Emma's Journey with Dissociative Identity Disorder
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GUEST: Dr. Warwick Middleton

Our guest in Season Two Episode 8 is Dr. Warwick Middleton.

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Professor Middleton has had substantive ongoing involvement with research, writing, teaching (including workshops and seminar presentations), supervision and conference convening. He has made substantial and ongoing contributions to the bereavement and trauma literatures and was with Dr Jeremy Butler author of the first published series in the Australian scientific literature detailing the abuse histories and clinical phenomenology of patients fulfilling diagnostic criteria for Dissociative Identity Disorder. He was the first researcher to publish systematic research into ongoing incestuous abuse during adulthood. He is a Fellow and Past President of the ISSTD, is Co-Chair of the ISSTD Membership Committee, and Vice-Chair of the ISSTD Scientific Committee. Prof Middleton chairs The Cannan Institute. In 1996 he was a principal architect in establishing Australia’s first dedicated unit treating dissociative disorders (the Trauma and Dissociation Unit, Belmont Hospital). He has authored many papers and book chapters and has been the co-editor of two books based on journal special issues. He holds Professorial appointments at the University of Queensland, La Trobe University, the University of New England and the University of Canterbury.

The ISSTD is, of course, the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation.

You can learn more about their upcoming conference in March by CLICKING HERE.

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With Royal Commissioner Bob Atkins on the occasion of presenting him with his ISSTD Media Award, Brisbane, 2nd May 2018.

Professor Middleton also shared his poem song written by himself, recorded by his son Hugh.. The song is shared at the end of the episode.

He also shared one of his paintings with us, a self-portrait!

The 8 F-Words

If you listened to episode seven of season two, you heard Sasha talk about being in four sessions of group with The Crisses from Liberated Life Coaching. We are excited that they will soon be a guest on the podcast!

But one thing we mentioned in this episode was that The Crisses had identified EIGHT panic responses to trauma or other triggers. Most people know about fight, flight, and freeze. Fight means dealing with it head on, and flight means running away from it, and freeze means hiding in some way.

Some people are also now getting more familiar with the fawn response (being “too good” in hopes for safety).

But The Crisses have also identified four others:

Follow - going along with the abuser or trigger, like joining in with them for safety;

Fortify - making higher “walls” and stronger defenses than before;

Fabricate - changing the story so it’s not so scary (including denial);

Facilitate - empowering yourself for positive change and healing in even little ways.

These are amazing! CLICK HERE to listen to their podcast about the 8 F’s!

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More About Littles

Sasha wanted to add more to the discussion about Littles. In episode six of season two, she shared her own perspective about how time applies (and doesn’t apply) inside a DID system. We did learn after the previous episode that the video the listener was reference was this one, by The Entropy System:

Sasha shared some about how some Littles stop aging due to a traumatic event, and others stop aging when they aren’t required to function as much in the external world anymore. Other times it happens due to a new alter taking over that role due to new trauma or some other reason. There can be lots of reasons, and each system will be unique both in how this happens and their understanding of it.

One thing she is becoming aware of, though, is how much you can learn from Littles within your own system. One example of this she gave was John, who helps us notice when we make positive changes. He likes to pass out “badges” (stickers he got from the therapist) to us and to the husband when we make healthy or empowered choices differently than we would in the past. We promised a picture, and here you go!

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Internal Age and Psychosocial Development

In episode five of season two, Dr. E answers a listener’s question about Littles and how they age (or don’t age) within a DID system. The question was in response to a video the listener saw on YouTube about Littles and others inside, and their different ages. The video referenced Erik Erikson’s stages of development.

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But she shared specifically about the impact of trauma on psychosocial development, including the recovery model that goes parallel to Erik Erikson’s theory. CLICK HERE to read more about the recovery model.

EDITED TO ADD: Listeners sent THIS LINK as the video discussed in the listener’s question that prompted this episode.

