How to deal with PTSD without medications.
Give meditation a try.
The PTSD Beautiful Trauma Project was born in France, in 2018, after 3 years from terrorist attacks to the “Charlie Hebdo Magazine” Board Office. Despite not being an activist, neither politically, nor labour councillor, I felt soon concerned and, in fact, I was. They say that, if you want to grow and evolve, in a lifetime, you get what you need, and not what you want. This was my case.
After multiple and unfortunate events, in Paris suburbs (2015), I woke up from burn out one mild day in mid-September, and I finally began my journey with struggling with PTSD as trauma survivor.
The social, both personal and professional, context I have been through this Parisian terror season, not only put me in a diseased mental health condition, but also forced me to a life-changing transformation. Understanding, first, talking and taking actions, in the aftermath, were the only way to move forward.
Today, although, my work position is still in progress, as well as my emotional, physical and psychological state, my Body/Mind Health and Wellbeing are developing and improving one day at time. Panic attacks are over. Anger is a best friend of mine. Finally, I could find my purpose, and stick into my big dreams and life goals.
One side, the technique of Self-Discovery, thanks to the professional help of a kind lady, from the Occupational Psychologist Service, led me to a process of looking at my own identity, and therefore finding my True Self (Empathic and Highly Sensitive). On another side, my personal journey with PTSD recover was a chance to explore my potential, gifts and spiritual Path.
What could I ask more from a tragic event, and a chaos state of mind, other than survival? This project and my present life driving’s force speak out loud.
A couple of valuable aims will be sharing my personal tips about coping with PTSD, and ultimately, co-creating a community around Mental Health awareness, as well as Common Values.
Motto: What goes around comes around
We are all related.
Today, I had my lunch at the work canteen, with my friend, Samir. We have been working at the luggage service, during 5 months, once back from my sick leave. One of the most kind-at-hearted person I have ever met. A real dude. Not only he shared his personal story with me and our colleagues, when he early arrived at the service. But he sudden became one of my best friends, although 15 years younger than me (28 – 43).
We haven’t met since a while, and before meeting him, I wondered if I could interview him, like Sebastian Junger would. In order to put his story on this blog and give another point of vew, the “afghan refugee”. We take our meal, on a table, among french and many other nationalities, around us. “So, what’s up, anto?” He asks me. And I start telling him about my last books, Tribe, War in Afghanistan and so on. Before I can tell him about the concept behind my last hero’s mind, he shows me the picture of an Italian girl he’s been hanging on during the past year. Ok, I see. Forget the long way from Kabul through Turkey and Greece. Samir needs a couple of open ears.
“What’s wrong with me? I gave her all the attention and also made a Christmas present, and she hasn’t been honest with me. She had a boyfriend. And now she is with another guy, a technicien. I was such a gentleman.”
And I know, he really means it.
Before we continue in our conversation, I try to savour my gnocchi with italian mascarpone gorgonzola cheese mixed with swiss gruyere. Yes, yum.
The girl in the picture reminds me of pretty girls who know how to get favours from good guys like him. The kind of girls I hated when younger. Cutie, smiling pretty faces with long brown hair, with trendy sunglasses. She comes from Sicily. She shocks my friend by saying that he is not french enough. That she prefers dating frogs.
“Stop being kind.” I cry at him, calm but firmly. “You knoe, between gangster and gentleman there is a balance. Got it? Next time, Sam, I will shut at you like marines trainers, if you don’t catch it.”
Samir is proud, he gets his own car, they are 7 in the family, I once met his little sister, she is a clever, smart little girl. We went to the amusement park and had fun, together, like a family. We have a small talk, and I wonder if he’s still thinking to leave for US. “It’s a misery, anywhere, now.”
Sadly, but truely.
Before I let him go, he drops me at the bus stop, and tells me he’s going to Iran for holidays, part of his family is still there. And Dubai, Turkey. “Do you feel safe there?” “You know, anto, I respect the law wherever I go. If you don’t act stupid, there is no issue. No matter the Country. Don’t you think?”
