How My PTSD and I Survived a Rough Holiday Season: with Nuts and Bibliotherapy!

 

This holiday season has been especially hard for me, beginning with the crazy contentious election on November 8, a bad reaction to the prednisone shot my doctor gave me for an injured shoulder on November 9, and then, on November 12, a dear friend of ours died suddenly. He was my age and had seemed to be in excellent health.

December is also when two of my worst traumas happened, so it has always been a challenging time for me. But this year, I almost could not stand living inside my own head! I was wishing I could buy a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows that way. But January 15 will be my 27th anniversary since my last drink of alcohol, and there is no way I want to revisit that insanity. I am one of those people who cannot safely drink. For me, drinking alcohol to make myself feel better, has the same effect as pouring gasoline on a fire to put it out!

Also, because I have had adverse reactions to several different psychotropic medications in the past, I have no desire to go that route again, either. So I did an online search for natural ways to relieve my depression and anxiety, by increasing my brain’s serotonin level.

Walnuts – a Natural Help for Depression and Anxiety?

It may sound nutty, but I discovered that walnuts can naturally increase one’s serotonin. I started eating raw, unsalted walnuts the Tuesday before Christmas, and WOW… the difference inside my head is like night and day! I am now eating one ounce of shelled walnuts, at least twice per day, and my depression and unbearable anxiety are GONE. (I hope I don’t gain any weight, though. One ounce of walnuts contains 200 calories, so I am cutting back on other foods. But even a weight gain would be preferable to the way I was feeling.)

DISCLAIMER:Β I am not a medical doctor, and this is all anecdotal and subjective. I do not want anyone to read this and decide to go off their meds cold turkey, and eat walnuts, instead!!! When I went off my prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications several years ago, it almost killed me. I had to do an ultra slow taper, one drug at a time, tapering off just one tiny “flea bite” less of a pill for a couple of weeks to a month, then taking two flea bites off the pill for another 2-4 weeks, and so on. When I felt bad, I would bump my dose back up a flea bite for a week or two. It took me over a year to taper off of everything at that rate. Today, the only prescribed medication I take every day is a thyroid replacement.

In any case, no one should ever go off their prescription medications without close medical supervision! People have lost their minds and ended up in a hospital, in jail, or even dead, from going off their prescribed meds against medical advice.

Bibliotherapy: I’m reading a great psychology book!

In addition to eating walnuts, I am getting a lot of helpful insight from a book written by Harvard psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, MD: The Body Keeps The Score. This is by far the most enlightening book I have ever read about the way trauma affects a person’s body and brain — and I have read a library’s worth of psychology and self help books!

Dr. van der Kolk explains the science behind PTSD with photographic images of brain scans, and the details of various scientific studies. His book is helping me to understand, on a visceral level, that my limitations caused by PTSD are truly Not My Fault.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t something that we can get under our control with sheer willpower, alone! Although I am only about 1/3 of the way through Dr. van der Kolk’s book, I am already letting go of a great deal of SHAME for not being 100% “over it, already!”

The only thing I do not like about this book is the story of a particular Vietnam veteran Dr. van der Kolk treated years ago. I could have done without those images in my head. My husband is also a combat veteran from the Vietnam war, and he also has PTSD. But my husband is nothing like the man Dr. van der Kolk describes.

So…. eating walnuts, and reading an enlightening, liberating book, have helped me through a very tough Christmas season. How about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you for reading, and God bless. ❀

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21 thoughts on “How My PTSD and I Survived a Rough Holiday Season: with Nuts and Bibliotherapy!

  1. Tricia December 28, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. The holidays are stressful enough without the added difficulties on dealing with the loss of a loved one and I can see why you were looking to the inside of a wine bottle for respite. Glad you didn’t though. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for the book referral, I’ll be sure to check it out. I like to make sure I keep up with my morning prayers and contemplation, even if it’s just reading a devotional. Two great sites are http://proverbs31.org and https://utmost.org

    It can be tough to do amidst the chaos of hosting relatives and cooking duties but I find myself much more grounded and able to deal with things when I do. Praise Jesus!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote December 28, 2016 / 6:25 pm

      Thank you, Tricia! I have been looking for a good devotional site, I will check these out.

