Categories
Trauma

Mental Health Disorders Caused by Trauma

Trauma is a global phenomenon. It does not discriminate by the money you have, your education, or even the value you place on the world around you. Trauma can happen to anyone. Once you’ve navigated something traumatic, you may feel you’re on the up and up—looking toward a brighter future. But trauma can linger, creating impacts that extend into any facet of your life. 

So what are the mental disorders caused by trauma, and how can you recognize them? Read on to learn more about five trauma-related mental health disorders, their co-occurring risks, and how you can help yourself (or a loved one). 

What happens after you experience trauma?

Trauma is any event (or series of events) that overwhelms your ability to cope. From catastrophe to heartbreak, there is no limit on the spaces or reasons in which you may experience trauma. 

When you’ve been traumatized, your brain begins scrambling for ways to make sense of something that is just too much to work through. During trauma, your body prepares to protect itself. After trauma, the mind tries to recover from whatever protection it couldn’t muster through coping tools that help numb or normalize what you’ve been through. For those who are in recovery, it’s likely your substance use is tied in one way or another to coping mechanisms you’ve used to try to overcome or numb that trauma. 

How does trauma affect your mental health?

In the days, months, and even years following trauma, the landscape of your mental health changes. How you feel your feelings and how you respond to them become foreign. You may no longer be sure how to relate to yourself or the world around you. Sensory and hormonal input are physical, but the way you feel them begins to feel like there’s a stranger in your thoughts, sharing your body. Many people seek the opportunity to evade that unsettling sensation, increasing the risk of developing unhealthy coping mechanisms. The impact of trauma can also increase the risk of co-occurring disorders that muddle your ability to prioritize it. 

There are several mental health disorders associated with trauma. Each is defined by a unique set of symptoms that responds to the universal desire to recover from (or reject the pain of) trauma. 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Most well known in association with military veterans, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has become characterized by flashbacks, rage, and insomnia. The lived experience of PTSD is much more varied, however. People who have experienced trauma on any level may develop PTSD. Symptoms do include the things listed above, but those experiencing PTSD may also have dissociative episodes, depression, a deep sense of shame, withdrawal, or destructive substance use. 

Complex PTSD 

Complex PTSD surfaces in cases where people are subjected to trauma over long periods, such as childhood abuse or wartime. The COVID pandemic may create an influx of complex PTSD cases. This disorder is characterized by a negative view of self, trauma-related amnesia, memory repression, detachment of self, and low awareness of core values. 

Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)

This disorder mimics the symptoms of PTSD in every way except one- Acute Stress Disorder occurs for a brief interval. Despite its brevity, ASD can have long-term ramifications if the coping mechanisms it brings about don’t depart with it. 

Secondhand trauma

A familiar disorder to those who have witnessed formative types of trauma occurring to other people, secondhand trauma is unique in its symptoms and expression. Being traumatized by watching someone else experience trauma may lead to feelings of helplessness, fear of loss of control, hypervigilance, amplified negative emotions, or chronic fatigue. 

Adjustment Disorders

Most often triggered by experiences that markedly change the way you exist within your life, adjustment disorders are much like they sound. If you’re struggling to find your way within the new landscape of your life, you may be suffering from adjustment disorder. This trauma-induced mental health challenge manifests in sleeplessness, a feeling of burnout, overwhelming feelings, heightened stress, lack of focus, neglecting responsibilities, and frequent sadness. 

While we have only covered a handful of the specific mental disorders caused by trauma, it’s important to note that many more exist. It’s also common that these disorders present as a combination of manifestations. Trauma-induced mental health disorders may also reveal themselves through the disorders that come from coping mechanisms you use to avoid their symptoms. 

Any of these disorders may present with suicidal thoughts or instances of self-harm. These things are always an emergency, and you should not wait to seek help. Reach out to emergency services now. 

Recovery is possible. Support is available. If you recognize yourself in these words, please reach out. You are worthy of the possibility that awaits you. 

 

Categories
Mental Health

How Does Stress Affect Your Body? 

Your body is designed to handle small amounts of stress. You are a well-constructed machine with the capability to overcome most anything that happens to you on a regular day. But what happens when you’re not having a regular day or, as this pandemic marches on, you can’t even remember a regular day? 

Let’s take a look at how stress affects your body and what that means for you. 

The Anatomy of Stress 

A stressed body feels like a body under pressure. When you’re feeling stressed, you aren’t at your most effective. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, each part of your holistic being responds to the chain reaction of stress. Every system of your body is affected. 

What Does a Stressed Body Feel Like?

