The Emotional Effects
In the previous newsletter, I have been talking about recovering from a pathological love relationship. (You can read the previous newsletters on our website under Sandra Says.) The toll it takes on people often leaves them with symptoms of chronic stress. For extremely bad relationships, often the result is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—a diagnosed anxiety disorder. The long-term stress from the pathological love relationship (with narcissists, abusive partners, socio/psychopaths) affects people emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually.
I have been talking about what the body ‘does’ when it is under chronic stress and the results of this unrelenting stress. (The previous newsletters about this are on the magazine site under Sandra’s Current Article). The last newsletter discussed how to deal with the physical ramifications of stress, and I even created a unique relaxation audio for people with chronic stress or PTSD (which is available on the magazine site under Shopping/CDs, Audios.) I also talked about changing your physical environment to embrace the needs of a stress disorder.
Today, we are going to discuss emotional effects and how to create the Gentle Life for your emotional needs as well.
PTSD is an emotional disorder that falls in the category of anxiety disorders. Therefore, someone with chronic stress of any kind needs to learn the types of techniques that help reduce emotional anxiety. The problem is, by the time people ask for help with chronic stress or PTSD, they have often lived with it for a long time and the symptoms are then extreme.
The emotional effects of untreated PTSD can include tension, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, or hyper-startle reflex. All of these are distressing, and over time a combination of these symptoms can normally occur at the same time.
The relaxation technique is a way of managing the physical symptoms of PTSD. Relaxation techniques are not ‘optional’ in the recovery of chronic stress/PTSD. That’s because these techniques have a dual purpose. These same relaxation techniques also help manage the emotional symptoms as well as the physical. Learning correct breathing to ward off anxiety and panic attacks can be done through the relaxation techniques.
Likewise, these same techniques can help with sleep disruptions and tension. Chronic stress and PTSD are disorders that should be treated by a professional therapist. Especially with PTSD, the symptoms tend to increase over time if not treated. People make the mistake of waiting until it is totally unbearable, and then it takes time to ease the symptoms. People are often ‘hopeful’ it will just go away when the pathological relationship has ended or contact has ceased. These aren’t the worst relationships in the world for nothing! They are labeled as such, because they produce horrible side effects!
Unfortunately, PTSD is a chronic disorder meaning you are likely to have symptoms off and on for years, maybe a lifetime. This is all the more reason to learn how to manage the symptoms when you may need to. Intrusive thoughts are one of the most complained about symptoms.
This is when unwanted thoughts of the pathological person or relationship keep popping up in your head. No matter how many times you try ‘not’ to think about it, it keeps coming back. The problem with the imagery in your mind is that each time it pops in, it has the ability to trigger you. Your body responds to the trigger with adrenaline and starts the whole stress cycle over again. So managing the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks is imperative to emotionally regulating yourself and living the gentle life.
Living the gentle life means removing your self from personalities that are similar to the pathological relationship. We often tend to migrate BACK to the same kind of people and relationships we just left. These kinds of abusive people can cause an emotional avalanche. It is important that you understand the kind of traits in people that should be avoided if you have PTSD or high-level stress. These could be people who remind you of the pathological person, loud or aggressive people, or those who violate your boundaries or bother you in other ways. Stress and PTSD do mandate that you develop self-protective skills such as setting boundaries—learning to say no or leave environments that increase your symptoms. Learn to migrate instead, to people who are serene or leave you feeling relaxed and happy.
Creating your gentle physical environment will also help you emotionally. An environment that is soothing, calm, quiet, soft, and comfortable has the best chance of allowing an over-stimulated body to relax. Changing your physical environment for your emotional benefits, and adding the relaxation technique can greatly impact the amount of emotional symptoms you experience. Learning ’emotional regulation skills’ for stress and PTSD is a must.