The Trauma Tool Kit Has Arrived! *GIVEAWAY*

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Hi all,

I’m happy to tell you that The Trauma Toolkit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out is now in bookstores across the United States and is shipping from online booksellers. I had the privilege of finally holding my own copy this week. In celebration I am giving away three copies to the first three readers who link to this blog and comment below. Please be sure to send me your address privately if you see your name in the first three comments! Here’s to healing from traumatic stress! Blessings, Sue




TTK BREAKING NEWS

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Hi all. Today I am pleased to tell you that one month out, the Search Inside function has been activated for The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out. Quest Publishing has been quite generous with their sharing so you can begin reading now! Click on the book cover to the right of this post to go to Amazon’s site for the book. My greatest desire is that this book help you overcome your traumatic stress and PTSD. Blessings, Sue




Tool: Progressive Relaxation

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My husband is a cardiologist. He and I have a friendly competition about who can get rid of chest pain faster. If there is nothing he can do he refers his patient to me or another practitioner. Progressive relaxation, twice a day, for 10 minutes a session usually takes care of unexplained angina in under 2 weeks.

If you have taken a yoga class or been in hypnosis or therapy chances are you know what progressive relaxation is. You start at your feet, imagining deep relaxation, warmth and heaviness and then slowly move that focus up the body. The exercise can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. Sometimes people fall into a restful slumber. In fact progressive relaxation is excellent for insomnia!

I practice progressive relaxation every morning when I wake up. If you have stress in your life (and who doesn’t?) you might be surprised at how much tension you are holding in your body coming out of the sleep and dream state. It resets my body and mind for the day ahead.

It is one of of the best tools for dealing with PTSD and traumatic stress. It is mental floss, which,like dental , is good to practice regularly one to two times/day. You can find videos and CD’s that will talk you through progressive relaxation. Next time you are feeling stressed, give it a whirl (but not in your car!).

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!




Stress, Genetics and PTSD

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Today there are a number of articles on the web about the genetic predisposition to PTSD. Researchers have discovered that if your ancestors were exposed to severe traumas, such as the holocaust, severe disasters, famine or others, you are likely to have some genetic markers that make you more susceptible to PTSD. We have known for some time that some people respond more dramatically to stress than to others. Now we are beginning to understand why. 

It would be easy to misconstrue this information to say that those with the trauma genes are ‘weaker’. This would be a mischaracterization. Researchers have made studies about how certain rabbits with more inherited hypervigilance are better at survival in certain terrains. The same people who are prone to PTSD may also have quicker reflexes, be more alert in their surroundings and/or more sensitive to situations. Sensitivity is not a liability but an asset. The world, after all, is not suffering from an overabundance of sensitivity but a lack of it. I would love to see researchers focus on the assets of these genetic changes.

Lastly, I want to point out that although some people are more prone to PTSD, there are some traumas that will cause PTSD in anyone, just as people with stronger or less strong immune systems may catch a particularly virulent disease. So let us engage our curiosity and our compassion for those who suffer in this way, and let us also take note of their resilience and their gifts.

 

 

photo courtesy of Maya Banitt




The Dangers of Wartime Traumatic Stress

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I really admire this man’s work. He brings up a very important issue about traumatic stress that does not reach the level of PTSD being just as dangerous, just as important to treat as PTSD. I’ve just ordered his book.

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PTSD, Inflammation and You.

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The hottest news in PTSD is the connection between heart disease and the mechanisms of PTSD in the body. PTSD leads to chronic inflammation which leads to coronary artery disease and other disorders. The latest studies have put the risks of untreated PTSD on a par with smoking!

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Whitney Houston and The Power of Words

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Yesterday, I was saddened, as were many all over the world, to hear of Whitney Houston’s death in a hotel, in a bathtub. Alone. The airwaves filled with moving tributes and loving words before, during and after the Grammys, where her life and talent were celebrated. I couldn’t help but wonder if Whitney knew how much she was loved and respected. She had a successful life, yes, but she also had a 15 year long traumatic marriage where she was abused and hurt repeatedly. 

Those of us with PTSD know that we can feel swamped with overwhelming feelings of loneliness, grief and fear in our darkest moments. It is easy to pay attention to people who hate us and harder to connect with our core feelings of self-love. 