Like many things, stress is, unfortunately, a holistic experience. You feel it in your core and every vital system to your survival. Let’s look at each of our primary systems, how stress impacts their function, and the way you experience its effect. 

Muscles and Bones

When stress begins to rise in your body, your muscles coil and prepare for the impact ahead. Carrying around the tension of that preparation can lead to cramping and extraneous pressure on your skeletal system. The way you carry yourself changes to accommodate the tight muscles caused by stress. 

Breathing 

Stress destabilizes the pace you bring air into your lungs. When your breathing is rapid, your body struggles to keep up with supplying those important tissues with oxygen. This may feel like shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, or even trigger asthma attacks in vulnerable people. 

Heart

Much like your breathing, your pulse picks up when you’re feeling the pressure of the world around you. Stress causes a hiccup in the coordination between the flow of nutrient-rich blood from your heart to your body. Over time, it can cause chronic inflammation in your arteries.

Hormones 

Your body recognizes stress by its hormone signature. Most famously, cortisol levels are associated with both your stress response as well as your kidney function and energy levels. There are other hormones that interact with your stress levels though. Adrenaline, glucose, and even testosterone levels are all responsive to the stress you experience. 

Sleep

Stress can keep you awake at night, pondering the worries and woes you didn’t have time to worry about in your waking hours. Stress-induced insomnia affects your circadian rhythm and can make it feel impossible to let your body relax enough to find rest. 

Skin and Hair 

Stress can make skin and hair feel dull and temperamental. From flaring existing skin conditions to causing hair loss, there’s no shortage of the way stress can impact some of your most visible body systems. 

Digestive

Also called the gut-brain connection, your digestive system is undeniably linked to the things you think and feel. It’s no wonder that stress can cause all manner of gut discomfort. Gas, constipation, and heartburn are some of the most commonly reported impacts of stress on the stomach.

Reproductive

With stress playing havoc on hormonal systems, it’s no surprise to find that it also may impact your reproductive system. From desire to menstruation, there may be a change in the familiar patterns of your body when you’re stressed. 

Immune

When your body is battling your stress levels, it’s a whole lot harder to fight off intruding germs and bugs. Your immune system feels the strain and it exhibits a weakened response to the outside world that can make you sick. 

Can stress cause long-term damage? 

Stress shouldn’t be left unmanaged or without holistic care, it needs to alleviate the fight-or-flight intensity of it.  Over time, the reactions your body experiences due to stress can wear on you. Long-term stress can lead to serious diseases of important bodily systems. 

Chronic stress can cause or contribute to a number of disorders. From direct correlation to a waterfall effect, there is evidence that it can also contribute to the development of substance use disorders.

It’s possible to be addicted to stress too 

For some, stress is something that drives the desire to numb that often precedes substance use. For others though, stress can be an addiction all its own. If all you know is adrenaline-laced intensity, relaxation may feel unsafe to your body. Stress addiction stands apart from substance use recovery but many of the treatments can overlap in how they engage your body to begin rewriting your healing. 

Identifying the cause of your stress and the effects you feel from it in your daily life can be a powerful tool to stop it in its tracks. Through a sustainable and consistent routine, you can develop the tools to reduce your stress alongside your road to recovery today. At Villa Kali Ma, we offer programs to help our clients combat the effects of stress on a holistic level. Connect with us today to learn more about how we help our clients heal and manage stress. 

Categories
Mental Health

How to Start Journaling for Mental Health

Journaling is one of the easiest, most accessible, and low-cost ways to nurture mental health. 

There are many ways to journal. It’s ok to experiment and play around until you find a practice that fits you. If you’re doing journaling at all, then you’re learning and you’re on your way.

Free writing

As the name suggests, the practice of free writing involves writing freely and without stopping for a predetermined amount of time, such as for 15 minutes. 

Important to understand is that you are not writing anything specific, you are more like dumping out the contents of your mind, a bit like you might overturn a messy drawer to see what is in there. 

Like meditation, the practice is to simply notice what is there without engaging with it particularly, letting it appear & disappear according to its own flows.

You are not writing for the outcome, as you might if you were composing a poem or an essay. It’s more like mental jogging. 

The biggest challenge of free writing is our tendency to interrupt ourselves with judgments. We may find it’s hard to let go; we may want to control, shape, or manage what we are writing. 

With repetition you get the hang of simply turning on the tap of words and letting them flow. 

Benefits of free writing:

Free writing builds trust in the unknown, and strengthens powers of discipline, concentration, and focus. 

Journaling About Feelings

Journaling about feelings is a more targeted technique, and the time to use it is when you notice you’re upset.  

