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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Finding the Way Through's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
8:28 pm
Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
1:48 am
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
6:50 am
Friday, January 8th, 2010
9:09 pm
PTSD in fiction.

This is a four-part series. The fourth part on Lord Peter Wimsey is quite impressive.

What other books or movies have you seen that deal honestly with PTSD? Peter Straub's The Throat (in fact, many of his books) portray PTSD with knowledge and clarity and compassion. Straub himself is said to suffer a form of it; he was nearly killed by being run over when he was 7.
Sunday, December 27th, 2009
9:16 am
Thought for the Day
Never compare your inside to someone else's outside.
Sunday, November 29th, 2009
3:05 am
Holiday Hints
Handling the holidays: a guide for abuse survivors.

She offers some good suggestions, but I have some additional ones.

Set up a safe call. Arrange with a friend to call you at specified intervals to make sure you're doing OK. If you're not, the call can serve as an excuse to leave. "Sorry, I've got to leave. That was work/friend/the FBI with an emergency, and I'm needed."

Wear a hat. The brim can help hide your expression, which gives a kind of psychological distance. It also increases your apparent size. By the same principle, wear clothes that make you feel strong, competent, and adult.

Make a family-craziness bingo card. You know how you can predict that certain events always occur at family gatherings? Aunt Alice and Uncle Bob always get into a fight, Cousin Charlie makes nasty comments on your job, and Grandma Dorothy fusses because her daughter-in-law keeps interfering in the kitchen and nobody's helping her. Make each of these events a square on your bingo card. This can defuse some of the tension of waiting for nastiness to happen. It also makes you more an observer, not a participant.

What are your ways to handle those family gatherings?
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
6:47 pm
Intro Post
Hello, just want to stop in and say hi. I'm the wife of a Vet with PTSD, and would love to see this community become more active and a place we all, including me, can come to help us understand ourselves and our loved ones better. I'm going to try to post in here kinda regularly, hopefully some of you will join me!
Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
12:54 am

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November 4th, 0:44
I have been recently dx complex ptsd, and there is a DIDNOS issue there too, and my T suggested I do some journalling,  I've found this forum really helpful and interesting, and would like to join in, but I notice that there hasn't been a lot of postings lately.  If there is anyone reading this who knows of any other forums as well of a similar nature which are a bit more active, I'd really appreciate any suggestions, or if this is just like a seasonal lull, it'd be great to join in if others start posting again.    I'm a member of another forum myself but it's more one that does shorter posts, and I'd really like a chance to explore these issues in a bit more detail  the way you have seemed to here in the past, ie, giving journal accounts of T sessions.  I'd like to share some of mine if/when they feel relevant, or would be helpful for me or others,as I have found others very helpful and supportive to read myself. 
I'm fairly new, about 2/3 months of doing posts and forums, and this is my first one on LJ so please bear with me if I make a newbie mistake, like saying the wrong thing or if I get confused with the mechanics of this forum.  Anyway, even if I don't hear from anyone, just wanted to thank you all for your courage and sharing, and say how much it has meant to me.  All the best to you - Daisymay3. 

PS I tried to post this and it came up with a new list of posts called Finding the way through where there looks like there are new entries, but I got confused as the title seemed different.  I will try to post again as I think I pressed the wrong button, and hope it works this time.  Wish me luck!!

Current Mood: hopeful
Sunday, November 1st, 2009
1:28 am
Good Article on PTSD
Coping with PTSD

From a British web site on domestic violence.
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
1:08 pm
Warped Thinking
Common cognitive distortions. (The link came from mamahogswatch else-LJ.) How many do you regularly use? I can see some old, old friends on this list, plus a few I've thrown out. And some I've rarely indulged in. At 50, I'm just becoming able to say that something is unfair. I never expected fairness. Nor did I expect a reward for doing good or doing something well. Whenever I did a good deed, my mother always told me I'd get my reward in heaven, and my home church had an unhealthy interest in martyrdom as a response to good works.("If it was illegal to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?")

The "shoulds" can be surprising. When I'm annoyed with someone, it's often because they have transgressed one of my unconscious rules for survival in my family. It used to drive me nuts that my husband would stroll in and out of the bathroom while getting ready in the morning -- I never knew when he was done. Finally it occurred to me that we were playing by different rules. He and his one brother shared a bathroom of their own. I grew up with as many as seven people using one small bathroom.

