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#9980 - 04/24/03 09:24 AM Doing What It Takes to Survive
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
On the battlefield, soldiers with injuries that would have to cause intense physical pain fight on
and even drag wounded friends to safety, apparently oblivious & numbed to their own injuries & the pain until they are safe ie know they will survive. No way they coulda stopped to care for their wounds while under attack.

"Attention to ones' wounds in an acute survival emergency could well impede survival behavior."

When those planes hit the Twin Towers on 9-11-01, an amazing number of people not only survived but helped other people to safety as well, blocking out or dissociating from their pain until survival was reasonably well assured. To have stopped to care for wounds as the towers were crumbling would have meant certain death.

"Attention to ones' wounds in an acute survival emergency could well impede survival behavior."

When I suffered the attacks of sexual & other abuse as a child, I was severely injured both physically & psychically. But by & large I dissociated from the painful events, unknowingly numbing myself to them, often by acting out (of) what had happened to me in various sexual & other ways, some not always apparently healthy.

It was what I had to do to survive, somehow find my way off the battlefield to safety, and also keep my little brother safe.

"Attention to ones' wounds in an acute survival emergency could well impede survival behavior."

My problem has been that of many combat veterans, disaster survivors, and other survivors of abuse: the problem of never having completed & recovered from the "freeze".

According to Dr. Robert C. Scaer (and an increasing number of doctors & workers in the trauma field), animals under attack by predators have a fight-flight-freeze survival response.

They will try to flee or fight back until caught, then they will freeze, "playing possum" in a literal last-gasp attempt to survive by dissociating from the pain of the attack, "hoping"
it will end before they do.

Sometimes, inexplicably, or becuz predators are somehow distracted or themselves attacked, the freeze works and the predator leaves, leaving the prey alive.

When this happens, invariably, instinctively, the survivor "will arouse & begin to tremble...
[resembling] the last act of the animal before freezing--the act of running...an unconscious attempt to complete the act of survival, as if the last protective motor or muscular activity is locked in unconscious procedural memory and needs to be released, or completed...

This...may persist for several minutes, and is usually terminated by a series of deep, sighing breaths. The animal at this point will usually arouse fully, regain its feet, often stagger a bit, shake itself, and then run off, apparently none the worse for its life-threatening experience.

Long-term observations of such animals do not seem to show any harmful effects..." ("The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease," Dr. Robert C. Scaer, p 18).

Scaer goes on to point out how traumatized people
becuz of the training of human logic, emotional inhibitions, societal norms, the desire to be acceptable ("look good", not "make a scene") often
do not perform the freeze discharge our animal friends do. (p 20)

We are much more inclined to stay in shock, dissociated & numbed out, acting out in a vain & misguided attempt to unfreeze ourselves. Even tho we go back & onto some kind of "normal" life, we never really shake it off & thaw out.

"The truncated ["with end removed: shortened by having a part cut off or removed"] freeze discharge appears to be the physiological event that inititates the central nervous system changes leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of those chronic diseases that seem to be most common, and which the field of allopathic ["of the treatment of a disease by using remedies whose effects differ from those produced by that disease. This is the principle of mainstream medical practice..."] medicene has been most ineffective in treating, may well have their roots in the insidious systemic effects of traumatization."

"Until that act of flight or self defense has been completed, therefore, the 'survival brain'
may continue to perceive that the threat continues
to exist, and is unable to relegate it to memory as a past experience [especially if it's fuzzy in or dissociated from your memory anyway]." (p 21)

Again, "Attention to one's wounds in an acute survival emergency could well impede survival behavior."

"[The] phenomenon of pain modulation in stress by endorphins may contribute to one of the more bizarre and at times confusing behaviors of victims of trauma: the seemingly subconcious need to reexperience the traumatic event." (p 86)

In short, the endorphins that helped dissociate & numb my pain & help me survive till I could escape
the abuse have been still working at numbing me, as expressed in acting out & numbing out sexual & emotional behaviors.

Why? Becuz I got so numb & dissociated to the abuse I couldn't remember it to escape from it. I still had not escaped, but was still trapped in my abusive past, still frozen in abuse.

Why? Becuz, partly due to the continuation of the abuse over time, partly due to the abuse being covered up & silenced, I never did my freeze discharge. I never fully aroused from & shook off the abuse; never ran away free from it.

This is what I finally began to do about 2 years ago when I began recovery as memories of abuse came to the surface and I began to shake them off via therapy, medication, reading, writing, support
& overall recovery work.

It is a process in which I must be patient. After all I have been frozen virtually all but the last two of my 46 years of life.

Sometimes, intentionally or not, I find myself trying to shake loose too quickly & forcefully. This results in a kind of collapse or re-freezing likely a reflexive survival defense mechanism, which is no longer a particularly healthy thing.

This is what I call "shutting down" which my body & to a great degree my mind has actually done a few times in the last few years.

"One of the most persistent and debilitating symptoms is that of profound and pervasive fatigue, both cognitive and physical. With ongoing cognitive [or physical] demands, patients will "shut down" and be unable to continue with high level or sometimes even routine cognitive [or
physical] activity." (p 30)

For over a week now, I've been in the early stages
of such a shut-down. This is due to many factors including a big schedule change & increase in activity (tho a healthy one I'm convinced), dealing with some tough issues that had to be dealt with, a stomach bug that caused as often happens a flareup in my fibro pain and my chronic fatigue.

