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PTSD, a small word with big consequences. Tuesday November 1, 2016

Imagine you are being chased by a bear, you are running really fast, it is gaining on you, and you can feel it snarling at your heels, your body physically responds to the situation, it increases your heart rate, it floods your system with adrenaline, and it heightens your sense of awareness. You race towards a tree, clambering up it, you escape, and you survive. You are relieved the ordeal is over.

But it is not...

Everyday your brain is exposed to thousands of stimuli, the brain processes that information on a conveyer belt, stamping it with a date and filing it neatly away.

With PTSD the memory of the trauma becomes stuck going round and round on the brain's conveyor belt. Each time it goes round two things happen;

1. The memory feels real and the body physically responds as if it were.
2. The conveyor belt gets jammed and normal everyday processing is slowed.

So what does this mean? Well I can't really answer that, but I can tell you what it feels like for me.

My brain no longer functions in the way that I expect. I can't concentrate, I find decisions difficult and I become angry and frustrated at my constant inability to do even the most simplest tasks, (writing this blog has taken me the best part of two months).

But I guess if that was the only part of PTSD, I could cope. The most debilitating part of this illness is the constant perception that the memory of the bear is real. My bear follows me about, it jumps out at me in supermarkets, it wakes me up every night and it appears when I least expect it. I am constantly under threat and alert to the possibility of attack from my bear, I live in a constant state of readiness.

I'm joking of course, but when I wake at 2am with vivid hallucinations because my brain hasn't been able to process the normal everyday events, and violent nightmares, I am not laughing. During the day there is little respite too, I see flashbacks to my 'bear' incident and a simple smell, touch or glimpse of something can propel the memory to the present day so quickly my body and mind react as if it is happening all over again.

Like most trauma's I employ fight or flight, sometimes I get angry and fight it, at other times I take flight. But how can I escape from a bear that isn't real? I avoid situations where my bear might be, things that may trigger the memory so I don't go out, I hide at home, but my bear always finds me.

Eventually the depression kicks in, the futility of battling with a bear that does not exist, or the sheer exhaustion of constantly being alert brings the black dog into residence. I surrender to the memory, let it consume me and I feel everything so raw, bleak and pitiful.

At other times I just feel numb, detached and out of all the states to be in, I quite like this one, I have no fear, no emotion, I just feel like I am watching my life on a video tape, anything could happen and I just don't care.

This, for me, is what it is like to live with PTSD.

Yogi Bear
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Bearofliddlebrain Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 6:49am

Oh Yogi Bear, we care how you are feeling...heartfelt sadness for you that you find yourself being chased by the bear.
Imagine it is me and I have hunny and cake!
Joking aside, I empathise with you as I often have the horrors of a recurring theme, attacking me in the day and at night. Today I've been awake since just before half one...up since half two and have cooked and baked (see above...I could be chasing you with bolognese sauce or apple crumble...that is what I have been making for a couple of hours and there's plenty to go round!)

It feels like an ear worm...I just can't get the loop to stop and give me a break from all the thoughts whizzing about, so in the end I get up....I do wait for about an hour or more if possible as I am resting my body at least. I wish I could rest my mind! I am so tired and this has been happening for weeks, and I know part of it is the building works of Bear woods and part my new job, but I'm worrying about silly things and everything gets blown up out of all proportion.

I do hope you can find a way of stopping, turning around and seeing that bear for what it is - or imagine it wearing underpants over leggings and a t shirt 'bearing' the Super Ted logo! It might just be a friendly paw-waving Bear!
Getting some good sleep is so important for me, and as far as possible I have to have little stimulants in the evening i.e. Coffee, tea...alcohol, keep to a decent routine - but like in the wee small hours of doesn't always work.

For today, I'm bend you ask the way...just waving Bear paws at you :) and all Moodscopers.
Bear hugs x

LP Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:01am

Morning Hunny Bear, I've been thinking about you. Sorry to hear that you're having difficulty switching off at the moment. I'm glad that at least it's due topositive changes. Great to "see" you! Cuddly teddy hugs back! LillyPet xx

Eva Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:11am

Hi bear, have you tried meditation? I have been using an app called Calm, it has a special section for sleep which seems to be helping me. It's helping me to not wake up too early and also to gain control over those whirling thoughts. I've been meditating on and off for a few years now and it's really helped with the whirlpool. I hope you get some restful time soon.