Similarly, I have a fairly strong reaction against people hogging the spotlight or grandstanding. It's not just that it seems selfish given that parental attention was in such short supply. Asking for too much time or energy from one of them could lead to violence against any or all of us, so it feels like someone is actively endangering me.

What surprises me is that this list leans so heavily toward the negative. I've found denial and wishful thinking to be at least as destructive in my own life. Interestingly, it's other people's denial and wishful thinking that have been so damaging; my mother and ex-husband were black belts in those arts. And I've indulged, too. I saw the problems in my marriage through a filter of denial.

My personal distortion is the internal control fallacy: everything that goes wrong is my fault. It's like being a superhero in reverse.

What are your unspkoen rules?
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
7:09 am
Recognizing and Ending Abuse
Domestic abuse sneaks up on people. Nobody starts out looking for someone who will make them feel worse about themselves. In fact, the love-bombing that can start a controlling or abusive relationship can be incredibly seductive, especially to someone who doesn't have a loving family. Only afterward, when the love and everything else gets yanked away, do you start seeing the negative side -- and by then it's all too easy to blame yourself.

Are you in an unhealthy relationship? Check these sites from a computer at work or in a library.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE or 800-799-7233.

Is your partner controlling?

More signs of a controlling relationship.

Some personal experiences.

Two quizzes about verbal abuse. Yes, you should take both.

What abusers believe.

Five signs that you should never get back with your ex.

Psychological abuse can happen to anyone.

So can domestic violence.

Yes, even if you're male.

Even if you're in an LGBT relationship.

Thinking about escape.

How to leave safely.
Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
3:17 pm
Current Events and PTSD
Sometimes my worst nightmares and worse memories escape from my mind and romp through the headlines. I'm sure I don't need to list or link the stories. Any of the cases where the nation is horrified to discover that people of all ages are beaten, abused, raped, held captive, murdered.

Any of us with PTSD will resonate to certain stories. We're attuned to violence by our own history, and we chime like bells when the right harmonic is struck.

It can be very easy to get sucked into the story. These horrors draw a lot of people's attention, and therefore they also draw a lot of media attention. You could watch coverage day and night on TV and on the Internet.

I try not to. I don't have TV (broadcast or cable), and I actually walked away from the Internet for a few days recently when the Dugard case broke. I limit my exposure. That seems to help.

But just the other day, I stumbled across a story about a kid in Bakersfield blinded by horrific abuse. I was stuck with mental images that I did not want and couldn't easily get rid of. So I searched online to find a fund for the child, and I gave $5. Not much, but what I could give. That helps.

Doing something for another person helps me, partly because I'm doing what I can to alleviate the suffering, partly because it gives me agency again. I'm not a helpless child. I'm not *just* suffering. I'm someone with power to help. And that seems to help break the cycle. Also, being aware of what is oppressing me can help.

How do you handle triggering events in the news?
Saturday, May 9th, 2009
5:43 am
A Quote on PTSD
One of the best descriptions of being triggered by PTSD:
It is as though some old part of yourself wakes up in you, terrified, useless in the life you have, its skills and habits destructive but intact, and what is left of the present you, the person you have become, wilts and shrivels in sadness or despair: the person you have become is only a thin shell over this other, more electric and endangered self. The strongest, the least digested parts of your experience can rise up and put you back where you were when they occurred; all the rest of you stands back and weeps.
Peter Straub, The Throat (paperback)p. 63
Thursday, April 16th, 2009
5:59 am
Watching violence - not from my journal
Apparently I was right when I thought that maybe if I reopened the possibility of posting here by reposting things from my own journal, it might eventually open up the impulse to write different things here. Not so 'eventually,' either.

Cut for triggers: violence in fiction, fantasy, sexuality.Collapse )
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
10:31 pm
What I posted today about therapy.
This is the post I just put in my own journal about my therapy session today. It has a lot of stuff about my switching, and a few pretty straight-forward things about what happened to me. Please take care of yourself and read only if you're okay with that. And if there's anything before the cut that you would have preferred to have behind a cut, please tell me.


Therapy today. I'm writing this in a document offline, on the red line, heading home. First leg done, second in progress, third and fourth to go.

