Healing PTSD

PTSD Changes Brain Chemistry

Brain scan shows PTSD sufferers experience large amounts of cortisol inflammation, which impairs focus and mental performance, lowers sensitivity to pain, and regulation of emotions.

PTSD leads to the thinning of the prefrontal cortex, limiting cognitive behavior and decision-making skills.

The good news is that through relaxation therapies, addressing emotional triggers and avoiding external stressors it is possible to clear cortisol and return the beautiful brain to its natural blueprint for health and wellbeing.


How To Recover From Betrayal (Not just love betrayal, but betrayal of all kinds.)

I love this post by Karen Salmansohn!!


Love & baby steps,

SG x

how to recover from betrayalI endured a huge betrayal from an unlikely place – a younger woman whom I was close friends with and mentored for many years. When we first met, she was trying to write and sell a book – to no avail. Eventually,  I gave her an idea for a book – then helped her to write the proposal – asking for no upfront money – just a small 10% back end commission – should the book sell. She enthusiastically agreed – thanking me profusely for not charging her upfront for my time. She had a lawyer draw up papers – which we each signed.

To my shock, soon after I got her the highly successful book deal she’d always dreamed about, she turned into an “All About Eve” kind of character  – displaying low-character behavior –  in a variety of fibbing, royalty-hiding and contract-breaking ways.

At this point, I’ll stop sharing specific details of the story  – because my purpose for this essay is not to complain! Quite the opposite! I want to share my path to recovery. I want to help others who are also suffering from a betrayal – either from a friend, a relative, a spouse, a love partner, a colleague, a boss, a neighbor.

A betrayal can destroy so many varied kinds of relationships – and turn one’s view of the world topsy turvy.

Some of my main upside-down effects after this woman’s betrayal: I found myself less eager to socialize. In particular, I felt nervous to open my heart to new friendships – and thereby to new pain. I felt hesitant to help others with books and projects. I worried they too might take advantage. Plus I did not want to go any place I might see this betrayer: events, cafes, gyms, yoga studios, social clubs.  All my usual haunts now felt haunted by a potential sighting of her.

My solution: I told myself I needed to take some time alone to heal and gain insight.  So I chose to stay in my home more, socialize less. It was easy to do.  I’d just become pregnant. Then I became a mom.  In fact, at the time I thought I was going into a healthful “cocoon” – a less social, nesting period.

But as it turned out, I was entering a “cave.”

The difference:

A COCOON is a quiet, comfortable place you go to evolve into a more beautiful you. It’s a safe haven to experiment with new, uplifting thought patterns. When you emerge, you feel in your full, majestic power – flying higher and further than before.

A CAVE is a quiet, uncomfortable place you go to think and brood – to hibernate. Instead of spending time thinking grand thoughts, you growl. You view the world as cold and unsafe.

How did I finally realize I was in a cave not a cocoon?

how to recover from betrayalWhen I thought about leaving my home to socialize, I found myself feeling heavy in the heart.

In fact, if you ever want to know if you’re in a cocoon or a cave – check in to feel the weight of your heart when you think about leaving your home.

If you feel light in the heart, you’re telling yourself “Butterfly Stories” about the world – viewing life as a beautiful, safe haven to spread your wings.

If you feel heavy in the heart, you’re telling yourself “Bear Stories”   –  viewing the world as cold and unsafe.

I was telling myself “Bear Stories.”

I was even doing “Bear Math.”

This is “Butterfly Math”:

1 untrustworthy person = 1 untrustworthy person

This is “Bear Math”

1 untrustworthy person = infinite untrustworthy people

Positive Psychologists have a term for this “Bear Lens On The World.” They call it “Permanent and Pervasive Thinking.” It’s when you tell yourself stories which make you feel like one negative incident has permanent, pervasive, lifelong negative effects.

In my case, these were some of my permanent and pervasive stories:

“I can’t trust anyone.”

“People Suck”  

“I’m an idiot for being suckered!” 

“I shouldn’t help people any more – they just take advantage.”

This 1 bad thing means I need to keep my heart safely stored in a betrayal-proof Tupperwear container.”

I’m not proud of these thoughts. They are grizzly “Bear Thoughts.” And they were keeping my life limited, dark, dank – and making me feel batty – all signs I was in a cave – not a cocoon!

Basically, a cave is a place you go to shrink your life – a prison for the soul.

A cocoon is where you go to grow your life – an ashram for the soul.

I confess it took me a while to look around and realize I was in a cave. I just knew my heart felt heavier when I thought about going outside to play with others. I decided to journal about my heavy heart. That’s when I realized I was telling myself painful permanent/pervasive stories – triggered by this friend’s betrayal!

how to recover from betrayalKnow this now: Although you can’t change your past, you can control the story you tell about it – and thereby change the effects your past has upon your future.

I decided the time had come to rewrite my story so it was a happier one.  Literally.  In my journal. I began by writing down all my permanent/pervasive thoughts.  Next to each, I wrote how non-permanent/non-pervasive the situation truly was!

1. “I can’t trust anyone.” I realized this betrayal shouldn’t be making me permanently anti-social. It should simply be making me anti-jerks. I realized I should even look upon this betrayal with a bit of gratitude – because it was a powerful reminder to honor my intuition more -and stop being color blind to red flags – no matter if they show up as smaller red hankees. (Truth be told, looking back, there were times I felt this woman’s energy to be pushy in an uncomfortable, aggressive way.)Basically, this event was not meant to stop me from trusting. It was meant to stop me from ignoring my gut – and thereby keep me safe from falling for even bigger business betrayals down the road.