However knowledge & awareness are powerful, and so
far I have avoided the kind of total shutdown I've
not had in over a year now.

However I am learning more & more the value of slowing down & pacing myself.

I am grateful for the help & support here which helps me so much with this.

Men, do what it takes to survive now, not what it used to take. Do what it takes to survive and start unfreezing. But take your own time and take it easy on yourself.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#9981 - 04/24/03 10:22 AM Re: Doing What It Takes to Survive
MrDon Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
Victor,
I also have to monitor myself because if I don't, the "paralysis type symptoms" show back up. It is hard to really explain what I mean, but I can tell if things are going way to far for me and I am beginning "shutdown".

At least now, I can identify these things much quicker than I once could and react quicker. At one time, they just hit me and I realized what happened after the fact. Now I do take more care of myself even with my busy schedule to find time to "slow down".

I often take a 5 or 10 minute walk at lunch in the sun just to let my body breathe and recharge a little. I actually learned that one when I was in the rough spots of the grieving process of losing my mom. I also try to lay out in my hammock just to relax, listen to the birds and watch the clear blue sky. There are many things I do and while some of them are not very involved or take very much time, they help me stay with myself.

And learning to take care of ourselves is healing from our past as well.

Don

_________________________
In order to journey to new worlds, we must first be willing to lose site of the shore.

The Mind Body Thoughts Blog
http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/

Check out my relaxing piano music from the heart!
http://www.donshetterly.com

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#9982 - 04/24/03 10:49 AM Re: Doing What It Takes to Survive
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Victor the Wolf

What a post. Boy it opened my eyes.
Unlike you I have been totally aware of my abuse since it happened.

During my lifetime I have been guilty of freezing it out of my awareness as a factor in all the shit that happened to me afterwards.

When the freezing got too cold the awareness would creep back in and re-activate my hunger for pain and humiliation.

It has been my previous belief that I had triggers that instigated the re-enactment. Now I believe that is was my doing nothing that raised the pressure in me like steam in a boiler.

When I started away from the path of existing to healing and living life I have been slowly opening the valve and that has been my salvation.

I always knew that you were a particularly bright wolf but now GUARDIAN I can truthfully say that even a weatherbeaten old wolf can learn valuable incite if he only looks for it.

Thank you

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHWWWWWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOO

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#9983 - 04/24/03 03:09 PM Re: Doing What It Takes to Survive
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:
At least now, I can identify these things much quicker than I once could and react quicker. At one time, they just hit me and I realized what happened after the fact.
Me, too. Maybe this is a sign we are "thawing", doing some freeze discharing, my friend.

Quote:
I often take a 5 or 10 minute walk at lunch in the sun just to let my body breathe and recharge a little. I actually learned that one when I was in the rough spots of the grieving process of losing my mom. I also try to lay out in my hammock just to relax, listen to the birds and watch the clear blue sky. There are many things I do and while some of them are not very involved or take very much time, they help me stay with myself.
WTG, Don. There are lots of simple things we can do that just take a few minutes to take care of ourselves, to warm ourselves up when we start re-freezing again.

Right now I'm getting out more, teaching more water aerobics and going to more 12 step meetings.
Trying to take more walks, even short ones. Even lay back in my recliner by the window & watch the many birds in the feeder just outside it.

Quote:
And learning to take care of ourselves is healing from our past as well.

Don
Yeah I've run into some new issues to struggle with along that line. But that's another post or two or three...

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#9984 - 04/24/03 07:04 PM Re: Doing What It Takes to Survive
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Vic'
when I used to freeze out I would sit and fester in front of the tv for hor hours and watch any old shite, wouldn't shower unless I had to, would get up from the table and leave my plate there until Linda moved it - and that wasn't often because she'd tell me to move it !
And then I'd go acting out.

I think it was my coping mechanism peaking out, nothing left, and it was telling me as much.

In some ways it matches the behaviours I had when the abuse was happening, I dissociated during classes and misbehaved the rest of the time.

Before I started recovery there were too many hours in the day, and the nights were long.
Now I haven't got time to fit everything in.
It's tempting to think of it as a distraction, but I don't think it is. Like yourself and Don I can sit out front in the sun with a glass of wine and a cigar and watch the sun go down without any of my old thoughts intruding, perhaps that's because I have so much else to think about. But I can sit and vegetate quite happily.

I think that now that I haven't GOT to devote so much time and energy to fantasy and dissociation I have regained the ability to do the everyday things I always wanted to.

"If you are idle, be not solitary. If you are solitary, be not idle." Dr Samuel Johnson.

That was the screen saver I had on my old computer a while back when I started recovery and it made a lot of sense to me.
Although I could be both idle and solitary physically for long periods, especially in my work, I tried not to solitary or idle in my mind.
I tried to divert my thoughts away by simple things like listening to talk radio instead of non stop music, and progressed from there.

It was unfeezing my mind from the old fight and flight respose that I wanted as a child that made the difference.
I couldnt do either as a kid, I was trapped like so many of us, and I remained trapped for a long long time.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#9985 - 04/27/03 07:11 PM Re: Doing What It Takes to Survive
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Dave wow your entire post things sound like me, and really speak to me. I appreciate it a lot.

"Gotta take some time to do the things I never had to do!"

Bro we are not trapped anymore! We are free!

Me, I just gotta learn more to live like it!

Thanks for the encouragement, my friend.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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