Episode 4 - In case of an emergency

Intro
Hello, my name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode I will tell you what you can do in case you have an emergency and what to do to minimize the damage and reduce it’s duration.

Before we start, I just want to say, that I choose to switch this episode with the announced ‘torture’ one, because I realized that many listener come from the US and the 4th of July is often a problem.
So I thought this episode would be better this week than later on.

Emergency
Now, what do we in case something goes wrong? Despite our best efforts, something happened. We got triggered or a nightmare or something else.
Whatever the cause we are now in a state of active PTSD, our symptoms are in full swing and we try to not loose the grip on reality, while our body goes crazy.
Depending on your level of PTSD naturally.
Usually PTSD is in a somewhat passive state, dragging you down, but not really having strong symptoms.
In active PTSD, we have the panic attacks, chest pain, visions, hallucinations, outbursts, hearing things, etc. Depending on your symptoms and level of PTSD.
Getting the PTSD active is bad and I mean that besides the obvious feeling bad and having the symptoms, it also in a way weakens you. Sometimes it can take days to recover from one of these active phases.
Is passive PTSD a siege on your wellbeing, then the active version is the attack to break the walls. It needs to be stopped as soon as possible to prevent as much damage as possible.
To stick with the metaphor: The more often you get attacked, the more damaged your walls, the more likely the next attack, the more likely another attack is happening and the stronger the impact on you.
That means sadly, the weaker you are, the more likely you will have an active phase. The better you are, the rarer the occasion.
Its like with everything else in life. So we try our best to go up against the active phase as good as possible.
With that said, let us go over everything step by step, what to do in a case of emergency.

Preventive:
Naturally, the best way to deal with an emergency, is to be able to spot it as soon as possible and take counter measures.
The sooner we counter it, the better we can prevent the peak from happening and softening the blow. Not always possible, but extremely helpful.
You should aim for being able to recognize your typical warning symptoms. Everyone has different symptoms, but they are not random.
Those symptoms always flare up when your body is very stressed and/or you are on your limit.
Otherwise go for the classics and watch out for strong problems concentrating or focus, being beside yourself, trouble with vision, thin skinned, chest pain and tension.
As soon you recognize them, take the next steps methods to prevent worse things from happening.
This is not an instruction to get rid of the warning symptoms and carry on, but get out and avoid it from happening.
As such an active phase will take you down for maybe a few days, depending on your case. This is a heavy blow, not just a side effect, and should be avoided as much as possible.

First Step:
Ensure you are safe. Relatively.
At home that means usually turning all lights on (- or at least in the room you are in). And have no one else in the room, as you can’t be sure what will happening. Except of course they know what to do.
Not at home, find a spot as save as possible and fast. Usually you don’t have a lot of time to find something, before you might loose control.
A save spot is away from many people, as quiet and peaceful as possible be. Beware of dark places, as it tend to inspire your brain of darker things. Though safety before light.
If you can signal for help, but only do that if you know the other person knows what is going on.
Or at least what you are signaling them. As a stranger can be unknown factor and an unknown factor can go both ways.
From my experience it’s best to curl up and hug your legs, because this way you can grab them and have something you can hold on to and squeeze if necessary.

Try to otherwise keep additional stimuli down. Stimuli are signals the body receives from our senses. Taste, smell, feel, hearing and seeing.
As they can reactivate the active phase and keep it basically endlessly going. Except you know exactly what stimuli is causing your active phase.