2. “People Suck” Yes, some people do suck. But not ALL people! Plus, I should never allow someone who sucks to suck all the joy out of my day – and my life! Sure it’s bad when someone’s a jerk. But things could be worst. I could be the person who’s doing sucky, low-character  things. And I am truly proud of NOT being someone who could behave so badly. Indeed I feel compassion for my betrayer. She is stuck living with herself – while I get to move on and away.  But how could I move on and away, when I was still holding onto resentment? After all, anybody who angers me is actually controlling me – which means they are still an active (and negative) presence in my life.  If I wanted to be happy, I needed “To Pull An Elsa” – and “Let it go”!

how to recover from betrayal3.  “I’m an idiot for being suckered!” When I re-read this permanent/pervasive thought, I realized I was displaying the classic case of “blaming the victim.” (Not that I enjoyed using the word “victim.” In fact, I’ll be writing more about the word “victim” at the bottom of this essay!)   Basically, calling myself “an idiot” is showing anger and shame at myself – rather than focusing the anger and shame where it more rightfully belongs – on my betrayer! I decided I needed to re-write my word choice from “I am an idiot” to “I am a wronged person.” And the reason I was wronged did not truly have to do with intelligence. I simply didn’t see the betrayal coming, because I never would have done such a thing. I have an awake and active good heart. I value loyalty, strong character and sticking to commitments. Not just for legal reasons – but moral reasons. I remembered a quote I’d heard: “Fools take a knife and stab people in the back. The wise take a knife, cut the cord and free themselves from the fools. “  I decided that since I very much value the trait of being a non-idiot  – that I should do this wise choice – cut the emotional cord – and set myself free as a butterfly leaving a cocoon!  The best way to cut the cord? Forgiveness. Yes, even if the betrayer was not sorry, forgiveness was still necessary. How could I forgive? I needed to keep reminding myself:  Forgiveness doesn’t excuse my betrayer’s behavior. Forgiveness simply stops her behavior from destroying my heart!  Plus it helped to keep in mind a great Wayne Dyer quote: “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” 

4. ‘This 1 bad thing means I need to permanently keep my heart safely stored in a betrayal-proof Tupperwear container.”  When I first re-read this particular pervasive/permanent story, I chuckled. I wondered: “Why should I punish myself for the crime this woman committed? Isn’t that misplaced punishment?” And this new choice (to avoid letting love into my life) was very much a big self-punishment. After all, love is good stuff! I love love! Plus whenever I push friends and/or potential-new-friends away, it’s as if I’m punishing these people for the sins of my betrayer! Totally batty cave thinking! Once again I was reminded of the lessons I should be learning: “Pay attention to the energy I feel around people. Listen to my gut!” Truth be told, it wasn’t my trust in other people that was being shaken up by this betrayal. It was my trust in myself ! I needed to re-gain my trust in my abilities to see people clearly! So I gave myself another writing assignment: Jot down all the times I’ve trusted my life choices – and I was correct. Write about all the awesome, trust-worthy, loving friends I’ve chosen to be in my life – so I’m reminded that I have a “good internal picker” and that love is indeed good stuff.

5.  “I shouldn’t help people any more – they just take advantage.”  When I re-read this permanent/pervasive thought, I also saw it as a form of self-punishment – because I love helping people! I shouldn’t become less of me because this woman showed low character values. Instead, I should become even more aware of how important strong character values are to me – and embrace them even more fully. So I gave myself another writing assignment: Write down a list of people I’ve helped with creative projects – and stay reminded how most people do NOT take advantage, fib and break contracts. Next I wrote about how good it always feels to help and support people – a win/win – for both the giver and receiver!

how to recover from betrayalIf you’re presently recovering from a betrayal, I encourage you to watch out for thinking painful, permanent and pervasive thoughts. Please refuse to become a member of that club called “People Suck.” Please refuse to distribute any of that club’s untrue literature.

Instead I invite you to join me in a club called “You Live. You Learn. Life Gets Better. Yes, You Can And Will Trust Again.”

Although we can’t always control what happens to us, we can control our response.

We can choose the role of victim – focusing on blame, anger, regret and resentment.

Or we can choose the role of victor – seeking support, healing our wounds, retrieving our power, and moving forward stronger and wiser than before.


Secondary PTSD

It Didn’t Happen to Me

Nice. Could be of help to explain secondary ptsd or stress reactions

July 5, 1978. It didn’t happen to me. Then why is that date burned into my memory? It didn’t happen to me. So I can’t be upset.

I used to sit on my mother’s lap every single morning while she read the paper. I remember her maneuvering around me to eat her Raisin Bran. Day by day, I grew older and bigger, and every morning I curled up in her lap like I was 2 years old. I was her little buddy and we were inseparable.

I found out about my mother’s rape when I was 11 years old. I don’t think anyone meant to tell me, but it just came up in conversation. It came up in conversation because it was this thing that my mom was living with, like a chronic illness. I truly believe I exhibited signs of secondary PTSD even before I knew of her rape. Together, my mom and I lived in fear. I thought it was normal. We would watch Law & Orderand fall asleep in the same bed every night until I was 12 or 13. We had a state-of-the-art camera system guarding our front door and my bedroom window. We had plans. Plans for natural disasters, plans for wars reaching the small town of Rocklin, a plan for each different motive someone could have for breaking into our house. I thought everyone had escape plans. I never had a second thought about any of it, I just remembered the plans.

When I was 12 I had a crush on a boy with blonde hair. A very short-lived crush, though, because the man who raped my mother was blonde, so I had to stop liking him.

My first thought after I lost my virginity was, “Thank God. No one can steal this from me, now.” I still didn’t think anything was wrong. I just didn’t want it to be stolen like it was stolen from my mom, simple.

For as long as I can remember (up until last year) I would willingly tell you that I would much rather be brutally tortured than raped. Again, I didn’t think anything was abnormal until I said this casually to my therapist. The look on her face told me it wasn’t normal, and it certainly wasn’t healthy.

Nine years after I found out about my mother’s rape, I was diagnosed with PTSD. It was written in my paperwork, as if it were obvious. I exhibit clear signs of depression. My symptoms are typical for someone with clinical depression. And right below “major depressive disorder” was “post-traumatic stress disorder.” I thought it was a mistake. It didn’t happen to me; it happened to my mother. I asked for clarification. I actually asked in a way that was supposed to be me politely correcting their mistake. They informed me I exhibited signs of PTSD, and the symptoms I was seeing the doctor for (nightmares, trouble sleeping, lack of self worth, plummeting self esteem) were all in line with a diagnosis of PTSD. I was confused. So of course, I Googled it.

Headlines included “Partners of Veterans with PTSD” and “Secondary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Statistics Increase with War Victims.” It’s a real thing. And it explains it all perfectly. I went to the doctor after a particularly traumatic event occurred in my life. The event can only be described as verbal abuse, nothing physical, but apparently it was just enough to set me off and ease me back into a state of depression, a state of trauma, and a state in which I never slept without being attacked in my nightmares.

