procrastination which are linked to specific test questions for further study.]

Are You an Anxious Procrastinator?
[SEO: This lengthy book excerpt discusses the many reasons why you procrastinate, followed by a self-assessment test. Knowledge is power.]

The Zen of Doing
[SEO: I see this as a kind of end-run on procrastination. “We’re buffeted wildly by whatever emails, conversations, news, events, demands, that are going on around us. Our minds become a constant deluge of thoughts dwelling in the past, worries of the future, distractions pulling us in every direction. But all of that melts away when we focus on just doing. It doesn’t matter what the doing is: sitting, walking, writing, reading, eating, washing, talking, snuggling, playing. By focusing on the doing, we drop our worries and anxieties, jealousies and anger, grieving and distraction.”]

20 Strategies to Defeat the Urge to Do Useless Tasks
[SEO: I never stop wrestling with procrastination. While I disagree that a task designated as “useless” (like checking email) is always so, as an avoidance technique, it’s superb! :) When I feel paralyzed by anxiety (which is where most of my procrastination is born), I’ve trained myself to go for the useless things first, because they allow basic movement where there wasn’t any before. If that works, I then focus on — and struggle with — how to prioritize the movement in “useful” ways that don’t lead back to paralysis. The strategies in this post offer some new ideas.]

Just Do It: 67 Ways to Tame the Procrastination Beast
[SEO: I’ve joked that I’d get to this list just as soon as I finish not doing other stuff :) But if you’re running dry on ideas to bust your procrastination, this is the list to peruse.]

 

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Body Issues

Boost Your Body Image by Journaling
[SEO: Acknowledges that journaling has long been a tool in treating emotional eating, and offers the idea that journaling can improve one’s body image and self-image. Lots of good tips!]

Untying Knots in the Body to Untie Knots in the Mind and Heart
[SEO: “The first foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of the body. It is cultivated with ‘body scanning,’ and movement practices like yoga and walking meditation — anchored in feeling the sensations of breathing.”]

Body Image: How to Respect your Body
[SEO: Not easy for many people, for myriad reasons. Survivors of physical/sexual abuse additionally must rise above the old tapes saying that violation of body boundaries isn’t under your control, which (for me at least) turned the body into an enemy.]

Our Brains Distort Our Own Body Image
[SEO: Fascinating. In a research experiment, healthy people’s brains distorted their perceived size of their hand to be both wider and shorter than reality, even though they could recognize a picture of their actual hand. Implications for disorders that deal with body image/distortions.]

Heavy Words
[SEO: Great read. Discusses obesity that, as with all compulsive behaviors, derives from both ongoing stress and anxiety, and a lack of community to help alleviate that stress and anxiety. (Suggests the Internet may give people the sense of community that is lacking.) He further argues that obesity cannot be seen as some kind of moral failure because of other described issues in play. No solutions, but lots to ponder.]

Forgiving Your Body
[SEO: This is a concept I struggle with daily. Still. “Throughout my years of healing, I have learned that I actually have a relationship with my body, and I have not always been kind. In many ways, I have been my own body’s abuser, from banging its head into pillows to overstuffing it with food that it did not need. I have hated my body for having orgasms during sex, and I have hated my body for not having orgasms during sex. I have taken a lot of my anger out on my body even though my body did nothing to deserve it.”]

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Memory

Lighting the Corners of Your Mind
[SEO: Trauma often creates dissociated memories, which results sometimes in not knowing or trusting if a memory is “real” or not. A good discussion of why it is important to own your memories — and why you don’t necessarily have to remember every memory — in order to move on from them.]

How Trauma Affects Your Memory
[SEO: A thorough, basic primer in the role trauma plays in memory loss, the symptoms for which you might seek professional help, and what the healing path might look like.]

Dealing With the Lack of Memories
[SEO: “My experience has been that people will remember important events when they have the resources to cope with ‘knowing’. Therapy better focuses on building resources and strengthening the client. Using sledge-hammer techniques hasn’t done anyone any good as far as I know. The good news is, recovery does not rely on unearthing all the bad or abusive memories.”]

Scientists Develop Pill That Erases Traumatic Memories
[SEO: It sounds like heaven. But you have to ask yourself here, “What could possibly go wrong?” The mind reels.]

In This Moment …
[SEO: How intrusive memories prevent one from living “in this moment”, and what this person realized was the key. “In my journey I have found that many of the symptoms of PTSD have to do with avoidance. I would attempt to block out any type of stimulation that might trigger the intrusive memories and flashbacks of the life events that were too overwhelming for my mind to cope with. … In order for me to begin to heal, to live in the moment — I had to be willing to start to let go of my avoidance behaviors and learn to recognize when I was USING avoidance.”]

 

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Pain

The Busy Mind on Meditation
[SEO: “Meditation doesn’t take the sensation of pain away,” Zeidan said. “It teaches people to cope with the pain. The emotional reaction to pain makes the feeling of pain worse.”]

The Pain Game
[SEO: This article begins with “virtual anesthesia”, a video game that distracts burn patients during painful procedures. It then continues discussion of the use of virtual reality to treat PTSD symptoms in veterans. Interesting premise, and possibly adaptable to help other types of trauma survivors as well.]

