Tag Archives: Grounding in body

Grounding Strategies

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Grounding Kit:

I started a grounding kit this week!  Each grounding kit will be unique because each person who makes one is different.  Here is what is in my grounding kit so far-

Adult coloring books with colored pencils and markers (fun, has me doing something, pretty colors)

Moon calendar (cardstock, good for holding emotions chart, the moon is awesome)

Emotions chart (yeah just because)

Kava kava stress relief tea (I normally use this to help with sleep but I wanted a backup in my kit for anxiety)

Mints (To engage my sense of taste)

Tea tree essential oil (Aromatherapy, tea tree is good for skin and is sometimes used as an antiseptic, cleansing)

Rosemary essential oil (Aromatherapy, rosemary is said to help with concentration)

Juniper Berry essential oil (Aromatherapy, juniper berry is said to be energizing, I picked it up on intuition, my earliest childhood friend had juniper trees at her house)

Lavender essential oil (Aromatherapy, lavender gives you what you need- energy if you need it or calming if you need it, Lavender is also antiseptic)

Motherwort tops tincture (Engages my sense of taste- Motherwort tastes green and chocolatey brown, I learned about Motherwort from reading the crazyherbalist.com blog on CPTSD)

 

Grounding Exercises:

I picked these two exercises up from some counselors this week.  I’ve been doing the tapping in exercise daily and it seems to help me.

Rainbow Game- Going through the rainbow in order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) look for objects in your environment that are each color.

Tapping in- This exercise actually comes from Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).  EMDR is said to work like REM sleep: moving your eyes rapidly back and forth helps process things, and EMDR is popularly used for processing discrete traumas.*  Sometimes taps or vibrations that alternate between your left and right side are also used in EMDR, as in this exercise.  Take a seat and put your left hand on your left knee and your right hand on your right knee.  Your arms should be relaxed/comfortable.  Start by thinking about a place where you felt that you were in your body and you felt good.  Think about what it looks like there, what sensations you feel on your skin there, what sounds and smells are there….  When you have a good sense of being there and the good feelings you had there, tap your knees left- right- left-right for a total of ten taps.  Repeat as necessary.

*Note: EMDR is often used for trauma but different EMDR techniques are appropriate for different types of trauma.  The EMDR techniques that are most often used for trauma may not be appropriate for Complex PTSD and can destabilize us.  EMDR for Complex PTSD often focuses on grounding and stabilization.  If you have Complex PTSD and are interested in EMDR you will want to make sure you are being given techniques that are specifically appropriate for Complex PTSD.

I also found a whole list of grounding techniques here.

 

 

Accepting and grounding

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Accepting and grounding

Content note:  Contains mention of fictitious substance use, self-harm, and suicidality.

So I got my dissociative/complex PTSD diagnosis this week.  To say it was a surprise is a HUGE understatement.  I always associated PTSD with startle reactions, not dissociation, so I never thought I fit the profile.  People perceive me as calm… often even when I’m upset about things.  The problem is that sometimes I even perceive myself as calm when I’m upset about things.  Our society has some very flawed notions about emotions that encourage unhealthy dissociation, and I know now that my perceived calmness is often unhealthy dissociation.  I thought my emotional responses were typical.

Dissociative/complex PTSD is actually distinct from ‘regular’ PTSD.  Unlike ‘regular’ PTSD, complex PTSD is more likely to be chronic.  It’s also considered a more severe diagnosis, although people may not consistently experience symptoms.  Complex PTSD results from early and ongoing childhood trauma.  The theory is that this trauma creates a self that is somewhat less integrated.

This whole thing feels surreal to me.  I know I wasn’t happy as a child, but I thought I had transcended my past.  I do not actually think that I experienced significant trauma in childhood, but others tell me that my childhood experiences were traumatic.  I’m told that my experiences count as all four types of abuse (neglect, physical, emotional, and sexual), all before I left preschool.  To hear that I have trauma, that it still affects me, and that it is in fact deeply ingrained in me, is upsetting.  I don’t always accept that it’s true.

My goal might not be ‘overcoming’ this as much as it is about managing it.  From reading other people’s experiences with trauma, I expect that managing complex PTSD will be lifelong.  I’m worried that I might think I’m ‘over’ it some day in the future, only to discover that it has still been controlling me all along.  I already thought I had transcended my past once before and I don’t want to make that same mistake again!

I might always have dissociative tendencies, but if I can learn to recognize my triggers and develop coping skills I might be OK.  I’m told that in the interim I will have to work on this concretely for three to five years.  ‘Working on’ means that I have to address my childhood.  Admittedly, crawling into a dumpster and overdosing on heroin sounds more appealing.  Some of the memories and images I have in my mind would make most empathetic people want to do this.  The trick will be to go slowly so that I don’t get overwhelmed and dissociate or crave ‘escape’.

Moving slowly means that before addressing my childhood, I have to learn more about complex PTSD, how it’s shaped me, and how I move forward.  It also means that I have to ground in the present and in my body.  I know I have those skills because I worked on them concretely when I lived in the Bay Area after I left my parents’ home.  I just need to reconnect with those skills, and be reminded to do so.

What I am doing so far:

My first steps towards grounding in my body had me speed-walking up Stone Mountain and then down.  Speed-walking helped quiet the mental narrative in my mind and brought me more into my body.  As I came down Stone Mountain I started running along some trails.  It felt like another form of dissociation to me, because I was disconnecting from my thoughts, but it felt good and was calming.  Exercise is supposed to be good for grounding no matter how it’s done by people of varying physical abilities anyway.

My second step towards grounding in my body is represented in the photo to this blog post.  I’m supposed to engage my senses, so I took a steaming hot bath by candle light while listening to music.  I added some Bay Laurel, which reminds me of home (and smells good).  When the heat got too much I added cold water, and the alternating temperatures also helped ground me.  I guess that’s something to continue exploring.

Moving forward:

I’m honestly not sure what’s on the other side of this process.  Often I don’t think I have PTSD or trauma (so I don’t need to work on this).  Yet I am moving forward slowly.  I will continue to post updates largely so I can witness myself.  I’m not sure if anyone else will be reading this.  If other people are reading this, I hope some of my posts may be informative.