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I consider myself 85% healed from chronic illness,  lyme disease, chronic inflammatory response syndrome, mast cell activation syndrome, postural tachycardia syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome. I am also having an easier time with benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. I have written about how I am sure benzodiazepines were the physical trigger to my illnesses here.  I still have sensitivities to homes (not as violent as before) and fatigue, my body often feels like lead.   POTS, and MCS were not severe and at the tail end of my illness , they were the easiest to heal.  Each illness was comprised of neural pathways in the brain, , coping thoughts and behaviors. POTS and MCS were the weakest pathways.  The strongest pathway was CIRS – Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (mold illness) and it is the hardest for me to beat.

Dynamic Neural Retraining System was the tool to I used to end all of my physical suffering. I have written about that here and here.  Yet, I am still in the sickness state.  In other words, my thoughts are not always positive and healthy. Often , they are traumatic memories that were sedated by benzodiazepines and stuck in my brain (amygdala, hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex).  I could see them while on benzos, but I could not face them. When I did, my anxiety was destructive. I could not process them. I could not learn how to cope with them .  Benzodiazepines are not recommended for patients with PTSD as written about here.  My physical symptoms have improved greatly but the trauma behind all of it is surfacing , allowing itself to be seen and processed.  I am learning to deal with them.

In the past year , using retraining the brain to heal, I have made discovery after discovery about what was causing such strange symptoms. First, I learned that trauma had to be at the end of it, but had an abstract idea about how this could happen. Well of course it was trauma, it is behind all illnesses. It caused stress in my body, whatever that meant, and I got sick. Looking back, it is clear I was confused and blaming physical toxins as the cause for being in a PTSD state as evidenced in this article.   I often teeter tottered on the idea of trauma, was it the cause of the illnesses or was I seeing these flashbacks as a result of them? . The answer is both. I then discovered that benzodiazepines act on the limbic system of the brain. They sedate the danger part/ the part of the brain I was already retraining. The part of the brain implicated in causing these illnesses- the part of the brain which was impaired.

Everything I was experiencing, that was chronic was actually limbic system impairment.  If benzodiazepines were sedating this part of the brain obviously they were a major trigger. To further prove that, my body and brain collapsed after my first withdrawal in which I had histamine reactions to ayahuasca. I write about that here. Benzodiazepines are used to calm mast cell activation syndrome, in which histamine is a mediator released by the body to a perceived threat.

Something was missing. I did not have a firm understanding of how trauma could be to blame except that it stresses the body . But, what exactly does that mean?  After years of chronic abuse, my danger center became hyper aware of external stimuli. The amygdala was on high alert –

Research from new disciplines has revealed that trauma produces actual physiological changes, including a recalibration of the brain’s alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity, and alterations in the system that filters relevant information from irrelevant. We now know that trauma compromises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive. These changes explain why traumatized individuals become hypervigilant to threat at the expense of spontaneously engaging in their day-to-day lives. They also help us understand why traumatized people so often keep repeating the same problems and have such trouble learning from experience. We now know that their behaviors are not the result of moral failings or signs of lack of willpower or bad character—they are caused by actual changes in the brain .

I kept repeating the same behaviors and thoughts over and over again. I was dating the same kind of person. I was saying the same things, crying about the same events, repeating the same life over and over. I often have said to therapists, “I feel like I am living the movie Groundhog Day  (with Bill Murray). ” Nothing ever changed. It could not, my brain had changed to adapt to this trauma. I was living the idea that nothing was safe anymore. No home was safe, person, food, or my own body.

I picture my amygdala over tired and overworked , looking for this external threat, coming upon mold , lyme, food etc and saying – “This , this is what I need to keep you safe from. Stop eating, stop living in homes, stop moving.”

Stress responses were constantly sent and my body was unable to process not just traumatic memories but all toxins that others could.

Thankfully, I crashed after Ayahuasca and had to change or not survive.

Now, I am off all benzodiazepines and processing these memories. I am ecstatic that I get to change my life . I am saddened that it did not happen sooner.  All my illnesses were easier than having to face the reality I woke up to after waking up from the benzo sedation. I am physically alone in the world and had survived a danger that haunts me every morning . Many times throughout the day I find myself still suspended in those memories, they are old neural pathways , not yet released , struggling to survive. Now, I use DNRS to reframe those memories and create pathways of happiness, in which my body and brain know that we are safe.  I have lived with the limbic system in control for a long time .

It is a survival state, both the illnesses I had and PTSD (along with other psychiatric labels I received) were survival states, mechanisms to keep me safe – to remind me that we are unsafe. This state is the “Am I safe” state and for a long time I was not. The primal brain is a survival state, one no longer necessary.

I have taken back control and leading myself and the limbic system out of these states, reminding it that we already are safe. Danger is over.

We will always be safe.

 

Stefanie