Unboxing Ourselves

If you listened to Episode Four of Season Two “Unboxing Ourselves”, Sasha shared our new experiment in journaling!

We always use simple spiral notebooks for journaling because we write so much that we go through one or two notebooks a week. We take the notebooks to therapy, leave them with the therapist, and then fill up one or two more during the next week. I don’t know how many pages we have filled up since finding our therapist about a year ago!

But this was a new experiment. We wanted a communication notebook specifically, rather than only journaling. One thing we remembered was THIS VIDEO from Power to the Plurals, that included the suggestion of making some kind of orientation page at the very beginning of your journal so that any new insiders could know what was going on a bit if they needed help remembering the present time. Here is what our orientation page looked like in this new journal experiment:

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Then we made a list of 14 questions we thought would be helpful toward getting to know each other, and wrote them on the next page as you can see. Then we just left the journal out, and let people respond when they could. We left pages between each response, so that we can respond to each other a bit or ask follow-up questions if we want or leave any comments.

Now, remember, this was not just magic or easy to do. We have been working toward this for a whole year, or twenty, as Sasha explains in the podcast. And then intensely for a week, and got about 23 responses. You can hear this “unboxing” on Sasha’s podcast. But here are a few pictures, since we had also recently talked about different handwritings… this is not everyone who replied, but a few examples that we could share without revealing too much content or anything too private.

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Internal Worlds

In therapy over the last year, we have been working on building internal communication.

This week and next week we are in a special four-session group coaching class with Criss Itterman, who runs Liberated Life Coaching. We were shocked to hear in class that not only is it important to know your way around the internal world and how to find each other, but also that you can make changes to make your internal world a safer place. This was a big deal to us!

Our internal world was mostly made of places where we grew up, and so a great deal of it is unpleasant and unsafe and there are many (especially littles) still stuck in those places. Recently, however, our therapist helped us in one particular room by hanging Christmas lights for some safe and soft lighting for a little girl who was in the dark and alone. This was an amazing and profound experience, and very helpful, more than we knew was possible! So after this class, we wondered what else we could do?

Power to the Plurals also has a video (a whole series, actually) about creating internal safe spaces and invite the others inside to come there.

There are actually a whole LOT of systems of who have shared about inner worlds, either why they happen or what theirs are like or how to create small changes. CHECK OUT SOME OF THEM HERE!

But for us, we needed to do two things to at least get started.

First, we need a way to get the attention of the others, or call out to them in some way, if we are in danger or someone needs help or if the therapist is trying to talk to us. Our own internal landscape reflects the farm where we grew up, so we were trying to think about the how things worked already. One idea we had was that at the neighbor’s house, now our safe house inside, there was a big bell on the porch the lady used to ring to call her husband in from the pasture. What if we added the same bell? And maybe another in the pasture?

This was super exciting, even if it seems tiny, it really was a big deal to us.

But also, not everyone can hear the bell, and the Christmas lights the therapist added in the one room were so beneficial and warming and helpful that we wanted to do more of that. We thought of the movie A Quiet Place, which used Christmas lights strung up around a property that worked as a warning system. What if we put up Christmas lights all over inside, and when someone needed help the lights turned red? What if when the therapist was talking to us, the lights turned white and everyone knew to listen? That was our idea!

So we spent the week trying to do this, and are still just getting started.

But so far it’s working!

Listen to Sasha tell all about it!

The Three Emmas & Co-Consciousness

So in Episode Two of Season Two, the Three Emmas talked a bit about practicing co-consciousness.

In our system, it was Emma Z who ran away from home at 17. Emma T went to grad school five years later, dated girls, and spent nearly a decade abroad. Then it was Emma S who returned to the States, reunited with the parents before they died, and married the husband.

So what happens when there are Three Emmas sharing a space more and more often? Listen as they share!

And CLICK HERE to read the Power to the Plurals article about Co-Consciousness that we mentioned!