40 Ways to Let Go and Feel Less Pain
[SEO: “Eckhart Tolle believes we create and maintain problems because they give us a sense of identity. Perhaps this explains why we often hold onto our pain far beyond its ability to serve us.”]

Chronic Pain Can Be ‘Paralyzing’ for Women
[SEO: “A 2008 study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that people with chronic pain have neurons firing too much in certain brain regions, which could lead to permanent damage. This may explain the repeated findings in other studies that chronic pain is linked to depression.” Focus is on why women feel chronic pain differently than do men. But I think it’s of interest to men, too, if only to understand that difference.]

The Key to Dissolving Pain
[SEO: Intriguing read. People with chronic pain (I’m one of them) need all the keys they can get. “There might be a moment where we experience pain and that’s all we can focus on, exacerbating it with a barrage of negative judgments. Or maybe there’s a moment of pain where we intentionally choose to focus on it, but this time, letting the judgments be and tuning into the direct sensations of the feeling, thus stopping the negative cycle between thoughts, feelings, and emotions.”]

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Maintaining Focus

Distracted? 9 Ways to Maintain Focus
[SEO: “To destroy what’s breaking your concentration, you have to rid it from your corner of reality. This will take some getting used to, especially if unconsciously causing mental unrest has become a routine for you.”]

Overcoming Distractions by Confronting Them
[SEO: This is excellent. Why do we do just about anything to distract rather than deal with something that we can’t stop thinking about? “The more you ignoring something, the more attention it occupies, or as the old saying goes, ‘What you resist, you’re stuck with.’ The key to overcoming distractions is to face them, not ignore them.”]

7 Non-Prescription Ways to Increase Attention or Focus
[SEO: “There are various ways to enhance focus in addition to the prescription medications available on the market.” But note, you can try any of the methods discussed without Rx meds at any time. Be open to it.]

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Nightmares and Flashbacks

How to Deal with Trauma Nightmares
[SEO: Excellent insights into both the why and what to do about them. “One of the most distressing symptoms of trauma can be the nightmares it evokes. They attack when you are peacefully asleep and off guard. Not being able to get a good night’s rest can seriously compromise your mental health and make other trauma symptoms worse. If they persist you may even develop a fear of going to sleep.”]

Are Flashbacks a Dissociative Symptom?
[SEO: Blog by clinician, Paul F. Dell, who specializes in dissociation and PTSD, and is the current President of the International Society for Study of Trauma and Dissociation. He states that the current draft of the proposed DSM-V (which he and other members of ISSTD have input on) insists that flashbacks are dissociative. He then discusses four other models of dissociation, and concludes that not all flashbacks are dissociative. The discussion continues in the comments.]

Feeling Safe
[SEO: Discusses how to create a feeling of safety via protecting yourself in both the real and “unreal” world. Provides informal exercises to determine if the fear that stops your feeling of safety is real or imagined, and steps you can take to move forward.]

What to Do in the Places That Scare You: Pema Chodron
[SEO: “… if we’re honest, it can be downright frightening to face or come to terms with those parts that we find so threatening; the parts of us who procrastinate, feel insecure, gets anxious, or falls into addictive patterns. However, it’s just a matter of truth that over and again it has been found that connection is the greatest source of healing.”]

Trauma Nightmares and Lucid Dreaming
[SEO: “Trauma nightmares can not only rob you of sleep but make you dread going to bed at night. They can become a force that destroys you mentally and emotionally. It’s important to learn techniques for handling them so they don’t handle you.” Discusses (1) how nightmares can be your brain’s way of working things out, or trying to talk to you; (2) the importance of REM sleep; and (3) outlines a plan to develop dream recall.]

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Shame, Blame and Guilt

Shame and Self-Blame After Trauma
[SEO: This post is directed to child abuse survivors, but the principles carry over into other types of trauma (as is discussed in the comments). “Our very sense of self develops in the context of attachment to caring, ‘good enough’ others. Trauma disrupts this attachment and results in the disruption of basic developmental tasks such as self-soothing, seeing the world as a safe place, trusting others, organized thinking for decision-making and avoiding exploitation. It also often leads to pervasive shame and self-blame.”]

Was It My Fault? Self-Blame and Survivors
[SEO: This post is directed to survivors of rape, especially where the rapist was known, and trusted. “They were our dates, our friends, our teachers, our cousins or fathers or mothers or husbands.” Learn how to rewrite your internal script that blames your choices. “Only one person makes the choice to rape. There are things we can (and should!) do to protect ourselves, but the only person who can prevent rape is the rapist him- or herself. Bad decisions, neutral decisions, good decisions; to me it doesn’t matter. We should be able to live our lives, we should be able to trust our family and our neighbors. Rapists should not rape. Period.”]

Healing Shame: The Hiding Places of Toxic Shame
[SEO: A lengthy, complex, insightful article about the origin and role of toxic shame for child abuse survivors.]

