Soothing the stress and undoing the damage

Throughout the years, I have met, written to, and spoken to many people who have experienced traumatic childhoods, and identify with the Reactive Attachment Disorder profile use to describe adopted children with attachment disorders.  Regardless of the family situations/origins, one thing the adults with RAD reactions have all shared in common is an inability to NOT get over the past to the point where it no longer haunts or ruins certain relationships.

In an earlier discussion, I mentioned the difference between "normal every day stress" and triggering reminders of traumatic times.  [See "We can't pick or choose", http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/20847#comment-5738]

There are many paths a person can take, when it comes to numbing emotional pain.  Addictions (of all kinds) is the easiest way a person can take a deep-rooted problem and create a new one by making instant gratification the name of the replacement game.   Typically, I have found the most common addictions most people find "comforting" are drugs/alcohol, sex/orgasm, and self-injury.  The irony is all these "feel good" techniques can all lead to an early death and represent how deep and dark depression can really get for those injured by traumatic events when they were very young.

While I believe great strides are being made by the scientific community, in terms of studying the brain, and how abuse and trauma alters the basic physiology of the body's most important organ, [See:  BYU study examines child abuse/stress disorder link,http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/20955], I don't think there are enough therapists out in the world in-tune with the problems adoption AND post-placement abuse brings an individual.

In the spirit of letting others know from personal experience, I was wondering if others would share what works and doesn't work in terms of lessening the stress relationships bring, and how pills have helped or hurt the recovery process.

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Kerry wrote:

Kerry wrote:
"Typically, I have found the most common addictions most people find "comforting" are drugs/alcohol, sex/orgasm, and self-injury.   I was wondering if others would share what works and doesn't work in terms of lessening the stress relationships bring, and how pills have helped or hurt the recovery process."

I'm not adopted.  I do live the adult RAD life.  I went the pill route and it nearly killed me.  I lost ME...   And in the process I
lost and then gained so much through the experience.
Drugs (mine were legal) helped to numb the pain and also helped me forget; some things I may never remember. 
Being numb helped me to dissociate... but this was at the expense of my children. 
I was physically there; in fact they slept with me for two years (on either side of my bed) but I was not in any mental shape to hear their cries for help. 
And now, the 13 year old is placed where he can be supervised 24/7; while the two 9 year olds are very happy he is gone.
How can I be happy with this solution?  I can't; and again, I see the need for there to be a plan BEFORE adoption, to
protect the children.
Without the drugs, I would have been put-away by now and all three kids would have been without their family/mom. 
So, being the zombie and having my son act out for the neighbors/police was probably a good thing; it brought me to my knees and my senses.
Drugs are not the answer, but I do believe they have value for a short time.  Being off the mind-numbing medicine is a
good thing for all of us.
The addiction to sex/orgasm is what got my ex-husband put in prison for molesting my daughter.  I do not see, nor will I
ever understand this addiction that ruled his life.  And this is one of the reasons I have so much trouble with human
touch; it triggers nasty things in my mind that ruins relationships before they even get started. 
My self-soothing is food.  Nothing is satisfying to the point of relaxation, but I eat it anyway.  I keep thinking I will find
something that will ease the stress, but so far there is nothing that can soothe like:  feeling safe... not even Oreo cookies.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

Length of stay

Like you, at one point, I was placed on medications.  In my case, the final trigger for me was 9/11.    It was bad enough living so close to the area of attack, but it just so happened that hub-man was called to work at Ground Zero during the search and recovery process, leaving me alone with infant twins and two older ones.  I was in crisis mode after the terrorist attack, and since I had no family to help me, I needed the pills to help numb me so I could function.

The problem was, I kept needing increases, and those increases didn't help me, in spite of the very high doses I was already taking.

I agree with you, for crisis situations, medications can work great, but without physical diagnostic evaluations, (which should include brain scans AND blood tests), I believe the goal in therapy should be focused on pill-free living, and teaching/learning new (natural) ways to adapt to stress and traumatic memories.

I still cry a lot, but I'd much rather feel all my emotions and work with them, than walk around like a Stepford Wife Zombie.

still searching

during therapy, there would be way too many moments where i was mute when asked a probing question.  the therapist would sit up at attention and ask me to tell her how my body felt and describe it.  tense. shallow breathing.  all tight in my shoulders - well, they're always tight but tighter, feeling like a pile driver was pounding me into the ground. that's PTSD she would say.  In milder forms of PTSD she would have patients use some sort of mechanism, like eye movement or tapping of wrists at the first signs of these tensions / associations to short circuit whatever neuronal connections were not being made and manifesting themselves physically.  I can't remember the name of this therapy, but it's supposed to be highly effective for isolated incidents like PTSD from car accidents, etc.  but for chronic PTSD, not so much, so I never did figure out how it really works in practice.

stress has physical manifestations.  it literally can kill us. 

while searching for relief, i came across this:

Yoga for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Yoga as a pathway to freedom and presence
A gentle yoga practice can give people many tools in dealing with PTSD. Just making the commitment to come to class shows an effort towards healing. The supportive energy of the group along with individualized attention allows your process to proceed in the most natural way for you. The gentle poses and breathing exercises provide the body and mind with a way to ground into the present. Guided meditation can also assist in relaxation and igniting the parasympathetic nervous system.

