News

Our conversations during our free monthly meet-ups take us in a variety of directions, and in order to ensure we circle back for reference, we post these resource blogs the day (or two) following a meet-up. The intent is to provide a roundup of resources or references from the conversation that night.

This past Wednesday evening we hosted our second meet-up of the month at The Commons. Our discussion was raw and engaging, the safety of our environment providing open and vulnerable conversation.

THEMES

  • Words that work: Two hot-button topics invariably come up – forgiveness and why traumatic events happen (is there a bigger, scripted plan?). Sometimes words themselves are the triggers so finding a different word that resonates with you, may help in processing your thoughts and feelings. For example, “forgiveness” might bring up negative emotions, so maybe using “compassion” instead would alleviate that trigger. It will be different for each of us but the important piece to remember is that it needs to be a word or phrase that works for you.
  • Is it all scripted? This question was brought up, wondering if our lives were planned for us before we were born. One belief is that everything happens for a reason. Another response was how horrible to believe that abuse could ever be a plan. The conversation ignited some passionate responses and it was a reminder that we all do have beliefs that require our support and respect, not challenging someone’s correctness. In the end, the consensus was to remember that when bad things do happen, we are in charge of our choices and response to it.
  • Stuffing it makes you sick: When things are held in, sometimes for decades, that stuffing or keeping it inside will eventually make you sick and it will show up somewhere, somehow.
  • Helping is healing: Sometimes it’s as simple as being present and listening, nothing else.

IDEAS & INSPIRATION

  • What would Kamal do? One of our couples who attend regularly shared a story of taking a cab home from the airport. They were cut off and the husband told the driver to honk at the guy. Kamal’s response was, “What good would that do? Nothing. No good can come from rage.”
  • If you haven’t heard of the Reticular Activation System (RAS) in our brains, this article describes it well. It’s like the white Jeep. Once you purchase it you see them everywhere. Our brains automatically filter what we focus on. The good news is, we can retrain those neurons. Interesting stuff!
  • Breathing and relaxation techniques: When anxiety or the chatter in our brains becomes too much, these techniques may prove helpful.
    • Soothing Your Nervous System Right Now
    • Theo recently went on a University tour with We’re All a Little “Crazy” and learned this Alternate Nostril Breathing technique that similarly calms the nervous system. The breath stimulates the “vagus” nerve in the neck, which is the pacemaker of the CNS, telling the organs it speaks to as blood is fed to them that: we’re okay, we’re not in danger, you can relax. Try it:
  • Put your index and middle fingers on the bridge of your nose.
  • Use your thumb to plug one nostril while you breathe in and hold for four seconds.
  • Hold for two seconds.
  • Switch nostrils to exhale for six seconds.
  • Repeat, switching the nostrils each time you inhale/exhale and repeat until you feel calm, generally 5-10 minutes.

OUR MEET-UP STRUCTURE

Because our meet-ups are growing each month (which we are so grateful for), we now have the need to provide more structure to these meetings so everyone gets more out of them. Last night we introduced a few rules and ideas for the meetings:

  • Please, no cross-talk. We want to be respectful of people’s stories and their time, so please allow others to finish their piece, before adding on.
  • We encourage participants and members of our community to reach out to new joiners and offer to support them or be a mentor of sorts. This type of thing is a successful structure in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with their ‘sponsor program’.
  • As BFF members, we are at the meetings to facilitate a safe conversation, but a reminder that we are not therapists.
  • If you need someone to talk to between meetings, please reach out to the Calgary Distress Centre or call their 24-hour line at 403-266-HELP.

 

Our conversations during our free monthly meet-ups take us in a variety of directions, and in order to ensure we circle back for reference, we post these resource blogs the day (or two) following a meet-up. The intent is to provide a roundup of resources or references from the conversation that night.

Last night, we hosted our second meet-up at the month, this one at The Commons. There were many returning faces that we haven’t seen in a while, including some members of the local Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) chapter.

Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (B.A.C.A.) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle. [BACA]

THEMES

  • Forgiveness and letting go: there was a lot of talk about letting go, forgiveness and surrendering. This concept was described in a profound way by one of our board members.

“I call it being in non-resistance, accepting exactly what’s going on right now.” — Sheryl Anderson

IDEAS & INSPIRATION

  • Helping is healing: something we always circle back to, how helping others actually helps ourselves too. Volunteering your time, mentoring someone—there are so many ways you can help others and find a purpose. There have been numerous studies on this, including some noted benefits in this article from Mental Floss.

