/ Running from trauma & scary thoughts, (some ponderings)

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Timmd on 04 Sep 2017

Could it be said, that whatever it is that a person is running from, whether it's a deep trauma like a sexual assault, or something less serious, but still enough to seek an escape from it, that the outcome is probably often going to be a bad thing in the long term, in some kind of disfunctional behaviour occurring. Either in not being able to hold down life quite so well, drinking/taking drugs more than is healthy, and sometimes the development of PTSD (perhaps until the feelings and thoughts can be gradually unpicked and understood)?

I ask from having run from thoughts myself in the past during my teens, and sought refuge in drug taking, and then come out the other side (thankfully feeling stronger eventually), and noticing in some recent friends that the pattern seems to be similar, whatever the actual trauma or issue may be, whether it's something in their childhood, or something as serious as being raped as an adult. It can seem what's in the self can't readily be avoided.

What are people's thoughts and first/second/thirdhand life experiences, or academic understandings of this?
Post edited at 19:02
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profitofdoom on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> Could it be said, that whatever it is that a person is running from, whether it's a deep trauma like a sexual assault, or something less serious, but still enough to seek an escape from it
> What are people's thoughts and first/second/thirdhand life experiences

First hand, I don't think I've run away from too much in my life, or rather from perhaps trivial things.

1. a dangerous climb, leaving my more able partner very p***ed off and also with absolutely no-one to climb with. That saved my life, I now think, so good.

2. many times & repeatedly from social situations for example parties, sneaking out and going home very early. I am now fairly isolated from society and don't do at all well with friendship. Probably not good at all for me.
Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to profitofdoom:

I'm just trying to work out whether I'm right really, I guess, or whether it's too simple an idea. It sounds sensible to run away from a dangerous climb.
profitofdoom on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> I'm just trying to work out whether I'm right really, I guess, or whether it's too simple an idea. It sounds sensible to run away from a dangerous climb.

I wish I knew but don't know whether running 'is probably often going to be a bad thing in the long term' as you said, too difficult for me to answer, it depends I suppose.
Stichtplate on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Can't claim any deep personal insights but I'd recommend reading 'The body keeps the score'. Really interesting on the deep seated physiological effects of psychological trauma.
Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Stichtplate:

Thanks, I will do.
abr1966 - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Horses for courses!
Sometimes not facing up to things is the best approach, it depends on what else you have going on in life.
Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to abr1966:
The nature of the trauma, the person it's happened to, and what support they have, I guess, that makes sense.

It's been thought provoking lately, seeing elements of myself or my past experiences in other people, hence the OP I guess.
Post edited at 20:13
abr1966 - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Yep.....starting to replay traumatising thoughts in ones head can itself be quite traumatising and result in problems so the right time is important.

I suppose it depends how troubled one is about ones past.....how much it impacts day to day.

Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to abr1966:
> Yep.....starting to replay traumatising thoughts in ones head can itself be quite traumatising and result in problems so the right time is important.

> I suppose it depends how troubled one is about ones past.....how much it impacts day to day.

Yeah, if somebody's life is dysfunctional from the escaping, there's probably not anywhere else to go but to a specialist for help.
Post edited at 20:18
Bob Aitken - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

At the risk of sounding horribly like Patience Strong, I've found from a couple of life-altering experiences that a saving factor in those circumstances has been the spontaneous kindness, empathy, and practical help of other people - and not necessarily from friends, sometimes from wholly unexpected quarters. The hard thing, especially for men, is to be willing to open up and reveal very human 'weakness' to the people who might help, rather than suppress and internalise the stress or trauma.
Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Bob Aitken:
I've found there's a lot to be gained in opening up to people. I've never been a very 'manly' man, in being pretty readable and on the surface according to others, but it's surprised me how helpful it can be to be open with people, how the risk of vulnerability can be one worth taking. It can often be that people respond positively.
Post edited at 20:28
womblingfree on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:
Don't know abiut the trauma side of things but I know many hard drinkers and former drug takers (the ones that have come out on the other side at least) get seriously into climbing, cycling, running etc

The ones that haven't seem to have a harder time of it so maybe it's a good thing?
Post edited at 20:30
Jon Stewart - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:
I'm not completely sure what it means to "run away from thoughts". The opposite might be ruminating, not usually an activity recommended by mental health professionals.

