Archive for category Background & Planning

SuperBetter Weekly Digest

Ok I love these things as well as my MapMyRuns Weekly Digests!

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The Healing Power of Telling Stories

The other day I sat down and wrote up the work I had done in the last 3 of the final 4 chapters of the workbook and how it relates to my current life. I felt afterwards, I shouldn’t have done that, that no one is listening, and if they are, they’re just thinking, “shut up and get over it.” Then I read this today:

Tim O’Brien, Vietnam veteran, and author of The Things They Carried, once wrote: “Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

I believe stories can change the world. I always have and I always will. As a child, reading and writing saved my life. It’s why I became an English teacher. It’s why I wrote Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD. I believe stories have the power to help us face our truths, to make us better understand each other, and to teach us the morality by which to live.

Stories can make the unseen seen. They can make the intangible tangible, the general specific. They can strike a chord in people and make them change—make them take action, and even help them heal—the way nothing else ever could.

Though I can hope day in and day out that my blog and sharing my experience with SuperBetter is helping others getting better from trauma, I know I am really doing it for myself. And I have strongly encouraged others to start their own blogs because it has been by far the most therapeutic thing I’ve done. It helps me keep track of my progress and makes me seriously check in with myself on how I am feeling in the present moment. Every time I get discouraged I remind myself of this and sit down and take the time to write.

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Lab Tools & Equipment for Getting Better from PTSD

I realized the other day that I have been playing SuperBetter for over 6 months now since the end of February and beginning of March 2012. This morning I was reflecting on all of the tools and Quests from SuperBetter, the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence, and working with my SuperBetter allies and therapist, that I’ve used to work on PTSD and was thinking, hey, I should create a toolbox or to be more appropriate for my SuperBetter Hero who is a scientist, “A Summary of Laboratory Tools and Equipment!” So here goes.

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Summary of Laboratory Tools and Equipment (to Get Better from PTSD)

PTSD / Trauma Symptom Lab Equipment, Tools or Methods to Use
Anticipation

Hypervigilance

  • SuperBetter MindMaster PowerPack
  • Be aware of being hypervigilant
  • Be aware of my expectations
  • React instead of anticipate
  • Broken Babel Fish Quest – Read about it in my post here
Supposed To Beliefs

Expectations

  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapter on “Supposed to” Beliefs That Lead Women to Stay or Go Back
Dealing with Conflict

Avoidance

  • Deal with conflict instead of avoid it
  • Make Quests to do things I’m avoiding like go to the dentist, say “Excuse me”, go to a place to make new memories I associate with my abuser
Negative Self-Talk
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapters Feel Better by Changing the Way You Talk to YourselfThe Power of Nonnegative Thinking
  • Track your Negative Self-Talk – see my posts here and here
Assertiveness

Self-Advocacy

Self-Compassion

Body Image

  • SuperBetter The Mood Elevator: Ground Floor PowerPack
  • SuperBetter Being Awesome PowerPack
  • SuperBetter Better Than a Chill Pill PowerPack
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapters on Self-Advocacy: An Overview and Initial Self Assessment and Assertiveness, Aggressiveness and How to Take the High Road
Stress & Muscle Tension
  • SuperBetter Stress Buster Power Pack
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapter on Managing Stress By Controlling Muscle Tension – See my post on this chapter here.
Anxiety

Isolation

  • SuperBetter MindMaster PowerPack
  • Quest to Ask for Help
  • SuperBetter Social Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day PowerPack
Guilt
  • Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook chapters How to Get Rid of Your Guilt  – See my post with my results here
  • Talk with a veteran or other domestic violence victims with PTSD and their experience of how they overcame guilt (this can be via an online chat, in person, etc.) – It helps!
  • Forgive yourself – This will happen!
Nightmares
  • Remember: Nightmares are just reminders of the types of people and behavior you need to be wary of – Read my post on this here

I’m sure I’m missing some tools, but can always add them in later, or new ones as I learn about them.

What things have worked for you to get better from PTSD? What do you want to try? What are the biggest obstacles you are facing?

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My Scientist Hero’s SuperPowers

In playing SuperBetter you can play whatever Hero you want to be to get better. I had picked a great scientist.