Deep, and wise, Samir: respect is the key.
Both traveling, and flirting.
A good day to all
Do you believe in signs? Do you catch any thoughtful insights from quite irrelevant happenings in your daily life? Psychologist Jung called it “sinchronicity”. When it happens, I feel like that there is someone behind the scene. Recently, my attention has been, and still is, captured by this amazing movie, The Greatest Showman. I am not hiding, I am a new big fan of Hugh Jackman, despite I didn’t take time to watch on his Logan, just because I find it a little violent for my own criteria. I am also in love with his couple, Jack and Deborah Lee, I just can’t help. She rocks, and their story is very inspiring. This is, also, me.
Signs. A few days ago, I was sharing a cup of café crème after work, with this Italian friend who is been working in a circus, in Rome. She is very tiny, little woman, who had 4 children. Very strong. She introduced me this other Italian, just arrived, Shirly (mispelling is due to her Italian mother, whose other daughter is named Marilyn).
To be honest, I can’t tell you how much Hollywood magic still influences Italian imagination. We were born to be on stage. Even if you cook some homemade pizza, we are acting like movie stars on the screen. I knoe… it’s a natural skill. Or mythomania.
Let’s focus on this girl, she actually is an acrobat. Brown, long hair and big brown eyes. Tiny, too. Perhaps, if you are small size, it’s easier to fly. When I arrived at work, this morning, there was a group in the hall, they were all acrobats. And I felt a good vibe.
Perhaps people who jump in the air, keep on moving, and trust each other can see other people without judging, I thought. Their look was amused, but not judgemental. They were the Stars. Why acrobats are catching my attention all at once?
And then, I go to this rendez -vous with my counsellor who clears up my mind and opens my third eye chakra. By now, my actual situation -at work and life, generally speaking- is walking on a tightrope.
After burn out, priorities became regaining my emotional balance, and still working on it. At first, results came thank’s to yoga, and physical exercise, push ups, sleep & healthy diet discipline (meat is banned). It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a glass of wine, or that I am gluten free addicted. I am just mindful of what I eat and drink (what’s this coke zero?).
A whole new person is writing these lines, and I like it. But my life is still stuck. Transforming, reorganising and restructuring. If you are familiar with these terms, you knoe what I mean. Capitalist system is owned by companies who keep us as modern slaves. And it is not by chance, that the person who is my trustworthy counsellour is a black african. The way he spoke to me, today, reminded me of that great, collective father figure of Martin Luther King Jr. His straight, and reassuring look, his confident and open attitude. He holded me tight from a leap in the void.
By only his own words. This is the power of conversation, right?
I’ve recently been in an emotional distress, upsetting family news, and sudden surgery, I needed a break, and I took it right at Christmas Time. The best present for holidays that I did to my family in ten years, abroad. The best holy season since my grandparents passed away. At work, it was not easy. But I’ve followed my heart, and… no regrets.
But now, to keep balance, heart and mind have to be in coeherence with each other.
I can’t leave, I can’t abandon. I am simply not ready.
Acrobats, when launch themselves, they have been training a tons of times, again and again, they take the risk because they feel confident and safe. Or they know that the person who waits for them, to hold their hands is solid, stable and strong.
I admit, I have been talking about my health issues to a very few persons, rarely I did it with friends (why annoying them?). Choose carefully the persons that you can trust, or who will trust you. It’s not guaranteed that a friend can listen the good listening (therapeutic). They can rarely be neutral. Gosh, my best friend almost sent me to hospital when visiting me, during an anxiety attack (she was so scared).
Now, that my pair in this fight to regain my long-term job, is “black power“, well, I feel more comfortable and euphoric.
There is a time fot letting go, and a time for holding on.
