Supporting a Loved One Through PTSD or Panic Attacks

sometimesmagical

This cartoon (from Robot Hugs), in my opinion, illustrates the perfect way to handle every PTSD or anxiety episode. If I could actually live inside a blanket fort forever, I would.

Unfortunately, flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, memories, triggers, and all those other lovely things that survivors have to live with don’t have the courtesy to always wait for blanket forts to be available.

It’s scary for the person experiencing the attack, but it’s also scary for any loved ones who are trying to comfort and support someone through an attack.

This post is for the supporters.

Often in the midst of the episode, the distressed person doesn’t necessarily have their full vocabulary and can’t articulate exactly what they need in that moment. Afterwards, they may avoid talking about it out of embarrassment, fear, or a desire to preserve the peacefulness of the present.

So how do you…

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Stop clinging and let things be

Zen Flash

Once you stop clinging and let things be,
you’ll be free, even of birth and death.
You’ll transform everything.
And you’ll be at peace wherever you are.

~ Bodhidharma ~

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Stop crashing and change your mental diet

If you’ve ever gone on a ‘diet’ you know that it’s typically about removing something. Something a doctor or society has deemed ‘bad.’  And those diets inevitably fail because they aren’t sustainable. But, when you decide to make a lifestyle change that involves replacing or ‘adding’ good foods instead of just removing the bad ones, you shift your perspective about food and it becomes a gradual path to success. It’s the same thing when it comes to our thinking.

When you start to notice your thought patterns and what drives your suffering i.e. fear, guilt, worry, shame; you can then begin to find ways to replace those patterns.

In the past three days, I’ve read several passages, social media posts, and had conversations about this very topic. So, it seemed like something I should write about.

I can say from personal experience that when I decided I wanted to find peace and freedom from fear, I tried my hardest to ‘let it go’.  But, that didn’t seem to be enough, and I found myself somehow lacking.  It’s because I’d lived with the fear for so long, just like someone struggling to give up sugar lives with donuts as part of their diet.

Then I read a passage from a teacher about shifting perception by replacing unhealthy or unhelpful thoughts with their opposites.  For example, if you’re feeling angry at someone, try to find something positive about them to be grateful for.  If you’re worried about something, replace that thought with something that you trust or are certain about. Like when I’m nervous about going to a doctor’s appointment, I try to replace that worry with trust. Trust that the doctor has my health in mind.  And acceptance that my body is going to do what it is going to do. Replace that self-judgement by celebrating you.

When I feel lost in a thicket of thoughts, I try to step out of the trees and see the whole forest. For me, the serenity prayer often helps, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The process is slow, just like a successful dietary change.  So, I try to celebrate and acknowledge even the smallest progress.  Crash diets never work.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Pinterest/Merchant Mechanics)

Related post: Have yourself a thought-b-cue

Yoga is about the mind, and my mind is full of ticks.

Amanda Green YOGA

After practicing yoga, the feelings and memories that bubble up can be so vivid.  Even though we can spend a lot of time talking about the body in a yoga class, yoga is primarily about the mind. When a yoga practice is designed with the intention of bringing attention and focus to our complex and very distractable mind, and it works, it’s so cool to get a glimpse of what is in there.

This happened on Tuesday.  Each Tuesday I participate in Jenn Wooten’s vinyasa class and it’s great.  She’s great.  She guides a class that helps me to go in—deep inside my body and organs and breath, and the focus that is required and that comes as a result of this practice helps me to feel things that I just might not feel otherwise.  She does such a good job of holding space so that I can be…

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To know yourself, be yourself

Zen Flash

 

“To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking. There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot.

To expound and propagate concepts is simple, to drop all concepts is difficult and rare. A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet.

As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does Self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady Self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj…

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What is courage, really?

courage quote

I’ve received a lot of wonderful feedback on my post, “The things we hide (get ready for the raw).” Many of you as well as friends and family said that they were touched by my honesty and courage, and even told me about the things they hide in order to protect themselves. The feedback got me thinking about what it means to have courage.

I’ve always thought of myself more as the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz. But, I’ve come to realize that having moments of being afraid or insecure about uncertainty doesn’t make me cowardly, it just means that at that moment, I’m feeling something that is real for me.

We all have things we are more courageous about than others.  For instance, I have no problem picking up a spider and escorting him out of the house. But, every three months as I’m headed for my doctor’s visits, I’m a mound of jiggly anxiety-jello.  But I go.  And that’s the courage.  Until recently, I thought of myself as a wimp because I freak out over these appointments, but I push through and go anyway.