Blaming: The Ineffective Art of Scrambling for Comfort
[SEO: “So the next time blaming arises in your mind, label it and see if there is a feeling associated with it. Is there fear, anger or sadness there? Perhaps a deeper emotional freedom lies in coming down from the blaming and into an intimate dance with our very own feelings
we’re trying to avoid.”]

Unload Your Guilt! (video)
[SEO: A visualization exercise to relieve some of the burdens of guilt which we all lug around. “I have to come up with a visualization technique that allows myself to unload some of the guilt. This one, I think, helps. Except for the fact that I stole the rocks, and I feel guilty about that, and I don’t know how to get them back to the place where I found them without looking like a terrorist.” A sense of humor helps, too.]

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Anger

How Anger Hurts Your Heart
[SEO: “The key here is ‘high’ levels. Moderate anger may not be the problem, according to Kubzansky. In fact, expressing anger in reasonable ways can be healthy. ‘Being able to tell people that you’re angry can be extremely functional,’ she says. But explosive people who hurl objects or scream at others may be at greater risk for heart disease, as well as those who harbor suppressed rage, she says. ‘Either end of the continuum is problematic.'”

Finally, Someone Agrees: Anger is Normal
[SEO: Per the author, anger is an emotion; rage, violence, and destruction are a choice to express anger in unhealthy ways. The anger itself is not unhealthy. “Anger is your self defense. It’s what announces in your head that you have had enough. It tells you when your rights or your boundaries have been violated. It tells you when you have been disparaged or abused, maligned or manipulated. It is the emotion that screams for justice or cessation. Take it away and you are defenseless.”]

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Regret

The Power of Regret
[SEO: Discusses why regrets can be positive toward growth, while guilt is destructive of it. “Regret acknowledges the integrity of oneself in the current, rather than labeling ourselves with negative beliefs from the past and potentially, the future.”]

10 Common Happiness Mistakes
[SEO: I don’t think of these mistakes in terms of “happiness”. (Full disclosure: Articles about happiness tend to make me cringe as they are too often simplistic and have very little to do with the reality of my life. There, I said it. Heh) But these 10 items are more about what we might regret not doing, changing, addressing, or realizing. Doing or changing these things doesn’t guarantee “happiness”, but they will eliminate the regret of not doing or changing them. Take a look at the list. What would you regret?]

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Hope and Gratitude

BT2010 Doorway To Gardens

Holding Onto Hope in Bipolar Disorder
[SEO: Achingly honest — and applies to anyone struggling with complex mental disorders. The author differentiates between the hope that anyone trying new treatments must have in order to keep trying vs her personal agony of hope when treatment after treatment does not work. While she knows they didn’t work for her, she still offers to hold hope for you if you have none, because they might well work for you. “There are probably people holding onto your hope right now without you even knowing about it. People like doctors, therapists, friends, family, and yes, even me. I’m hanging onto a piece of your hope too. I’m keeping it safe. I can see it there even when you can’t. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you. I know your despair. I know your pain. And I know there is hope. I know that as long as you are breathing, there is hope. Really. Truly.”]

Hope Is A Gift From The Spirit (YouTube)
[SEO: A lovely video of beautiful images, calming music, and text which describes the mythic origins of hope, why it is necessary, and why it must be shared. If you aren’t in a place of hope, watch this and contemplate what this video offers, even as a model to work on getting there. If nothing else, it’s beautiful and relaxing.]

Gratitude is an Attitude {Self-Discovery, Word by Word}
[SEO: “What gratitude does is refocus your attention and energy away from the burdens that you carry and creates a new reality. When we fail to consider the gifts that we have in our lives, we remain in a state of despair and frustration. We feel that we want more, need more. That we cannot be happy or feel satisfied with the way that things are.”]

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://thirdofalifetime.com/2010-best-ptsd-resources-for-trauma-survivors-pt-1/

9 comments

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  1. Sandra Lee

    Sarah,

    This is an incredible resource. The amount of material you’ve read is astounding! I’m glad that the process of sharing links each week has helped grow in confidence and given you a positive sense of accountability. Thank you!

    1. Sarah Olson

      Sandra,

      Thank you so much for your very kind words! May the New Year bring you joy and good health.

      Sarah

  2. Dr. Kathleen Young

    What a fantastic resource Sarah! How useful to have so much gathered in one place!

    I’d like to link to this on my site, in my list of healing resources.

    I appreciate all the time and effort that went into this…thank you!

    1. Sarah Olson

      Dr. Young,

      I’d love for you to link this in your healing resources list! Thank you!

      And thank you for all of your work as well! I linked to your three “about trauma” posts in the Trauma Defined section.

      Happy New Year!

      Sarah

      1. Dr. Kathleen Young

        I shall add it then :)

        I am honored to be included!

  3. Brenda Bomgardner

    WOW and thank you.

    1. Sarah Olson

      I appreciate you stopping by! Thanks!

      Sarah

  4. Kerro

    Hi Sarah, a great resource that I’ve just used again – thank you so much for sharing these.
    Kerro

    1. Sarah Olson

      Hi Kerro, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it. :)

      Take care,

      Sarah

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