“Painted and smiling, I balance on my trapeze. Luka is poised ten metres away, his muscles shining under the lights. The wooden circles in his earlobes twitch as his jaw clenches, unclenches, clenches.” Kirsty Logan
When you overreact to events, like crying before other people, and can’t avoid sadness overwhelm you after catching up with media news, then you are probably a so-called « highly sensitive person ». The earlier you get it, the better. Before my burn out and fake alert trauma, I knew that I was a sensitive person, and sometimes acting like a « little girl », but I wasn’t aware of it like a gift. Being sensitive more than 80 per cent of world population? What a present, I was thinking. Acceptation came actually like thunder’s lighting, after a long time of struggling and fighting against my own personality. When, finally, I met this penpal whose story was much stronger than mine, since he is serving a sentence in a californian jail, for 16 years now, and 7 are left. My penfriend was HSP him self and he had the chance to get a good lady doctor as psychotherapist.
If you allow me, I’ll share this article with you, it is from the magazine « Shambala : The Sacred Path of Warrior » :
« Basic goodness is very closely connected to the idea of bodhicitta in the Buddhist tradition. Bodhi means « awake » or « wakeful » and citta means « heart », so bodhicitta is « awakend heart ». Such awakened heart comes from being willing to face your state of mind. That may seem like a great demand, but it is necessary. You should examine yourself and ask how many times you have tried to connect with your heart, fully and truely. How often have you turned away, because you feared you might discover something terrible about yourself ? How often have you be willing to look at your face in the mirror without being embarrassed ? How many times have you tried to shield yourself by reading the newspaper, watching television, or just spacing out ? That is the sixty-four-thousand dollar question : How much have you connecteted with yourself at all in your whole life ? » The sitting practice of meditation … is the means to rediscover basic goodness, and, beyond that, it is the means to awaken this genuine heart within yourself. When you sit in the posture of meditation, you are exactly the naked man or woman that we describerd earlier, sitting between heaven and earth. When you slouch, you are trying to hide your heart, trying to protect it by slumping over. But when you sit upright but relaxed in the posture of meditation, your heart is naked. Your entire being is exposed – to yourself, first of all, but to others as well. So, through practice of sitting still and following your breath as it goes out and dissolves, you are connecting with your heart. By simply letting yourself be as you are, you develop genuine sympathy toward yourself. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others. »
In order to better understand if you are an HSP I’ll put this article from this blogger, who seems very HSP like. You’ll see that feeling weird, quiet and out of place is absolutely normal and a good sign that you are being your true Self.
You also find a podcast from Alanis Morissette with Elaine Aron, author of « Highly Sensitive Person : How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You”.
Before I discovered meditation, my daily routine was jumping out of bed, at last minute, rushing for having my breakfast, and getting ready for going out, and still hurry up to catch my bus. Typical parisian, I’d say. Yes, except I live in suburbs, and this area is located between country and woods. Even more scary.
Not only my way of walking, but also speaking was speed. Truth is that deeply inside, I am shy, and that means that when I have to speak, I feel I am at the center of attention and I am not confortable. This was me, before. « Hurry, hurry. » Consequently, french guests or colleagues tried hard to understand what I was saying to them. And actually, still do. But this is another story for another bed time. The fact of hurrying each moment of day made me more anxious and tired. Until I fell exhausted. Also, speaking my mind was a big trick for me. Simply, I didn’t take enough time to build up my thought, and this is quite typical for firy aries like me.
When, finally, got this audio-book from french psychologist, Christophe André, I was on a quest of the meaning of here and now. Why being mindful ? What is it ? Why are we not living the present moment, all the time ? It looks like our mind is escaping it, in the past and the future, … So, I started this practice for about TEN minutes, in the morning. Every morning. Straight before my coffee. First time, I kept watching the clock and minutes seemed like never passing by. Was I doing right ? Sat down, and focus on my nastrils, breathing IN cold air, breathing OUT warm air. That was helpful. My mind could start concentrating on physical. Thoughts flew away and then came back. « What will I put on today ? » « What will I eat for lunch ? » Then focus, again. Third eye helps. When you close your eyes, and concentrate on the dot between your eyebrows, I admit, that is powerful. So, what?