The only thing I am guilty of in this situation is loving. I love my mother above all else. Knowing that she has not had a single day of relief in the past 37 years enrages me. It brings out a version of myself I didn’t know existed. The man who raped my mother is not the only guilty one; it is the people surrounding her in the ’70s who convinced her not to get help, and that it was possible for her to be blamed for what happened to her. A 19-year-old version of my mother listened. Day by day, over the last 37 years, those wounds grew deeper and poisoned the innocent young girl living inside. My mother, a loving mother, has a cold side. A streak. A sadness. As much as we wish to help it heal, to nurture and make her feel safe, it is 37 years too late.

The most tragic part of this story isn’t even what happened to my mother. It is the horrifying fact that 37 years later, more women are being raped (or at least more rapes are being reported). More victims (both men and women) are asked, “Well, what were you wearing?” “Were you drinking?” “Did you provoke him (or her)?”

By the time I was 20 years old I knew seven women who were raped. I am now 21. That count is up to nine. Each time I find out I cry. I become hysterical. While one of my friends was telling me her story, I was crying and she was not. I found out about another one for someone I didn’t even consider to be a friend. I cried hysterically for several hours. Each time I cry over someone else’s pain I have to remind myself that it may not have happened to me, but something else is happening to me. It may be a lesser pain, a less vivid pain, but it is equally real. Each time I cry because there are people out there who think my tears are coming from me simply being dramatic. I cry because it is still happening 37 years later. I cry because seeing the people I love go through the pain my mother goes through kills me.

My advice to you is to feel your feelings completely. If it happened to a friend, a third cousin twice removed, a parent, an ex-best friend, a stranger, it doesn’t matter. The way you feels matters. It doesn’t matter why you feel the way you do; all that matters is what you feel. It is legitimate. Do not let anyone ever tell you, you are not allowed to feel something because it didn’t happen to you. I live in fear everyday for something that didn’t happen to me. I live in fear over something that happened thirty-seven years ago, seventeen years before I was even alive. And I can tell you the only way I began to heal is to accept that fact that my PTSD is not only legitimate, it is a part of my life.

It has to end. It didn’t happen to me, and it can’t happen to anyone else. So please join me, feel your emotions deeply. Cry for the ones you love. Cry for the ones who are hurt. And fight with me. Fight so a daughter will never have to feel this way again. Fight so a friend will never have to feel this way again. Fight to end an epidemic that hurts more than just meets the eye.

Listen. Report. Ask. Care. And for everyone’s sake, as a favor to humanity, and me, please stop victim blaming.


PTSD and Living the Gentle Life

I am floating on the river -  my hand is trailing in cool water - I am moving gently I am moving on the river

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is often reactivated by ‘triggers.’  These can include people, places, things, or sensory feelings that reconnect you with the trauma of the relationship.  In the last newsletter, I talked about the gentle life and how an over-taxed and anxious body/mind needs a soothing life.  I cannot stress this enough: people MUST remember that their PTSD symptoms CAN BE reactivated if they aren’t taking care of themselves and living a gentle life.

What IS a gentle life?  A gentle life is a life lived remembering the sensitivities of your PTSD.  It isn’t ignored, or wished away—it is considered and compensated for.  Since PTSD affects one physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually—all of those elements need to be considered in a gentle life.  Just as if you had diabetes you would consider what to eat or what medication you need to take, so it is with PTSD.

Interestingly, although PTSD is listed in the psychiatric manual as an emotional disorder, PTSD has some very real physical effects as well.  In fact, it has been discussed having PTSD listed in physician’s manuals as well, because the untreated, ongoing effects of acute stress are well known in the medical community.  Since PTSD has both components of emotional and physical symptoms, someone recovering from PTSD must take those aspects into account.

 Physically, PTSD often becomes a chronic condition by the time you get help.  That means you have been living with it for a while and it has been wreaking havoc on your physical body during that time.  Unbridled anxiety/stress/fear pumps enormous amounts of adrenaline and cortisol into your body.  This over stimulates your body and mind and causes insomnia,paranoia, hyperactivity, a racing mind/intrusive thoughts and the inability to ‘let down’ and ‘rest’.

A body that has been living on adrenaline needs the adrenal glands to ‘chill!’  People often complain of chronic insomnia, which also leads to depressionDepression can lead to lethargy, overeating, weight gain and hopelessness.  It is possible to have both anxiety and depression occurring at the same time.  Unmanaged stress, anxiety, and adrenaline can lead to long-term medical problems often associated with stress—lower GI problems, migraines, teeth grinding, aggravated periods, chest pain, panic attacks, and most auto-immune disorders like fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and MS.

So, CLEARLY, PTSD is something that SHOULD be treated.  Physically that means going to someone who can diagnose you—a therapist or psychiatrist.  In the early parts of treatment, it is normal to take anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants or sleep aides in order to rectify your depleted brain chemistry and to allow the adrenal glands to ‘rest’ and stop pumping out adrenaline.  Your doctor is in the best position to tell you what will help to relieve your physical symptoms.  Some use alternative medicine to deal with those symptoms. What is effective for each person varies.

Additionally, you need to help your body and brain produce the ‘good stuff’ in your brain chemistry.  This means exercising, eating well, and learning relaxation techniques.  Too much adrenaline has been pumping through your body with no way to get utilized.  Excessive adrenaline makes you feel jumpy and restless.  Exercise (even moderate walking) helps to produce endorphins in your brain, which produce those feelings of ‘well-being’ and helps to burn off the adrenaline and any extra weight you might have gathered.

Although during depression you often don’t FEEL like exercising, you will always feel bad if you don’t get your body moving.  Stress is even stored at the cellular level of our bodies.  You must, must, must, get moving in order to feel better.

Eating well means not trying to medicate your depression and low energy with carbs.  When you are depressed your body craves carbs as a source of quick energy, but the spikes in blood sugar add to the sense of mood highs and lows.  You’ve already had enough ‘junk’ in the relationship—think of it as nurturing your body with good food to replace all the ‘junk’ that it has been through.  You can greatly help mood swings by eating well.

It’s also necessary to deal with the negative habits you have acquired as ‘coping mechanisms.’ Many people with PTSD try to medicate their anxiety and depression.  This could be through smoking, relationship hopping, sex, eating/binging/purging, drugs (legal and illegal), and the increased use of alcohol.  In fact, one of the devastating side effects of PTSD is how many people develop alcoholism as a result. Any habits you are prone to right now tend to increase when you have PTSD, because the particular habit becomes more and more a way to manage your PTSD symptoms.  Finding positive coping skills instead of negative habits is a great step in your recovery.

