One of the biggest challenges
people face in life is being triggered to recall or even relive terrible things that have happened to them in the past. Most psychotherapists encounter clients who present with troubling reactions to these experiences. When being triggered in this way causes incapacitation or total overwhelm, we generally refer to the syndrome as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The term gained public recognition following the Vietnam War and subsequent military engagements where extreme violence, maiming and death were commonplace. Exposure to these horrors, even at a safe remove, can cause these symptoms which can include: exaggerated startle response; insomnia; avoidance of all persons, places or things that resemble the trauma situation; flashbacks; somatic symptoms of fight, flight or freeze; depression including self-destructive urges; and nightmares.
Coping with the symptoms of PTSD
when they arise is crucial to successful recovery. Even when the actual content of the traumatic experience is addressed head on in psychotherapy, the day to day management of PTSD symptoms is key to the client being able to get up and face another day, handling daily tasks and responsibilities, and being able to have reality-based insights into what happens when the symptoms intrude.
I learned from a friend about a tool that has saved her from the pit of despair and distress her PTSD symptoms throw in her path. I obtained it for myself and tried using it so that I understand the whys, hows and wherefores enough to recommend it to my patients with extreme trauma symptoms. This tool is amazing and if used, can really help contain symptoms and prevent further escalation into the danger zone.
This tool is called PTSD Coach,
a mobile app available for free for iOS and Android devices. PTSD Coach was developed by the VA and US Department of Defense to assist active duty military service people and military veterans. My friend told me that it helped her a great deal and had no direct link or references to military experience, thus being a globally useful PTSD tool for anyone needing to get a grip when symptoms flare up.
If you or someone close to you suffers from the symptoms of PTSD, and if you have an iPhone or other mobile device, I hope you will download this app and give it a try.
The set-up process takes a little while because you need to personalize it for you. This is best done when symptoms are minimal or in abatement. You are asked to choose some MP3 tunes or sound selections that soothe and calm you. Many of us have such things already on our phones, so that may not be very difficult. A problem some people report is that due to their disabling PTSD, they haven't been able to enjoy music per se. Here is when the non-melodic tones of the Tibetan singing bowls, nature sounds or other neutral selections may be invaluable.
You are also asked to choose some images from your photos to add so that when you need them, they are available to comfort or ground you. If you haven't got any such photos on your photo roll or album, choosing some images you find online is really easy. Let's say you find pictures of kittens relaxing and smile-inducing. You can type the word "kittens" into your Google search bar and then select "images" from the left column when the results appear. This narrows it all down to pictures and you can quickly scroll through to find an image you like, and save it on your device. Maybe a seascape is your go-to image for calm. So search for that and see what comes up.
You also are asked to choose some people that are reliable supports to call when you're in a bad way. This might be a friend or family member, but it could also be your 12-Step sponsor, doctor or a hotline if any of these is appealing or applicable to you. You can just click a link to connect if you need to talk.There is also a place to add your therapist's contact information so all you need to do is click on a button to put in an emergency call. This might just save your life.
Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this tool, and I really believe it has great utility for people who are into mobile devices and who find that they need instant help to stave off a crash. If I've sparked your interest, please visit the PTSD Coach site here. The way you use it will be quite simple to understand and I think you will be glad you took the time to set it up.
Until then, here's an image to bring peace to your soul.
At least it does to mine.
This beautiful photo of a Buddha statue
in a meditation garden comes to you by way of E. Troy.