Yes, my life has magically changed since. And the results motivate me to hold one this practice. Now, that meditating became a pleasant habit, I spend more time on my orange pillow, sitting on the floor, but that doesn’t mean I am doing it properly. If I can, I let my overthinking release and let it go. Ok, I am anxious and a bit stressed, and that’s okay. I simply accept it. When you become aware of it, that’s a good start for healing. Your subconscious records that information and starts working on it, and eventually send orders to neurons to fight against stress. Your body gets prepared in a certain way. When you are so stressed out and you feel like you can’t meditate, just sit down and take ten minutes to RELAX….. that’s EXACTLY the perfect moment to do it.
Some life coaches call it power hour. The first hour in the morning, where you can write down your journal, reading inspiring quotes, affirmations, doing yoga or work out excercise, and meditate. It’s matter of habits. What time is your clock in the morning? How do you feel now ? Emotionally ? Physically ? Can you imagine advance your clock for one hour ? Ok, ten minutes ? Start small.
If you like, keep on breathing. Darling, you just learnt how to take time for your Self, no matter what. No kids around, or work schedules. Each day is a good day for trying better. You’ll be grateful.
Don’t try, do.
When I was diagnosed « burnt out » by my doctor, september 2015, I used sleeping 3-4 hours per night, five days a week. In my weekend days, I was so exhausted that I didn’t wake up until I had enough. Recovery sleep, what was that ?
Professionals say that our biological system starts producing melathonin at 22 pm, and recovering every single cell in our body, from 23 pm to 1 am. After that time, it’s too late. That means that if you go to sleep after 2 or 3 am every single night, it is quite possible that you develop health issues, and deseases, due to a weakened mental and physical body. As soon as I got my sick leave, a collegue had a terrible accident on his bycicle, when out for competition, on a sunday morning, he had his chest broken and couldn’t do any sport or walk properly, for a long time; another collegue went to hospital for a few months, and when he came back to work, he had to rearrange his schedules the same then I. He was stressed out, but he couldn’t ever admit to him self. The first, who was also my coach, told me that 4 hours sleep for him was enough. And for a while, he went on smoking weeds to help relaxing him self in the evening, until he finally had to quit, because of addiction. The second, who was in charge of « fake alert » (after january Paris attack), with me, moved to another service after a long recovery time in hospital. Because he was in denial, first, with him Self, he couldn’t see that something was wrong with me. He just told me, once, that I looked like I was going to cry, all the time, and that’s it. Also, he asked me if I was bipolar.
When home, not only I felt drained, but unexpectedly, I wanted to do more. So, I used to sit on my kitchen table, and write down plenty of « to do list ». Cook, walk, draw, create, clean, iron, fix bike’s wheel, yoga, relax. I checked the list, except for last one, of course. What you should consider as normal, on an off work day, like having fun, going out, or simply cocooning at home, was not considered, and seen as a waste of time. Yes, I spent my rest time keep doing things. What helped me, during my journey, was this article about being anxious. It stated to try to write down your list, and then destroy it. So, I did it. My table is much cleaner now. And my mind, too.
By the way, the person who really made the difference there, was my manager. During a certain time, she wasn’t there as much as the service required, or I would, due to her family’s configuration schedule, but I can’t blame her. At that right time, I did. I was angry against all management and frustration made me nervous and put me in a bad mood. Instead of leaving, cos there weren’t healthy conditions, to do our job, we felt compelled to replace them (for different reasons, I suppose). When she came back from holidays, she called me on a meeting with her, and asked me if what she heard was true. « Did I really had the courage to claim for a bonus ? » Definitely, yes, I did. We, as a team, did an excellent job, all alone. We had deserved it. Of course, that was the straw that breaks the camel’s back and, finally, bursted into tears. Go away. I was worthy a recognition for the effort. Instead of striking, as we were supposed to do, once the safety conditions are not guaranteed (guests became quite aggressive and they were right to be angry against a lack of service and staff), but we kept on doing a great job, altogether. And not only it didn’t pay off, we’ve been called and judged. That was my chance to blow the whistle. And I haven’t missed it.
That was the right moment when she, the boss – one of the persons I « feard » most– humbly suggested me to ask for help.
