How To Heal Complex PTSD

This post is being reprinted from Marty Parill’s blog, CPTSD – A Way Out.

Healing Model

complext ptsd blogHealing has so many avenues, so many different therapies, so many confusing symptoms, ideas and mind functions, that navigating toward the best solution seems daunting. I have faced this dilemma, wasted my time, got lost, using the hit and miss method. * Each therapist will have a different way, depending on their schooling, life experience, personal beliefs and successes. Nothing is standardized except maybe the DSM manual for insurance purposes. No statistics can I find, that say this works better, or this combination is best. There is no effort to even educate what we can do, to just be mentally healthy. * I have tried EFT, TFT, EMDR, hypnosis, cranial sacral, acupuncture, CBT, ACT, EDIT, holistic, two intuitives etc. Everyone except a proctologist and maybe that would have helped. Maybe I should have tried a comedian. * My long journey educated me on what works, what is available and all the gaps facing us. When you discover that you have PTSD, it can be months of trying to figure out what it is and what to do. The symptoms can keep us from seeking help. * This is how my specific program developed, as I was healing, and then as I was obsessed with finding a better way out. My evaluation included the latest brain science, the cutting edge therapies, the exploration of survivor traits, the mindfulness (meditation) connection, the lack of focus on the body (exercise), the absence of daily support, and the never mentioned urgency that was missing entirely. * My goal was to assemble just the needed parts, the basics, the bare minimal action needed and eliminate the rest. Streamlining the journey, let me place all my energy in a small area. This was the secret to collapsing traumas grasp.

So here goes with my simple plan. Let me preface with a few major ideas we will adopt going forward. Failure is impossible. We are responsible for one thing, our total effort. Results are far beyond our control and miles above our pay grade. We have plenty to stop worrying about without adding thoughts about past things.

From Rick Hanson in his game changing book Buddhas Brain, he proves we construct the ego out of random past memories, woven into a believable narrative. The question of “Who am I” has no subject. We make the person so we have identity, not to serve him/her. The ego is not who we are. The ego in comparison to the mind is similar to a golf ball floating in a swimming pool. We are perfect without anyones approval or disapproval. Words, thoughts or ideas, even actions do not change this fact. Our self worth is untouchable, we are perfect all of us. * The power of our organism is the true self. Thoughts do not have any power. The adrenal stress response or the fight or flight mechanism supplies the drugs that we feel exploding. The large jolt that rocks our world from time to time is cortisol mixed with adrenaline a pain killer and increased respiratory, BP heart rate escalations of defense or offenses. No defenses for us, we avoid and dissociate not attack.

Okay, here we go. First, let us correct our self talk. I did not realize the power this has. Alex, would have this small little snide put down of himself, when he would leave. Finally, he agreed to drop that negative hit on himself. It was immediate, the next day, something had shifted. For the first time, the whole mind body had all the oars in the water, as a complete unit. He stopped going sideways and his practice blossomed from there.

Daily short recitals of positive supportive affirmations felt strange, uncomfortable for me. I did not believe these glowing things about myself. I felt like an ass doing this, but healing was a million times the desire for me, so I recorded mine. It was easier to play them back. In time, I somehow started to believe some of those damn things. I was amazed. That computer left brain could be programmed, maybe it feels awkward but undeniable it had worked. Within a month, my self image turned more and more positive.

I strive with my entire being to accept all of me and my situation in this current moment. I let go, accept and surrender to my fears.

Next we roll out our air craft carrier of defense. The Breathing Track will develop our focus. We will apply this focus where trauma is the most powerful and the most vulnerable. It is at the trigger point, the adrenal stress mechanism firing, the fight or flight mechanism going off that we look to apply this model. We build focus when we are calm for the time when all hell brakes loose.

My model is simple, concrete, immediate and indestructible with practice. If we were to construct a model for meditating the Breathing track would have all these characteristics. We are building focus on the breath strong enough to withstand the fight or flight mechanism exploding. We are constructing our focus, our breath, our model to slow down, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the brakes.

The breath can control our nervous system. We can activate the sympathetic nervous system,,prepare for rigorous sporting events or prepare for battle from a lethal threat. We can deplete some of that powerful jolt we feel when fear explodes and lights up our solar plexus.

This is the event we are preparing for with the breathing track. We want to endure, to stay present, to step back and follow the body sensations instead of the crazy emotional storyline. Our first reaction is to avoid, run away, dissociate, grasp our fear and freeze.

So, now, we have a defined goal, a defined process, a defined model (breathing track. Nothing is abstract. It is immeditae, concrete, we can touch, follow, trace and envision our breath. We can follow along on the breathing track model.

Healing and finding happiness are the same journey, we sit and focus on the breath, let go of judgment and accept all before us. It is the same whether healing or chasing eternal happiness.

So in its basic form, we become the breath on the breathing track. If we can envision the breathing track being a flashing neon sign that we ride as it flows from bottom right corner, upward, the inhale as we take a focused breath. We are riding a car on a carnival ride as we breathe, flowing like on a river,,gently gliding, then pausing. We become the breath and practice slowing it down while emptying the mind of thought and judgment.

Yes, it does not happen immediately or easily. This breathing track model will eliminate the spaces where thought enters and makes focus much easier. I have taken away all the abstract parts of meditating. It takes time for the mind to feel comfortable going slow and being empty, but it can and will learn to adapt.

This is the basic skill then. We are on the breathing track, slowing down, letting go, then we add listening. Listen for the lowest decibel sound in the room, then go beneath it. Listen internally between your ears. Listen for that internal symphony our bodies produce.

We practice this skill over and over. When we find ourselves involved in thought, we gently come back to the breathing track and focus. It is like taking coal and making a diamond.

Healing is not complex and complex therapies are not efficient. I found PTSD could not play defence. If I could stay present when my triggers fired, PTSD collapsed. PTSD was a bluff of implicit memory. No real danger or power could be found behind all the fearful storylines.

No harm ever materialized after a trigger. Things would calm and life would continue. Bring awareness to your trigger spaces. Watch if any lasting harm ensues a trigger. Build your focus everyday. Go towards your fears, the trigger point. Hunt down your remaining trauma triggers and extinguish them.

We can free ourselves and find happiness. This is what I believe. Please sit, let go, accept and smile, life is going to open up soon for you.

A parable, simplify, simplify:

“Our life is

frittered away

by detail.



Henry David Thoreau . . . Our breath

the simplest

of life forces,

The most immediate

The most dire (oxygen needed to live)

The control centre of the nervous centre

The purifier of stress, judgment and trauma

Has access to the other side, a door ( below the ego)



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