Friday, June 30, 2023

Burnout and PTSD


As of this writing, burnout is not listed as a diagnosis in DSM-5. That said, we must understand that burnout is much more complicated than ordinary fatigue. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive prolonged stress. Being burned out is feeling empty, mentally exhausted, lacking motivation, with no resources left to draw on. People experiencing burnout often cannot see a way to change their situation. If not addressed and treated, burnout can lead to a full on mental health crisis. 

Burnout is not caused by stress alone. Here are some of the other factors that can lead to burnout.

·         Feeling like you have little or no control over your work.

·         Lack of recognition or reward for good work.

·         Unclear or overly demanding job expectations.

·         Working too much, without enough time for socializing or relaxing.

·         Lack of close, supportive relationships.

·         Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others.

·         The need to be in control. A reluctance to delegate to others. (Type A personality)

·         Feeling undervalued or appreciated. 

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have outlined the phases of this stress syndrome:

·         Excessive Drive/Ambition

·         Too much ambition can lead to burnout. Ambition pushes a person to work harder.

·         Neglecting Needs

·         Begin to sacrifice self-care like sleep, exercise, and eating well.

·         Displacement Of Conflict

·         Blaming the boss, the demands of the job, or colleagues for personal troubles.

·         No Time For Non-Work-Related Needs

·         Begin to withdraw from family and friends.

·         Denial

·         Impatience with other, seeing them as incompetent, lazy, or overbearing.

·         Withdrawal

·         Further pulling away from family and friends. Social invitations to parties, movies, and dinner dates start to feel burdensome.

·         Behavioral Changes

·         Those on the road to burnout may become more aggressive and snap at loved ones for no reason.

·         Depersonalization

·         Feeling detached from life and ability to it.

·         Inner Emptiness Or Anxiety

·         Potential to turn to thrill seeking behaviors to cope with empty feelings. Potential for substance use, gambling, or over eating.

·         Depression

·         Life loses its meaning. Extreme hopelessness.

·         Mental Or Physical Collapse

·         Mental health or medical attention may be necessary.

 Ask yourself these four questions to determine if you are suffering from burnout.

1.      How often are you tired and lacking energy to go to work in the morning?

2.      How often do you feel physically drained, like your batteries are dead?

3.      How often is your thinking process sluggish or your concentration impaired?

4.      How often do you feel emotionally detached from co-workers (or customers) and unable to be sensitive to their needs?

THE BOTTOM LINE: There is a significant association between PTSD and burnout, particularly the depressive component. While burnout is not currently recognized by the DSM-5, it is a serious condition that makes a person less resilient to handling additional traumas (as already described in this chapter).

How do you handle burnout? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Toxic Positivity


Toxic Positivity is a form of invalidation. Instead of facing difficult emotions, toxic positivity rejects or ignores the negative in favor of a cheerful, often falsely positive, fa├žade.

This can come in the form of burying one’s own feelings and avoiding anything negative, or it can come as a response to expressing those negative feelings with another person. 

Having a positive outlook on life is good for your mental well-being. We’re not denying that. However, life is not always positive. We all deal with painful emotions and experiences. Negative feelings are critical to growth. We need to experience a little negativity (or challenges) in order to live a happy life. 

There's nothing wrong with looking on the bright side or trying to remain positive when times get tough, but there comes a point where denying feelings and emotions (or the feelings and emotions of others) becomes toxic. 

Ignoring, invalidating, or otherwise pushing away difficult emotions, such as sadness or fear, and forcing ourselves or others to be positive can be harmful to our mental well-being and our relationships. Practicing false cheerfulness keeps us from addressing our feelings, and the feelings of others, leaving that negativity to fester. 

Toxic positivity can cause serious harm to people who are going through difficult times. Rather than being able to share their troubles and gain much needed support, the invalidation of toxic positivity leaves these people feeling dismissed and ignored. This compounds the problems they are already dealing with. 

It's shaming: Toxic positivity tells people that the emotions they are feeling are unacceptable.

·         It causes guilt. It sends a message that if a person can’t feel positive, even in the face of tragedy, that they are doing something wrong.

·         It avoids empathy. Toxic positivity allows people to sidestep emotional situations that might make them feel uncomfortable. This becomes a societal pattern. When we feel difficult emotions, we then discount, dismiss, and deny them for ourselves and others.

·         It prevents growth. Dismissing and denying negative feelings also prevents us from facing those challenging feelings which, if worked through, could lead to growth and deeper insight.

Common examples: 

·         Feigning Gratitude. Focusing on gratitude as a way to bypass emotions. Gratitude is not a bad thing, but it can be when you're using it to invalidate yourself.

Look on the bright side.

Count your blessings. 

·         Comparing. Just because someone else is seemingly handling a tough time “better” than you, that's no reason to start comparing. Everyone handles things in their own way.

You think you have it rough?

It could be worse.

If I can do it, so can you.

 ·         Dismissing Difficult Emotions. When difficult emotions arise, you completely push them down, insisting you must stay positive. It’s a form of gaslighting.

