Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

Skills & Tools To Manage Symptoms Of (Complex) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

skills and tools

At the beginning of my journey to healing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – I first learned how to manage symptoms.

There are symptoms common in these trauma-induced disorders including: anxiety, hypervigilance, dissociation, emotional dysregulation, re-experiencing symptoms – flashbacks (visual, somatic, emotional), intrusive memories.

One of the first aims in therapy – is to learn how to manage these symptoms. I know not everyone has access to therapy, so I share what I’ve learned.

The following are skills I developed and still use today:

Breathing Skills

A tool and coping skills in learning to control breathing, helps reduce anxiety, hypervigilance and helps during times of stress and overwhelm.

Why do deep breathing? Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Deep breathing relieves stress and anxiety due to its physiological effect on the nervous system. And deep breathing activates specific neurons that detect blood pressure. These neurons signal to the vagus nerve that blood pressure is becoming too high, and the vagus nerve in turn responds by lowering your heart rate.

  1.  Get into a comfortable position, sitting or lying down.
  2.  Relax your body, arms and legs as much as possible.
  3.  Big breathe through the nose, for a count of 4.
  4.  Hold for a count of 3.
  5.  Breathe out through the mouth, exhaling for a count of 3.
  6.  When breathing out, try to exhale as much air out of the lungs as possible.
  7.  Repeat and continue for a few minutes, or as long as you can.
  8.  Try to this as many times a week as possible, and utilise this while in stressful, anxiety activating situations.
  9.  Practise and integrate this into your daily life and it will become easier over time.
  10.  The more you integrate this, the more you automatically start to control your breathing at times of anxiety, stress and overwhelm.

There are great resources to help with this on YouTube. Phone apps are useful and I personally recommend Smiling Mind.

Grounding Skills

Grounding is a coping tool and skill for staying present in the current moment, and helps with dissociation, flashbacks and emotion regulation.

Using the 5 senses, we can ‘ground’ ourselves to keep the attention on the here and now. The following list is excellent from Living.well.org.au 

  • Remind yourself of who you are now. Say your name. Say your age now. Say where you are now. Say what you have done today. Say what you will do next.
  • Take ten breaths, focus your attention on each breath on the way in and on the way out. Say number of the breath to yourself as you exhale.
  • Splash water on your face.
  • Sip a cool drink of water.
  • Hold a cold can or bottle of soft drink in your hands. Feel the coldness, and the wetness on the outside. Note the bubbles and taste as you drink.
  • As you wake, during the night, remind yourself who you are, and where you are. Tell yourself who you are and where you are. What age are you now? Look around the room and notice familiar objects and name them. Feel the bed your are lying on, the warmth or coldness of the air, and notice any sounds you hear.
  • Feel the clothes on your body, whether your arms and legs are covered or not, and the sensation of your clothes as you move in them.
  • If you are with other people, and you feel comfortable with them, concentrate closely on what they are saying and doing, and remind yourself why you are with them.
  • If you are sitting feel the chair under you and  the weight of your body and legs pressing down onto it.
  • If you are lying down, feel the contact between your head, your body and your legs, as they touch the surface you are lying on. Starting from your head, notice how each past feels, all the way down to your feet, on the soft or hard surface.
  • Stop and listen. Notice and name what you can hear nearby and in the distance.
  • Hold a mug of tea in both hands and feel its warmth. Don’t rush drinking it, take small sips and take your time tasting each mouthful.
  • Look around you, notice what is front of you and to each side, name first large objects and then smaller ones.
  • Get up, walk around, take your time to notice each step as you take one then another.
  • Stamp your feet notice the sensation and sound as you connect with the ground.
  • Clap and rub your hands together, hear the noise and feel the sensation in your hands and arms.
  • Wear an elastic band on your wrist (not tight) and flick it gently, so that you feel it spring back on your wrist as it
  • If you can, step outside, notice the temperature of the air and how much it is different or similar to where you have just come from.
  • Stretch.
  • Notice five things you can see, five things you can hear, and five things you can feel, taste, or smell.
  • If you have a pet, spend some time with them. Notice what is special and different about them.
  • Run your hands over something with an interesting texture. Describe it in your mind, as if you have never felt anything like it before.
  • Get a sultana, a nut, or some seeds. Focus on how it looks, feels and smells. Put it in your mouth and roll it around, noticing how it feels. Chew it slowly and mindfully, before noticing how it feels to swallow.

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People Understandably Cope In Different Ways – That Doesn’t Mean They Always Give Good Advice ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

helping someone with depression

People cope with trauma, abuse and child abuse – in many different ways.

~ Some drink and use alcohol to self medicate.
~ Some isolate themselves completely, to avoid any more harm.
~ Some work too hard, to keep their minds busy and off the trauma.
~ Some get really angry and stay angry.
~ Some blame themselves for the abuse.
~ Some suppress all the trauma and think they are strong warrior survivors.
~ Some think forgiveness is the ‘be all and end all’ to healing.

And there are many others too.

I totally understand and have compassion for anyone using these ways to cope.

I understand people are doing the best they can at this time.

But, where I have issues – is when people using these ways of coping – then tell everyone else they should be doing the same. When that is very unhealthy advice.

I see this occurring a lot.