I thought that, given how intense last week had been, my therapist would probably want to talk about it - process it - today, for at least part of the time. That of course brings up the possibility that it was actually I who wanted to spend time processing. I did think about it. I was ambivalent. I would have wanted to, except I didn't know f it was possible to do it in a useful way, and I didn't want to stay surface for the whole session, which can so easily happen. I decided to go in switched, but to someone who could process. I have a cluster of somewhat young modes some of whom talk and some of whom only write, who are good intermediaries. They can talk about things - and know more about what's going on inside than my top brain does - without saying at an analytic, emotionless level. They have a name/names, but I think we're keeping that private for now. So I went in - verbal - in one of those modes.

But it turned out she didn't necessarily want to process, though she did want to hear from me about any aftermath. I described feeling very triggery and flash-backy and having 'body stuff' but couldn't give her an accurate assessment of how long that had lasted. I described some of what I'd been feeling over the weekend, but said I wasn't sure that belonged more to triggers or to depression. She responded a little, and then said that, if I was willing to talk about it, what she'd really like to hear a little more about was what I meant when I said 'body stuff.'

I considered this, imagining different scenarios, and told her that I *could* tell her, but if I did, it would be very superficial, and that if she wanted to get more information probably I should write instead. I can quite often write things I find impossible to say out loud. Sometimes I think I'm no different from millions of other people in that, and sometimes I attach significance to it, but either way, it's true, and I've had a lot of therapy sessions which involved my writing silently, interspersed with comments and questions from my therapist.

(Downtown crossing, waiting for the orange line.)

And that is why I have a half-transcript of most of my session today, because I asked her for a photocopy before I left.

I feel like I need to write this down because it's on the edge of evaporating when I try to think about it. I have a really hard time with the fact that I said/wrote/communicated these things. It feels unreal to me, like I must have been making it up, playing it up, reaching inside myself not for the truth but for the worst or most dramatic response. And I don't know. I don't know where the answers came from. I didn't have the full text to deduce my responses from: she asked, I answered, with as little thought as possible. (I swear to god, I would either be the easiest or the hardest person to hypnotize in the whole fucking world, seeing as I can put myself in a state like that on purpose - I just don't know which.) When I wrote them, I had no sense of 'this is true.' I just knew the answer and wrote it down.

I'm stalling. I want to copy out what I wrote to her, and reconstruct her reactions and questions - or at least her questions: the thought of trying to write about her reactions makes me feel weird - because in a few days, and then in a few weeks, and in a few months, but maybe not a few years--but maybe--I need to see that I said these things. And I'm writing where you can see it - where anyone can see it--

--for lots of reasons: because it's part of my on-going dare to myself, where each and every time I put something like this out and nothing bad happens to me, I prove that--nothing bad happens to me. Because there are some people I'd like to know, but I won't be able to say any of this out loud. Because sometimes some people are interested. (I was going to say 'seem,' but I'll take the daring step and assert it, extreme though it feels.) Because there's a chance that at some point, someone will read it, and it will be something they needed to read that no one else was writing.

(on the train again)If you felt like the part before the cut was triggering, don't read the rest.Collapse )
Saturday, April 4th, 2009
8:39 pm
A Re-Introduction of Sorts
I haven't been posting here very much in recent times due to a sort of withdrawal from online participation, as though I were shutting myself off from the world outside for various reasons.

A lot has happened in the time between. I have a really lousy sense of time, so this is how my mind thinks of the past two to three years. Stuff is not exactly, um, sequential.

I got a job, did not know how to cope with the stress placed upon me by a manager who was herself facing incredible corporate pressure.

I survived a suicide attempt in 2007, had an ICU stay, had an inpatient psych stay, and came away from it deciding that suicide really wasn't so much an answer as much as a gigantic middle finger raised to the world, and that if I was going to go around flipping the world off, I might as well get paid for it, which leads to the next step in my life.

I recuperated for a year and in the meantime enrolled in university as a Fine Arts major (see what I mean by flipping off the world).

My marriage nearly broke up. My husband and I underwent enormous amounts of marriage counselling, supplementing the enormous amounts of therapy I already was getting.

I find out I'm actually a great student and a lot of the mistreatment I got for bad grades in my childhood were scapegoating and bullshit. (I still have trouble believing I am an A-grade student, but my GPA says so.)