I guess that if you have suffered trauma, then for each individual there is some optimal mental approach to processing it and moving on with minimal lasting damage. A good mental health practitioner would be able to identify that approach and facilitate it. Left to their own devices, people are likely to do all sorts of sub-optimal stuff like self-medicating, spoiling relationships, etc. If someone's in the position of having suffered trauma and they're not dealing with it well, then I would advise them to seek help.

I use climbing and hill walking as an escape from things in my life that I'm not terribly pleased with. I also do a bit of the booze 'n' drugs stuff. I'm sure a medical professional would refer to it as self-medicating, but of course I don't like to see it that way! Both are ways of "running away", and whereas the climbing and hill walking I see as a totally positive form of escape, I'm quite aware that the booze 'n' drugs is something I need keep in check. I don't think it would be any better if rather than seeking forms of escape in the hills and pubs, I sat around ruminating about my problems!
Post edited at 20:32
Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> I'm not completely sure what it means to "run away from thoughts". The opposite might be ruminating, not usually an activity recommended by mental health professionals.

Denial I guess, by running away...'I just can't think about this so I'll do that instead'

> I guess that if you have suffered trauma, then for each individual there is some optimal mental approach to processing it and moving on with minimal lasting damage. A good mental health practitioner would be able to identify that approach and facilitate it. Left to their own devices, people are likely to do all sorts of sub-optimal stuff like self-medicating, spoiling relationships, etc. If someone's in the position of having suffered trauma and they're not dealing with it well, then I would advise them to seek help.

Indeed.

> I use climbing and hill walking as an escape from things in my life that I'm not terribly pleased with. I also do a bit of the booze 'n' drugs stuff. I'm sure a medical professional would refer to it as self-medicating, but of course I don't like to see it that way! Both are ways of "running away", and whereas the climbing and hill walking I see as a totally positive form of escape, I'm quite aware that the booze 'n' drugs is something I need keep in check. I don't think it would be any better if rather than seeking forms of escape in the hills and pubs, I sat around ruminating about my problems!

That's interesting. I'm at the point where I can't get intoxicated, because anything like drink or drugs simply don't agree with me (whether that's anymore, or just currently, I'm not sure - and seem to think about less). It would seem that I'm very fortunate to have the Peak on my doorstep then, with that being my main form of escape from unhealthily pondering. I realise that my mentioning not drinking or taking drugs might risk sounding like I'm competing at being self aware to some, but that's not the case. I'd love to be able to drink red wine and get sozzled like I used to be able to at family meals in my teens etc, there's a lot of nice wine that goes with food. It probably helps my liver that I can't, and saves me money, so that's all good.

It's more when things dysfunctional that I was initially pondering, rather than your kind of healthy escapism. Any and all thoughts are welcome though!
Post edited at 21:04
Jon Stewart - on 04 Sep 2017

> It's more when things dysfunctional that I was initially pondering, rather than your kind of healthy escapism. Any and all thoughts are welcome though!

Well if the "running away" behaviour's dysfunctional, then it's obviously better to try to replace it with something that's more helpful.

