NEW E-BOOK on amazon- DEALING WITH CPTSD TRIGGERS IN RELATIONSHIPS

After the success of my Assertiveness PDF Course, I have decided to release my first E-book/Guide ‘Dealing with CPTSD triggers in relationships’-A helpful guide for both partners.

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This is something I have been working on for awhile and especially because so many of you have reached out to me struggling with your partner’s triggers.

This ebook is available on Amazon Kindle and I am selling it for £5.06 but I am offering the first 15 of you the opportunity to buy it for only £2 by sending payment to my PayPal at athinalarios@yahoo.com.

If you are in need of support in your relationship, then order your discounted copy NOW!

Email me at courageisallyouneed@gmail.com confirming that you have made payment and you will receive your discounted copy!

If you support me on Patreon, you will get this e-book for free 🙂

I will be creating a video on my YouTube channel to promote this e-book but I would very much appreciate a reblog of this post, if you think this ebook would help anyone you know.

I want to help as many people as possible as this is something that I have personally struggled with in my relationship.

To buy the Kindle version on the UK Amazon click below!

Thank you!

Love Athina

Complex PTSD is recognised as a disorder in the ICD-11

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I wanted to share the great news that Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is recognised by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).

As someone who has openly spoken about living with the symptoms of CPTSD, it feels extremely validating to know that it is actually recognised formally. I wasn’t aware of this until very recently so for those of you who already knew this, please forgive my delayed discovery. For those of you who live with CPTSD and are aware of this, I hope this news finds you well.

In my personal opinion, a diagnosis of CPTSD could easily replace many other diagnoses. CPTSD is the result of child abuse, neglect and any other prolonged and repeated traumatic experiences.

Symptoms of anxiety and depression are in most cases part of having CPTSD, as well as the following (in the context of childhood trauma & abuse).

”Attachment – problems with relationship boundaries, lack of trust, social isolation, difficulty perceiving and responding to others’ emotional states”

”Biology – sensory-motor developmental dysfunction, sensory-integration difficulties, somatization, and increased medical problems”

”Affect or emotional regulation – poor affect regulation, difficulty identifying and expressing emotions and internal states, and difficulties communicating needs, wants, and wishes”

”Dissociation – amnesia, depersonalization, discrete states of consciousness with discrete memories, affect, and functioning, and impaired memory for state-based events

”Behavioural control – “problems with impulse control, aggression, pathological self-soothing, and sleep problems”

”Cognition – difficulty regulating attention; problems with a variety of ‘executive functions’ such as planning, judgement, initiation, use of materials, and self-monitoring; difficulty processing new information; difficulty focusing and completing tasks; poor object constancy; problems with ’cause-effect’ thinking; and language developmental problems such as a gap between receptive and expressive communication abilities.”

”Self-concept – fragmented and disconnected autobiographical narrative, disturbed body image, low self-esteem, excessive shame, and negative internal working models of self”.

Formal recognition and diagnosis will greatly help CPTSD sufferers with more appropriate treatment options:

Some current treatments are:

  • biofeedback
  • dyadic resourcing (used with EMDR)
  • emotionally focused therapy
  • emotional freedom technique (EFT) or tapping
  • Equine-assisted therapy
  • expressive arts therapy
  • internal family systems therapy
  • dialectical behavior therapy(DBT)
  • family systems therapy
  • group therapy
  • neurofeedback
  • psychodynamic therapy
  • sensorimotor psychotherapy
  • somatic experiencing
  • yoga, specifically trauma-sensitive yoga

It is also worth mentioning that CPTSD has also been referred to as DESNOS (Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified).

DTD (Developmental trauma disorder) is also proposed as the alternative equivalent to childhood CPTSD.

”Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, in her book, Trauma and Recovery, proposed that a complex trauma recovery model that occurs in three stages:

  1. establishing safety,
  2. remembrance and mourning for what was lost,
  3. reconnecting with community and more broadly, society.”

If you live with CPTSD and have had experience with any of the above treatment options, I would love to hear what you found helpful.

Thanks for reading

This blog post includes direct text from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder

Love Athina ♥♥

Do I have C-PTSD? New video questionnaire which will help you identify this!

A lot of research has gone into this video which has a questionnaire about helping people identify whether they might be suffering with CPTSD. I set up a poll on my youtube page, asking my subscribers to choose a video topic out of 4 options and this video was the most popular choice.

As I myself have answered ‘Yes’ to around 34 out of the 40 questions on this questionnaire and have also been diagnosed with CPTSD from 3 different therapists, I know that this questionnaire is very accurate. I created it to help my clients feel validated and to provide a stepping stone in the right direction towards their healing journey.