When triggered to use, or feeling hurt, anxious or angry, we don’t want to act on those feelings or share those raw emotions and thoughts just yet.

Rather, we can transmute the feelings into something easier to share and safer to act on by first spending time journaling on the question: “What’s going on with me right now?”

Very important with this journaling method: Don’t try to be good. Don’t should on yourself, by judging, suppressing or trying to improve the feelings. Feelings hate that. 

Rather, just let the feelings out. Let the thoughts, especially the ugly, selfish, angry, babyish ones, be just as they are. Personally, I’m a big believer in cussing in my journal. 

Benefits of Journaling About Feelings:

After releasing the full emotion and all it has to say into the journal, you feel better and you know more about what’s really going on. Then you can make calm decisions about what, if anything, you want to say and do from here. 

Lists

Lists are exactly what they sound like. You identify a category and list all the things you can think of that go in that category. 

Suggested lists to journal on:  

What am I grateful for? 

What do I surrender to my Higher Power? 

What am I holding as a burden today? 

What do I need help with today? 

What do I long for?

The options are infinite, so certainly make up your own categories. You can get very creative. 

However there are two key lists which are helpful for anyone in recovery: a List of Fears and a List of Resentments. That’s because fears and resentments are the biggest triggers to use. So definitely include the following two lists in your practice from time to time:

What am I mad about? 

What am I scared of?

After completing a list, the suggestion is that you take a moment to form the intention in your mind and heart, to surrender all of the items on the list to God, your higher power, or to your own inner Observer (whatever loving presence is the most trustworthy to you.) 

Benefits of Lists:

In addition to helping you get back to surrender, lists create space in the psyche, giving you room to breathe again. 

Dialogue

My personal favorite journaling tool is dialogue. 

The way to dialogue is write out a conversation, in the same format as you would a script for a play or a film. The dialogue is between yourself and some portion of yourself that you’re curious about or struggling with. 

Me: Hi, again, Fear. 

My Fear: Hi Holly Mae.

Me: How are you doing? 

Fear: Not great… 

Me: Ah. Want to tell me about it?

Go back and forth between the sides of you and witness their interaction. 

Benefits of Dialogue: 

Dialogue allows you to get to know the many different sides of your own nature. This helps you to dis-identify from all of them, while you gradually grow to care more for each side of you. Ultimately, dialogue leads you to harmonize all the forces moving and shaping you from within. 

~~

Have fun journaling!

Categories
Depression

Treatment for Major Depression

Major Depression should always be taken seriously. It is a potent and life-threatening soul signal. That being said, it is not a death sentence when it is responded to appropriately and in time. Rather, it is a call to life.

What looks like an illness of the psyche is actually a healing crisis. Depression invites big, deep transformations that will ultimately bring many rewards. Depression is a call to transfiguration of our sorrow that can help us have a very rich experience of life, once we do the work and create the healing antidote inside our own psyches.  

But before it is transfigured, depression is dangerous. Major Depression is more than a serious case of the blues, as it is connected to a persistent longing to destroy the Self, usually as a way of expressing deep despair, anger, and powerlessness to face life’s demands. 

The need of the depressed person to express paralyzing darkness, to communicate their damage and pain, is so intense and so relentless as to seek any kind of outlet, even death if that’s what it takes to be seen. 

Professional help is usually required in the case of Major Depression. Time will be needed with healers who are qualified to understand the experience and the communications of the depressed person in the way that psyche needs to be able to recover. The depressed person needs total safety and reassurance that it’s ok for them to feel, and to be, as sick at heart and as dark of mind as they actually are for now. 

Major Depression is sometimes treated with antidepressants. Depression can also be treated safely without pharmaceuticals with a combination of diet, exercise, body-based trauma work, and intensive psychotherapy.  

Whichever healing path is selected, one key to healing depression centers on the topic of rage. A depressed person has rage inside that has nestled so deep as to have turned violent towards the self. 

Rage comes from trauma. Because rage is a result of violation of universal human boundaries, treatment involves restoring the right to be protected and cared for. 

When rage about violation and deprivation has no outlet, therefore no chance of resolution, it goes dark and destructive. A person with Major Depression benefits, therefore, from therapies that allow for release of ancient, stagnated anger. 

When the depressed person can at last recognize their innate rights to unconditional love, that they get to belong and receive the love and care of others just for being a human being, no matter what, then the need for constant pain and distress signals will gradually subside.

Vigorous exercise helps with releasing pent up rage and other trauma residue, and has the benefit of activating endorphins. Ideally a depressed person learns to do something that resembles fighting, such as boxing, wrestling, or martial arts, to give a positive outlet for aggression, and to embody the experience of fighting for one’s life (symbolic and literal). 