Looking for more meaning in your day-to-day existence? Studies show that volunteering enhances an individual’s overall sense of purpose and identity—particularly if they no longer hold a life-defining role like “worker” or “parent.”  [Mental Floss]

OUR MEET-UP STRUCTURE

Because our meet-ups are growing each month (which we are so grateful for), we now have the need to provide more structure to these meetings so everyone gets more out of them. Last night we introduced a few rules and ideas for the meetings:

  • Please no cross-talk. We want to be respectful of people’s stories and their time, so please allow others to finish their piece, before adding on.
  • We encourage participants and members of our community to reach out to new joiners and offer to support them or be a mentor of sorts. This type of thing is a successful structure in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with their ‘sponsor program’.
  • As BFF members, we are at the meetings to facilitate a safe conversation, but a reminder that we are not therapists.
  • If you need someone to talk to between meetings, please reach out to the Calgary Distress Centre or call their 24-hour line at 403-266-HELP.

Our conversations during our free monthly meet-ups take us in a variety of directions, and in order to ensure we circle back for reference, we post these resource blogs the day (or two) following a meet-up. The intent is to provide a roundup of resources or references from the conversation that night.

Last night, we hosted the first monthly meet-up at Serenity Now Wellness, a location that we have the honour of using once a month, in addition to The Commons. We will host at Serenity Now the first Wednesday of every month, and a second meet-up at The Commons, the schedule will vary. We are so grateful to host meet-ups twice a month!

ABOUT SERENITY WELLNESS

Tessa Martin is a psychologist and the owner of Serenity Now Wellness, she shared how all of their practitioners are trauma-informed.

At Serenity Now, you will have access to our team of Calgary psychologists, mental health counselors, massage therapists, dietitians, and yoga therapists who are dedicated to creating a peaceful and relaxing therapeutic environment, enabling you to work through a diverse range of issues.

Last night, had some new faces and some inspiring regulars. It was a night of many gifts and many lessons for us all, but there were some recurring themes to make note of.

IDEAS & INSPIRATION

  • Mike Terry: Terry is a veteran biking across Canada for veterans. Recently, he shared a video on suicide that hit home for a veteran at our meet-up.

I want to carry the message that we as veterans are all connected, that we are all worthy of happiness and purpose. I want every veteran to know that it is ok to struggle. And that no one of us needs to face our demons alone or fear judgement for them. – Mike Terry

  • Tools on dealing with triggers (as shared by the group):
    • Gratitude journal
    • Writing
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Boxing/fitness
    • Music
    • Food/diet
    • Massage
    • Reading
    • Photography
    • Nature
    • Animals
    • Support/friendships

RESOURCES

  • EMDR: EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is an integrative psychotherapy approach. This type of therapy uses a patient’s own rapid eye movements, to take emotionally charged memories out of traumatic events. Using eye movements and “tricking your brain”, therapists can essentially reprogram the memory of a traumatic event to more positive or neutral emotions. [Learn more about how it works]
  • ‘The Body Keeps the Score’: this is a book on the body’s interaction with trauma, written by Bessel van der Kolk, MD.

Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. [Amazon]

OUR MEET-UP STRUCTURE

Because our meet-ups are growing each month (which we are so grateful for), we now have the need to provide more structure to these meetings so everyone gets more out of them. Last night we introduced a few rules and ideas for the meetings:

  • Please no cross-talk. We want to be respectful of people’s stories and their time, so please allow others to finish their piece, before adding on.
  • We encourage participants and members of our community to reach out to new joiners and offer to support them or be a mentor of sorts. This type of thing is a successful structure in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with their ‘sponsor program’.
  • As BFF members, we are at the meetings to facilitate a safe conversation, but a reminder that we are not therapists.
  • If you need someone to talk to between meetings, please reach out to the Calgary Distress Centre or call their 24-hour line at 403-266-HELP.

UPCOMING GOLF TOURNAMENT

Our mission is to provide survivors of traumatic life events with the treatment and support needed to reclaim their lives. Our goal is to pave the road for trauma healing and create valuable conversations about mental health, trauma and abuse. Removing the stigma, starting the healing, one day at a time.

One of the ways we are doing this is through our Therapy Grant Program, which allows approved candidates to receive designated therapy services, paid for via our foundation.

The fundraising goal of our tournament is to raise $25,000, that will enable 33 individuals to access therapy grants.

Full schedule available on the website!
18 holes | Prizes & swag | Lunch & Banquet Dinner | Silent Auction & Celebrity Golfers

Confirmed celebrity guests include:

  • Theo Fleury
  • Curtis Glencross
  • Mike Commodore
  • Gord Bamford
  • Colin Patterson
  • Dana Murzyn
  • Brent Krahn
  • Sean Selmser
  • Russ Romaniuk
  • Dwayne Hay
  • Mike Cvic

Sponsorships are still available and we encourage you to register and help us spread the word!