Physical recovery also means paying attention to not reactivating your symptoms. Your physical environment in which you live, play and work must be conducive to low stimulation.  That means low light, low noise, and low aggravation.  Sometimes that means making big changes in the PEOPLE you hang out with—getting rid of the loud, noisy, overactive, aggressive and pathological.  And sometimes it means making big changes in a job where the environment does nothing but trigger you.

Lastly, learning relaxation techniques is not ‘optional’ for people with PTSD.  PTSD is a chronic state of hyper-vigilance, agitation, and restlessness.  Your body has been over-ridden with adrenaline for a long time and has ‘forgotten’ its equilibrium in relaxation.  It must be re-taught.  Re-teaching means doing it daily.  Taking 5 –10 minutes a day to use a relaxation breathing technique and allowing your mind to unwind.  Giving positive messages to your body to relax will help you tap into this natural relaxation, even during times you are not actively trying to relax.  The more you use this technique, the quicker your body can relax—even at work or when you are doing something else because it has ‘remembered’ how to.

There are a lot of tapes, CDs and videos you can buy on relaxation that walk you thru the process of relaxation (we also have one created for PTSD on the magazine site.)

Taking yoga will also teach you how to use correct breathing techniques that help correct the ‘shallow/panting’ breathing that is associated with PTSD and anxiety.  Shallow breathing or panting can actually trigger panic attacks.  Learning to breathe well again is a metaphor for ‘exhaling’ all the junk you’ve been thru and releasing it.  If you don’t have a relaxation tape, you are welcome to get our mp3 audio on relaxation techniques on our website.  Most importantly is to just become acutely aware that PTSD is physical (and often medical) as it is emotional.

By Sandra L. Brown, M.A., CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education is a psychopathologist, program development specialist, lecturer, and an award-winning author. Her books include Counseling Victims of Violence: A Handbook for Helping Professionals (1991, 2006), How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved Book and Workbook(2005) and Women Who Love Psychopaths (2008).

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information).


The Importance Of Social Contact With C-PTSD

Getting Your Needs Met

 If you can find a group for people with similar issues as you  eg.. anxiety, shyness, depression, PTSD, bipolar, life after abuse, addictions etc..  the peer support and socializing can be a real gift.

Joining a group has been both a challenge and a lifesaver for me. I’m trying to just flow with the social challenges and instead focus on the connection as a lifesaver.

You find people who have real understanding and compassion for what you are going through. You find you are not alone..

Family often mean well but never really have a clue on what you are dealing with day to day and trying to explain is usually frustrating and ultimately pointless (well it is in my case)..

I feel heard, understood and validated with the people in this group. We all have issues but no one is judged.

The first time I went I was so nervous that I had to take a tablet (diazepam) and I never take meds.. but I’m glad I did because it got me there.

Everyone needs like minded and understanding people in their life and there are good people in this world.

Love & baby steps

SG x



Why It’s Difficult to “Think Positive!” When You Have PTSD

If you have PTSD you may notice you have an overwhelmingly negative outlook on life. You may see motivational messages about thinking positively and want to give it a whirl. I know I see people who are infectiously positive and I think to myself, “Wow, I’d love to be like that!”

I think that learning to think positive thoughts and feel positive feelings is actually an important part of recovering from traumatic life experiences (and the grief and depression that often accompany them). In fact, “goodness” – learning to perceive goodness in the world and to feel “good” in the body and in life – is a central goal of trauma healing. This quest for goodness is essentially the same as wanting to learn how to perceive, think and feel “positive.”I’ve been doing self-tracking over the last month (March 27 – April 21). I’ve been tracking 10 symptoms of PTSD every day. One of them is negativity.

Analyzing my negativity every day made me think a little more about it. What I realized is that the feeling of “negativity” when recovering from PTSD is very complicated. I’m pretty sure if you just sit down and begin thinking happy thoughts that will not work out very well.

The challenge is that when you have PTSD, negativity is constantly being generated – I mean being generated inside you every minute of every day – by many different things in your system. It’s being generated by things going on in your body’s biology, various functions of your brain, your cognition (patterns of thinking) and many others symptoms.

Here is an Illustration of the symptoms represented by Monsters. Notice how, whenever the person with PTSD thinks a beautiful positive thought, the monsters eat it? That is what it feels like!

PTSD Symptoms Monsters

(I discuss each Monster thoroughly further down in this post under “Symptoms that Generate Negativity”)

There are definitely some times and situations when training positive thinking is beneficial. However, in my experience, most of the time the positive thought crumbles under the weight of the illness (or if you prefer, the injury (post traumatic stress injury)).

The vast majority of time when I have tried to motivate myself to think positively it’s just been a quick Band-Aid that ignores the deeper problems. To think positively, you need to target whatever is going on to generate the negativity and work with it, shift it around bit by bit.

The process of truly becoming more positive will involve a lot of effort and take a long time. Remember – there are no quick fixes when healing PTSD!

Negativity Takes Up All The Space

The first thing I want to point out is that the negativity inside you is like people crammed in a subway car – if the car is completely full of negative, angry, pessimistic people, the positive people can’t get on. You have to let some of the negative people off so that the positive people can get on. There is no point in trying to push the positive people into the car when there is no room.

Understanding the Experience of Negativity

As I mentioned, I tracked my experience of negativity for 23 days. These are my notes for what I meant when I chose a certain number on a scale of 0-100:

100% Negativity is “absolute, deep negative outlook on everything, 100% cynical.”

95% means “severe depression, believe all of life should be different than it is, constant self-criticism and self-hate, want to die.”

85% means “Strong negative” Also, “My life is shit. I can see I am using “musts” a lot. He must… life must… and if not my life is horrible. Cognitive distortion “musterbation” is contributing today.”

75% – “Basic negative. Complete, all, deep with 25% neutral.”

65% – “Negativity jumps up when unconscious mind is triggered, just a few minutes ago it was 30 and then I got triggered.”

60% – “Lots of confusion associated with this variable today – what is my reality? Is it really as horrific as I see it? Or is it a little bit better than that? Questioning perceptions a bit more actively but still SEE a lot as terrible/horrible.” Also, “Coming down off a horrible night with bad dreams all night.”

55% – “Feeling negative due to triggers.”

50% – “Basic gloomy. Medium negative 100% of the time -or- 50% very negative and 50% neutral. Hopeless half the time.”