The arts are also enormously nourishing for those with depression. Painting, dancing, music, and writing are helpful because they allow for the beauty and depth of human melancholy to be preserved as artistic crystallizations that speak to all souls.

The turning point that transmutes the depressed person’s suffering into its exact opposite (a source of happiness) is when the sick person is able to uncover the secret gift hidden in the heart of this particular form of misery. 

The unexpected boon for the depressed person is when they learn deep in their bones and without a flicker of doubt the following things: 

I am worthy of a good life, just as I am, no matter what. My life is worth protecting and nourishing, and I am worthy of receiving whatever I may need to grow big, strong and happy. 

I am allowed to have boundaries and to get mad when my boundaries are not respected. I am allowed to use that anger energy to fight back against encroachment, to stand up for myself when it is required for me to be protected from harm. 

I am allowed to have needs, and to expect that life and those who love me will help me meet these needs. I am part of all of life and I deserve as much as anyone else to be cared for, looked after, respected and cherished.

I do not deserve hatred, punishment, or violation. 

Knowing that I am part of all of life, that I deserve protection and nurturing, I am up for facing the challenges of life.

Thank you for reading! 

Categories
Trauma

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

According to trauma researchers like Bessel Van der Kolk, author of the poignant and seminal book The Body Keeps the Score, the phenomenon of trauma is so widespread as to be epidemic, affecting whole generations and large swathes of the population. 

In all likelihood, you who are reading this are traumatized to some degree, as am I. So how come it’s so hard for us to fully recognize the markers of trauma inside of our own experiences? Why do we still withhold compassion and approval from ourselves, expecting ourselves to do better, and to be better at life than we are?  

Most of us have heard about the big, horrible trauma sustained by war veterans and car crash survivors – the type of trauma that freezes the soul and ties it to the incidents of overwhelm. We may know about the more dramatic and disruptive symptoms – nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, a compulsion to reenact the events. But we may not be able to see that we ourselves frequently experience the same types of responses, in a manner more subtle and personal to us. 

For many of us, it’s a challenge to recognize the signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at play within ourselves, for the simple reason that these symptoms are baked into our personalities, our sense of who we are. What doctors might call symptoms we know to be our own selves – how we cope, what we avoid, what we move towards. 

How can we tell the difference between ordinary human suffering, and something we might receive a clinical diagnosis for? When it comes to human pain and at what point you can call it a disorder, we’re largely talking about a matter of degree. 

What’s more important than diagnosis is self-recognition. Receiving a diagnosis of PTSD from a professional trauma worker can be validating for those of us with a tendency to dismiss our experiences, particularly our suffering and our problematic behaviors. Many of us are so used to overriding the signals we get from within that we don’t even see it. Like water to the fish, trauma is an invisible aspect of the human experience for us. 

But even when diagnosis is helpful for us, the recognition we most need and long for is our own. It is us who need to see about ourselves that we have been hurt. 

So to me a good question for all of us might be: what do the diagnostic criteria of PTSD feel like from the inside? 

How might we notice when our trauma is afoot within us, so that we treat ourselves with gentleness and understanding, with approaches that actually work for trauma recovery? 

It’s important to understand that trauma isn’t in the event itself, so we don’t diagnose trauma by asking “How bad were the things that happened to you?” 

Rather, where we find trauma is inside the human nervous system. If the nervous system returns habitually to a pattern of being disturbed and stimulated long after the conclusion of troublesome events, we call that trauma. 

Anger, fear and dissociation are normal reactions to stimulating events, but a problem comes about if the body does not learn how to safely release these overcharged nervous system responses after the event is done. Stuck in our nervous systems these energies become toxic to the body as well as emotionally and mentally problematic. 

When we have trauma, our feelings of anger, fear and numbness are not waves that come and go only in response to events as they’re happening, but more like black holes that pop up out of nowhere and suck us in for a long time. 

The discomfort when trauma is activated is very strong – it feels like dying. Understandably, we may change our behavior to avoid people, places and situations that we start to associate with this state.

By this definition, maybe you can see that any time we are reacting with anxiety, aggravation, or fogginess, and we cannot understand these reactions as belonging to the now moment we are in, we may in fact be touching into our reserves of trauma. 

What to do if you realize you have come into contact with the trauma inside you? Proceed with extreme loving gentleness: the top cure for trauma is safety for every level of your being. 