The media is awfully hard on people, except when they are dead. When stars die, they are painted in the rosiest light possible. While alive, dirt is dished because dirt sells stories. By reading these stories and salacious websites we all contribute to their suffering.

I wonder what if? What if Whitney had heard all of these tributes before? Before the medications and the bath and the lonely hotel room. What if her life had been filled with kindness and kind words? What if we all refused to participate in mean talk, mean TV, mean internet parodies and shows? It is easy to think that we are removed from each other. But what if we are not? 

In my experience, most people’s lives are filled with private suffering. Meanness can push some over the edge. Love, inclusion, compassion and understanding can be life saving. Who could you support today with kind words and thoughts?

If you are feeling low, down, shamed or not worthy, know that there is love in this world. It may be hidden from your eyes, but it is there. Today I send kind thoughts your way. I hope you will do the same for me and for your brothers and sisters out there struggling in a world where it can be hard to feel valued. Take good care, each and every one of you.




Dissociative Identity Disorder

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DID (dissociative identity disorder) is the outcome of early and severe trauma and always involves multiple levels of PTSD. Some of you may know it as multiple personality disorder. Unfortunately there is still a lot of ignorance, fear and titillation around DID. I just returned from speaking at the 2nd annual Healing Together conference in Orlando, Florida, which was organized by and put on for those suffering from DID and those who care for them. I have never attended a more open-hearted, mindful and enlightening conference. About a third of those there had been diagnosed with DID. Robert Oxnam, the famous scholar who came out as a multiple on 60 minutes was the keynote speaker. Contrary to what you might believe, there was much laughter and open sharing of stories. Jaime Pollack, the bubbly and energetic founder gave the opening and closing speeches. She shared her process of coming out publicly with DID, while still holding her job as a preschool teacher. The sharing of her story, as Robert’s did, allowed those around her to share the abused parts of themselves and feel cared about and accepted. In the end, Jaime exhorted those with DID to adopt a “so what” attitude to their multiplicity. It is just one more disability in the world and nothing to be ashamed of. Thanks Infinite Mind for putting on such a wonderful conference! If you suffer from DID or extreme trauma, I hope to see you there next year!




Horse Therapy for PTSD in the UK

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I am loving watching the spread of all kinds of healing therapies for PTSD here and around the world. I can personally vouch for the power of horses. Many a day I went in with raging PTSD symptoms to see my beloved horses only to come out fully grounded and even with what we call around here “barn bliss”. Winston Churchill famously said, “there is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse”. And I couldn’t agree more (except add women!).

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Writers, Agents and Editors Network

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My agent, Jeff Herman, and his lovely wife, Deborah have started a very promising networking site for writers, agents and editors. If you have written a book, are writing one or have the gleam of a book in your eye, I recommend you head on over to this site. There is much sharing of information, encouragement and inspiration whatever stage you are at in your career. Deb has a particular interest in spiritual self-help, so if you read or write in that genre, definitely check it out! I have created a new profile and am listing my events there. Hope to see you on WAE Network soon!

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TTK Pre-orders are Here!

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People have been asking me when they can get The Trauma Tool Kit. We all are suffering from a range of stress from ordinary to unbearable suffering. I am happy to tell you that it is almost here. I am thinking of you all as the book goes to print! Hang on and know that there is a way to heal fully from PTSD and other stress related afflictions. Blessings, Sue







The HPA Axis, Trauma and You

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The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis has been the source of much research over the last three years. If you have traumatic stress, your HPA axis has been affected. If you have severe or chronic PTSD, your HPA axis has been affected a lot! What does this mean?

It means that PTSD is a whole body event. The HPA axis governs the entire hormonal system within the body including: mood, appetite, weight, sexual function, fatigue, sleep/wake cycles and more. As I like to say, the brain bone’s connected to the….everything bone!

What this means for you, suffering from traumatic stress:

1) You have to expect physical symptoms from traumatic stress.

2) You have to expect erratic moods.

3) You must find ways to relax your sympathetic (stress response) system on a regular basis.

4) Eat foods that calm down your body and nourish it.

5) Healing is possible, but not by just addressing the mind, although that is important. To fully heal you need to engage healing mechanisms at all levels of the body.

6) You must be gentle and persistent in your pursuit of healing.