40% – “Confused, but feel darkness in pit of stomach, want to see the light (good side of things). Feel desire to improve.”

35% – “A bit gloomy but getting better.”

30% – “Confused, positive much of the time but don’t know why.” “positive, confused, hoping.”

25% – “Feeling mostly positive and open”

My average for the 23 days was 58% negative. That’s pretty negative. A little over “Basic gloomy” and not quite “Coming down off nightmares last night” negative.

Why It’s Crucial To Understand The Causes of Negativity

Negativity is a bit like temperature. If you put a whole bunch of space heaters in your home and turn them on, the temperature will rise. You can go to the sink and splash some cold water on your face. You can really try hard to feel positive and think positive with that cold water on your face. You can even craft a nifty affirmation like, “My face is as cool as a mountain stream!” But once you stop splashing, in no time your face will be hot again. The real solution is to go to each space heater and turn it off. And if you don’t know how, you can phone someone who specializes in space heaters and ask for help.

space heaters

And another analogy (I like analogies)… Trying to force yourself to be positive is pretty much doomed to fail because you are a complex machine and now you have a complex mental illness. If you have a complex machine in your house like a computer and something is wrong with it that is also complex, standing there speaking affirmations to it won’t change it. Saying over and over, “My computer works! Just like a beautiful flower! Woo hoo! Rainbows!” won’t work. You have to get out the manual and figure out what is wrong.

Once you understand what is going on, there are numerous therapeutic exercises that “tweak” your system in tiny ways, opening you up to more positivity here, and then there, and then over there, like small glimpses of light that filter in when picking your way out of a dirt cave with a trowel.

Symptoms that Generate Negativity

OK, so I spent some time ferreting out what is causing all this 58% negativity for me and I found 11 Symptoms that Generate Negativity.

1. Trigger Monsters Lead to Perception of Reality as Negative

triggered monster

I will call these Inner Parts of Self “Triggered” and “Unconscious Triggered.”

When my “Triggered” Part is active it believes something horrible is going to happen.

Pure Instinct…

This reaction is not occurring on a cognitive level, as in a thought that is being spoken as an internal voice. I could also have an inner voice like this which would be considered the cognitive distortion of horribilizing. Horribilizing is an irrational belief. The biological level issue Triggered and cognitive level issue Horribilizing are two different things, although they can definitely increase each other in a feedback loop if going on simultaneously.

The particular experience represented by “Triggered” is purely on the level of the body’s instinctive reaction to some reminder of a past trauma. The “Unconscious Triggered” Part is even more subtle and mysterious, but it can be detected with enough mindful attention.

Listen To Triggered…

Solving triggers is a monumental task but the first step is just to listen to what those scared Parts are saying. Triggered could be saying, “I feel convinced I will be harmed when I hear that noise. I remember when I was being harmed and I heard that very noise. I have not moved on from that time so I must alert you to the imminent danger.”

Unconscious Triggered could be saying, “I feel so frightened. If you pay close attention, there is a connection between this moment and the past – can you sense what it is?” This one requires more time and more questioning. Sometimes the trauma is earlier for this Part – from childhood. So he could say, “It’s from a time, a moment that you don’t remember. You were given a message. The message is about being abandoned. Your inner child is convinced it is going to be abandoned when you are in this scenario (or hear that sound or see that image).”

danger monster

Triggered Makes Reality Seem Very Negative…

These two Parts cause a lot of fear. This contributes to making reality seem very scary. A scary reality can appear to be full of hopelessness, tragedy, horror, evil and pain. Thus, this perception of reality bumps up negativity.

If these two guys (Triggered and Unconscious Triggered) were happy and calm and no longer being activated, the perception of reality would at least have some space open up for the possibility of positivity. When these two are constantly freaking out, there is not any room for positivity.

Talk To Triggered…

So – listen to them every day. Sit with them and say, “I see you are afraid. You feel like you are going to be harmed. I know you want to help me, you want to alert me to danger so I will be safe. Thank you. Thank you so much for your service. You are welcome here and I love you. I know you will not stop alerting me to danger until I have gone back and processed the traumatic events from a new perspective and rearranged how they are in my brain. I have not yet gotten that far with my healing process, but I will keep that goal in mind and seek a safe and healthy way to do that. In the meantime, just know I’m working on figuring out how to take care of it and doing my best.”

A lot can shift in just acknowledging 1) you hear and understand Triggered and Unconscious Triggered and 2) you appreciate them, and 3) you are actively seeking a way to shift the trauma encoding so that they can be relieved of their duties. These steps will help to open up a little to more positivity – it may be just a little, but it’s significant!

Healing Exercises for Triggered…

In terms of exercises or therapies that are effective in shifting the way the past event is held in memory, there are ways to do this but it’s pretty complicated so I will go into this topic in another post. Just briefly, what I used above to speak directly with two Parts is called Inner Empathy. The processes that seem to have promise so far for me in terms of rearranging the past experience are a combination of the Dots Exercise, Slow Exercise, Pranayama Breathing or any slow breathing technique, Somatic Experiencing , Inner Empathy/NVC, Time Rip Healing, Self Guided Meditation, and some aspects of the Sedona Method.

2. The Body Is In a Negative Place; Leads To Negative Experience of Body

bodily reactions monsterWhen the Body hears all this hullabaloo from Triggered and Unconscious Triggered about the sky falling, and death coming, and immanent harm and destruction, terrible abuse and painful attacks, it will go into a negative place. So the body might feel like utter crap.

The body can have sensations of dizziness, nausea, buzzing, shivering, tension, exhaustion, heaviness. Intense emotions have effects on the body. Dread can be in the pit of the stomach. Dismay can be weight on shoulders. Terror can be shaking, rigidity and shallow breathing. The brain may be lacking oxygen. There may be adrenal fatigue. The body may sense that it’s falling apart. It’s hard to think positive when your body is pretty sure it’s self-destructing.

The exercises felt sense, tracking, grounding, pendulation, yoga, various types of mindfulness meditation and many other exercises can help the body. Of course, helping Triggered and Unconscious Triggered settle down will ultimately help the body settle down as well.

3. Scattered and Shattered and Letting in Negativity

shattered and no filters monsterIf you are not “inside” yourself anymore and instead shattered apart, you will feel everything outside you like it’s inside you. If it’s a person, internet article, movie, news broadcast, whatever – you are not separate from it.