The first reaction that I remember, before burn out, was feeling guilty. I felt like I was not strong enough. Others look was very important and you don’t want to desappoint them, right ? Your will is to show them that you are worthy their attention (and perhaps love ?).
Everybody was tired, but my collegues were holding on. Nobody spent a day sick at home. It was very exceptional, because as a team, we knew that if someone wasn’t there, others would do the job. It wasn’t human kindness, instead, but a sort of spiritual pride. Deeply inside, as individuals, we couldn’t bare not to be necessary. My service was precious, I thought, and I pretended to make a difference, in service, too. How could they manage without me ? Oh, well, they could, and they did. After burn out, there were no reaction, but release. Finally, I could start to breath again. And still do.
breeze : synonims, gentle wind, breath of wind, puff of air, current of air, flurry of air, gust
Yes, according to Sebastian Junger, from his book « Tribe », people who develop chronic PTSD are more likely to have lived experiences before going to war or living their trauma. « Statistically, the 20 per cent of people who fail to overcome trauma tend to be those who are already burdened by psychological issues, either because they inherited them or because they suffered abuse as children. » As long as I’m concerned, depression was a family “present”. Depression, in my own words, is the way your soul is telling you how much you NEED to be loved. My grandfather used to spend days in bed, because of financial burdens. He was born in 1910, can you imagine ? Previous treatment for depression was electroshock. By the way, he died at age of 95. His last years he followed a therapy with psychodrug injections. His dreams turned into nightmares. He once told me that he woke up dreaming that he was LITERALLY on fire. The rest of the time, he was okay, especially, when he could hear classical music on his ears. No, not mp3, but simply allucinations.
At age 20, he was a navy led, he proudly attended the Amerigo Vespucci training school, and enjoyed telling me his stories from sailing with Admiral Alberto Da Zara ( one of most renowned charachter, in Italian Royal Navy, who asked him to take care of his own dog, Pippo, on leave time ). His fave tale at Xmas eve. It’s not natural, that grandpas die before we get old. I would like he could speak to me now, and teach me, how to sort all of this mess out.
« Learn english ». This was his statement. « It will open you doors ». He told me this after telling me the story of that unforgettable trip on the Channel, when he had the worst time of his life, because of very bad weather, and eventually, thought he wouldn’t come back home again. He made good friends on that trip, and definitely, enjoyed talking to brits. My grandpa was a storyteller, and, of course, as little girl I was taught to listen to elderly, but I did enjoy it, I promise. So was and still is my dad. This means not only we have the same way to face difficulties (depression is a reaction), but also, we pass on the same way to cope with them. So, pay attention on the illnesses and diseases your family is suffering since generations. They tell you who you are. If this is your case, the 20 per cent is telling you that you are a highly sensitive person and you have to take care of your Self. And your family, it goes without saying.
Sensitive : easily upset by the things people say or do, or causing people to be upset, embarrassed, or angry.
Are your an HSP? Try this :http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/
Since 2015, all in my life went wrong, and so, I had to decide what was really worth going on and what was time to let go. Ego suffered the most. Now, three years later my beautiful trauma, the moment has come to move forward. Taking the responsability of my entire life. If you agree, that we create our own reality, and if you are someone who attracts toxic relationships, or fake alerts, even natural disasters, you shall ask questions about WHO YOU ARE, and WHY YOU.
It takes 10 years now, that I live in this Country – Parisian suburbs, France – where many people are renowned to complain about anything, from weather, to strikes and canteen food. If they are black skinned, they say that there are too asiatic, in town, and they are ready to move into another city. On the opposite, asiatics are quite happy-go-lucky. They inspire me always looking on the bright side of life.
That means that when you open your window, after one month of cloudy and rainy weather, you shall be thankful for Mother Earth. Or saying “hello” when you meet a lady, out of a station, who is begging for money, even though you won’t give her any coins. That is the positive attitude which I have been developing in last ten years. I can’t remember when exactly it happened, but this shapeshift is still transforming my mind and behaviour.
So, welcome to my PTSD world. I hope you will enjoy your visit, take notes, and get well.