Second Step:
If you know the causing stimuli, then you can even learn to use a specific stimuli to counter your active phase and reduce its length and/or shorten it.
This can also be achieved by an object, with a unique sensation which contradicts the visions we see from the active PTSD.
As the stimuli are too different from one another and the brain can’t make them work together. The cognitive dissonance forces the brain to correct what we see.
For example the memory is of a very cold night? Hold something extremely warm.
Or the memory was in the desert? Plants, moss, trees or something along those lines.
It was quiet? Play some jolly music. Or whatever.
I used clothes and for my nights a stuffed animals. So when my hands felt it, I knew I was just having nightmares. It had to big enough that I could hold onto, like a safety buoy.
This is something you can train yourself, but it can be difficult depending on the person.
The most important thing is to reduce the stress as much as possible, as the stress you have, caused by the active phase, just makes the active phase longer and worse.
As the brain is in a sort of panic, we-are-all-going-to-die mode, and the more stressed you are, the more you confirm you brain that it is right to panic. Similar to a person afraid of flying in a plane.
Yes, its moronic. And a vicious circle. That’s why we try to relax as much as possible to leave the vicious circle as soon as possible.
It is very hard and everyone has different methods.

Mantra
If you can try using a mantra. It’s best to have trained it before, but if not, it still usually works.
What is a mantra? Its a line that you repeat again and again.
It starts with the name, where you are, another detail and a positive ending. More variations are of course possible, whatever works best for you.
For example:
My name is Johanna Draconis. I am at home. I am recording a podcast with my dog next to me. I am save and nothing bad will happen to me.
My name is Johanna Draconis. I am at home. I am recording a podcast with my dog next to me. I am save and nothing bad will happen to me.
My name is Johanna Draconis. I am at home. I am recording a podcast with my dog next to me. I am save and nothing bad will happen to me.

And so on. It’s important that you actually SAY the words. It hasn’t to be loud, but you have to say it.
How does it work? It’s basically a way to override your thoughts.
Similar to advertisement, where they want you hear the ad again and again, until you automatically think about it, this uses the same method.
By keeping repeating it, it fills so-to-say the head more and more, until the brain accepts it as the main thought.
It’s sadly not a guaranty, but it usually at least helps to calm down and take the brunt of the active phase and it’s more likely to work if the brain is already used to it.
The important thing is to really focus on it. Not just mumble it. Close your eyes if necessary to focus on it.

Breathing techniques
Another method is breathing techniques.
Often used by pregnant woman as a way to deal with the pain going along with the pregnancy, but since in this situation you can usually barely focus and are easily distracted, we take the simple one.
The most simple one.
Focus on your breath. How your breath flows into your body and how it leaves your body. Just - on - that…
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
I even relax more just as I am giving you these instructions.
This has a very calming effect and numbs the pain a bit, at least usually. As said before, everyone is different.

I would recommend the mantra for stronger cases and the breathing techniques for lighter ones. But it depends what you respond best to.
Whatever helps you avoid the worst of it. It is really important, so just see what works best for you. Best not if you are in that moment.

Step 3:
Survive. Survive the peak. There is no point in fighting it, just let it wash over you.
Similar to being pushed underwater in the sea, there is no point in struggling against the wave. Relax and focus your energies, so if the wave passes, you can swim up and breath.
This is now all about - how to use what you have left efficiently.
There is no reason to go against the stream, except there is a potential lethal danger ahead, go with the flow until an opportunity opens up to get out.
In my experience is really just best to wash it over you and no matter how drowning this experience appears to be, it passes.
At this point, it escalated too much to really push against it. Just try to focus on the mantra, breathing, object, so it can help you stay afloat.
Just hold on.

Step 4:
It is time to access the damage and head to safety. If you are already home, then of course you are most likely already safe.
You are most vulnerable in this state. I recommend treating yourself to a few nice things. Something nice to eat, some nice music, the company of someone you like/love or anything you enjoy doing.
Take your time to properly calm down. You are most likely exhausted, it is best to rest afterwards if you can. Your body needs now rest and sleep to recover.
Breathe… you made it.
Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this any time soon again.

Outro:
And that was it for todays episode. I am sorry if I still sound tired, sadly the situation hasn’t improved much, but it should very soon. I hoped you found this episode helpful and you liked it.
You can find the transcript on johannadraconis.com, it is written with an h after o, you can find the link in the description.
I would love to get some feedback from you, like if I move to fast or you would like me to spend more time on a topic, you can reach me under “contactme@johannadraconis.com”.
Otherwise I hope you have to use this knowledge as little as possible and you are alright.
Watch yourselves and take care.

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