Make it truly, genuinely and deeply safe for your body, your heart, your mind, and your spirit. When you are truly safe, you will know, because you will begin to unravel and relax, to let go, to stop fighting, to release the pent up fear, rage, and paralysis. This is the way forward for us all.

Because creating safety is easier said than done, you may need help learning how. That is totally normal and deeply ok. Villa Kali Ma is one place you can learn. You are welcome here. 

Categories
Addiction Treatment

What Causes Addiction?

These three words, “what causes addiction” elicit such a divisive response in a question that seems to evade a clear answer. The cause of addiction continues to elude research for a finite answer, but we want to examine the information we can find- and the impact of holistically considering your existence for its sum instead of its parts. 

What does “addiction vulnerability” mean?

Put simply, addiction vulnerability is the term used to describe the risk factors that you’ve experienced that often lead to substance misuse. It’s important to know and understand so that measures can be taken to support potential addiction before it becomes a greater problem.  

When you’re vulnerable to something, there’s a higher risk it could impact you and, if it does, that it will be a more difficult battle to overcome. This correlates to the lifetime risk of experiencing addiction, though it doesn’t definitively determine who may or may not struggle with substance misuse.

Identifying addiction vulnerability can help to track risk, monitor progress, and proactively safeguard against dangerous risk-taking behaviors. There’s not yet a comprehensive idea of everything that contributes to someone’s addiction vulnerability, but neuroscience is working to develop an inclusive picture to try to inhibit risk where possible. What we do know is that there are three main factors that contribute to primary addiction vulnerability.

The three-factor model of addiction 

Most research concludes that a three-factor model of addiction is the most supported inventory of risk we have right now. While these factors do not account for every person who misuses substances, and can’t be an exclusive guide to what someone may experience, it does offer a glimpse into understanding how addiction occurs. These factors consider what you experience (exposure), where you grow (environment) and what you’re made from (genetics). Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Environment

When you live in physical or emotional spaces that create high-stress scenarios, your environment may contribute to addiction risk. This doesn’t simply refer to the geographical location of your lived experience, but also the tone of the spaces you take up and the interaction of others around you. 

The mind is neuroadaptive, meaning that when something bad continually happens to induce stress or adrenaline, your mind will begin to rewire itself to help you cope. Above all, your brain is working hard to help you survive. Sometimes the way it goes about that is by creating a desire for escape or clinging to experiences that help you to forget your trauma or dull the pain of a difficult environment. 

Genetics

You’re born with a universe of science coded into your bones. Every cell in your body carries the map of what you’re made of—your genetic code. Inherited from the people who gave you life, your genetic makeup can play a part in the cause of addiction. 

There’s a lot of contention around just how much genetics play into addiction risk, and reports claim it’s somewhere between 40-60% tied to the risk of substance misuse, with an even greater risk to those born to people who struggle with addiction. 

It’s difficult to separate the added risk of having addicted parents from other factors like the exposure it brings, but there is no doubt that the science of your cells can contribute to the cause of addiction.

Exposure

This one ties heavily into the two that came before it, strengthening the case for your environment and genetics even as it expands on them. What you see happening around your formative years helps to develop your sense of acceptable behavior. 

From the risks you take to the values you hold, you begin to develop your sense of behavior based on what you are exposed to. Was drinking commonplace in your home? Were you exposed to drug use in the media you watched or social circles at school? These things are all a part of the exposure factor of addiction.

You are not a product of your risk, you can find healing 

There is no formula to determine who will develop an addiction, or how we can help precisely. This is because we are not formulaic beings. You are not a series of numbers to be put into a machine and output an exact answer. You are a spiritual, emotional, and incredible being made up of not just these parts but so many others that cannot be measured. 

There is no moral failing or finger of blame to point at those who develop addiction in their lifetime, and you will find no fault placed for the things that have happened to you. We are not here to judge, but we are ready to help you heal and understand how you got here. You deserve support. You deserve answers. We are here to offer both.

Categories
Co-Occurring Disorders

“Addiction and”: 5 Common Co-Occurring Disorders

When you’re struggling, it can be difficult to determine what to ask for help with first- or even how to ask for help at all. Substance use disorders are one of the most commonly co-diagnosed disorders, meaning they’re often diagnosed with one or more other conditions that work alongside addiction to create the symptoms you experience. This makes it difficult to identify where to begin or what you’re feeling. 

As a holistic recovery facility, Villa Kali Ma specializes in identifying and responding to each aspect of your treatment as it impacts you now and into the future. Below is a list of the struggles we most often see as co-occurring disorders and how they impact your relationship with addiction. 