I was playing a video game last night in which a dragon comes in and causes the floors of the game to jump up and down. All night last night in my dreams the floors were shaking up and down, and there was a giant threat present. Needless to say I had a horrendous night full of fear and frightening dreams and woke up subtly shaking all over and feeling almost like my body had been dematerialized or something. That’s a pretty extreme level of my mind really absorbing that information without any kind of filter in place. I think these things happen because I’m not INSIDE me, with good edges, watching things on the outside. I’m absorbing and reacting to every little thing in the environment because I’ve become diffuse and scattered out into the environment around me.

hypervigilance monster

While theoretically this could have a positive impact if it’s something positive that is in the environment, it seems like it’s more likely to increase negativity than positivity. This is likely because of the way trauma wires the brain to seek negative things in the environment and fixate on them in order to figure out how to protect you from them. One way this fixation on the negative can be seen is withhypervigilance, a state in which part of our mind is on the alert for danger all the time like a sentry, guard or watch tower (I also call him “Wild Animal Eye”).

Overwhelmed by Negativity…

So these two issues – having no filters and fixating on negative things – create a state of being overwhelmed by negative stuff from the environment. This can create a lot of internal reactions that increase negativity. There will definitely be no room for positivity to get on the subway car with all this going on.

Exercises that have the effect of pulling you inside yourself, feeling your edges and container, opening to positive parts of the environment, calming the nervous system, grounding and breathing deeply can all help with this.

When really “inside” again, the outside things are just neutral things passing by, rather than utterly overwhelming movies to get pulled into and affected by dramatically.

Also, when learning to focus on positive parts of reality, the brain shifts and opens to brand new things it never could perceive before. Therefore, developing your container and training the brain to perceive positive aspects of reality are important in learning to think and perceive positively.

4. Grief – While Grieving There is Naturally a Focus on What is Missing

grief monsterGrief and depression are common cohabiters with PTSD.

Grief is common because trauma so frequently includes losses. If you do have grieving to do, it can be important to think of yourself as having PTSD and Grief, (or C-PTSD and Grief, or Trauma Related Challenges and Grief) because they are both important to pay attention to. And if you suffer from depression, thinking “I am overcoming PTSD, Grief and Depression” would be accurate (this is my case).

The Sad Grief Monster…

I think of grief like a very sad monster that is accompanying me everywhere. Sometimes he gets sadder than other times. It’s my job just to love him no matter where he’s at – not sad, very sad or somewhere in-between. I’m not extremely goal oriented about him; I just seek not to repress him if possible. I actually think that by just acknowledging this Part – the Grieving Part shall we call him – I may at first invite him to feel more sadness but over time it will help him to express all the emotions fully and ultimately lead to more space for positivity.

There are many healing tools for grief. Inner Empathy is a brilliant tool to help out in this area. Worden’s 4 tasks of grieving cover the main “tasks” very well and can guide you through the process.

5. Depression

depression monsterI have mid-level depression. For me, depression shows up mostly as apathy and self-harshness. (For others depression shows up in a much more biological way.)

Apathy is a weird thing. Where does it come from? When I was very tiny I cared about everything. The cat’s tail was so important to grab. The flowers were so important to eat. The stones were so important to look at and touch. The world was full of importance! Not anymore. I’m not as clear about apathy as I am the other things.

Is it hard to think positively when having a high level of apathy? Yes, definitely. I think it could be related to cognitive distortions and learned helplessness. Learned helplessness I believe has been found to have a relationship with depression. Learned helplessness would produce apathy because if you believe you are helpless, why care? Nothing can be done anyway so what’s the point in caring?

One strange thing about apathy that I’ve noticed is that with PTSD, I care in an overwhelming and extreme way about danger and my life being threatened. My reptilian brain cares a lot and is in no way apathetic if it senses danger! But in general, as a person, I am apathetic because I feel helpless. It’s a disorienting experience of coexisting opposites.

The other way depression shows up for me is self-harshness and self-criticism. Self-harshness is from the cognitive distortion “musterbation,” using statements like “I must, they must, the world must, you must” etc. This can be worked with using Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. When I was a SMART Recovery leader in San Francisco, my mid-level depression reduced by 50% using REBT regularly and teaching others to do the same. If I had stayed beyond just one year, I think it would have stayed reduced but after I left it went back up to 100%.

Note that depression also has a physiological, chemical component that for some can only be adjusted using medication.

6. Cognitive Distortions

(not in Illustration)

I was just talking about the cognitive distortion of “musterbation” and how it contributes to depression. There are a bunch cognitive distortions that can just bumble about in one’s mind, not necessarily related to PTSD or depression but just a mental habit related to things that are happening in one’s life. They could have been learned from parents, society, teachers, TV… check out the book Feeling Good by David D. Burns for a great list and discussion.

In my experience, working with cognitive distortions always improves my mood. It’s always worth it. This is one area where it is possible to teach your mind, using your willpower, new and improved ways of thinking that lead to positive feelings.

7. No Presents for You! – The Inability to Find the Present Blocks Positivity

(not in Illustration but a monster relative of Triggered)

I’m thinking that there is a relationship between being in the present and feeling positive. With PTSD, there is no present time. When I do an exercise like “Felt Sense in Nature” (I will write about this later), or any exercise designed to connect my perceptions – my 5 senses – to the present, I feel strange at first. Then I feel a subtle hint of positivity. Then it goes away again. What was that? I reach out and touch the present moment again – the lines of sun striping the Post-it notes, the still warm air in-between the desk and the windowsill… the present… and it’s like my brain and body find some relief in that for a moment. That relief feels positive. That exercise made a little space in the subway car – a few negative people got off the train and there’s this spot there full of possibilities.

8. Functional Brain Impairments Prevent Positivity

brain impairments monsterWhen I got PTSD I lost my past – I lost a good portion of my memories of life before the traumatic events for a significant period of time. I lost a sense of my identity related to my past. And I lost my future.

The loss of the past and identity doesn’t really seem to drive up negativity too much. It’s mostly just a blank place. In fact it could be seen as a good thing if you want to completely reinvent yourself, or if you want to dissolve old angers and defenses – the dissolving has already been done for you.

