Tag Archives: #survivethriveptsd

Survive the Fear and Thrive with Post Trauma Stress… You can win over PTSD!

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ALGEE…Assess, Listen, Give, Encourage, Encourage…more Mental Health First Aid USA

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Steve Sparks, Age 10, 1956…

My personal perspective of living with post-traumatic stress…by Steve Sparks…

There were many years that the thought of my big brother getting hit in the head and knocked out by Dad triggered nightmares and uncontrolled emotions.  Although the nightmares rarely happen anymore, the events of that time stay with me.  The horrific nature of seeing my big brother almost killed by our father comes to me almost every day, sometimes more than once.  The never ending toxic turmoil and dysfunction in our home left me feeling numb and without empathy and compassion for others.  The worst of post-trauma conditions is becoming self-absorbed, caring only about your own interests and survival.  There is no world larger than self in the worst case of emotional challenge in life after trauma.  My thoughts were mostly of self-defense and survival each and every day followed by self-medication at night.  Self-talk was filled with trauma from the past and fear and trepidation of the future.  I couldn’t talk to others about my feelings because no one else could possibly get it or understand.  Mental health was, and still is to a large extent, a risky topic to explore with others, especially family members and those you work with in your professional life.  Living in the moment and feeling safe is a life-long work in progress.

It was always challenging for me to trust others without some sort of escape plan and defensive position.  My feeling was that survival was an all-consuming occupation.  Even as kids we would avoid being visible or exposed for fear of being criticized and punished for being “bad, stupid, and sinful”.   For many years spirituality was something connected to religion, not my soul.  I didn’t know how to love until my mid-30s. I never trusted anyone completely and with unconditional love until later in life.

I have learned to live with and mostly mitigate the fear of failure and excessive insecurity in these later years.  For most of my life as a child, through adulthood and midlife years, my fear of failure served me well with intense hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal as a professional.  But these persistent and less than healthy post-trauma stress symptoms did not work well for me at home when free time should be used for peace of mind and relaxation…a mindfulness existence is a gift.

At home in a safe environment, I was always on the move and could not sit still.  When the pain creeped in during weekends, or holidays and sleep deprived nights, I became angry with outbursts and rage at times. The absolute worst part of my behavior is acknowledging how it hurt others close to me, especially my family.  What I know from research and awareness now is the larger tragedy of post-trauma stress on children and families. The transferred emotional pain often appears as a secondary post-trauma affliction in loved ones on the receiving end who become care givers and must try to live with the toxic behaviors of a parent, partner, or mentor. The generational consequences become a much bigger burden on others in your immediate family and society as a whole. 

I drank alcohol for self-medication until age 55.  I got addicted to narcotic pain and sleep medications in later years due to arthritic pain and joint replacements.  The combination of alcohol and prescription medications was a very bad cocktail and almost took me down.  The grace of God and my wonderful, loving, compassionate and caring spouse saved my life!

Yes, I believe now that healing from a painful and traumatic past is possible.  But it takes discipline, focus, and lots of love from family and friends.  Healing for me is fueled by my passion to make a difference for others who suffer from debilitating mental health conditions.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff from Amazon.

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Click here to download for $3.99. “Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational post-traumatic stress (PTS)…”

PTSDchat Talk Radio Interview…Erundina Lopez, Cast Member “Buried Above Ground”

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Click here…for #PTSDchat Talk Radio Interview with Steve Sparks and Erundina Lopez… Click here for more about the film, Buried Above Ground…

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Erundina Lopez, Cast Member, and Survivor of Domestic Abuse, Buried Above Ground…

Steve Sparks Interview with Erundina Lopez… A very real discussion on the strength and faith of a trauma survivor…love and hope at the center of healing and returning to a productive and rewarding life… Click the podcast here… There is a short technical delay before the podcast interview starts, so please be just a little bit patient.  Thank you!

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The first time I met Erun Lopez was while watching this heartbreaking account of her sometimes hopeless journey to find a path of healing after a life long struggle living with post-trauma stress.  Erun left home at age 14 to escape a violent and abusive home life plagued by the ignorance and total breakdown of communications among family members that often takes shape in a toxic home.  Before the interview, I spoke to her on the phone and messaged with her for two days.  I felt like her brother, dear friend and kindred spirit before the interview on Wednesday evening June 29, 2016.  Erun’s story of surviving, thriving and healing from a life of post trauma emotional pain finally takes her to a place of deep empathy, compassion, forgiveness and love at age 53.  Erun is a beautiful person with so much love and so much to give others who need to know that there is hope, even under some of the toughest circumstances you can imagine. Erun now survives and thrives with an eloquent and articulate voice that goes straight to your heart and soul.