      Going by what I have read of his book so far, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk does not appear to be a believer. But nothing that I have read in his book is what I would call anti-Christian, either. If it were, I certainly would not recommend it.

      Dr. van der Kolk does mention that he believes our human brains “evolved” from the reptilian brain. I’ve known some Christians who also believe this. But I believe that the similarities between humans and some animal species is due to our having been created by the same God, and not because we are actually related. Anyway, aside from that, The Body Keeps The Score is very brilliant and helpful.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Tricia December 28, 2016 / 9:40 pm

        You’re welcome Linda! I don’t mind reading no Christian based books. I’m with you that as long as they are not anti Christian I don’t see a problem.

        I’ve certainly known some people who seemed more reptilian than human….;)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Alexis Rose December 28, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    All awesome good self-care during a really difficult time. Both my kids were around a lot during the week and weekend. That kid noise always makes me happy. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote December 28, 2016 / 6:30 pm

      Kid noise is the best!! Second best were the sights and sounds of our two rescue dogs, a small poodle boy and a big girl pitbull, galloping joyfully through the house, totally thrilled with their Christmas toys and treats!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Alexis Rose December 28, 2016 / 8:03 pm

        Love the critters too! Funny we have a rescue dog and cat. They are best friends. Leilani & Brad.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote December 28, 2016 / 8:25 pm

          Aww, how sweet!

          I miss having a cat, but my husband is very allergic. Last spring, a darling long hair tortoise shell tabby showed up one day on our porch. She was crying and very skinny. I fed her, but left her outside. Every time I petted her, I would immediately wash my hands thoroughly. If she brushed up against my clothes, I brushed them off outside, and changed as soon as I was back in the house. But just having her hanging around outside the back door, made my husband sick. So finally we found a good home for sweet Zoey.

          Give your kitty a hug for me, please. ❀

          Liked by 2 people

  3. PastorJenineMarie December 28, 2016 / 6:21 pm

    Congrats on all of the years without alcohol. That is an amazing accomplishment! I know holidays can be so hard. Sometimes they are for me too. Keep faith, keep reading, and know you are a treasure! God bless.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Prairie Girl December 28, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    I’m glad you made it through with your alternative coping mechanisms! Reading and walnuts is good. I used two batches of homemade gingerbread and Youtube videos to get me through. Yours was healthier and smarter. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote December 28, 2016 / 8:14 pm

      Gingerbread and YouTube videos sounds great to me!

      My stepdaughter gave me a gingerbread man on Christmas day. He was so cute, I took his picture. Then I felt guilty for eating the cookie! Lol!!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Matthew Malin December 28, 2016 / 7:57 pm

    Linda, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been able to find something to help you through the holidays. May God continue showing himself faithful to you through His enduring love. You are loved!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Doctor Jonathan December 29, 2016 / 7:31 am

    I like your approach to addressing PTSD. There is no one answer to this difficult condition. Finding the INDIVIDUAL weaknesses with a person’s mental and physical health requires time, effort and patience. Discovering the weaknesses and applying the right combination of “fixes” (therapeutic treatments) is difficult. Some of these “answers” may only offer temporary improvements, so the implementation of new therapeutic treatments is frequently necessary. Although pharmaceuticals may be part of the equation, we must remember the pill is NEVER the complete answer. I know you already know this. Your ongoing studies shows your determination to achieve continual improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. patrickhawthorne01 December 30, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    When my brain starts running in too high a gear, I do standing squats. It releases a surge of norepinephrine which causes my brain to refocus. So, whatever works for you in a non-destructive manner, go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote December 30, 2016 / 1:54 pm

      Hey, brother Patrick, I love this! I will definitely try it. Especially on those days when the weather here is too intense for a fast jog around town.

      I used to jump and dance on a mini trampoline, which worked great for the endorphins and norepinephrine. But the trampoline is currently buried in the back corner of the junk room…. hey, there’s an exercise I can do! Clean out the junk room. And the garage. And the shed…

      Like

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