I'm not a psychotherapist, but I'm guessing (since a lot of people make a living this way) that it's useful to spend a bit of time thinking constructively about the past problem or trauma in an appropriate setting, and filling the bulk of your time with activities that are meaningful and healthy, e.g. having a job that's engaging and uses your skills (maybe has some form of progression), having good relationships, blah blah. Rather easier said than done though, eh?
sg - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Sh*te, I spent 20 minutes on a post and then managed to delete by mistake before posting. Just as well probably because my 2p was probably worth almost nothing. I'll try to distil.
1. on the issue of negative thoughts and pondering - I think that that is a kind of dysfunction in some respects (at least in our society which goes big on ideal mental health and strong personal volition). Negative thoughts about many things are often entirely rational; thinking too much, about oneself or anything else, is unlikely to be too uplifting really. But most people just aren't given to too much thought or overthinking.
2. on the even wider point of susceptibility etc. I think the idea of diathesis stress covers it really, in its broadest attribution. Some of us are more predisposed to any trait / behaviour than others (be that thinking / reflection or anything else); the extent to which that predisposition leads to negative outcomes is probably strongly linked to environmental stressors - traumatic events, drug use and abuse etc. etc. So people who struggle with depression and have difficult thought patterns are probably dealing with a combination of innate susceptibility and trigger factors, some of which they may have more or less control over.
If you think your thinking is dysfunctional, well self-knowledge is probably a good thing, up to a point. But if you think there's an element of fixating and the thinking is debilitating it's probably good for people to identify stressors to avoid. CBT and other forms of talking therapy are clearly often quite effective in genuinely changing thinking (without necessarily focussing on prior trauma etc.).
Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:
A happy life is much easier said than done. I think possibly I'm coming at this from the angle of having had panic attacks and PTSD, once you find mental/personal stillness again, it potentially informs how you look at being happy, from starting off from being at peace and feeling like that's pretty damn good. I dare say the elimination of suffering (where practicable) is as much a part of happiness, as self actualisation is by fulfilling one's potential to live as a human. You're talking about a 'higher level' of living than I am, I think, which can only be lived if one starts off (largely) at peace.

Writing this makes me appreciate what therapists can do for people.
Post edited at 23:01
Jon Stewart - on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> I dare say the elimination of suffering (where practicable) is as much a part of happiness, as self actualisation is by fulfilling one's potential to live as a human.

If you want to be happy*, then set the goals at an appropriate level so that you can work towards them and achieve them. For some people, that's becoming a millionaire, or it might be getting married and having kids, for others it might just be getting off heroin and being able to have a cup of tea and a bacon butty without trying to kill themselves with the cutlery.

Whatever way you look at it, you can't avoid the fact that one needs to fill their time with stuff that feels meaningful. Doing a job that crushes your soul, or being married to someone you hate ain't that.

> You're talking about a 'higher level' of living than I am, I think, which can only be lived if one starts off (largely) at peace.

I'm not sure it necessarily goes in that order. Many people may only find "peace" (if by that you mean relief from anxiety) by getting the job and partner they wish for.

If you're interested in these sorts of questions, you might like Jordan Peterson's videos on youtube (if you haven't already gone down that rabbit hole). I think the guy's an arsehole, but almost everything he says on psychology and "how to live your life" is compelling and very well expressed.

*Haha, seriously, the idea of *me* giving advice about how to be happy is pretty hysterical. You might as well ask Stephen Hawking about how to win gold in the long jump.

Timmd on 04 Sep 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> I'm not sure it necessarily goes in that order. Many people may only find "peace" (if by that you mean relief from anxiety) by getting the job and partner they wish for.

I do mean relief from anxiety, but the kind I mean is the sort that's always there going 'badger badger badger' and stops you from getting on busses or socialising etc, rather than a milder worrying about things type (which can be bad enough in itself at the time, but one can still function).

> If you're interested in these sorts of questions, you might like Jordan Peterson's videos on youtube

Thanks, I'll check him out. I'm getting more into mindfulness and related things, it can seem like I'm by osmosis absorbing what's in my facebook feed relating to that, and I more see thoughts and feelings as things which come and go, without engaging with and being pulled by them quite so much. Quite useful in the search for stillness, if not happiness as such. I'm starting to think not being attached to getting what one wants, and actually getting what one wants or needs (and being right about that), might both be vaguely pointing towards the same thing.

I'm sure it's simpler to be a dog. ;-)
Post edited at 00:20
Stichtplate on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:
The book I mentioned up thread deals a lot with instances of trauma knocking the bodies flight or fight reflex into a permanent on position (a measurable physiological state rather than theory or inference). This often results in all sorts of anxiety issues and of drug or alcohol addictions as a result of self medication.
I came across this book after someone I knew well (tough minded, intelligent, capable) was struck down with PTSD. I'd previously been of the 'pull yourself together' persuasion when faced with such issues. I now realise that attitude was as idiotic as telling a man with a broken leg to just walk it off.
Post edited at 00:41
pasbury on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to sg:

> 1. on the issue of negative thoughts and pondering - I think that that is a kind of dysfunction in some respects (at least in our society which goes big on ideal mental health and strong personal volition). Negative thoughts about many things are often entirely rational; thinking too much, about oneself or anything else, is unlikely to be too uplifting really. But most people just aren't given to too much thought or overthinking.

