Following our fundraiser for Help for Heros, Jake Duggan shares a bit of background and info on PTSD and how boxing is a fantastic tool in aiding recovery.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
Here is the best example that shows how our minds cannot tell the difference between reality and what’s in our imagination.
If I asked you to imagine (in full detail) going into your kitchen, grabbing a lemon from your fridge, smelling it for a second, cutting out a wedge and then biting into that wedge.
I guarantee you, your mouth will start salivating and reacting as if it had just bitten into that lemon.
Now lets think about a traumatic event.
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation.
Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it.
This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm.
For those suffering from PTSD however, this ‘flight-or-flight’ response doesn’t stop after the event.
One part of our brain is call the Amygdala, which is responsible for processing our short term memories to long term memories.
In the case of PTSD, that particular traumatic memory becomes stuck within our short term memory.
As a result of this whenever someone with PTSD experiences a ‘trigger’
– A soldier who has been in a firefight in the Middle East = A loud bang.
– A victim of sexual assault = the smell of a particular brand of deodorant that the offender had on.
– Someone who was in a horrific car crash = a specific song that may have been playing on the car radio at the time.
Instantly, their mind will take them back to that particular traumatic situation and make their body BELIEVE they are there again and trigger that ‘fight-or-flight’ response sending a massive amount of adrenaline throughout their body.
Now imagine that happening to them and they are at a restaurant or grocery shopping?
They know they aren’t in any danger but if they don’t even know they have PTSD this can be a very frightening and exhausting experience.
Having to deal with constant and frequent similar episodes, they can start to seem disinterested or distant as they try not to think or feel in order to block out these painful memories.
This is what leads them down the path towards depression and anxiety disorders.
Eventually causing them to stop participating in work, social & family life and ignore offers of help, leading to loved ones feeling shut out.
Or in the worst and saddest cases, leading them to taking their own lives to make it all stop.
Even though they may think they don’t need it, people with PTSD need the support of their friends and family.
It IS a battle that can be won team and there are treatments and support programs out there that can help and make a difference in these people’s lives.
Two steps forward & One step back is still ONE STEP FORWARD.
DEPRESSED VS DEPRESSION
The difference between being depressed and having depression is the difference between sadness and a mental illness and may be the most common misconception about mental illnesses.
Being Depressed Is Temporary.
Having Depression Is Something Else Entirely.
It can cause you to NOT do many things.
It can cause you to DO many unwanted things.
It can be very easy to say to someone ‘Just cheer up or just get over it’
But many don’t understand what’s happening within that person’s mind.
The effects of depression on the brain can result in structural and connective changes.
These include reduces functionality of:
– Hippocampus: can result in memory impairment.
– Prefrontal cortex: can result in preventing the person from getting things done (executive function) and affect their mood.
– Amygdala: Can directly affect their mood and emotional regulation.
But like all hardships, there is light at the end of the tunnel team, it doesn’t have to get sucked down in that never ending dark vortex.
If you are struggling or experiencing this or similar symptoms, the first step is always the hardest.
But you only have to do one thing – SPEAK
Once you speak, even if its just a few words then you are already on your road to recovery with the support from your family, friends and loved ones.
You are not a burden and you are not wasting anyone’s time.
Think of it this way, if your best friend was going through this, wouldn’t you want to know?
It is a normal emotion. It’s your brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential dangers ahead.
Everyone feels anxious now and then. You may worry about a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.
Occasional Anxiety is OK.
Anxiety Disorders are DIFFERENT.
They’re a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear.
It can be challenging and frustrating to live with an anxiety disorder.
The constant worry and fear can make you feel tired and scared.
It can make you start avoiding work, school, family get-togethers, and other social situations due to the fear that it might trigger or worsen your symptoms.
Let alone the embarrassment of people seeing you in public when these episodes occur.
But listen to this team,
It’s an obstacle that can be overcome, this doesn’t have to control you,
You can control IT.
Boxing is a fantastic way to start as it literally takes you out of your head and into the present moment. It gives your brain a break from constantly being on high alert mode AND allows you to re-set.
That’s where talking comes in. You NEED to talk.
Don’t feel that you are a burden and that this is not important.
See your GP or speak to any of the available counselling services and you will see how they can help.
If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.
The pics below are from the medicine ball challenge I completed. For 14 days straight I carried this 3kg bad boy around handcuffed to me to represent the very real challenge of living with PTSD. I’m pleased to say I raised over £300 for Help for Hero’s in the process.