Even if there is that side benefit of potential total reinvention, the sense of loss, disorientation and confusion can contribute to negativity. And actually, reinvention may not happen due to all the impairments and symptoms so probably should not be considered much of a benefit ultimately. Also I’m discovering that what I thought was a wiping of the slate clean was just burying everything under PTSD “until a later date” when it will just vomit itself back up anyway (for me that date appears to be now, 8 years later).

Reinvention is so much better if done in a gentle and deliberate way rather than as an off-chance result of severe trauma.

So, I’m really not sure how much negativity results from blankness and cluelessness about past and identity, but the part about having no future really is quite negative. After the traumas, I found that I was completely unable to picture a positive future, or dream of any positive future accomplishments, events or experiences. It’s like the future is blackness. It feels like embarking in a small boat at night not knowing if the ocean will ever end or if there will ever be a dawn. I think they call this a “truncated” sense of the future.

The sense of a bleak future does seem to increase negativity a lot for me. I have no trust in anything. I can’t really imagine a good future. I don’t relate much to “goodness” in general anymore, and that includes goodness in the future.

bleak future monster

I recently wrote in my Journal,

“I saw, today, how my own ideas for my future are drastically different than they were before the traumas. Before, it was like a vast field of possibilities. While trauma does literally take away possibilities, my mind itself doesn’t see the ones that are left anymore either. It sees a kind of black vastness of nothing. I’m without a good future? Why? Why should I be denied a good future? … What about my dreams? Why did trauma take THAT away from me? And – what do I have to do to get it back?

“And to all those motivational quotes that say Just Believe, I can’t. It’s more complex than that. I can’t believe in something my brain has become incapable of understanding, picturing, thinking, relating to, organizing.

The important thing to note here is that I am saying there are times that my brain literally can’t think positively. I’m saying that my brain is sometimes not organized enough to form a cohesive picture of positive things. Goodness is not only a stranger to me – it’s also a stranger to my brain’s functioning. I am saying that I need to re-grow skills – mental skills – before I can be positive. Until then, my brain is simply too disorganized to accomplish this.

I think it’s important to be aware that PTSD can cause functional impairments in the brain. My brain has recovered to a degree now, due to my efforts (I am, after all, composing sentences and using words right now). However, in the years after the traumas, sometimes in my dreams my brain could not even think in actual words. It was so utterly traumatized it was producing pure gibberish (this happened probably 5 times but was always a vivid illustration of how overwhelming trauma can scramble the brain).

Another, more frequent occurrence is during dreams I will just wail. Just make noise, like “Aaaaa. aaa.” The pain is so overwhelming it kind of obliterates everything and all I can do is make one sound over and over. In those instances of just making sound, words are being created by my brain (it is not complete gibberish) but as an expression I can only make sounds.This happens regularly. I don’t have a record but I would estimate once per month on average.

I also experienced a lot of “flashing” in which I just saw strobe light effects going off in my brain all night due to the overwhelming nature of all the traumas frying all the circuitry. The traumas were so extreme they flatlined mental functioning for a while. This happened more frequently during the years right after the major traumatic events – 2007-2010.

While my brain is much better now, in some ways I’m still somewhat “still and blank,” like a blue screen, even today 8 years later. Ultimately I need to acknowledge to myself that this is a brain that has spent a lot of time in utter, complete chaos until the computer froze for a while, and is still prone to problems even after being rebooted.

During the times my brain experiences chaos, how can I “think positively”? The brain can’t even think period. If the brain cannot organize or process information, cannot access vocabulary, cannot remember anything, cannot think in clear sentences, etc. believe me, an affirmation will not help the situation. The affirmation or the positive thought represents a level of organization beyond what that specific brain, at that specific moment, is capable of.

All this stuff needs to be fixed first and – there is no quick fix. There is no positive thought that will make everything magically OK. It takes a long time and a lot of work to rebuild the brain’s ability to organize information. Actually now that I think of it, most of the other items in this list probably also have some type of functional impairments associated with them in terms of neural pathways in the brain, memory, and other brain related issues that make positivity a huge challenge. So the brain training work really is quite important. Once the brain has been repaired I can imagine there will be a lot of positive thoughts as a result. Likely the brain will feel a lot better when it recovers these natural capacities over time by going to therapy and doing healing exercises.

9. Anger, Resentment, Bitterness

anger monster

I still have a lot of unprocessed, buried anger at the perpetrators. I think this anger bleeds over onto other people sometimes. Probably more than I’d like to admit.

10. An Issue Unique to You (In My Case It’s Bad Body Image after Injuries)

unique to you monsterThis one will be different for everyone. Each person will have variables that increase negativity for them that are specific to the nature of their traumatic experiences.

For me personally there is one more prominent area that increases negativity that is unique to my traumatic experiences: Bad Body Image.

After the traumas my body was very badly injured and I gained weight going from size 12 to size 20. I was extremely ill for a number of years so this makes sense and it was not my fault. But I’m not very good at combating the social pressures related to body image for women. My image of my body as horrible, injured, altered and ugly accounts for a lot of those negative people in that subway car of my mind. I think that if I had some casts on my limbs, I could say – these extra things on my body are here because I was injured. But sudden weight gain has a huge stigma for women and, due to social conditioning, most people don’t view it the way they view a cast on a limb even if it’s serving the same purpose essentially. There is a lot of grief for losing my body (body image/appearance/health/identity) so suddenly as well, and a lot of it is unprocessed so still raw. Also the negative body image makes me believe I have a bleak and worthless future.

11. Stresses of Daily Life

Not everything is about a diagnosed mental illness of some kind. Life can be stressful. That stress can contribute to a percent of the negativity, whether or not you have PTSD, Depression, Grief etc. I must say that it definitely makes it harder to effectively handle those stresses if dealing with something mucking up the cogs of the mind though.