It was a honor for me to be asked to host the #PTSDchat Talk Radio Show this last Wednesday evening.  Please take a listen to this powerful interview that will touch your heart deeply.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

 

Trauma Survivors Thrive…Knowing The Triggers to Emotional Pain… Self Awareness is Healing…

Surviving and Thriving…  Quote from this website…

Every trauma survivor has the right to become a thriver!

We provide support, friendship and advice for adults who have been affected by childhood abuse. If this is the first time you have visited this site, and would like to learn about HAVOCA, feel free to browse around and explore our hundreds of useful pages about the road to recovery.

HAVOCA’s ethos believes that every single victim of abuse has the ability to survive and lead a more fulfilling life.

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“How many of us suffer with the feeling of being broken???”  

“And many years of putting all the ‘broken’ parts back in place.   No easy process but you can thrive!”

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The above anonymous exchange of text messages got my attention.  I have been using “surviving and thriving” together for some time because shifting to “thrive” offers so much hope.  Why?  Because when we do “survive” emotional neglect and child abuse, embarking on a lifelong journey of healing, we more often than not “thrive” while doing so.  It becomes a daily work in progress and a discipline of understanding the symptoms connected with the mental health challenges.  If we are aware of the triggers and behaviors, we can mitigate the unsettling over reactions to the days events, and practice “dialing down” with style…  Hyper vigilance can be a good thing in terms of staying on top of your game, but not so good if it turns into a panic attack or an over reaction that becomes a distraction to others on your team.  Trauma survivors can thrive by using some of the value added symptoms of mental health challenges to advantage.

I have received excellent mentoring over the years from friends, family, co-workers, and mental health professionals to learn the value of  “dialing down” that translates into facilitating emotions or anger that has positive benefits at home and in the work place.  Take a look at the resource and reference site…Surviving and thriving…  Start thinking in terms of practicing how to use the gifts of hyper vigilance and hyper arousal to your advantage…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff…

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

 

Mindfulness Therapy…Learning to Live in the Moment… #PTSDchat BlogSpotRadio with Dr. Deb Lindh…

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Mindfulness Therapy with Dr. Deb Lindh on PTSDchat BlogSpotRadio…  A very uplifting and informative radio show!

Introducing Dr. Lindh in a live video clip on breaking through “triggers” of past traumatic events… How can you use mindfulness therapy to recover from an emotional meltdown?

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Dr. Debra Lindh @DebraLindh Award-Winning #Stress #Mindfulness Expert, #PTSD Survivor-Advocate, Post-Stress Growth, Practical Mindfulness, President @Mindful_Effect

Dr. Deb’s Questions:
  • How can we use mindfulness as a trigger recovery?
  • Mindfulness has many techniques and disciplines, what are some techniques that are helpful to folks with PSTD and how can we get clarity around the disciplines?
  • What is post-trauma growth? How does a person with PTSD experience post-trauma growth?
  • What about pre-trauma, when you know a trigger is coming…how can mindfulness help?
  • What is the cycle – pre-trauma, trigger, post-trauma growth and why is it important for PTSD?

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I can’t say enough good things about my latest collaboration with www.ptsdchat.org…  Last night was our second #ptsdchat radio show and panel discussion on a most important topic, mindfulness therapy Dr. Deb not only provided her special knowledge and experience on this topic but also, uplifting words of wisdom mixed with humor.  New #ptsdchat contributor, David J. Ortiz Gonzalez, Balanced Soldier Life, joined us on the panel as well to share his work on mindfulness practices, including ‘grounding’ techniques.  We laughed and enjoyed a discussion that is often painful and can cause triggers of past traumatic events and circumstances for many in the #ptsdchat audience. I for one, felt right at home, and very comfortable with the conversation among kindred spirits who know how it feels to live with post-trauma stress symptoms.  We learned so much from Dr. Deb and others on the panel. Please listen to the podcast and Dr. Deb’s video clip.  I’m excited about the opportunity and power of healing that the #ptsdchat radio show brings to our community of peers.  Thank you, Dr. Deb for joining us last night!  And, thank you Kate Gallie for your dedication to making #ptsdchat the very best post-trauma growth forum on the planet…

Please join us next Wednesday night for another lively #ptsdchat radio show.  Our topic for next week will be, PTSD & Triggers: Why Do Triggers Happen?

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff…

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

Survivors Guilt… “The guilt of being alive is heavy!” Orlando shooting survivor…

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Patience Carter, 20, is overcome with emotion after speaking to the media about the Pulse gay nightclub shooting from the Florida Hospital Orlando on Tuesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle | Getty Images)

The guilt of being alive… click here for more…

 on June 14, 2016 at 4:30 PM, updated June 14, 2016 at 5:07 PM

“A Philadelphia woman who was wounded in the attack on a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend read a poem to reporters on Tuesday that expressed feelings of guilt about surviving the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Patience Carter, 20, was shot in the leg during the rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning and is expected to recover. Carter’s friend, 18-year-old Akyra Murray, and 48 other people did not survive.”