The ways people cope, are very understandable – but often not healthy, or promoting healing.

There is a lot of bad advice out there, about what is required for healing.

And I see this all the time. Which saddens me, because people are believing it.

And there is a lot of shaming goes on too.

That’s not what I want for anyone.

In challenging the unhealthy advice given – I am showing compassion – because my motivation for doing all I do – is for people to heal and move towards better lives.

~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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Decided To Start Yoga/Pilates – A Spark Of Hope ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

spark of hope 2

I am not doing okay at the moment. My emotional and physical health, are not good and both are painful. I am exhausted and I’m dragging myself through each day.

Which is okay – I know, because I am dealing with a huge amount of stress and trauma issues, and it’s horrendous.

I wrote in my last blog post, about the unhealthy and healthy coping strategies/behaviours, I have had throughout my life. And even though I have removed some unhealthy ones, I could still do with some more healthy ways to cope.

So, in an attempt to work on this, I am going to see if I can attend the cheap fitness classes, at my local PCYC (Police Citizens Youth Clubs). They offer really cheap classes and have a range of yoga, pilates, Zumba etc classes.

I hope this can be a way forward in my coping and healing.

I’m hoping it can be a way of gaining some physical and emotional strength, which will then help me move towards my goal of training for a job and eventually a job, to gain my financial independence.

I’m so unwell, I know I will have to take it easy, and build it up. Continue reading

When your children & a puppy, run around a garden.

How can you be sad, when your children and your puppy, are running around the lawn. It’s so precious and cute. I love to see my boys laughing, running around, having fun. Hearing my 13 year olds voice break and sound all high as he laughs. Hearing my 7 year giggling, in that cute way younger children giggle.

Even in times when it’s painful…. there are amazingly wonderful things I cannot fail to smile about.

happiness is a warm puppy

I am someone who can hold different emotions, at the same time. So I can be happy with what’s happening right now, and feel the joy in it. Whilst also having that underlying pain and grieving. I’ve had a lifetime of practise at being sad and in pain deep down, whilst trying to focus on the present and seeing the good in the here and now.

This doesn’t mean I believe in avoiding dealing with the pain, grieving. But, I now have times I allow myself that, and times when I focus on the here and now.

I know this is why mindfulness, is needed. And when I’m with my children, is a time when I try the hardest. And it works.

This is why I advocate for learning coping/management strategies, that help Continue reading

I crave & need peace, far more than I crave or need people.

My gardens and gardening, are a real part of my healing. It is where I retreat to, whenever I am struggling, emotional, hurt, irritable… as well as where I go for relaxation, to think and to pray.

Everyone needs to find a way to cope, manage and find some peace. My gardens are mine.

It hasn’t escaped my notice, that being alone and not being around people, is an increasing need.

It’s bizarre that I have spent 40 years of my life craving being with people and ‘needing’ people …….. and now I prefer and have more peace – being completely alone.

In the past, I had a huge fear of being alone. And now this has turned into my greatest need.

Aloneness, is now my friend. Not my enemy.

Some would say I have swung from one side of the continuum, to Continue reading

During the holiday season, my posts are encouraging needed self care.

self care3

Christmas and the holiday season, are really hard for many. I understand this fully. Whether it be due to PTSD symptoms increasing, like anxiety, hyper vigilance, depression etc, or due to grieving loss, or family issues increasing…. it’s a time for much needed self care.

I have my husbands parents staying with us for Christmas, and I needed to have a plan for how to cope. This plan includes having some time to myself, and my husband is sorting out all food and cooking. This means the increased anxiety, stress etc of having people staying in my home for 4 weeks, does not increase to a point where I cannot cope.

I’m also not feeling guilty for my self care plan, because most people without PTSD – find having family or anyone staying with them, challenging. So bearing that in mind, I have no guilt at taking care of myself, throughout this time. Which benefits everyone.

So, this shows my increased self care, and capacity to deal with potentially anxiety raising and challenging situations, better.

A year ago, I would not be coping with this as well as I am now, because I was still struggling with self care. So, this is how I understand that some situations, do very much increase anxiety and other symptoms, and are difficult to deal with, as a result. And this very much depends on our individual capacity to implement needed self care.

I now actually do know I need self care, and I do deserve it, and understand there needs to be no guilt, and it benefits everyone. And I don’t have to explain myself to people either. But, it has been a process to get to this point and it is worth the journey. Continue reading


Music therapy. Music to cope. Music to grieve the past.

Talked in counselling yesterday about ways to deal with the really painful parts of my journey and writing is now one, as this blog attests to and the other is music. In music therapy, clients are encouraged to have play lists of music, for various emotional states.

Music has understood me, when no-one else has. Music has helped me cope my entire life. My music tastes are varied, depending on mood and emotional state.

Over the last 2 years, my main ‘go to’ music to help deal with the pain I have faced about my past, is Lana Del Rey.

Lana deals with depression, aloneness, suicide, men, sex, child abuse, guns, being wild, being vulnerable, seeking safety in people, thrill seeking, needing to be ‘free’, alcohol, not complying with society’s BS, trying to find happiness, but always underlying profound sadness.

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Numbing…..helps me cope, with the severity of all the heinous abuse, I have endured.