Corey Deacon, neuroscientist at Neurvana Health, conducted brain mapping (QEEG) for a few members of Breaking Free Foundation, so we could learn a bit more about brain chemistry, trauma and the technology that gives experts this insight into our minds.

For the purposes of this case study, we are going to share my report and imagery from the brain map Corey did for me. Having experienced multiple traumas in my life, I have been left with some lingering side effects of those experiences, both physical and mental. After reviewing Corey’s thorough report and seeing the imagery myself, it seemed an interesting opportunity to share publicly how trauma affects our brain and our bodies in a very real and physical manner.

How does QEEG work?

QEEG stands for quantitative EEG, which is a non-invasive technology that evaluates brain function based on electrical activity and communication between different hubs and networks of the brain. The process uses a head-cap a lot like a swim-cap, with 19 electrodes simultaneously transmitting data to a computer. Once a certain amount of data is obtained, this data can be generated through a variety of algorithms to obtain measurements for brain functionality.

As opposed to MRI or CT scans, QEEG can evaluate underlying causes for symptoms such as PTSD, chronic pain, addiction, depression, anxiety, ADD, autism, head injury, fatigue, insomnia, early developmental trauma, cognitive issues and much more.

Because structure does not change on a macroscopic neuronal level with these issues, MRI and CT scans cannot generally see them. Most of these scans come back ‘normal’, even though brain functioning can be massively disrupted. — Corey Deacon

What are we looking for?
In analyzing trauma, experts like Corey are specifically looking at brain areas of the limbic system (amygdala and hippocampus) in addition to the cingulate gyri.

These structures are responsible for hi-jacking our higher brain functions such as motivation, cognition, pleasure, creativity, relaxation, and many more. The limbic system and cingulate gyrus can hi-jack the brain to the point of experiencing sensations like the trauma, constantly and consistently. In Amber’s case this process has led to problems with anxiety, sleep issues and addiction. — Corey Deacon

Snapshots from the actual report from Corey:

The results of Amber’s brain map in eyes closed (drowsy state) are as follows:

  • Elevation in alpha in the frontal and prefrontal regions of her brain. This is correlated with difficulties coping with stress, addictive tendencies, and it can also be related to alcohol and marijuana use.
  • Significantly decreased delta rhythm in eyes closed. Because delta is required for deep sleep, this pattern explains Amber’s issues with insomnia and staying asleep.
  • Significant hyper-coherence issues (indicated by red lines in alpha and beta). This means the brain is in a state of hyper-communication. This is commonly seen in brains affected by trauma. This will also correlate with the sleep anxiety and insomnia Amber experiences.
  • Elevation of beta 3 (high-activation) in Brodmann Areas 23, 30, and 31. This is part of the cingulate gyrus and is correlated to anxiety, difficulties with worry & rumination, and sleep difficulties. This is directly connected to the limbic system and is more than likely the direct link to Amber’s traumatic experiences.
  • Elevated activity in the amygdala. This is the fear center of the brain. It is fully operational while we are still in the womb. Trauma can therefore start before we are even born and can be additive over our lifetime. Neurofeedback can be used to decrease this activation and reduce intrusive memories and feelings of fear.

 

Eyes open results indicate:

  • Substantial elevation in temporal beta and hi-beta. This indicates hippocampus and amygdala being ‘on fire’ and on high alert. This is more than likely contributing to issues with sleep anxiety.
  • Elevation of theta over fronto-central regions indicates limbic ‘hi-jacking’ of the frontal lobe that can cause both pain, inflammation, and make one feel out-of-control when dealing with stress, anxiety, emotions, etc.
  • Amplitude asymmetry indicates significant dissociation between the 2 hemispheres of the brain. This again causes difficulties coping and is more than likely caused by the sexual traumas experienced in her past.

 

The most exciting part of QEEG is that when a problem is isolated, we can actually change the functioning of the brain and improve symptoms. We do this with neuromodulation technology, and my favorites are:

  • LORETA neurofeedback: This is where we train and teach the brain out of its current state into a more organized, symptom-free state using operant conditioning methods. This is a form of self-regulation and probably the most important when dealing with a traumatized brain
  • Pulsed EMFs This is a type of neuromodulation where we add frequencies to the brain in pEMF form, forcing the brain into a certain state. This can also be used to decrease inflammation and normalize communication in the brain.
  • Low-level Laser Therapy: Another great way to decrease inflammation, increase detoxification, increase neurogenesis (the building of new brain cells), and increase energy availability for brain functioning.
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: This technology utilizes a microcurrent to ‘turn on’ certain brain regions, and ‘turn off’ others.

— Corey Deacon

This case study was provided in conjunction with reports and findings from Corey Deacon, MSc, DNM, BCN, HHP, PhD of Neurvana Health.