One persons rumination is another's self awareness. I think acceptance of the self is often incredibly hard. People who love us do this but I think the majority of us don't. We are our own worst critics. As a reserved and socially somewhat awkward person any self comparison with social norms doesn't normally go too well for me. However, I've realised I like unusual people and am bored by conformists - perhaps my friends feel like that about me.
pasbury on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Stichtplate:

I think it is too easy to blame self destructive behaviours on past events. Stress and unhappiness in the present can also be to blame. The submersion of the self because of pressures to earn money, raise a family, maintain a place to live etc can lead to addiction etc - I think it did for me as I developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
The rise in poor mental health amongst the young is, I believe, due to this stress caused by external pressures from a young age.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:

> The rise in poor mental health amongst the young is, I believe, due to this stress caused by external pressures from a young age.

The rise in poor mental health might just be a reflection that life is suffering, and that the causative social change is merely in increased reporting - we now talk about our feelings more than we used to.

Now there's a cheery little thought for a Monday morning. Now back to those Jordan Peterson lectures....
pasbury on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I hope you're right and I hope you're wrong at the same time!
Timmd on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to pasbury:
> I think it is too easy to blame self destructive behaviours on past events. Stress and unhappiness in the present can also be to blame. The submersion of the self because of pressures to earn money, raise a family, maintain a place to live etc can lead to addiction etc - I think it did for me as I developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

> The rise in poor mental health amongst the young is, I believe, due to this stress caused by external pressures from a young age.

I think you're (potentially) more right than Jon Stewart, I'm sure I've heard of rises in rates of self harm among teenagers.
Post edited at 14:27
Dave Perry - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Isn;'t there a saying along the lines of:- "The dragon you face gets smaller. The one you run away from gets bigger"?
Timmd on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Dave Perry:

I think there is.
Timmd on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Stichtplate:
> The book I mentioned up thread deals a lot with instances of trauma knocking the bodies flight or fight reflex into a permanent on position (a measurable physiological state rather than theory or inference). This often results in all sorts of anxiety issues and of drug or alcohol addictions as a result of self medication.

> I came across this book after someone I knew well (tough minded, intelligent, capable) was struck down with PTSD. I'd previously been of the 'pull yourself together' persuasion when faced with such issues. I now realise that attitude was as idiotic as telling a man with a broken leg to just walk it off.

It took me a fair while to unpick my PTSD after seeing a mate at the time get beaten up by guys with sticks, the flight or flight being knocked into a permanent on position rings very truly indeed. It took more than a year, but in the end I guess I did 'pull myself together', it was a gradual process of learning how to step back from my thoughts and see what the patterns were which triggered the fight or flight response, and learning how to deal with the feelings which could occur during that response, and in different kinds of situations. I don't seem to get annoying tunes stuck in my head anymore as a result of going through the whole process, which is quite interesting, and welcome as my new normal.
Post edited at 16:34
Ridge - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Stichtplate:

> The book I mentioned up thread deals a lot with instances of trauma knocking the bodies flight or fight reflex into a permanent on position (a measurable physiological state rather than theory or inference).

That's interesting. Mrs Ridge thinks I'm distinctly odd for preferring to sit with my back to the wall and facing the door in pubs, or in me picking up on unusal behaviour of people in crowds. To me it's just normal, although I do need a couple of pints on board to feel relaxed when there are unknown people around. Maybe I should read it!

Stichtplate on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Ridge:

Hyper awareness- fairly common amongst some service personnel, people with abusive childhoods and category 1 prisoners, amongst others.

.... I won't hazard a guess.
Ridge - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Stichtplate:

> .... I won't hazard a guess.

Erm...

Just had a look at the book you recommended. Really interesting reading, in fact worryingly so to some extent.
Stichtplate on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Ridge:
> Erm...

> Just had a look at the book you recommended. Really interesting reading, in fact worryingly so to some extent.

It's good but gets a bit repetitive and heavy on case studies after the first half.

I'm another one who prefers your seating arrangements etc. As long as you're not also checking under your car every morning and turning the ignition with the door open, I'm sure you're fine. ;-)
Post edited at 23:19

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