From The New York Public Library (Public Domain)

From The New York Public Library (Public Domain)

Emma Sunshaw
Guest: Matt Pappas from BeyondYourPast.com

Dr. E interviewed Matt Pappas in episode 15!

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Matt is a Certified Life Coach and NLP Master Practitioner at BeyondYourPast.com, as well as a Podcast Host and Survivor Advocate.  He specializes in overcoming anxiety and working with trauma survivors as they navigate daily life.  As a trauma informed coach and survivor himself, he is keenly aware of the unique struggles that survivors must work through in order to heal. 

In addition to his own coaching business, he also is the co-host of the Daily Recovery Support Calls on CPTSDfoundation.org, which offers trauma informed support, 7 days a week...and he operates TealRibbonCreations.com - a web design and podcasting service for Mental Health Professionals, Advocates, and Survivors. 

Matt believes that we all have the power inside of us to take our life back from anxiety and overcome what's been holding us back from being the person we truly want to be. 

 Twitter & Instagram: @BeyondYourPast

Facebook.com/BeyondYourPastLifeCoaching

 www.BeyondYourPast.com

www.BeyondYourPastRadio.com

www.TealRibbonCreations.com

www.SurvivingMyPast.net

Boundaries

In episode 14, Taylor talked about setting boundaries as part of protecting your system and your body.

Here are some steps towards setting boundaries:

  1. Figure out what is your stuff and what is their stuff. You are only responsible for you. What is it you are feeling? We often feel like we have no power over what happens to us, or what happened in the past, or what others to do us. That may be true, that we don’t always have a choice in our circumstances or our interactions. But we do always have a choice in our we respond.

  2. What is the violation? When you have a big emotional response during an interaction, that is always a clue. It may be a trigger to old stuff in memory time, but if it is about what is happening now and in the present (or both), then it’s important to acknowledge the violation itself. Did someone touch you without asking first? Or borrow money, but not pay it back? Or take something without returning it? Do they speak disrespectfully to you? Do they text or PM more than what you are comfortable with?

  3. Stand your ground! Once you know what the violation was, you can go back to what is your stuff and determine what is appropriate and safe for you. It’s okay if you are not comfortable with texting or chatting after a certain time in the evening. It’s okay if you don’t want to share your charger cord because you need it right now. It’s okay if you don’t want to hug your Great Aunt Sally. You have the right to decide what is safe and comfortable for you, and knowing your own preferences will help you set better boundaries with other people.

  4. Say it out loud. While it is true that there are some people who just don’t respect boundaries at all, most people just aren’t aware if you don’t say it out loud. Speak up! Say to your classmate, “I can’t share my charger right now because I need to finish this project first.” Or say, “I have $5 I can share, but you need to pay me back by Tuesday or I can’t loan you money anymore.” Or say, “I really want to support you, but right now I need to sleep. I would be glad to talk to you in the morning>” Or, even better, just say no. In fact, like Taylor said in the podcast, your yes means nothing if you can’t also say no.

  5. Be wise. You don’t have to do something just because someone tells you to do it. You don’t have to answer personal questions just because someone asks. Remember that just because someone pays attention to you doesn’t mean they care, and just because someone offers flattery doesn’t mean they have your best interest in mind. Use your energy for caring for you, and then your connections with others will be more meaningful.

  6. Notice your feelings. Remember that resentment almost always means you are in over your head, and that you are already getting sapped of your time and energy without getting enough nourishment in return. It can also indicate burnout in a job or hobby. Feelings of guilt are about not meeting other people’s expectations, which is different than considering your own preferences.

  7. Be direct. It’s one thing to respect different cultures or have good manners, but there are times to be direct. Some cultures are more direct than others, and some less direct cultures can actually be very passive aggressive. Regardless, if someone seems to not understand your boundaries or is just outright not respecting them, then firm up and be more direct and explicit with the boundaries you are setting so there is no confusion about what you mean or need.