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Veterans who served in hard combat will tell you that survivors guilt is a lifetime of emotional pain. Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story. 

“When Dad completed his shore patrol assignment in Hawaii in the summer of 1943, it had been almost two years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was able to return home briefly for a few weeks before returning to war in the Pacific.  He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer (BMC) early in 1943 and subsequently assigned to the USS Belle Grove (LSD2).   He was on the commissioning crew of August 9, 1943. Dad was one of three Pearl Harbor survivors on the BG.  He was held in high esteem.   The BG would become one of the most decorated war ships in the Pacific Asiatic Theater serving in 7 campaigns, included the now famous Iwo Jima battle.  LSD means Landing Ship Dock.  These mighty ships were cleverly designed as a sea going ship repair station deployed in the campaigns to repair damaged ships at sea, land marines on the beach, and to recover the wounded and killed.

These men, heroes to be sure, who landed on the beaches of places like Iwo Jima, knew they were given a 50% or less chance of survival.  My dad carried marines onto shore and risked his life as well, but never felt he was a hero or was doing what his fellow marines had to do.  In other words, he wasn’t exactly on a suicide mission like the rest, so he as well as most sailors felt guilty most of the time for being alive.  This kind of guilt lives with men following the war for the rest of their lives.  It is one of the symptoms creating the conditions for PTSD.  Interesting but tragically, the feeling of guilt also lives with the abused spouses and children of surviving combat veterans.   Guilt is evident in most cases of PTSD whether from combat, surviving an accident where others were killed, or from living in a toxic family culture as a survivor of long term abuse.”

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Of all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, survivors guilt, stacks up as being one of the worst nightmares, leading to chronic depression, anxiety, and anger.  When a survivor, as your loved one or friend, has a panic attack or an outburst of anger, please be sensitive and provide a calming response.  The behaviors of survivors reflect a profound and almost never ending grieving process that can linger for a lifetime.  It takes significant awareness, love, empathy, and compassion on the part of family members and friends to help a trauma survivor through a severe episode of extreme guilt that is hidden in the soul and mind.  Survivors suffer from moral injury and must grieve.  Loved ones can help by being extra sensitive to the circumstances and needs of those who suffer from survivors guilt.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2.  Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff.

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

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Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks… Click the highlighted text to order…

Mindfulness Therapy for Veterans and Others Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress… Learning to ‘live in the moment’ is healing…

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“Veterans with PTSD who received mindfulness-based therapy reported greater (though modest) improvement in symptom severity than veterans in another form of therapy.”

Mindfulness…”Living in the Moment.”  Quote from this link… Great video clip!

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy teaches people to pay attention to the present moment in an accepting way. Past studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, but could it also provide relief for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? A new study finds veterans with PTSD who received mindfulness-based therapy reported greater improvement in symptom severity than veterans in group therapy sessions focused on current problems. Their overall improvement, though, was modest.  PTSD affects nearly a quarter — 23 percent — of all veterans who have returned from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Left untreated, this condition poses unique dangers to veterans and their families.”

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It is a true story that living in the moment doing the things you are passionate about, including making a difference for others, offers a way to keep the pain of past traumatic experiences at a safer distance and mitigates anxiety about the future.  Some will argue that these healthy distractions achieved through mindfulness-based therapy can keep a person in denial of addressing the root causes of post trauma symptoms.  I say doing both in a balanced way can be effective.  I would rather practice mindfulness therapy than use prescription drugs or alcohol as self medication for the long term.  I also need to revisit and reconcile my own life trauma circumstances as an on-going process to keep a healthy perspective of those early child and young adult years that were so painful living in a highly stressful and sometimes violent home.

I have written often about the topic of “mindfulness”  (click highlighted text for video clip) in the context of life after trauma for adults.  But the practice and benefits of meditation or mindfulness therapy definitely apply broadly as a way to relax for people of all ages.  Children in particular get stressed out the same as adults.  We all need a mindfulness timeout a few times a day to stay calm and focused on the joy of living, learning, and growing.”

Take a look at my author page, and download “My Journey Part 2” and other books and resources to explore mindfulness-based therapy.  I have enjoyed far more peace of mind in these later years by becoming highly aware of my own post traumatic stress symptoms, and engaging in a balanced treatment strategy that works.  Each individual must find their own way, or in the case of children, show them the way by practicing living in the moment techniques.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1 & 2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)