Weighted Blankets for DID and PTSD: Three Years On

The title is a lie, it’s been three and a half years since I bought my weighted blankets, and then reviewed them. I still do not regret buying the blankets. I can’t remember how much the 4kg lap blanket, and 8kg single blanket cost. It was several hundred Australian dollars.

Last year, between multiple hospital admissions, I finally finished sewing all the fiddle tags onto my single 8kg weighted blanket.IMG_4981

There’s lace, chain, cord, zips, velcro, elastic, corduroy, buttons, sequins, and more! When I’m dissociated and need to ground myself I feel each one, and try to describe it to myself. I focus on what it feels like, how I’d describe it to someone who has never heard of, seen, or felt anything like it. Most of the time ding that is enough to lessen the dissociation to a point where I can move and talk. It’s not a magical quick fix that works instantly, or every time, but it does help.

Whilst the fiddle tags help with grounding and lessening dissociation, the weight of the blanket seems to help most with anxiety, and flashbacks. My anxiety is often tied in with the relentless worrying that I do, and sometimes spirals out of control. The flashbacks tend to come with some anxiety, but a lot of fear, even terror. Either way, intense emotions.

The weight of the blanket helps me calm down and settle. Usually I double up the blanket, and try to make sure all of it is on me, and not hanging over the sides of my body. The relief is instant. It’s almost like flicking a switch. I go from feeling distressed, anxious, and terrified, to calmer and more relaxed. My body relaxes as soon as the weight is on me. I liken the experience to holding your breath for as long as you can, then finally being able to take a breath. Instant relief. There’s also a sense of calm, safety, and security. Under that blanket I know I’m okay, I know I’m safe.

How often do we use it? Honestly, not very often now. Maybe once a month, but it depends how we’re feeling and what’s going on. It’s actually one of our most forgotten grounding skills. As much as it’s useful, we still forget and need to be reminded to use it by friends or our treating team.

The other use we’ve found for the weighted blanket is to help manage pain. I have ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which causes, at times, severe pain. I’m not sure how the weighted blanket helps, but at a guess I think the weight helps my muscles to relax, which in turn helps lessen some of my muscle pain. Again, not a quick fix, and not something that will help everyone, but something I’ve found useful.

Weighted Blankets for PTSD and DID – A Review.

Earlier this month I bought two weighted blankets and I definitely do not regret it! These blankets have been incredibly helpful for me and have definitely prevented internal chaos from escalating.

I don’t currently have access to any databases or journals at the moment because I’ve deferred from my university course which means I can’t do much research. As soon as I can do some research I’ll be finding out just how weighted blankets help and why they work.

I can’t begin to explain how useful these blankets have been! I’ve been using them to help settle us at home. There have been times where I haven’t been able to settle – I’ve been agitated, on edge and just not quite okay. Having the big, eight kilo blanket over me is bliss. Feeling that weight on my shoulders and/or chest is relaxing, calming, soothing and comforting.

Whilst at respite a few weeks ago the blanket was used (I say “used” because it was staff that used it on me as opposed to me self-soothing). I’d started to dissociate and thought I could manage it without having to tell anyone or draw attention to myself. I failed. I ended up sitting in the van (we were coming back from an activity), curled up against the window, eyes closed, desperately trying to escape from the images in my head. Other clients thought I’d fallen asleep and tried to wake me – a male client gently shaking my arm didn’t help!

Thankfully the staff knew what to do this time (I’d given them a list) and one of them went and got the smaller, four kilo, blanket from my bed. When it was folded up and placed across my shoulders I could feel my body relax – the shaking stopped, my breathing slowed. I was much more present and functional (I could move and talk) within an hour. Now, I’m not sure if it was the blanket, but I think it was. It could just be that I was able to become present, more quickly for another reason – that has happened in the past. Either way, that episode didn’t last long.

The blankets each came with several “fiddle tags” sewn on the top half, however, I wasn’t pleased with them. I managed to give the four kilo blanket a “makeover” before my wrist became too painful – I sewed loops of fabric, cord, ribbon, zips and elastic around the edges. I think it looks much better and it means there’s plenty to play with!

I’m yet to start work on the bigger blanket – I’ll have to wait until my wrist is better. Which does remind me – I shouldn’t be typing, and certainly not this much so I shall leave it there and leave you all with some photos!