I  tried to sense which of these “Monsters” are creating the most negativity…

Listed from the most impactful to the least:

  1. Triggered Monster, Unconscious Triggered Monster and Danger in the Environment Monster = 15% (contributes to 15% of my negativity)
  2. Bodily Reactions Monster = 15%
  3. Shattered (aka No Filters) Monster and Hypervigilance (aka Sentry aka Fixated on The Negative) Monster = 15%
  4. Bad Body Image Monster (An Issue Unique To You Monster – in my case is bad body image) = 15%
  5. Functional Brain Impairments – 15% (used to be greater) also inside of this monster —
    1. Loss of Past Monster 2% of that
    2. Loss of Self Monster 1% of that
    3. Bleak Future Monster – 10% of that
  6. Grief Monster = 5%
  7. Depression Monster = 5%
  8. Cognitive Distortions Monster= 5%
  9. Anger Monster = 5%
  10. Daily Stresses Monster – 5%
  11. Stuck in Past Monster – Inability to Find the Present Blocks Positivity – this is actually part of Triggered Monster, being triggered / reminded of the past constantly

Self-Tracking Data Reveals Negativity Correlates Most Highly to Grief, Shut Down(Numb), Apathy and Trigger Reactivity

OK so the very last thing I want to do is take a look at all the data I gathered from my 23 days of self-tracking and find out – which other symptoms were within 10 points above and 10 points below negativity on the 100 point scale? In other words, which symptoms followed closely along with negativity over the course of the experiment?

symptoms most correlated to negativity…

  1. sorrow 11x (of 23)
  2. shut down 10x
  3. apathy 9x
  4. trigger reactivity 9x

Grief is #1 Correlation

So Grief is actually the most correlated…”Sorrow” measures grief as well as other kinds of melancholy about things, such as feeling sad about the past events. I said I thought grief was generating 5% but based on my data actually could be much higher than that. And because I was shut down and couldn’t actually feel the sorrow much of the time, that means there actually is much more there than I probably know about, and maybe it’s contributing to negative feelings more than I realize as well.

Shut Down and Apathy – which I think of as Depression – is #2 Correlation

Shut Down and Apathy are related closely to Depression. Shut Down measures how numb and repressed regarding emotions I am. Apathy measures how little I care about things, also the sense of helplessness and resignation. So really depression is potentially the second highest cause of negativity. Shut down does also relate closely to PTSD. I would have to go back and read my notes to determine whether the shut down symptom was originating more from depression or more from PTSD. I also think that sometimes “sorrow” is part of depression so there’s a bit of an overlap (these things are complex!).

Triggers is #3 Correlation

Trigger reactivity is how extreme my reaction to triggers is. So I was right when I rated that one high; it is high but it’s the third highest not the highest.

It Turns Out Real Data is The Most Reliable…

When I was just trying to kind of estimate what I think is going on I had Triggered, Bodily Reactions, Shattered, Brain Impairments and Bad Body Image as the top contributors. But when I looked at the data, I found that Grief, Shut Down and Apathy (which I think could be part of Depression) and Triggersare the top three. To be fair, I was not measuring Brain Impairments and Bad Body Image as part of my self-tracking experiment. Even so, this discrepancy illustrates why, when it comes to questionnaires, it’s important to document things as they are happening rather than ask someone to try to guestimate or remember what they think is happening with them. Of course, to obtain any actually scientific results this would need to be a real scientific study involving a control group, multiple people from various populations and done with precision etc.

Addendum: Affirmations and Rational Thinking Can Work If Used With Awareness of PTSD

How To Use Affirmations

I’ve been poo-pooing affirmations in this article because they can be powerless in the face of PTSD symptoms, especially if you don’t understand all the symptoms, but affirmations can be effective healing tools if used in the following ways:

  1. Affirmations can be used to support any other healing exercise. An affirmation can be repeated while doing any trauma healing exercise to enhance and deepen the exercise. For example, when relaxing, one can think, “I am as relaxed as a bowl of jello.” It can help the body relax further. Or when doing pendulation, “I have a well of peace I can access at any time.” They don’t replace the exercise; they just reinforce the healing mechanism already in use. While doing breathing exercises: “My breath allows me to experience even the most subtle parts of my traumas and integrate them.”
  2. Affirmations can work to shift habits of the mind and help exit cognitive distortions. For example, things like,”There are no ‘shoulds’ in my life.” “My future is independent from my past,” and everything else from things like SMART Recovery/REBT and the book Feeling Good by David Burns.
  3.  Affirmations are good for successfully reaching goals.
  4. I don’t know for sure, but affirmations in general may work after a certain level of mental organization is reached in recovering from PTSD.

At one point I actually created a large collection of affirmations to be used for healing PTSD. So far, I have not used them. I think this is just because my mind is not organized enough to actually be capable of integrating them and I just use “emergency” measures all the time still, like somatic experiencing. Probably one day I will be able to be mentally organized enough to actually use them and benefit from them. Also they need to be repeated many times every day and my time is not quite organized enough for that yet.

Tips for Using Affirmations:

When using affirmations they always have to be present tense (no future) and positive (no “nots”) to work, and you should say them enough times to truly believe them.

Affirmations need to be repeated hundreds of times a day to have a chance, because the negative thought may be repeated100x per day and the affirmation needs to be repeated more times than the thought it’s replacing.

It’s good to do affirmations alongside other processes and therapies that help reinforce the tangible experience of the new thought. If there is a real, tangible experience of the affirmation it makes it a lot more believable.

Also be aware of the mind wanting to use affirmations to avoid uncomfortable emotions. If you decide to use affirmations, just notice if you are clinging to a positive thought in order to ignore or stay in denial of negative feelings going on inside. Sometimes, the affirmation may be helping you repress fearful, sad and angry emotions rather than listening to them. Repression of emotions could backfire because those negative parts of yourself will feel unseen and then they will feel more negative about being unseen and unheard by you, and seek to be expressed in a destructive manner.

Having said that, it’s important to note that it’s totally OK to repress emotions and sometimes very intelligent to do so. For example, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to repress emotions to get through a work day, or even to get through a period of stressful months (or years). But chronic repression my backfire in outbursts of anger or pain. Talking to a therapist is the first step in learning to listen to the negative emotions. Little by little you will gain skills to identify and listen to them yourself.

Ultimately, if you use affirmations as a kind of add-on to effective treatment for PTSD symptoms they should work fine.

Rational Thinking Generates Positivity

Also, as I mentioned under #6 – Cognitive Distortions – learning rational thinking skills by using cognitive therapies such as REBT is also one area in which directly training new ways of  thinking IS effective in producing more positivity.  Note that Cognitive Distortions is just 1 out of 11 (or more) things that could be contributing to negativity though, so it probably won’t cure ALL negativity and is not a replacement for effective treatment for the real symptoms of PTSD. It’s good to do it though; it’s really powerful and is sure a great tool for the self-healing toolkit!

Thank you for reading and I wish you (and all your Monsters) the very best on your healing journey!


Heidi Hanson is an artist and writer in Asheville, North Carolina currently working on an illustrated book chronicling her journey healing from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.