Eating Disorders

So much is out of your control when you’re struggling with addiction that it’s no wonder some people find solace in creating that control elsewhere—like food. Eating disorders impact the lives of nearly 10% of all Americans at some point, and they’re the second highest cause of mental illness-related death (second only to opioid overdose). Even in the statistics, a relationship seems plausible. 

Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, avoidant food intake, body dysmorphia, and pica. When you’re struggling to control the urges and intake of substances at the height of addiction, it can feel almost gratifying to instead begin to control your food. Some people may suffer from more than one eating disorder, just as others suffer from multiple substance use difficulties.

Mood disorders

The most well-known mood disorder is bipolar disorder, which is characterized by prolonged periods of mania and depression- vastly differing mood spaces where your responses may be unpredictable, and your inhibitions may be directly responsive to those moods. Other mood disorders like major depression are also common, and the correlation between the two is so high that there’s a mood disorder distinctly related to addiction called substance-induced mood disorder.

Often, people begin using substances to alter their perception of an experience. As it tumbles out of control, many people are simply chasing the effect they initially found in their substance use. Mood regulation may become more difficult as bodies become used to the substances put into them and eventually both unresponsive to and reliant on them. 

Anxiety Disorder 

Anxiety may sound like it belongs in a category with mood disorders, but anxiety is a state of being, not a mood. Rooted in feelings of powerlessness and overwhelming fear of a particular trigger, anxiety disorders come in a few forms. The most common are generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and phobias (a debilitating fear of a particular thing). 

When anxiety presents alongside substance use, it’s often a tactic to divert the feelings anxiety brings on into something else. Anxiety is uncomfortable, and worry can be consuming. The physical impact is tiring and overwhelming. For those who also use substances, an anxiety attack may be self-medicated with their substance of choice. This often makes the two feel not only co-occurring but so intricately linked that they can’t fathom how to handle the anxiety without the substance. 

Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

For brains that move so quickly, you often feel like thoughts are shooting stars instead of ideas, substance use can be a respite of calm. ADHD creates a struggle of executive dysfunction and energy in a race to participate in your life at a stable speed. When combined with the use of substances, they may feel like a way to sit down, slow down, and actually get something done. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD makes you 14 times more likely to experience substance abuse disorder—and it’s really no wonder that these things are co-diagnosed. After experiencing trauma, life can feel like a battlefield. Finding any and everything you can to cope with the intrusion of trauma responses that occur in daily situations may feel like the only way to get through it. 

Using substances as a coping mechanism may feel like the only option, but they are tools that can be weaponized against you as they contribute to heightened responses that may worsen your PTSD. 

Getting the holistic help you’re hoping for is possible

Tangled symptoms and fear of failure may be holding you back, but it doesn’t have to. There are options to support all of your needs, and there is no need for you to choose just one. When you’re ready, Villa Kali Ma will be here with options for the recovery you need, no matter what’s co-occurring in your world.

Categories
Mental Health

Sleep Deprivation and Mental Health: How to heal the relationship between them

Sleep is closely connected to mental health in every way. Being deprived of rest can amplify your mental health struggles. Anxiety, addiction, depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder are all exacerbated by lack of sleep. 

From the way it makes you feel to the physiological processes that happen on a holistic scale, your sleep is a critical part of you.  Without adequate rest, you may struggle to hold on to new information or recall familiar information. When we feel out of touch with the memories and moments that connect us to our sense of identity, it can perpetuate feelings of frustration and anxiety that may have been present prior to the sleeplessness.  

Before you can act on improving your sleep, let’s take a look at how sleep deprivation may be showing up in our mental (and physical) health. 

Feeling the Fog & Other Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

During the waking hours when you’ve gotten less than ideal sleep, you may feel fuzzy or a step behind the rest of the world. You’ll be wasting precious energy reserves wading through the roadblocks of exhaustion when you’re not getting enough rest and it may lead to feelings of frustration, irritability, or broken concentration. Those foggy frustrations are just the beginning of the relationship sleep has with mental and physical health symptoms. 

If you’re experiencing sleep deprivation, you may be impacted by 
  • Exacerbated depression
  • Increased Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Inhibited cognitive function 
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Depressed immune system
  • Muscle fatigue 
  • Feelings of lethargy 

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be. 

Sleep deprivation impacts the lives and minds of each of us in different but indelible ways. We want to help you understand what’s happening in your mind when the sandman won’t bestow you with quality sleep, and how you can be your own bedtime hero. 

Let’s take a look together at how sleep deprivation and mental health are related so you can improve both. 