It may or may not be obvious that traumatic stress affects the entire body, but the evidence is in. It does! The good news there are so many ways to heal! More on this in future posts. In the meantime, be well.

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Love, the best antidote to PTSD.

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The earthquake in Turkey has put me in mind of a very real truth. Bad things happen, yes. But a loving response counters the traumatic reaction. Now, by loving, I don’t necessarily mean sentimentality or nice thoughts. I mean, real roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel, dig deep into your pockets and get to work love. Turkey, like all areas of disaster is in need of resources to respond to people whose lives are on the line. If the people and governments respond with on the ground compassion: resources, rescues, care and concern, then, we know the chances of lingering PTSD are lessened. When people have bad things happen and do not feel loved or lovable is when major trauma can set in. In a world where people’s tragic circumstance and pain was met with an abundance of love and goodwill, PTSD numbers would dwindle down to almost nothing, and the cases that existed would resolve quickly. 

What holds us back from love? Embarrassment, fear, laziness, lack of personal responsibility, disconnectedness, and lack of awareness are some reasons. Sometimes we feel we may be diminished if we express our love, give out our money or our resources, tangible or intangible. It’s OK to feel this way, in a passing way. But these feelings are not true, they are based in fear. You know that sale slogan, “the more you spend the more you save”, well, this is literally true about love – the more you give, the more people are saved by you. We do not know, cannot know who benefits from our kind glance, our soft word, our dollar given or our time donated. What I know for sure is that what patients tell me sustained them through horrible traumas were people who cared.

One last reminder: in healing the other, we heal ourselves. Without triggering yourself, just spend a moment sending your intentions of goodwill to the suffering in Turkey, and then follow it up with some concrete action. It doesn’t have to be big. Rain nourishes the ground with many small drops! Just do something. Blessing to you all and to those suffering tonight in Turkey.

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Ribes Nigrum – a PTSD elixir?

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A few months ago my naturopath suggested I start on the Unda formula of Ribes Nigrum for adrenal support. If you have suffered from chronic anxiety or PTSD, your adrenals are likely depleted. In fact my acupuncture friend, Michael Berletich, said that fully half of his new patients show signs of adrenal fatigue. This formula, made from the black current berry that is found in Northern Europe and Northern Asia, had a wondrous effect on me, and from what I am seeing on the web, on many others. First of all, it tastes delicious and wholesome. But more important, soon after I started taking it I had a clearer head, more even energy and felt, well, nourished by it. Now, whenever I have been through a stressful period and my adrenal function feels sluggish I go back to it. I did not discover this wonderful product until my book had already gone to print, so it won’t be in the first edition, but it will definitely be in the second! Like all medicines, it is probably best to use under the care of a physician, but it is available over the counter.




Trauma Toolkit Cover

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Well, here it is, the cover to my book which will be released in May of 2012. I feel there is so much trauma in the world that it cannot come soon enough! I am very pleased with my publisher’s design. It is a thrill to see your name in print, but it will be a bigger thrill to know that Trauma Toolkit is out in the world, helping people! What do you think?




Yoga in Chaos with Bibi McGill

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Bibi McGill, musical director for Beyonce, volunteers with the Portland based organization, Street Yoga, a group that brings yogic practice to traumatized and disenfranchised youth. Yoga is one of the best practices for overcoming PTSD and anxiety. Watch and be inspired as Bibi brings beauty, breath, and being into chaos!

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The Metaphysical Functionality of the Kidneys I

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In Chinese medicine the kidneys are very important in healing from PTSD. Click here to view an excellent article about kidney power and its relevance to extreme stress, fear and anxiety. Some people I have worked with have had significant kidney imagery or symptoms. It’s worth meditating upon. Also, I highly recommend acupuncture for balancing and harmonizing a system filled with traumatic stress.

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Mind fitness routines fight combat stress – Marine Corps News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq – Marine Corps Times

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Mind fitness routines fight combat stress – Marine Corps News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq – Marine Corps Times

Yes! This is exactly what I do in my psychotherapy practice. The first step to managing and overcoming PTSD is to strengthen the mind. The mind is like a horse, you can master it and have it go in the direction you want it to, or it can run away with you. Mindfulness, relaxation exercises, focusing, and meditation are invaluable skills that anyone can learn. And like any skill, it takes regular practice! 5-10 minutes a day is a good place to start.

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