Everything happens for a reason.

Positive Vibes Only.

Failure is not an option.

Don’t worry, be happy! 

A toxic positive response, rather than an empathetic one, creates a disconnect in a person’s ability to rely on their social support structure. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: People going through trauma don’t need to be told to stay positive, they need empathy. When someone is suffering, they need to know that their emotions are valid, and they can find relief and love in their friends and family. Negative emotions need to be validated, explored, and processed.

Have you experienced positivity? How did you address it? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!


*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, June 16, 2023

Truth Bomb: Let’s Talk about Freezing


We hear about fight or flight all the time, but freeze is the red-headed step-child of trauma. All three, fight, flight and freeze, are all normal neuro-biological responses to fear, but, if we don’t know this, we can feel guilty, angry, or like we “let it happen” when our body freezes in the face of trauma.

First, let’s address the fantasy that we have a choice whether our body goes into fight, flight, or freeze because that’s not a thing. When we’re in danger, our brain kicks into high gear and takes over to protect our life. We do not get a choice; in a split second our brain makes the choice for us.

Think about those nature shows where lions are hunting gazelle-snacks. No gazelle is going to get its back up and whoop some lion’s butt, so he’s left with two choices: flight or freeze - and both are legit survival methods. The eye sees what is moving (“I’m up, they see me, I’m down”) so a lion may not notice the stock-still gazelle frozen right next to him. Folks who design military training know this and go to great measures to train the freeze out of Soldiers by practicing the same movements over and again so that the brain jumps into habit under fire. 

But no one trains us how to get raped, or how to hold a buddy while they die, or how to respond when we see someone get hurt. There is no fighting back, there is no running away; we freeze.

The self-blame that comes with freeze can be overwhelming. We can have a fantasy that, “if I didn’t freeze, everything would have been different,” or “if I didn’t freeze, I could have fought back.” 

I say this with love: it’s possible that you’re wrong

Freeze is not a choice; your brain took over and kept you alive. 

What is your experience with freezing? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, June 9, 2023

Avoidance: A Symptom of PTSD


Avoidance symptoms are Criterion C of PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Version 5 (DSM-5). The DSM defines avoidance as avoiding internal things (like memories, thoughts, or feelings) or avoiding external things (like people, places, and things that remind us of the trauma). Those of us with PTSD will go way out of our way to avoid anything that reminds us of our trauma. 

This makes a lot of sense: why wouldn’t we want to dodge memories and reactions that make us feel crazy? This is why drug and alcohol disorders are common with PTSD. Numbing the pain is easier.

Friends, we’ll go way, way out of our way to avoid anything that reminds us of our trauma. While this may seem downright insane to other people, it makes total sense in the context of PTSD.

 Common examples are:

·         Stop watching the news or using social media because of stories or posts that remind us of a trauma

·         Go out of our way to stay away from the scene of our attack or places that remind us of the assault

·         Running errands at odd hours to avoid crowds

·         Arriving early so we can choose a seat away from the window

·         Avoidance can get complex, and we will go to extremes to avoid potential triggers.

Our brain’s job is (1) to keep us alive, and (2) to understand meaning. Avoidance is incredibly logical in the context of PTSD, so be let's easy on ourselves.

What is your experience with avoidance? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, June 2, 2023

Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)

Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is not included in the DSM-5. For this reason, we want to make a note of it here, especially as it relates to what could be viewed as treatment-resistant PTSD.    

PTSD and C-PTSD are similar in their root causes, with the "C" distinction reflecting the repetitive nature of the trauma experienced over a long period of time. People who have survived complex trauma, especially the trauma of sexual abuse, often display similar symptoms as those who live with Borderline Personality Disorder. Common symptoms include severe depression, mood swings, anger, extreme feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Those who live with these symptoms can be seen as having difficulty regulating their emotions. This often leads to a diagnosis, especially in women, of Borderline Personality Disorder.

C-PTSD is often misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder. The two share overlapping symptoms with one key difference, their attachment style triggered reactions[1]. 

With Borderline Personality Disorder the attachment style is one of needing someone to react to. They are hypervigilant about signs of rejection. Their fragmented sense of self is unstable and comes from a base of profound emotional emptiness with fears of being abandoned. 

With C-PTSD the attachment style is not based on fear of abandonment. Thiers is a more relational detachment style. In other words, they would prefer to be left alone in many cases. Their hypervigilance is based on safety. It is easier to keep the peace in their lives if they do not have to risk getting close enough to someone who could hurt them. 

While C-PTSD can be a severe and debilitating disorder, C-PTSD treatments do exist and are effective.

 Recovery from C-PTSD is a long process that often involves the standard treatments for PTSD (cognitive processing of the trauma), as well as additional psychotherapy to work assist emotional regulation, skill building to overcome learned behaviors and habits that formed during the duration of the trauma, and Somatic psychotherapy to help retrain the nervous system to function and respond appropriately instead of defaulting to stress responses. This is especially important if the trauma experienced began during childhood.

We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD