STORYTELLING, UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS

I Hear You, Panic Attack, I’m Listening

Panic attacks.

I get them when I’m triggered.

I get them at 3 am in the morning.

I get them at 5 am in the morning.

I get them when I have to wake up to start my day.

I get them after reading an email.

They scare me and they demoralize me. They bring me to my knees.

My panic attacks can feel like a thousand chaotic voices.

This isn’t good.

That isn’t done.

You aren’t good enough.

What a failure.

When they start, I end up with waves of fear from my futile attempts to ward off the attacks.

I try silencing the voices.

I recoil in terror from all their accusations and predictions of doom and gloom.

My brain vibrates from the yelling and the shrinking, the pointing and the defending.

* * * * *

I’m learning to thank them, yes, appreciate their intention to protect me from — well — danger.

Danger from harm to the core of who I am.

Somehow, I ended up with a blinding fear of criticism about my judgment and decision-making abilities.

I have had to change my attitude of fear of criticism about my past unchangeable decisions.

* * * * *

Now I try to to tell myself:

  • I accept the past
  • I did the best that I could with what I had
  • There are consequences to all decisions
  • The only thing I can do is think about moving forward
  • My new decisions might still not be ideal
  • In the future I will be dealing with the consequences of my choices today
  • A knee-jerk reaction will be counterproductive
  • What’s the one baby step I can take right now that at least moves me in the right direction?

Okay panic attacks.

I’m ready for you.

I’m ready to listen to your warnings.

But I’m going to respond in a calm way to let you know that I can only do my best, that I did my best in the past, and that hounding me about what a terrible person I am is not going to make my life better. It’s making my present and future worse.

But I thank you for trying to protect me.

I thank you for trying to teach me.

So — now that I’ve heard you, I need you to be quiet so that I can figure out what next step to take.

BOOK REVIEW, FOCUS ON YOU, UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS

Complex PTSD by Pete Walker

Without a properly functioning ego, you have no center for making healthy choices and decisions. All too often, your decisions are based on the fear of getting in trouble or getting abandoned, rather than on the principles of having meaningful and equitable interactions with the world.

How does one review a book that is so deeply personal, a book that shifted me from wandering around in despair to starting a healing journey? I know, I’ll write him a thank you note!

Dear Mr. Walker,

During the most difficult time of my life, I started searching the terms “depression,” “anxiety,” “panic attacks” etc. to try to figure out what was going on. I knew I needed help, but I couldn’t seem to find help that actually—well—helped. I also often seemed okay; I know how to fake it very well.

Needing anything from others can feel especially dangerous. The survivor’s innate capacity to experience comfort and support in relationship becomes very limited or non-existent. This is despite the fact that many high functioning survivors learn to socially function quite adequately.

It wasn’t until I found your website that I felt truly understood or even knew what kind of help I needed. I wrote to you and asked if you could take me on as a client. You very graciously answered me immediately with empathy for my suffering but also that you did not have room to take anyone else on. You suggested that I read your book, so I bought it right away and started reading.

That was a time in my life when I thought my brain was permanently damaged and that I would never be able to function normally again. Your book gave me hope and a path. It somehow normalized a lot of what I was struggling with and both reassured me that I wasn’t weak and gave me cautious optimism that it was fixable. Until I read your work, I couldn’t figure out what it actually was.

The inner critic commonly increases the intensity of a flashback via a barrage of… attacks… Flashbacks can devolve into increasingly painful levels of the abandonment depression. One attack can repetitively bleed into another and tumble us further down a spiral of hopelessness. It is awful enough to take a single punch in a fight, but when the punches keep coming, the victim is severely thrashed.

You named a condition that seemed to explain more to me than any other word or phrase. Most of the other terms I was searching just seemed to describe symptoms. Other books just wanted me to be more mindful, feel gratitude, or learn to think differently. None of them were wrong per se (and you make those suggestions too); however, the positive effects of doing those things didn’t seem to last and I couldn’t seem to get to the source of the nonstop triggering from so many potential situations, many of which seemed benign on the face of them. Why was I always so tense and ready to fight? Why did I always want to run away? Why do people scare me, especially if they pooh pooh me or, even worse, if they LIKE me and want to be my friend?

The person who never wrote in her textbooks could not stop writing notes in your book. The person who thought she could never sit through an entire book ever again read your book from cover to cover. The person who never reads the appendices in books pored over the toolboxes.

In summary, your book was exactly what I needed when I needed it and helped me heal and turn my life around. Thank you for what you do.

Sincerely,

Sherry

FOCUS ON YOU, PODCAST INTERVIEW, UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS

Healing from Complex PTSD

Heal from CPTSD with Linda Meredith as your guide.

Linda Meredith is Australia’s first Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and the founder of the world’s first Trauma Recovery Academy. She is the mother of three grown children and about to be a grandmother!

Through her own healing journey, Linda has developed a gentle but powerful way to heal CPTSD – at one point, she lost all her cognitive functions. Her recovery is miraculous, but even more inspiring is what she does now to help people.

Linda has made her courses, worksheets, resources and videos available to the public.

She is a coach and a counsellor who is working to make the world an emotionally safer place for all of us, as individuals, parents and children. What a thrill it was to interview her at her home in Brisbane, Australia.

Healing from CPTSD with Linda Meredith

Of course I got the time difference wrong, so I was sitting around waiting for her and had an entire hour free from distraction (what a gift) as the husband and the kids were told to give me quiet time in the kitchen after dinner. I used the time to watch a few more of her videos and ended up getting engaged, the hour went by in a flash. Linda’s videos are short, personable, and accessible. I felt completely heard, understood, and supported. And this was BEFORE I had actually spoken to her in person.

She joined the Zoom call and immediately I just felt, well, safe. She exudes this strong yet gentle, passionate but not overwhelming personality. She has a ready smile and great screen presence. She really knows her stuff and has helped countless people understand what they are going through. In our conversation during and after the interview, she made me feel important and that I had something meaningful to contribute to the conversation.

My journey of recovery from CPTSD has been greatly enhanced by exploring her website, Facebook Community Page, Instagram, and YouTube videos.

In our podcast, we talk about:

  • CPTSD (Complex Post-Trauma Stress Disorder) and how it comes from things like ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), inter-generational abandonment issues, or emotional neglect.
  • How unspoken rules like “When anything bad happens, we don’t talk about it” are so dangerous for children.
  • She shared some of the changes she made as a parent, such as, wanting to know her kids as individuals, even down to what they liked eating.
  • She touches on how unconditional love of children is non-negotiable; otherwise it impedes their ability to keep being curious, which they need in order to develop.
  • Linda knows what it’s like to be a single mom who struggles, has financial barriers, and wants better for her children. That’s why she makes so much of her work available for free.

Her Key Message: Believe in yourself! You have to be willing to make changes where you won’t see results until your children become adults! Your vision as a parent is to make changes that impact not just your children, but also your children’s children.

I hope you enjoy ‘working’ with Linda as much as I do!