LP Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:34am

I use Calm too Eva and Bear. Also a you tube recording called Deepest Sleep. I put a couple of drops of eucalyptus on my pillow, Put that on so I can just hear it, breathe in my favourite scent and that's it! No idea what the guy talks about! His speakng is calm, low and slow with long pauses. Works for me. Xx

S Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 8:11am

Hugs to Bear, Sx

Tutti Frutti Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 8:13am

Hi bear (of the bear hugs) Waking up early with stress is horrible and always scares me that it could set my mania off. I really feel for you. I sometimes find a relaxation tape where you tense and relax all your muscles in turn is helpful if you do it in bed just before turning the light out. I also find that I can sometimes get back to sleep again after getting up to do CBT written exercises (thought distortion rationalisation) or after reading a book (preferably a mildly amusing and unchallenging one) for an hour. I think the CBT deals with the thoughts while the book merely distracts you. Anyway I hope so.e of this might help. The other thing I have is a repeat prescription for low dose sleeping tablets from my doctor for a last resort. I am guessing that you either don't like the idea of this or have found that they aren't effective for you but if you haven't considered it already I would urge you to talk to your doctor. Love TF xoxo

Bearofliddlebrain Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 4:11pm

Hiya LP, Eva, S and Tutti Frutti :) big fluffy warm paw waving at you all...thankees for thinking of me...always feel kinda quilty m'lud when I haven't been around....super ideas from all. I have tried some but mustapha go at meditation. Biggest Teddy Bear hugs all, hoping you are having a goodly day xxxx

Yogi bear Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:23pm

Thankyou for your kind comments, this is the first time I have submitted a letter. PTSD is a very difficult topic to share, and it has taken a lot of deliberation to get this far. Thankyou.

LP Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 10:33pm

Let's agree that it's ok not to be visible for a while and ok to send kind thoughts, any guilt either way can cancel themleves out before they reach us! Xx

LP Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:26am

Hi YB,
I used to love Yogi Bear as a kid. I can hear the funny sound effects for officer Dibble and Yogi's funny friendly voice :)
Do you do yoga too? I love it when I get in the zone, but havent managed any for a while.

Thank you for such a clear explanation for what PSTD is and how it is for you. It made me wonder whether, in a smaller way, my embarassiingly childlike and tearful response to stress, which has felt uncontrolable, could be a physical response linked to specific childhood trauma.

Re PSTD, I saw a programme about a bomb disposal expert being treated by a therapist who said that for all the years since the trauma, he was still searching for that bomb. It was like a huge relief for him to realise it and although the treatment wasnt easy, it was gradual and successful.
I feel hopeful for you that this is something tangible with a clear cause that can be treated.
Much love to you and all. LP xx

Yogi bear Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:31pm

Thankyou. My bear story is a descriptive way of illustrating my trauma, which I hope brings to life the physical and mental link between them. My actual bear has attacked me many times, and has unfortunately not just been one bear, I have many bears, over many years and a bit like a modelling balloon I tackle one end and the other springs back to life. However, I am hopeful I can eventually put all my bears in the cupboard not in a forceful avoidant way (which I have tried unsuccessfully for many years) but in a filing and peaceful processing way. Thankyou for your kind comments.

LP Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 10:37pm

You're more than welcome YB, welcome aboard! Yes you'll be able to look back and see how bad it was and how much better than that it is in the now. Xx

Eva Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:34am

Hi yogi, this was really interesting, I wonder how connected all of these processes are in our brains/ minds. I have complicated grief, one of the issues is a lack of coming to terms with my dads death due to complications in our relationship . What you describe with the bear appearing in unexpected places, linked through to unexpected situations, smells, sounds, thoughts is very reminiscent of my initial very acute grieving and also in my grieving over the last few years although it has subsided more recently with counselling.

It was, in the early stages, as though everything in my life was connected to my dad (which in a way it is) it was almost as if he was constantly with me, walking down the street, watching a programme, listening to a conversation, he was in everything, this was so painful as it was a constant reminder of his death, the pain that he went through, my regret at his having to go through it and anger with family members for how their treatment of him.

Eventually I was starting to get a bit of respite whilst painting, but my mum would constantly interrupt with questions and requests concerning my dad and his estate and I found that he, and by that I mean the pain, was there again and I just couldn't escape. I couldn't get enough of a run of pain free hours in the day, it was so awful, I just wanted a day and it took so long to get that due to my mum's constant need. This was very exhausting and not really avoidable, my mum doesn't have any other relatives in this time zone so I am it... Over this acute period concentration was out the window, I lost so many possessions, I really felt so debilitated and brainless. With that came anger, frustration and fatigue.