It is highly important to stress that there are 2 different types of abuse that a child can suffer in their family home. Overt abuse and covert abuse. Most abuse survivors, who have experienced a combination of these 2 types of abuse, will answer ‘YES’ to all 40 questions and will have all CPTSD symptoms, as well as visual, physical and other sensory flashbacks, along with extreme dissociation. Those survivors who have only suffered from covert abuse, also score high on this questionnaire (as much as 38 out of 40). This proves the severity of both types of abuse and sadly many therapists don’t take covert abuse seriously, when they should.

I wholeheartedly hope you find it helpful and if you think others will find it useful and validating, then please share this post as much as possible, .

Also please feel free to add your answers in the comments below this post, or on my youtube channel! Please specify whether you experienced overt abuse or covert abuse or both.

Thank you!

Love Athina ♥

 

How to heal from childhood abuse

A lot of my followers on this blog and also subscribers from my youtube channel keep coming to me with the same question ‘How do I heal from childhood abuse?’.

Although this is something I have already addressed previously, I have decided to actually explore this in as much detail as I possibly can.

I will address this with reference to my own recovery journey and also by looking at research done by psychologists, psychotherapists and trauma specialists such as Pete Walker, Wilhelm Reich, Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk and many more.

Healing from childhood abuse isn’t a simple process. It takes a huge amount of courage, inner strength & resilience. It requires a willingness to become more self-aware of our own dysfunctional coping mechanisms, that we may have learnt from our primary caregivers.

If our parents were high on the narcissism spectrum, we will have endured years of all or some of the following:

  • neglect
  • hypercriticism
  • parentifying
  • infantilising
  • pathological envy
  • blaming
  • patronising
  • mood swings
  • pathological lying
  • aggression or passive aggression
  • gaslighting
  • controlling behaviour
  • emotional blackmail
  • scapegoating
  • silent treatment
  • shaming
  • invalidation
  • isolation
  • intimidation
  • verbal abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse
  • engulfment

Living in a household with abuse, causes the child to develop Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Complex post traumatic stress disorder is a more severe form of PTSD and has the following 5 features:

  1. Toxic shame
  2. Self-abandonment
  3. Emotional flashbacks
  4. A extremely harsh inner critic
  5. Social anxiety

Emotional flashbacks are the most characteristic part of CPTSD. They are sudden and sometimes prolonged age regressions to the overwhelming feelings of being abused or neglected as a child. Emotional flashbacks don’t have a visual component. These flashbacks do however include an overwhelming feeling of fear, shame, alienation, abandonment, depression and emotional pain. They can range in intensity from subtle to unbearable.

Toxic shame is the when an individual has an overwhelming feeling that they are flawed, loathsome or stupid. It completely destroys a person’s self-esteem and causes the person to abandon themselves emotionally. This creates a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

The inner critic is the internalised punishing voice of our abusive parent. If we had a parent who was a bully and constantly called us names such stupid, pathetic, too sensitive, ugly etc, then we will have this voice within us, even if our abusive parent isn’t in our life anymore. It will be a habitual inner bully that punishes us instead of supports us.

Other symptoms of CPTSD are:

  • Feelings of loneliness and abandonment
  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Attachment disorder
  • Developmental Arrests
  • Relationship difficulties ( Fear of forming relationships or forming relationships that are too dysfunctional)
  • Hyper-arousal / extreme flight/fight response
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Oversensitivity to stress
  • Dissociation
  • Exhaustion
  • Body armouring  (which involves tensing of muscle tissue whenever stress or emotion is experienced. To protect itself, the body takes a defensive, tight, and stiff stance. On a tissue level it enters into a muscular holding pattern that resists change and release. Unexpressed emotions such as anger, fear, and grief are common causes of this phenomenon. This was first described by psychologist Wilhelm Reich).
  • Impulsivity
  • Inappropriate anger

 

The stages of recovering

To recover from abuse and trauma, we must first educate ourselves on a cognitive level. We must understand that we most likely suffer with CPTSD and that it isn’t our fault that we are suffering. We have to put the blame where it belongs – to our abusive primary caregivers.

Secondly we must find a qualified therapist/specialist coach that will help us with the very difficult task of shrinking the inner critic. The inner critic can be a very difficult part of recovery to tackle, as the negativity from this critic has become automatic over our lifetime. It may take a long time to stop the inner critic from affecting us. Constant awareness of when the critic is present will help us stop him in his tracks and try and replace the negative criticisms with positive affirmations and self-compassion.