  8. Adapt to relationship roles. Different kinds of relationships have different boundaries. There may be professional boundaries in a work, school, or clinical setting. These are meant to keep everyone safe. Dating or other relationships have boundaries, about how much time to spend together and apart, guidelines for how much money is spent, or what activities you are comfortable participating in with your partner. Friendships also have boundaries, like how much time you spend together, or how early in the morning you can visit, or how late at night you can call.

  9. Be responsible for yourself. Part of good boundaries is caring well for yourself. While we all need connection with others, we are responsible for our own level of functioning to a degree. That includes mental and emotional functioning. Your friends can be supportive, but it’s not their job to rescue you from the challenges of life. Your therapist can be helpful in your healing journey, but they cannot do the healing for you.

  10. Set boundaries for yourself, too. You may need your own internal boundaries, as well. Maybe you need to focus on that one healthy meal that is delicious, instead of focusing on restricting yourself from all things good. Maybe you need to turn off your devices earlier, so you can get more sleep at night. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to leave that social scene early, go for a walk after a long day at work, or spend some time at the park after therapy instead of rushing back to everyday life right away. It’s all part of self-care!

Grounding skills

Emma was pretty vulnerable in episode 12, and we want to share some of the things we are learning about grounding skills and coping skills.

Think of yourself as a thermometer for stress... and right now, you are filled up all the way to your nose with stress. So you only have from your nose to the top of your head to deal with normal, everyday stressors. What you need to do is process more of your stress - writing and talking to someone or processing in theray, using coping skills at work, getting creative with self-care - so that the thermometer goes down, like to your neck, then your waist, even, so when things happen you have more "room" to handle them better or differently.

Coping skills kind of come in two forms:

1.) Grounding techniques often use the five senses - sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight - to immediately connect you with the here and now through sensory input. It works by sending sensory information to your brain with messages of safety and comfort, which conflict with and distract from the "danger signals" your brain is getting from cortisol and other stress hormones in your brain.

For example, singing a song, rubbing lotion on your hands, or sucking on some sour candy are all sensory sensations that are difficult to ignore or distract you from what's going on in your mind. This helps you directly and instantaneously connect with the present moment. Here are some ideas for each of the senses, which you can use for brainstorming... ignore what doesn't help, and think of your own ideas that fit you more specifically. Add to the list. Practice it when you are well, so it is second nature to intervene in your own behalf during those moments of "crisis" or stress when you really need help.


Sound

Turn up the radio or blast your favorite song. Talk out loud about what you see, hear, or what you're thinking or doing. Call a loved one. Put on some nature sounds such as birds chirping or waves crashing. Read out loud, whether it's a favorite children's book, a blog article, or the latest novel.

Touch

Hold an ice cube and let it melt in your hand. Put your hands under running water. Take a hot or cool shower. Grab an article of clothing, a blanket, or a towel and knead it in your hands or hold it to your cheek. Concentrate on what it feels like. Rub your hand lightly over the carpet or a piece of furniture, noting the texture. Pop some bubble wrap. Massage your temples. If you have a dog or cat, cuddle and pet him or her. Drink a hot or cold beverage.

Smell

Sniff strong peppermint, which also has the benefit of having a soothing effect. Light a scented candle or melt scented wax. Get some essential oils that remind you of good times (freshly cut grass, rain, clean laundry, or sugar cookies, for example) and smell one.

Taste

Bite into a lemon or lime. Suck on a mint or chew peppermint or cinnamon gum. Take a bite of a pepper or some hot salsa. Let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth, noticing how it tastes and feels as you roll it around with your tongue.

Sight

Take a mental inventory of everything around you, such as all the colors and patterns you see, the sounds you hear, and the scents you smell. Saying this out loud is helpful too. Count all the pieces of furniture around you. Put on your favorite movie or TV show. Play a distracting game on your tablet, computer, or smartphone. Complete a crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search, or other puzzle. Read a book or magazine.

2.) Coping skills are more like the offense, the way the grounding skills are the defense. They are proactive ways to deal with stressors or whatever is happening internally so that you can maintain function. Anything counts that helps bring that "temperature" down or helps you keep functioning. Sometimes these may be the same as grounding skills listed above (i.e., like lighting candles to relax), but when done as coping skills they are done preventatively rather than in response to the trigger or difficulty or stress.

Examples of unhealthy coping skills that are often used to "self-medicate" to deal with life include alcohol, drugs, stimulants, energy drinks, video games, or risk-taking behaviors. While not all of these are always bad, excessive use of any of them in effort to "drown out" the "noise" of life, or "numb" the feelings experienced in response to life are only ways to avoid dealing with life and often complicate matters or make them worse.

Some examples of healthy coping skills include:

Nutrition. Eating regular meals and getting the nutrition your body needs helps your brain to function properly.

Sleep. Your body needs time to rest and recover, but so does your brain.

Exercise. You can walk or move or do some kind of physical activity, even if you are not a work out fanatic, to help your brain be healthy. Stress chemicals, like cortisol, only get processed out of your body through physical movement, so it's really important to be up and about during parts of your day in ways you are able to do. Movement also releases endorphins, which are the "feel-good" chemicals in your brain.

Meditation and Relaxation Techniques: Practicing deep breathing techniques, the relaxation response, or progressive muscle relaxation are ways to help reduce stress and induce relaxation.

Time to Yourself: It is important to set aside time everyday to allow yourself to relax and escape the stress of life. Give yourself a private, mini vacation from everything going on around you. Be creative with identifying ways of self-care that help you manage stress, even when you are crunched for time or in public or with little energy to deal with anything.

Reading: Escape from reality completely by reading. Reading can help you to de-stress by taking your mind off everyday life. Some people like to read stories or books that match their emotions to help them better express them, and other people like to read stories or books that are the opposite of what they are feeling so they can get some relief.

Friendship: Having friends who are willing to listen and support one through good and bad times is essential.

Humor: Adding humor to a stressful situation can help to lighten the mood.

Hobbies: Having creative outlets such as listening to music, drawing or gardening are great ways to relax and relieve everyday stress.

Pets: Taking care of a pet helps distract the mind from stressful thoughts. Studies Show that pets are a calming influence in people's lives.

Finally, the third piece I mentioned was self-care. Self-care is different than just resting or being lazy because it is intentional and deliberate. It also should be an ongoing practice. You can be super creative in finding ways to better care for yourself on a daily basis, even when time or energy are limited, and even when you are at work or caring for others. You matter! Caring for yourself will help you function better, feel better, and be more productive in other areas of your life. Here are some examples:

Self-Care Ideas for the Mind

1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.

2. Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that's been there for ages and you'll never do.

3. Change up the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or if you tend to go with your heart, decide with your head.

4. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.

5. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.

6. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.

7. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of play or fun (non-directed activity) several times throughout your day.

8. Create a deliberate habit, and routinize something small in your life by doing it in the same way each day-what you wear on Tuesdays, or picking up the dental floss before you brush.

9. Fix a small annoyance at home that's been nagging you-a button lost, a drawer that's stuck, a light bulb that's gone.

10. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.

11. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.

12. Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don't love or regularly wear.

13. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant stimulation of social media and email.

14. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it's just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.

15. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just "mute" them; you don't have to delete them.

Self-Care Ideas for the Body

1. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention. Use the body scan to check in with each part of your body.

2. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. Breathe into your abdoment, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest.

3. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.

4. Stretch out the kinks. If you're at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.

5. Run (or walk, depending on your current physical health) for a few minutes. Or go up and down the stairs three times.

6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.

7. Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, moisturize.

8. Get to know yourself intimately. Look lovingly and without judgment at yourself naked. (Use a mirror to make sure you get to know all of you!)

9. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.

10. Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.

11. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.

12. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you're in a cold climate. (Use sunscreen if appropriate.)

13. Inhale an upbeat smell. Try peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation.

14. Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips that you enjoy, or watch a comedy movie.

15. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.

Self-Care Ideas for the Soul

1. Imagine you're your best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Look in the mirror and say it.

2. Use your commute for a "Beauty Scavenger Hunt." Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work.

3. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.

4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgment what you're feeling.

5. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.

6. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out with "Radiators" who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not "Drains" whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.

7. Stroke a pet. If you don't have one, go to the park and find one. (Ask first!)

8. Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.

9. Make a small connection. Have a few sentences of conversation with someone in customer service such as a sales assistant or barista.

10. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.

11. Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)

12. Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you're good at, and find an opportunity for it today.

13. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.

14. Ask for help-big or small, but reach out.

15. Plan a two-day holiday for next weekend. Turn off your phone, tell people you'll be away, and then do something new in your own town.

Hopefully that gives some ideas just for better caring for you, while You practice some of these things you already know, already are doing, and already trying so hard. You got this.

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Emma Sunshaw
The Jell-O

We shared episode ten to talk about different kinds of insiders, and explore a little bit about the different kinds of roles or jobs some of these alters have. But sometimes, there are crossover moments that don’t always pan out quite as expected. Here’s what happened one day when our littles decided to “make supper” in effort to help (and play):

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Emma Sunshaw
Guest: Dr. Colin A. Ross

Our special guest in Episode Nine is Colin A. Ross, MD.

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Colin A. Ross, M.D completed medical school at the University of Alberta and his psychiatry training at the University of Manitoba in Canada. He is a Past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, and is the author of over 220 papers and 30 books. He has spoken widely throughout North America and Europe, and in China, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. He has been a keynote speaker at many different conferences, and has reviewed for over 30 different professional journals.

Dr. Ross is the Director of hospital-based Trauma Programs in Denton, Texas, Torrance, California and Grand Rapids, Michigan. He provides weekly cognitive therapy groups at all three locations, in person in Texas and by video-conference in Michigan and California. He has been running a hospital Trauma Program in the Dallas area since moving to Texas in 1991.

Dr. Ross’ books cover a wide range of topics. His clinical books focus on trauma and dissociation and include: Dissociative Identity Disorder. Diagnosis, Clinical Features and Treatment of Multiple Personality, Second Edition (1997); Schizophrenia: Innovations in Diagnosis and Treatment (2004); The Trauma Model: A Solution to the Problem of Comorbidity in Psychiatry (2007); Trauma Model Therapy: A Treatment Approach for Trauma Dissociation and Complex Comorbidity (2009); Structural Dissociation: A Proposed Modification of the Theory (2013); and Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder: Techniques and Strategies for Stabilization (2018).

Dr. Ross has published a series of treatment outcome studies in peer-reviewed journals, which provide evidence for the effectiveness of Trauma Model Therapy. Many of his papers involve large series of cases, with original research data and statistical analyses, including a paper entitled ‘Trauma and Dissociation in China” in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Besides his clinical psychiatry interests, Dr. Ross has published papers and books on cancer and human energy fields, as well as literary works including essays, fiction, poetry and screenplays. He has several different hobbies including travel.

Here is where, at the very beginning of this video, he shares his story of how he learned about dissociation and became interested in studying it and aware of the need to publish about it:

CLICK HERE for the link to his research website, the Colin Ross Institute.

CLICK HERE for the new Trauma Education Essentials website for clinicians, including a newsletter, webinars, and trainings, which Dr. Ross is doing with his daughter, Dr. Dana Ross.

CLICK HERE for more information about his inpatient treatment programs.

Proud Partner!

We are are so excited to be sponsoring the upcoming AIM Healing Conference!

WE WILL BE THERE, YOU GUYS!

Not only that, but to help get you ready for the conference, we will be interviewing some of the speakers who will be there!

It’s all so exciting! CLICK HERE for information about the conference!

It’s coming up in February, and it will be in Orlando. AHHHHH!!!!!!

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Emma Sunshaw
Medal Week!