My counsellor has been working with me to come to terms with this, I had to look up coming to terms, it seems to be, in the most literal terms, a reduction in the pain experienced while accepting the reality of the event over time.

I am finally feeling better, not all the time but a lot of it. My dad is no longer present all the time, and I am slowly recovering from fatigue.

I hope you are able to exorcise your bear.

S Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 8:11am

Thank you Yogi for explaining how this feels. I understand what you mean about depression arriving when you have been fighting or flighting for a while. I hope that you get some relief and some support. X

Tutti Frutti Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 8:23am

Yogi bear
Thank you for a very clear and interesting explanation of PTSD. I really appreciate the effort you have been to in writing this for us, particularly given what you said about the impact of PTSD on how well you can function. I hope you are being offered treatment for your condition. Love and hugs TF xoxo

Hopeful One Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 9:04am

Hi Yogi Bear- heartfelt thanks for giving us such a vivid ,honest , and simple to follow explanation of what it feels like to suffer from PTSD. My commiserations . Here is a two penny worth of what I know about it from a therapeutic point of view. Because PTSD originates principally from stimulation of the amygdala ( our flight , fright and freeze ' centre the ' talking therapies - psychoanalysis , person centred , CBT- are not very effective. However another set of therapies work or have a good track record. How they work is not clear. They are calleed Rapid eye movement therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique and Amygdala Potentiation y therapy. ( There may be others) . Have you tried any of these? I suspect Meditation will work as well but have no evidence to offer.

I believe laughter is completely harmless and might well do some good.

This joke contains adult material which some readers may find offensive.

A man and a woman were sitting beside each other in the first class section of an airplane. The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, and wiped her nose, then visibly shuddered for ten to fifteen seconds.The man went back to his reading. A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took out a tissue, wiped her nose, and then shuddered violently once more. Assuming that the woman might have a cold, the man was still curious about the shuddering. A few more minutes passed when the woman sneezed yet again. As before, she took out a tissue, wiped her nose, her body shaking even more than before.
Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man turned to the woman and said, "I couldn't help but notice that you've sneezed three times, wiped your nose, and then shuddered violently. Are you OK?"
The woman replied, "I am sorry if I disturbed you. I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm." The man, more than a bit embarrassed, was still curious. "I have never heard of that condition before," he said. "Are you taking anything for it?"
The woman nodded "Pepper"

Yogi bear Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:42pm

Thankyou, your joke did make me smile. I am just starting a course of EMDR and hope to write some more about the treatment and its effects. Unfortunately as I have many different bears over many years it is proving very difficult and I am not sleeping due to the intensity and level of processing needed. This is obviously compounding things and is very draining and whilst I have seen a significant dip in my mood I have to remain hopeful it will work. I have also tried meditation but my skill level is not up to contending with bear attacks yet. Thanks again

LP Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 11:06pm

Hi YB, I'm sure you've discussed your name for your traumatic responses resurfacing. I know it sounds simplistic, but a tip that was gifted to me is that I can choose the language I use carefully (bear attacks may continue to sound very threatening). Also using the past tense to reframe what I am saying gives me the power to change what I was going to say, to what I want to say, if that makes sense. I used to think of my anger (an emotion, nothing more (it's natural) and certainly nothing less (it makes me feel really bad) as being like a volcano, but once I stopped describling it with any power, I'm gradually getting better at reconising it for what it is, letting the feeling rise and fall. The tearfulness comes with fluctuating hormones, but feels real everytime. I wish you well with your treatment and am pleased for you that you have it in place. LP xx

Milliecat Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 9:06am

Hi there Just to say thank you for a really clear blog about what PTSD can feel like. That darned bear. I really hope for you that he (she?) does stroll off away from you over time...thanks again.

Holly Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 9:47am

I've not been diagnosed but suspect I have PTSD/C-PTSD. You have really summed up what it's like though. *Hugs*

Yogi bear Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:44pm

Thankyou, this was a bold decision for me and the first time I have submitted something in writing. I too have complex PTSD with many bears over many years, I hope it was helpful to you. Kind Regards.

Lexi Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 12:18pm

thank you for writing so beautifully about having PTSD. I have friends who I suspect suffer but could never ask. I hope you find rest from that bear. xo Lexi

Hopeful One Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 12:40pm

Hi Guys- the therapies for PTSD I mentioned before belong to a group called Merdian therapies. Based on the belief that the endorphins generated by these therapies travel along 'Meridians ' in our body to produce a calming effect on an overactive amygdala. Acupuncture is another well known example of meridian therapy and Kundalini Yoga.