In seeking disability accommodation for school I also get diagnosed as OCD and ADD and get put on meds for the ADD, which actually helps my functioning a great deal.

Right now I'm a much different person from when I posted here in the past. I no longer seek reconciliation with my mother - I'm civil with her on the phone, but I otherwise just don't care any more. I'm a lot more confident and a lot more convinced of my worth, and while life is still interesting, I'm happier and I think tougher.

- Mel
Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
10:20 pm
9:53 pm
Post # 2: re-introduction
I find it hard to talk about myself and feel like I've said anything true. I get confused if I think about it too long.

So what this is, is a quickly written summary which seems true right now. I make no guarantees that I won't contradict myself in a month, week, day, or hour.

A second introduction.Collapse )
9:36 pm
After long silence
This community has been really inactive for a long time, now.

I guess I've felt like, if people wanted it, they'd post to it. But I think it's not really that simple. Communities have momentum. When they lose it, it's harder to join in.

I love this community, because I have gotten the kind of support I could really use from the members, and I've felt like the kind of support I could offer was what other people could use, quite a lot of the time.

I haven't been posting here because I use my own journal for the same kinds of things I would post here, 99% of the time - and of the remaining 1%, sometimes I don't manage to write at all. I use my journal that way for two reasons: the lesser reason (because I don't want to presume) is that sometimes people find it, and read it, and it seems to be useful for them in some way because they stick around, at least for a while; it makes me feel like I can transmute my struggles into something valuable for more than just myself. That seems like hubris, but if it's true, then I'm grateful and glad. The other reason - the reason why I would do it anyhow - is because I need to prove to myself over and over again that I can say these things in public, and the world doesn't end. I've just written a post in my own journal about how toxic secrecy can feel to me. I'm still very confused and very much in the middle of my recovery process, and everything about it feels like something I'm going to get taken down for: the ugly things I sometimes am pretty sure are true, and also the fact that I'm never 100% certain.

So I haven't been posting here, because I've been posting there - and there's a not-insignificant overlap in readership.

But I'm thinking about two things. The first is, maybe posting here, as well as there, will help create the openness and the momentum so that other people who might not share my drive to post in their own journals will feel like this space is more real, more accessible. I know people are still reading.

And again, that feels a little like hubris, but I think I probably shouldn't let that self-consciousness stop me.

The other thing is, maybe, if I start out just by posting here about the same things I'm posting there, I may end up finding out that there are things I want to say here and not there: I may help revitalize this space for myself, let alone for anyone else.

So unless anyone would like to object, I'm going to begin posting to this community, starting out by just by putting in some of the same things - the more recovery/survivor-related things - that I post in my own journal. I'll put them behind cuts so that anyone who's already read them in my journal doesn't have to have them twice on the page. And if you think this isn't a good idea, please say so.

I'm going to make a second post that's a little background on me, almost like an intro post all over again, because maybe not everyone reading this remembers when I was posting more, several years ago, and I'm pretty sure some of the things I write are hard to follow even when you've got some background, let alone without. And then I'm going to make a third post that's a re-post of what I just put in my journal earlier today.

And I guess I feel like - if anyone else who hasn't been posting lately but still has this stuff going on and feels like posting about it might be good sees things the same way, maybe you could do something similar. Because I think we're a pretty good group, and I like what we have to offer, so I think it would be kind of cool if someone on LJ who does a search for survivor communities and took a look at this one, saw some activity. That's only meaningful if it's not forced, so for goodness sake, don't force it. But if it seems like it could be a good idea...well, I can see a lot of possible positive outcomes, even though none of them are guaranteed.
Saturday, January 10th, 2009
8:00 pm
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Tools
One of the rough things about PTSD is that (in addition to chemical cascade our brains endure when we're triggered) what we feel and think is often adaptive to the way we once had to live.

But what once kept us safe is not necessarily useful now. Sometimes it's downright counterproductive. Staying with the old ways of thinking is like wearing a set of glasses designed for the wrong prescription.

With these Cognitive Behavior Therapy tools, you can get a clearer view of the present moment, not see everything through the distorting lenses of the past.

It's important for many of us to dig through the past and find the truth amid all the lies we were told. That process takes a lot of time and work. For now, these tips can help you deal with stress in the present.
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