Factors Related to Sleep Deprivation & Mental Health

Quality and quantity

It’s not just the amount of sleep you get that’s tied to your mental health. The quality matters too. When you sleep poorly, you’ll feel every struggle more deeply, amplifying anxiety and deepening depression on the days those snoozing minutes just don’t add up. 

Less sleep means more mental health distress, and more mental health distress is likely to keep you awake at night. The compounding nature of the relationship between sleep and mental health is an ouroboros that’s consuming your energy in so many ways. 

Environment 

Consider the way you’re sleeping and how much you’re allowing yourself the space to get quality rest. Turn down the tone of the world in the hours before you go to sleep. Give yourself a barrier of relaxation and choose an activity that promotes feelings of calm for you. Reduce your exposure to noise and lower the lights but don’t move toward the bedroom until you’re ready to commit to sleep. 

If you can’t sleep, it’s important to get out of bed and choose another activity until you feel tired again before returning to bed. Laying in bed awake restarts your circadian rhythm and you may struggle to fully relax, creating a playground for awake thoughts during sleeping hours. 

Routine 

When it comes to healthy sleep, routine reigns supreme. Develop a plan and schedule you can commit to then stick to it. Think about what makes you feel sleepy, or prepared for sleep. Maybe it’s yoga or a breathing routine to calm your body, or a playlist that soothes the busy thoughts in your mind. From there, consider how you can incorporate the self-care and daily preparation you need to do. Think of it as a route that you take to sleep- your calm commute if you will. This routine will signal your body that it’s time for sleep, and as time goes on, it will be easier to shift into rest once it begins. 

Napping for better sleep 

Limiting naps or long lie-ins can be helpful in filling your sleep deficit. That doesn’t mean Naps of 15-20 minutes are great for a refresh that doesn’t leave you feeling tired after, and naps of around 90 minutes give you enough time to complete an entire sleep cycle. The struggle comes when you nap in that interim period- naps of 30-80 minutes can be disruptive to your sleep patterns and establish broken cycles that you struggle to regulate in nightly sleep. Those kinds of naps should be avoided for a more blissful bedtime. 

Categories
Trauma

Symptoms of Trauma in Adults

When you’ve been through something (or are going through something), it may be difficult to know if what you’re feeling is related to the trauma you’ve experienced or if it’s just part of the experience of being you. 

Understanding the root of the symptoms you want to change or heal can offer you a lot of leverage in overcoming the ways that trauma impacts you as an adult no matter when it happened. So let’s talk about it. 

What exactly is trauma? 

Though the official definition of trauma implies that it must be something massive and terrible, there are levels of trauma just like anything else we experience in life. Trauma may be a life-defining terrible event you can’t shake like destruction or disaster. Alternatively, trauma may be a series of small things that changed the way you perceive your own safety. 

Holistically, trauma is any event (or series of events) that compromise your ability to differentiate between risk and security. It can occur at any time in your life and persist for any amount of time beyond the event itself. Trauma is an insidious emotional reaction to an experience. 

Trauma is the great pretender 

One of the most difficult things about trauma, and the symptoms of having experienced it, is how variable the way it shows up may be. For some, they may push their trauma so far away that they experience amnesia around the event. They can’t even recall what happened, nor correlate their responses to it. 

Symptoms of trauma in adults span every system of the body as wholly as they stretch across lived experiences. Below, we’ve covered some of the primary symptom groups that adults who have experienced trauma may continue to face. 

Dysregulated moods 

When something has happened to you that makes it difficult to feel safe in your emotions or physical environment, your moods may suffer. From depression to anxiety or even bouts of manic productivity, mood dysregulation is a trauma symptom that can have a major impact on your daily life. 

Substance use disorders 

Drowning reality in drink or drugs may seem like the best or only option when you’ve been through something you can’t confront. Whether the trauma you’ve experienced was ongoing or a one-time thing, and no matter when it occurred, it can be difficult to get through it when you don’t feel you have the tools to get through it. For some, substance use is a way of coping and for others, it simply represents escape. 

Trouble with sleep 

Insomnia, nightmares, and broken sleep are all common symptoms of trauma in adults after a traumatic experience. If you’re reliving terror and powerlessness every time you close your eyes, falling asleep can feel like walking into battle every night. 

Hypo- or Hyper-arousal

Whether the trauma you’ve experienced makes you feel constantly on edge or frozen in time, trauma may cause trouble regulating your existential equilibrium. You may feel the need to overcompensate, overproduce and over plan in an attempt to control the risk in your life. Alternatively, you may experience no motivation for anything and find the idea of even trying to be utterly overwhelming. 