Right now, I have a friend whose son is fighting an unimaginable medical fight. He’s three and He. Is. Fighting. He’s fighting through pain that no one should have to endure.  His courage is tremendously inspiring. We call him ‘the little ninja’. He’s taught me a lot this past week about endurance and bravery to the extent that if I catch myself hemming and hawing about doing something I think, “if the little ninja can plow through his fight, you can do anything.” He truly is an inspiration.

What I’ve learned is that I used to think that word courage was reserved for warriors headed into battle, uncertain of what’s awaiting them.  But we’re all warriors fighting our own battles aren’t we?  Each one just as real for us as the soldier on the front line.

Feeling afraid doesn’t make us cowardly, it makes us human. Pressing on despite those fears is what makes us warriors. And the bravest move of all is letting go and having faith.

For Joshua,

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related posts:

Thoughts: Your Best Friends and Worst Enemies

A Way in the Woods

Maybe you don’t have any trouble with your thoughts, but I do. Thoughts pop into my mind without my permission faster than a mosquito bites my skin on a sweltering summer afternoon. And, equally without my permission.

Descartes, father of modern philosophy, pointed to both the distinguishing characteristic of human beings and to the biggest curse of human beings when he made his famous statement, “I think. Therefore, I am.”

The fact that you and I can think, reflect on the past, imagine the future, even to be conscious of our own consciousness is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. The fact that you and I can think, reflect and so often regret the past, imagine and so often fear the future, even to be unconscious of our own capacity to be conscious is the biggest curse humans live with and so try to escape from almost continually.

In…

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The things we hide (get ready for the raw)

We all have a self that we portray to others that is different from who we are when we’re alone.  Some people are closer to portraying their true selves than others, but we all do it. Our desire to be accepted runs very deep, particularly in Western cultures.  The irony is that we all want to be accepted exactly as we are, and yet we modify our true nature to comply with what we think are adequate social norms.

As someone with an ‘invisible illness’ — that is I’m not missing any limbs so it’s hard for people to understand the challenges I face each day — I certainly have my skeletons, but my motivation isn’t quite about acceptance. It’s more about avoiding non-acceptance.  There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end a look of pity or hearing a tone of burden or irritation in someone’s voice.

Many people with CF will joke about how much we try to ‘slide’ into our daily lives with the hopes of going unnoticed.

Here are 10 things I hide:

1. I can take 10 pills before eating a meal in public quicker than Flash Gordon.

2. I’ll ride the elevator or go to my car during the day for no reason just so I can have a coughing fit in peace.

3. There are literally only 7 people in my life whom I feel comfortable with doing my daily breathing treatments and physiotherapy in front of

4. I can rock a wicked ace bandage to hide a PICC line

5. I avoid romantic relationships because I don’t want to bother someone with my coughing at night and in the morning, or see me with IVs to the hilt, or ever be considered a burden.

6. My close friends are the only ones who I allow to see me be vulnerable and scared about my disease — and even that is only parsed.

7. I can stuff my anxiety down with humor, but when I’m alone it can be quite electric

8. I’ve only recently begun to seek the advice and support of others with CF because until recently, I didn’t allow it to be real (Shout out to Ronnie Sharpe and Brooke Sterling).

9. I lay on my side during Savasana in yoga class or leave early, so that I don’t cough and disturb others

10. I put on a brave face as much as I can even when I feel like I’m falling apart

I know a lot of my desire to avoid pity or stigma is my own to deal with, but there have been situations in my past that have shaped me.  So, I work each day to accept of who I am and ignore the rest.

Having this illness has made me who I am.  In many ways, I’m actually grateful for what I’ve learned.  The funny thing that I’ve noticed is that what we hide is often the things that make us who we are — unique, special, human.

What do you hide?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related Posts on Charmed Yogi: A letter to yogis with chronic illness

The Fourth Limb of Yoga: Just Breathe

So true my friend.

Amber Barry

just_breathe_by_xhypnotizeWhat are the two words we hear most often, when we are in pain? When we can’t stop crying, when we are overly anxious, or we just can’t seem to get our act together?

Just breathe. 

And it works, every time, doesn’t it? Controlling our breath balances our autonomic nervous system and removes toxins from our bodies. This is why a few deep breaths can drastically change how we feel.

The fourth limb (discipline) of yoga, known as pranayama, teaches us to cultivate awareness of our breathing as much as possible, to improve our concentration, and nourish our bodies with healing energy.

The Yoga Sutras tells us that:

“The fourth of the eight rungs of Yoga is Pranayama, which is regulating the breath so as to make it slow and subtle, leading to the experience of the steady flow of energy (prana), which is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions…

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9 [More] Reasons to Be Happy Right Now