The Samarya Center staff are pioneers in the field of yoga therapy, and IMT-certified therapist, Laura Humpf, will be teaching this class. She has a Master’s Degree in Child, Couple and Family Therapy and has worked with children and adults with PTSD.

 

Life After Loss:
Yoga as a path to healing and wholeness

A gentle yoga practice can help with grief recovery in many ways. Just making the commitment to come to class shows an effort towards healing. Being with individuals who share a similar experience, and who don't expect you to hurry your recovery, allows you to process your grief and loss in a personal way, while drawing on the supportive energy of the group. The postures and breathing exercises provide the body and mind with both a respite from, and a refuge for, expressing grief. Aches in the back and shoulders can be alleviated through stretching and opening. Difficulties with sleeping, concentrating and appetite are often resolved through a regular yoga practice.

The calm and supportive environment of this class allows each participant to heal in his or her own time while providing age-old simple, practical tools for physical, emotional and spiritual self-care on the journey to wholeness.

This place does a one hour intake session prior to individual sessions for those healing from childhood sexual abuse.

In other places, I have also found there (I lost the info about it) are massage therapists / psychologists who work to free sexually abused people to allow themselves to be touched.  Through massage, "good touch" is introduced and it's supposed to have a good rate of success.

Unfortunately, all of these things cost money I don't have...

Yoga has been the only thing I've found to un-knot my constantly tense body, but again this costs money I don't have now.  All this 24/7 on the computer researching adoption abuse issues certainly isn't helping any!

Won't use medication after that one nightmare.  It also killed my sex drive, besides all the other side effects.  And I was constantly afraid how amped up I was on it, afraid it might induce another seizuer.

Despite my own attempts at self behavior modification, there are still things I can't do with partners, and showers are especially off limits.  I've just learned to accept those as boundaries now.  Besides, as a hermit I never meet anyone new to partner with anyway.

as a hermit...

Whatever we call it, we are alone even with people...
It's the most painful part of this, for me.
I'm better than I was, but even today as I get ready to pick my children up and take them to school I am feeling the
dread in my head because I was invited out for lunch with the pastor and his wife.  I usually say yes and then
immediately wonder why I said that; it begins to give me physical pain in my head and stress gnawing pains in
my stomach which do not go away.  I'd rather just stay home and be safe.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

Anti-social socializing

In general, I don't like being around people who want to engage in "normal conversations".  Growing-up, I was constantly scolded for not being social and polite with my afather's family, so assuming that role of "perfect company" has a very short life-span with me.

I am much better and far more social when I can tell rude jokes, make sarcastic comments , do stupid things, and mock all that's around me.  When I'm allowed to be my weird silly self, without any fear of future punishment, I can be the belle of the ball!

 

Treating the body

It's funny how you mention the muscle tension, because what first brought me to the doctor was severe upper back pain.  I thought I tore a muscle in my upper back from lugging the twins in their infant carriers, so after months on percocet then vicoden, and then weaning off of THAT drug habit, I was placed on every anti-depressant cocktail therapists could think of. 

My doctors suggested yoga and massage therapy, but like you, I could not afford these things.  Hell, I was just so happy and grateful I was allowed out of the house, ALONE to go to the doctor's, and those pills and visits weren't costing hub-man much because they were covered by his insurance. 

One year, for my birthday, I got a gift-certificate to go for a full body massage.  Having to lay on my stomach, and having hands touch me made me more stressed than anything else.  I hated it!!!  [Clearly I have huge touch-issues, and I have to be able to see everything around me... including the nearest exist... before I can try to relax.]

Showers and baths work best for me, but I rarely get the time to stand or soak in billion-degree temperatures like I really like to.  The strange thing is, water has always been my place of refuge and cleansing. [I have often wondered if being born on an island has anything to do with that....]  I am my happiest when I am at the ocean, or standing near a stream.  I love to hear the waves and see the movement... the sound and visual of water reflecting light and depth is my meditation.  Unfortunately, in order to be near a body of water, I have to travel, and when I travel, I am rarely alone and without noise.

just maybe...

Did you ever think that the last time you felt safe and secure was in the womb, surrounded by your own mommy's body fluids?

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Safe in your mother's womb

Did you ever think that the last time you felt safe and secure was in the womb, surrounded by your own mommy's body fluids?

I can't remember my mother's womb, but I would bet (statistically speaking) the womb is one of the most dangerous places on earth.  At least in the first trimester.

Pro-Choice Dad

crap happens to everyone

doesn't make everyone have RAD or AD....

all foster kids are not damaged goods...

another teacher at work got her purse snatched this summer, it was recovered, the purse was messed up and she had a big bruse on her arm...

her life has totally changed

should we hold her down on an air mate for hours at a time to cry about whatever insane reason made her walk to her car at 3:00 am in the morning after her waitress job was over (two bouncers were walking all of them to their cars...)

not all RAD folks, it breaks my heart to see this sold and adult adoptees accepting it... when RAD therapy has hurt so many kids and families...

Pound Pup Legacy