The next step in recovery is verbal ventilation and the very painful process of grieving our childhood losses. Verbal ventilation is when we speak in a way that releases our painful emotions with a safe person. Grieving our childhood losses means that we actually allow ourselves to cry, be angry and really feel the deep pain of not having had healthy parents. Grieving can take a long time and can sometimes last for a couple of years. In grieving, it is important for us to also grieve our loss of self-esteem and safety.

Once we have successfully grieved, we then must deal with the feelings of abandonment via somatic healing and via learning how to become self-compassionate in moments of depression or anxiety.

Lastly, we will need help with dissecting all our defences, especially those that no longer serve us. We may have picked up defences and behaviours from our abusive parents that are dysfunctional and we will now need support in stopping these defences and practicing more healthy ways of coping.

A very important part of recovery is to learn how to be patient with our progress, as sometimes it isn’t straightforward. Recovery is a journey and self compassion is crucial.

A great mantra according to Pete Walker, is

‘Progress not perfection’

Expecting perfection in recovery isn’t going to help us move forward..

Progress however is key!

Thanks for reading!

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Loving someone with PTSD

Ever since I made my youtube video ‘How does PTSD affect intimate relationships’, I have had so many of you contact me with questions about how to cope and support your partners. The reality is that it takes a very strong person to love someone who lives with PTSD, as they also live with it indirectly.

Loving someone with PTSD can easily takes its’ toll on the relationship and on the partner doing all the supporting. It can affect intimacy, communication & the expression of emotion.

The person with PTSD may not be able to work full time or may not be able to work at all.

It is of course very different for each individual relationship, as the severity of the PTSD is unique to each individual.

The most important thing to remember is that both partners have to practice self-care..

The one doing the supporting can also end up suffering from depressive episodes or anxiety..They may also generally feel mentally exhausted..

Breaks are very important and the partner of someone with PTSD, may at times need to take a mental holiday away from their partner..This is completely OK and almost necessary for the survival of the relationship.

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Thanks so much for reading and please share this post if you think it may help someone!

Love Athina ♥♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

New youtube video-I have discovered my parents are narcissists.What now?

It is important to know the steps of what to expect after realising your parents are abusive. It is crucial to finally understand why and how you were & are affected by narcissistic abuse. Giving what you have been through a name, is the beginning of your healing journey. It allows for validation of your feelings and to finally KNOW that it wasn’t your fault – It was your parents fault!

To actually work through the emotions, the acceptance of not having had healthy parents and the grief that goes with it, is a whole different challenge however. To reach a better state of mental health, you have to dig deep and allow a lot of painful feelings to come to the surface. Only after working through these painful emotions, will you then have the opportunity to look at your life through a different lens. To look at yourself with more self-compassion & understanding and to learn to set boundaries, takes practice and you need an experienced therapist on your side.

A psychological coach, which is what I have trained as, can support you in changing self-defeating thoughts or behaviours and can support you in the present to move forward with goal setting. A coach is not qualified to guide you through your grieving or acceptance in depth. That is a therapist’s job.

I have had a lot of teenagers watch my youtube videos and I am very much aware that I have to post videos carefully and support these children appropriately.

With empathy & unconditional positive regard, a child can feel a little bit better.

I know that if I had had this support as a child, it probably would have made a world of difference to my mental health.

This is the main reason I am passionate about supporting young people. They need someone to have their back with no strings attached. With narcissistic parents/step-parents, there are always strings attached. There is always some nasty remark waiting to be used against their child/step-child.

Children deserve unconditional love, acceptance, validation of their feelings and a safe environment to call home. This has to become a priority in our society.

Thanks for reading/watching!

Love Athina ♥♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Somatic experiencing-Trauma

 

Somatic experiencing, helps restore the natural energy balance in our bodies. It helps with restoring the energy flow in our bodies, in places where it is stuck due to stress, injury or trauma.

 

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Somatic Experiencing® (SE™) was developed by Peter A. Levine, PhD to address the effects of trauma. Levine developed this approach after observing that prey animals, whose lives are routinely threatened in the wild, are able to recover readily by physically releasing the energy they accumulate during stressful events. Humans, on the other hand, often override these natural ways of regulating the nervous system with feelings of shame and pervasive thoughts, judgments, and fears. Somatic Experiencing aims to help people move past the place where they might be “stuck” in processing a traumatic event.

