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 your everyday life to reduce your symptoms and maximize your healing as far as you can.
This is will be the “bread and butter” episode, as it contains the most crucial but also basics information that you need basically all the time until you are cured.
And even after that is this information quite useful.
The most important thing is Stabilization. I can’t repeat it enough. Stabilization is THE determining part of the healing process.
Imagine you being a boat and the PTSD is the fire that broke out… the sea is what you influence via stabilization.
The calmer the sea, the better and more productive you can take care of the fire.
This doesn’t just mean we can do more, but we also have less symptoms and our mind is clearer. We can make choices easier and less destructive.
It should also lead to less mood swings and an overall feel of a more steady ride. You feel more in control and less like a ping pong ball.
Also this leads to no additional damage which is often caused by a destabilized day.
Additionally we need to learn to take care of the fire.
So, how we do it?
Routine. Basically. But first I want to explain the principle of the energy bar, as I think it’s an aspect of the routine and its effectiveness.
First we do the energy bar, then the prioritization and then the routine.
Did you ever play a video game? Then you are familiar with the so called energy bar. One way or another.
This bar is the key how you can manage better your PTSD. This bar represents the energy you have over the whole day. And depending how you slept and your overall status it is most likely not even full.
It is very important to learn to evaluate how much energy you have for the day. Practice makes it better.
We aim for preserving as much energy as we can and best leave a portion left, the bigger the better.
It may seem counterintuitive to leave a portion of energy untouched when we have only a fraction of our full potential, but it’s actually very important.
That portion energy we keep is for our brain, because that energy the brain will use to take care of the PTSD.
But if we always live to the limit, where is the energy for the healing supposed to come from? If your brain gets the opportunity it will try to get rid of the PTSD, but it needs time and energy.
That means that we also need to live energy efficient. So we can get as much energy as we can out of it. Also this portion of energy is the buffer that keeps a trigger from becoming a catastrophe.
Because if you go below 0 in your energy bar, your PTSD will come into full action, also known as an outbreak or active PTSD, and you will feel that for days.
In that case please listen or read the episode ‘In case of an emergency’, to help you minimize the damage OR listen before to it, so you can hopefully read the signs and avoid it.
It’s almost like you take energy away from the forces, that hold back the PTSD, when you deplete that final portion of your energy.
Additionally we need to increase our daily maximum energy. So we can do more and get rid of more PTSD. Which then lead to more energy free.
It’s pretty simple isn’t it?
It’s like moving. You need to open cartons to get more space and the more cartons you open and clear, the more space you have and the more easy you can clear them. Like usual.
An important step for energy conserving is to prioritize what REALLY needs to be done. I know it’s hard to stand down, when the work is piling up, but we have what we have, we are what we are.
We have to deal with the hand that is given to us. No matter how much we want, that won’t change.
Accepting you are sick and just can’t do as much anymore, is one of the hardest things to learn and accept. But it’s integral for any major illness, including cancer for example, to heal.
We go from most important down to unimportant. If you have trouble with keeping it all in mind, then I recommend writing a list.
So first off; eating, drinking and sleeping is the minimum. Everything else is optional. I would put the things that need to be done in an order.
Chores, Paperwork, social events, etc. : From deadline very soon to very far. That is usually the next level. Have a bit of breather? Good.
Maybe some chores you REALLY need to do, or otherwise you loose your living space?
And so on. Learn what you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to do. So if you have a bad day you just do that. On better day you do a bit more.
I am sure you get the hang of it with a bit of practice.
You simply need to accept that you can’t just do what you could when you are healthy. We are now measuring with different measurements.
Accepting you can do so little is very hard. Most people struggle with it. It is not a good feeling to feel so helpless, useless and weak.
But how could you be much stronger, when most of your strength is used to hold PTSD at bay? You are doing a great job by just holding on.
You are extremely outmatched, but still fighting. Sometimes the biggest act of defiance is to survive. Beating the odds.
The main goal is to live, not just to survive, but actually a life worth living for.
The main aspect for stabilization is the routine. And I mean for everything. Routine doesn’t mean it has to be at the exact same time, BUT in the same order and/or similar things.
For example: Wake up, stretch, make bed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, read something, do some sport, relax and so on. It hasn’t have to be the same sports/books/whatever, but it should follow an order.
There can be segments between that are basically free for whatever, but they should be kept to a minimum and/or the options limited in this segment. Or whatever fits best with you.
Now what you eat should also be pretty settled or reduced to a minimum of choices. Same goes for what you wear etc.
Why? Because your brain is lazy and needs a lot of energy for every choice it makes.
Wanna do a little experiment to see what I mean? Stand in a doorway, press your arms against the frame, the palms of your hands facing towards the frame. Do that for 30 seconds.
Now step out of the doorway. If done correctly your arm should float on their own upwards. It’s pretty fun.
How does that work? Like I said our brain is lazy and as soon it realizes, that a command is repeated several times, it goes: well, someone else can do that.
Similar to homer Simpson, who put up a bird to hit the y key for yes for him, the brain does the same.
So like a dog, you can train your brain.