Relationship complexity 

Having healthy relationships can be especially difficult for those who have been a victim of harm as a part of their trauma. Whether it was childhood trauma, sexual violence or other physical or emotional violations, trauma complicates things. You may struggle to let people in, feeling lonely as a result. In contrast, some people cling to their relationships at the expense of their own security.

Physical illness 

Trauma takes up physical space in the body. The toll of trauma may lower your immune system, cause stagnant pain in joints and body systems or cause chronic pain. Trauma has been linked to GI manifestations of anxiety as well as stress. 

Flashbacks 

Perhaps the most well-known symptoms of trauma in adults is flashbacks. Revisiting the things that haunt you lead to feelings of helplessness as you relive a waking nightmare with little control over when it comes on or when it will end. Flashbacks are often a cause of retraumatization and occur in many types of trauma. 

How can we help? 

You may not know where to begin in unraveling the tangled mass of shadows trauma casts over the light in your world, especially when it has led you to addiction’s doorstep. But that’s okay, you don’t have to know. At Villa Kali Ma, we have a broad range of therapies and tools we can use to help you create a precision map out of the darkness of trauma and the ways it’s driven you to cope. Together, we’ll navigate your pull towards substances day by day to create a customized recovery plan focused on the holistic experience of being you, through trauma and beyond. Call us today

Categories
Addiction Treatment

Addiction and Mental Health

Addiction and mental health are intertwined phenomena. In some ways you could say they grow together, like plants that tend to be found together in the wild.

Addiction and mental health problems grow together because they come from the same root conditions. Wherever there is a lack of wholeness and safety inside the self, you are likely to see either or both crop up.

Mental health and addiction are fostered in that profound suffering – the state of inner fracture – and both can be understood as attempts by the human psyche to find a way to cope with that state. The psyche tries to keep itself together, by coming up with ways to rebalance itself. Mental health problems and addiction can both be understood in that sense, as adaptations to a core imbalance.

Addiction is what happens when dependence on an externally-sourced substance develops. That externally-sourced substance is addictive because it helps modulate (temporarily) the experience of having a broken self. Addiction can develop also to behaviors which induce a state change inside us, but the purpose is the same – to help make living with a broken self more tolerable.

Whether to substances or behaviors, addiction is characterized by a gradual loss of freedom while life becomes more and more devoted to maintaining the chemically altered state of being, as well as avoiding the state of withdrawal.

What’s tragic about addiction is the extent to which a person’s life energy can be consumed into the needs of the addiction, and the way that feeding the addiction eclipses all other life activities and purposes. Relationships, career ambitions, experiences of human aliveness – all can become less important than the requirements of the addict within. The spirit of addiction consumes a person from the inside out, much like a parasite, eating its way through its host, eventually killing it unless treated.

Mental health roughly refers to the state of mind and state of psyche which we would call whole, intact, or even just functional enough to get by. When we have good-enough mental health, we are considered sane. When there is a severe imbalance, a distortion favoring a problematic, counterproductive way of coping, it can come to be considered a mental illness.

Mental illnesses can be considered as maladaptive coping mechanisms, or ways of adjusting to life that create serious problems for us.

What is helpful to understand about the two is that they interact with each other – people with addiction almost always can be said to have had an underlying mental health condition which sets them up to need extra help finding peace and safety internally. Likewise, if you didn’t have any before, addiction gives you mental health problems. During withdrawal we suffer terribly, but also long afterwards, when the ravages visited upon a human soul through addiction can take on the characteristics of mental illness – depression, anxiety, obsessions, even psychosis.

The best approach for healing mental illness and addiction is to treat both at once, while understanding that more important than the names and classifications, which particular diagnostic code you may be given, is to understand that suffering can be healed.

Whether that suffering looks most like addiction, mental health imbalance, or most likely, a combination, the cure is the same for both. The cure, in essence, is to develop a path back to wholeness that is just right for you.

Via this personalized path back to wholeness, you come to experience a kind, loving presence at the center of your experience. This kind loving presence inside can bear witness and teach you to tolerate and withstand the many shifting states of being which come to arise in you in the course of your life.

12 step programs help you anchor that presence in by calling upon a “higher power” who comes to help you with your daily life, all your activities, to help you tolerate your feelings, make decisions, know what to say and do. Mental health programs and therapists help you to activate the aspect of your own self who is like that higher power, the wise one. Both usually work best when there is an element of community as well, so that people outside of your own psyche can help you recall your value, your tools, and your belonging to the family of life.

Ultimately it does not matter what you call it or how you think of it, as long as you develop a personal relationship of trust and relying upon this centered, loving best wisdom to help you get through life with a sense of coherence, purpose, and safety.