The Autonomic Nervous System and Somatic Experiencing Theory

The autonomic nervous system (ANS), which includes the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), and the enteric nervous system (ENS), is triggered into action when we’re faced with adversity and it governs the fight, flight, or freeze instinct. Although designed to be self-regulating, the ANS can become dysregulated, particularly when full expression of one’s response to trauma is repressed. As a result, the body continues to respond as if it is under threat. Somatic experiencing contends that negative symptoms of trauma—such as anxiety, hypervigilance, aggression, and shame—result from denying the body the opportunity to fully process the traumatic event.

Though many people who experience traumatic events recover completely, for those who do not, unresolved trauma can lead to larger mental and physical health concerns, such a post-traumatic stress (PTSD),sleep problems, mood swings, or immune system problems. Somatic Experiencing aims to restore the body’s ability to self-regulate in order to achieve balance and integrity.

Method of Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing sessions involve the introduction of small amounts of traumatic material and the observation of a client’s physical responses to that material, such as shallow breathing or a shift in posture. The therapist will frequently check in with the client to assess and record somatic sensations that may be imperceptible to the practitioner, such as feelings of heaviness, tightness, or dizziness. Practitioners proceed carefully and cautiously to avoid retraumatizing or triggering the client, and they help people to develop and employ self-regulating strategies. A key component to enhancing one’s ability to self-regulate is the practice of alternating, or “pendulating,” between the sensations associated with trauma and those that are a source of strength and comfort.

The SE practitioner will help the client find places of safety, whether that be a place in the body that is not activated by the trauma, or a physical place to retreat to in one’s mind. Experiencing the sensations related to the traumatic event in a safe way allows a person to fully process the trauma. Clients also achieve heightened awareness of their physical responses to stress, and this skill can serve them in everyday life.

The above text is from the goodtherapy.org website and is the best explanation I have found on somatic experiencing.

As somebody who lives with muscular armouring, which is a result of my CPTSD, I know how uncomfortable my body feels, especially around my neck, chest and back. Due to high stress throughout most of my life, this has resulted in a feeling of tightness in my chest, headaches, clinched shoulders, tight upper back and more. I also notice myself neurotically holding my belly muscles, which in turn disrupts my healthy diaphragmatic breathing. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to relax my breathing and in turn relax my muscles but unfortunately this isn’t enough in the long run, as my painful symptoms always return.

Muscular armouring causes Myofascial pain. Myo stands for muscle and fascia is the connective tissue that holds everything together. In more simple terms, when someone is stuck in a hyper vigilant state, this causes intense muscle tightness (muscular armouring) which results in Myofascial pain. Fibromyalgia is also a condition that can develop from prolonged trauma and is very difficult to diagnose in a lot of cases.

For those of you who have suffered trauma in your childhood or any other sort of trauma, it is worth paying attention to your physical symptoms, as body and mind are connected. If you have only tried talking therapy but haven’t tried somatic therapy, then I highly recommend that you consider it.

The theory behind somatic therapy is that the mind, body, spirit, and emotions are all related and connected to each other. Talk therapy is combined with physical techniques, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and meditation. Other techniques used include dance, exercise, yoga, or other types of movement, vocal work, and massage.

It is important to be in touch with your body and to practice self-care as much as possible.

If you found this post useful then please feel free to comment, like or share.

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Love Athina ♥

 

 

Complex PTSD & PTSD exhaustion

The exhaustion which comes as a result of suffering with the above conditions is constantly present. No matter how much you sleep or rest, you never seem to feel completely rejuvenated.

The following blog post by Roland Bal further explains this:

https://rolandbal.com/trauma-and-ptsd-exhaustion-fatigue-and-tiredness/

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Taking on others’ emotions-Having weak boundaries

When you have grown up in a dysfunctional narcissistic home, taking on others’ emotions becomes the norm. Narcissistic parents teach their children to cater to their feelings & moods and the child learns to ignore their own emotions.

A great book which can help you understand whether you have weak emotional boundaries, is by Charles Whitfield: Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self. 

The following statements from his book, can help you identify whether you struggle with taking on others’ emotions and neglecting your own.

Answer with “never,” “seldom,” “occasionally,” “often,” or “usually.”

  • I feel as if my happiness depends on other people.
  • I would rather attend to others than attend to myself.
  • I spend my time and energy helping others so much that I neglect my own wants and needs.
  • I tend to take on the moods of people close to me.
  • I am overly sensitive to criticism.
  • I tend to get “caught up” in other people’s problems.
  • I feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

If you reply mostly with ”often” or ”usually”, then this is something you should consider getting support for. This means that you are extremely affected by the emotions & moods of those around you and aren’t able to focus on your own needs first.

If this is something you relate to and need support for, then please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.