These routines are training protocols for the brain, so this way the brain isn’t really involved, well at least not the main thinking part we usually refer to as brain. I think you understand what I mean.
We basically make a part of the brain the assistant of the thinking part of the brain. Like a diva it loads off all the work it can to the assistant.
And for everything that assistant section of the brain does the work for the thinking brain part —— the thinking brain part has time to do more things. Like getting rid of PTSD.
So everything becomes a routine, even if not immediately successful, a good routine makes symptoms less strong over time and gives us more energy for our day.
I just want to add, that sport is good for you, IF you can do it. If not, that’s fine too. I couldn’t either, but if you can that’s great!
Also routine makes it easier to get work done. As the brain expects it to happen.
Another advantage of routine is sleep, as another positive side effect is, that the sleeping behavior is improved.
A set routine, even for healthy people, is very useful, as the body realizes this way, that you plan to go to bed and starts preparing for it.
A set routine can be a book you read before sleeping. Or brushing your teeth, walking the dog, doing a tour through your place, etc. Basically anything you do in a set routine before you sleep.
That sleeping is important is obvious. But sadly often strong sleeping disturbances accompany PTSD. It would be too easy if it weren’t so, wouldn’t it?
If you are still lying awake after 30 min, get up. Do something. Reading, take a walk, etc. Then as soon you feel more tired again, try again.
Otherwise your body associates the bed not just with sleeping, but also with just lying there. Which makes falling asleep even harder, as your brain doesn’t understand that you plan to sleep now.
I can usually read on my sleeping pattern how out of balance I am. Up to 12h off, which means I am extremely out of balance. Also I usually can only turn to my normal sleeping pattern once I am balanced again.
Before that all my tries are doomed to fail.
I also want to add, that a lot of nightmares are a hint that you are being affected by a trigger. But regarding nightmares and how they can help us heal, I talk in the episode trigger.
Besides that, try to usually get as much sleep as you can, as it usually means more energy.
Reducing the PTSD
Now that we figured out how to keep the sea calm, we now have to figure out how to deal with the fire….
How can we reduce the amount of PTSD in our lives? Or the strength of the symptoms to be precise.
A good way to reduce your PTSD are roleplaygames or RPG, as in the computer game. RPG s are even used in therapy, they even went so far to create one on their own to maximize its positive effect.
How come this sort of game has such a positive effect? It helps against the depression. When you are depressed your brain is sabotaging itself to remain miserable.
That means that any form of joy is getting blocked. Had a game you loved to play, now its just meh? Same for a food, movie, etc.? That’s depression. Taking away any joy you can have.
Until it all just becomes a gray mass. Tasteless, joyless, colorless gray mass. And living becomes a chore.
Roleplaygames are able to trick depression so to say. Since the good thing that is happening is happening to your character but not to you, its not really blocked.
But at the same time your brain associates itself with the character and gets a small boost. We are basically outwitting ourselves, but hey - no complaining on my side. Whatever works.
This way you get success moments, which are so important and help with the healing process immensely. If you can, try it.
Sadly, I have to make a small insertion regarding loot boxes. Whatever game you want to play please ensure that it has no loot boxes or micro transactions, which are similar to slot machines and HIGHLY addictive.
And our happy hormone depraved brains are especially vulnerable to addiction. The amount of preying and manipulation on the vulnerable that is shown with these is so disgusting.
Most of the times they can be found in ‘free’ games and in almost all mobile games.
I can only strongly recommend staying away from them.
Back to success moments I just talked about. These are extremely important, they are similar to a anchor, who prevents the worse from happening and strengthen positive development.
Try to have at least one each day. Games are easy for that, you complete a mission, defeat something, unlock something, etc.
Of course the real life ones are usually better, but it’s important to set realistic goals. It’s better to have a small success than a failed big one.
And most importantly: Reward yourself after you had the success moment, like a treat, movie, series, music, beer, whatever. Anything you would see as an reward.
Take a moment to celebrate the success, no matter what, even if its only that you filled the dishwasher. Depending on your situation, that can be a great success.
We also have to talk about good days and I know how great good days feel. The ecstasy of finally feeling at least a bit good and you are so optimistic and finally you can do stuff!
Like loads of stuff! But please don’t do that. Good days aren’t there so you can do the whole workload, it’s so you can get a breather.
Use this opportunity to recover and have a good time. You need that for the days to come. It’s really just a breather.
Also people tend to overextend their energy and crash even harder after such good days, because they tried to do too much.
Try to make it a great day and this way increase your resilience against the harder days to come and that you don’t crash after the good day.
Just like you do with success moments. You deserve to take a break, you are doing hard work… holding back this illness every day.
An important thing is to keep an overview of your progress. Make notes, have a diary or just try to remember where you were before.
Sometimes we only know how far we came, once we look back.
The more you feel a deep form of peace, the closer you are to being cured. It’s a feeling of complete balance. But more to that in a later episode.
That was it for todays episode. I hope it was insightful and that I didn’t overlook anything. Next episode we go from the defensive to the offensive with the topic triggers.
So… I hope you liked this episode, you can find the transcripts and all information as usually under johannadraconis.com/podcast, links are also in the description and I hope I see you next time.
Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.