The Gardener Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 5:39pm

Never, as far as I know, suffered PTSD. Just had 36 hours of eldest son, doing everything together - he is very aware of what I am going through. Just struggling with extreme stress as Mr G's behaviour, negativity and pessimism gets worse (I am told that dark nights act on Alzheimer patients like children scared of the dark, and, of course the hour has gone back. Now I have to draw on inner strength and hope, because I, too am scared. Our doctor has started acupuncture - had good reports of the practice - it might help me - scared of the cost as still in the hopeless position of possessing two houses and no spare cash.

Nicco Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 6:44pm

Thank you for your blog, Bear. You describe it very well, and I certainly empathise. I am on a waiting list for PTSD treatment and hoping it will help. Just waking up in the morning, if the light is a certain type it sends me into silent panic mode. Certain smells do the same, even some kinds of music or specific songs. I'm 56 but it transports me back to my early teens. It's like something takes over - an over-ride in my brain that filters out normal now time and transports me back to abnormal past time. So I do understand. I can't talk about it to those even close to me, but am thankful this is a safe place to do so. I'm hoping we both find a way to stop that conveyor belt. Sending gentle bear hugs in the meantime. Nicco.

Yogi bear Tue, Nov 1st 2016 @ 7:49pm

Thankyou, and out of all the comments here yours resonated the most, I too have not been able to talk about it. Triggers are everywhere and it is the physical response to those triggers which is so powerful, its a bit like dropping that hot plate before you realise it is hot? Having an understanding of what is happening in my brain has helped me to take the pressure off myself and I hope in some small way my little summary has helped.

John Tue, Nov 8th 2016 @ 8:59am

More thanks and appreciation to you for your PTSD experience share. My challenge goes back to a bad trip at 18yrs and the altered states are impossible to describe. Your piece I have felt able to share to help others get some handle on it. Its now nearly 50 yrs later. EFT (tapping),as mentioned before, works for me when I am okayish and is easy to learn. There is a researcher called the Man who talks to bears in Minnesota. He befriends the wonderful black bears enough to sit next to them and sometimes to fit radio collars onto them for his research, These bears are easily worked with through his love and patience. Though its only a beautiful story about Real Bears I know, finding it may prove a small distraction.

Annabelle Fri, Nov 4th 2016 @ 9:59am

Never posted on the blog before but your post struck a chord with me. I struggle with effects of complex trauma and am having long term psychotherapy which I couldn't do without. I've had a lot of EMDR and it has helped so much, I would recommend it. Hugs x

DAVE Sun, Nov 6th 2016 @ 8:00am

Hi Yogi Bear,
You mentioned that quote....

"With PTSD The memory of the trauma becomes stuck going round and round on the brain's conveyor belt".

Without giving offence.....OR maybe my brain has got stuck on your conveyor belt too....unless I've lost the plot....Again......Did you not post this blog 2 weeks or so ago ? ? Perhaps you have "dated it , but put it in the outgoing file by mistake" ? ? I'm 72, so I have an excuse...according to the Doctor, what's yours, perhaps you may be my senior ! !

If I've got it wrong I oppologise, but nevertheless, your blog is well worth reiterating as it refers to as it appears that perhaps living in the 'NOW' may stop you looking in the rearview mirror of life, and also looking too far into the future.

Take each obstacle one at a time, 'One step in front of the other', and in so doing ENJOY THE JOURNEY....

Buy some birdseed and watch the magical mystery of these beautiful birds in their excitement. The fascination that comes from both birds and animals upon this beautiful earth to which we have been placed upon,.....It could quite easily have been Baren, Rocky like Mars.

Keep focused, even on a windswept day when the comment come from someone nearby, from some negative source, as you reply..."No it's a beautiful day like every day, it just happens to be wet", or "I bet the people in the Far East are praying for this beautiful weather", and remember this connotation, that "The weather is only as good or bad, dependent upon the CLOTHES you wear".

Keep your daily life more positive, and watch how your sub-conscious starts to react, as the your soul teaches your brain that there is no room for negative, despondent responses, that bring your persona to its knees, down to such a level, if not careful, which may take you into hospital.

Hold your head high, and have a really beautiful day observing the reality of a world designed just for you in which to revel.

God Bless
You Yogi Bear.


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