We just sent out COURAGE medals to all our patrons who became Little Bears in November!

Thank you for all your support, and we are excited to see your medal pictures!

Share them with us here or on social media. Thanks for playing!

If you are not a Little Bear yet, and want to join the club, CLICK HERE.

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Grounding

Emma did her first podcast today, and read through some of her journals from this week. One thing it really brought up was how much she is struggling with nightmares and flashbacks. We needed some serious self care after doing that podcast, so she set herself up in our favorite chair with some hot chocolate, some journals, some essential oils diffusing, and some favorite books. It’s called “grounding”!

Grounding techniques often use the five senses - sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight - to immediately connect you with the here and now. For example, singing a song, rubbing lotion on your hands, or sucking on some sour candy are all grounding techniques that produce sensations that are difficult to ignore or distract you from what's going on in your mind. This helps you directly and instantaneously connect with the present moment.

Here are some ideas!

Sound:

Turn up the radio or blast your favorite song.

Talk out loud about what you see, hear, or what you're thinking or doing.

Call a loved one.

Put on some nature sounds such as birds chirping or waves crashing.

Read out loud, whether it's a favorite children's book, a blog article, or the latest novel.

Touch:

Hold an ice cube and let it melt in your hand.

Put your hands under running water.

Take a hot or cool shower.

Grab an article of clothing, a blanket, or a towel and knead it in your hands or hold it to your cheek.

Concentrate on what it feels like.

Rub your hand lightly over the carpet or a piece of furniture, noting the texture.

Pop some bubble wrap.

Massage your temples.

If you have a dog or cat, cuddle and pet him or her.

Drink a hot or cold beverage.

Smell:

Sniff strong peppermint, which also has the benefit of having a soothing effect.

Light a scented candle or melt scented wax.

Get some essential oils that remind you of good times (freshly cut grass, rain, clean laundry, or sugar cookies, for example) and smell one.

Taste:

Bite into a lemon or lime.

Suck on a mint or chew peppermint or cinnamon gum.

Take a bite of a pepper or some hot salsa.

Let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth, noticing how it tastes and feels as you roll it around with your tongue.

Sight:

Take a mental inventory of everything around you, such as all the colors and patterns you see, the sounds you hear, and the scents you smell.

Saying this out loud is helpful too.

Count all the pieces of furniture around you.

Put on your favorite movie or TV show.

Play a distracting game on your tablet, computer, or smartphone.

Complete a crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search, or other puzzle.

Read a book or magazine.

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NTIS

Several of us talk about “NTIS” in our podcasts because it is such a big deal for us. It has really helped so much! It’s a great tip for learning to separate “memory time” and “now time”. That can be really hard to do with dissociation, and we are so grateful for our T for coming up with it.

NTIS stands for “Now Time is Safe”.

It helps us remember that some of those bad memories, that can so often feel so very present like it is happening right now, is really in the past.

We have already been through the hard part.

That was memory-time.

But now, in the present, in now-time, we are safe. Our husband and children are safe. Our house is safe. Our T is safe. Her office is safe. We are safe.

NTIS!

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Sasha's Podcast

Okay, so maybe it isn’t MY podcast, but I am so excited!

I think (I hope??!!) this will be a good way to reach out to people, or at least a new way to reach out to people. We are super crazy busy trying to keep up with real life, outside kids, and DID, so don’t get very much time to sit and watch videos. The videos were awesome, but we just don’t have time to sit and watch very many very often. I wondered if other people had the same problem, and so have been searching for podcasts that share about DID. When I couldn’t find very many, I decided to try doing one! It’s a big deal, way outside our comfort zone, and super scary. But we are trying it!

I am so freaking proud of us!

It’s also kind of the first time we have worked together at ANYTHING, so that’s good for us, too.

We maybe will also learn from each other as we go, so that’s my idea!

Here we go!

Love, Sasha

P.S. Lots of people asked us about the bear. Our T gave it to us! We love it!

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