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Life Skills for Survivors: 5 Tips for Handling PTSD-Related Avoidance

by Cassendre Xavier


Survivors of child/sexual abuse who also have posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) often deal with avoidance. Avoidance is something that makes us feel safe from anything that reminds us of the abuse which may cause us pain.

The treatment for PTSD-related avoidance is exposure. Facing our fears is the only cure for avoidance. 

  The following are some tips about avoidance, exposure, and overall illness management and self-care that may assist you on your journey as a survivor in recovery:

1) You were strong enough to survive in childhood, and you are strong enough to thrive as an adult.

2) See PTSD-related avoidance as the same kind of enemy you fought against, emotionally, physically, and/spiritually, and decide not to ever let "it" (the enemy) "get you down", break your spirit, or take any more from your rightful good life. Now avoidance has less power to hurt you, weaken your reserves, or limit your success and positive experience of life.

3) It's so important to know about your illness(es) and how they affect each other and how they affect your life.  The key to illness management (of PTSD and/or any other mental/health condition you have) is to know what ails you. I didn't learn about PTSD avoidance until I was 49, was diagnosed with both PTSD and bipolar disorder at 23, and avoidance did a massive and impressive job of wrecking much of my life in between. Or rather, I allowed avoidance to take control of my life, and demolished my own efforts, ignored my own hopes and dreams, due to not being informed enough. Having the information helps you plan around these effects of your condition. So, in this way knowledge truly is once again power.

4) Take full advantage of free resources for illness management/mental healthcare.
Having no money is no excuse not to learn about and manage your disease. I was homeless and on public assistance for several years and I would like to share with you the things that were most helpful to me in improving and learning to live better with my mental health issues:
A) YouTube: Peer and clinical videos about bipolar disorder. Julie A. Fast in particular resonates with me because she's a woman who writes books and posts videos about her own management of bipolar disorder, thereby instructing and inspiring on how others can also write books and live your creative dreams with the illness.
B) Welfare and state-funded community behavioral health centers. Once you're on Medicaid, you can attend classes on illness management, receive free or very low cost medications and prescription nutritional supplements (such as magnesium and calcium, which also help support mental health), as well as free psychotherapy to help manage your symptoms and make and reach goals to improve your current circumstances. If you do not qualify for Medicaid, there may still be free or low cost peer counseling sessions or other resources available if you ask by word of mouth, or do your own research.

5) Find and/or create affirmations for your mental health goals. They really work, especially if you say them upon waking, upon sleeping, in front of the mirror throughout the day, and share them with friends and/or co-survivors!

I wish you abundant wellbeing! 

Cassendre Xavier is an acclaimed singer-songwriter recording artist, writer, and community worker in the fields of inspiration, creativity, and recovery from abuse. She shares her popular "Survivor's Corner" and "PTSD Chronicles" on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and has been writing the "Living with Bipolar Disorder" series at Wisdom Magazine's online edition since 2011. Cassendre was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at age 23. She is the founder of Sisters Healing Together, a peer support group for women survivors of incest with a special focus on compulsive overeating (1996-1999, William Way LGBT Community Center, Philadelphia). Under her self-assigned spiritual name Amethyste Rah, Cassendre released the popular Affirmations for Survivors guided meditation audio series: "Self-Love" and "Spirituality" in 2007, and "Sexuality" and "Life Skills" are forthcoming. All of her albums are at CD Baby and many are on Spotify. Videos on YouTube. Website: http://cassEndrExavier.wordpress.com


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