But, to make it a little fun, I was lately thinking of the X-Men and Jean Grey. Kind of a scientist of some sort and for some reason she was always my favorite character in the X-Men.

I was trying to think how Jean Grey’s super powers could relate to getting better from PTSD and here’s what I came up with:

Super Power As it relates to getting better from trauma
Telepathy
  • Awareness of being hypervigilant
  • Awareness of my expectations
Telekinesis
Phoenix Force grants the ability to:

Travel unaided through space

  • Resilience!
  • Ask for Help
  • React instead of avoid conflict
      Psionically manipulate matter and any form of energy
  • Keep Positive
  • Do my power ups on a daily basis, especially:
  1. Running, biking, or swimming
  2. Spending time with friends

 

      Create powerful “cosmic” fire
  • Overcome anxiety
  • Manage stress through muscle tension exercises and breathing
  • Deal with nightmares

 

      Resurrect from death and manipulate life energy in others
  • Practice Self-Compassion
  • Practice influence – optimism, relate to people
  • Spend time with friends and family
      Manipulate timelines
  • Overcome Guilt
  • Witness your experience
  • Live in the Now
  • Stop Negative Self-Talk

This was pretty fun to come up with. 🙂

Who would you be and how would you use your super powers to meet your goal?

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Just For Fun

Ok this post is really just for fun.

On the Media: SuperBetter Diaries Entry 3 – http://www.onthemedia.org/blogs/on-the-media/2011/oct/19/superbetter-diaries-entry-3-movin-along/

I liked this guy’s post about the quests his allies had given him and Jane directing him to check out Omar Little on Twitter: “Take strength! Take courage!!!! Be a warrior not a worrier!”  Some of the quests his allies gave him could really brighten up your day. It makes me think I need to seriously do some of my fun quests I gave myself, like the broken babelfish cartoons.

The Hybrid Athlete: Why You Suck and Look the Same – http://www.thehybridathlete.com/why-you-suck-and-look-the-same/

Ok, I think this post can be a little extreme, but I get it and feel that way about people, life in general, and my own physical fitness and battles. I may catch myself complaining, “the course was too hilly” or “so-and-so didn’t communicate with me”, but often I just take full responsibility for what went down. “Your outlook sucks” is often a good reminder to pull me out of poor mental states. And then that brings me to the next two things I read that help explain some things about why I’ve always been able to meet my goals and be so damn driven.

Pick the Brian: 7 Habits Highly Effective People Don’t Have – http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/7-habits-highly-effective-people-dont-have/

At work, I probably annoy people because I am always evaluating the priorities of things and focus on completing one thing at a time according to that priority. My desk is also always completely free of clutter. I don’t even print out much. Everything is organized on my computer. I am always asking the question, “What is the worst that can happen if I do this?” and just get on with it. I’ve always been a pretty clear goal setter and luckily had training on how to do this. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who blame other people. I actually pride myself on taking responsibility for my failures. I have done it a zillion times at work and personally. Life is not about being perfect. Life is about living it. We shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and try things. That’s my take.

DISC Personality Test – http://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/

My results explained a lot.

Influence – 32%

  • are strongly interested in meeting and being with people.
  • are generally optimistic, outgoing, and socially skilled.
  • are quick at establishing relationships.

Sometimes their concern for people and people’s feelings may make them reluctant to disturb a favourable situation or relationship.

Dominance – 28%

  • enjoy competition and challenge.
  • are goal orientated and want to be recognised for their efforts.
  • aim high, want authority and are generally resourceful and adaptable.
  • are usually self-sufficient and individualistic.
  • may lose interest in projects once the challenge has gone and they tend to be impatient and dissatisfied with minor detail.

Steadiness – 24%

  • tend to enjoy change and variety in their work and non-work life.
  • are expansive by nature and tend not to like routine and repetitive work/activities.

Compliance – 16%

  • are independent and uninhibited.
  • resent rules and restrictions.
  • prefer to be measured by results and are always willing to try the untried.

Free in thought, word and deed, they long for freedom and go to great lengths to achieve it.

discusonline.com talks a lot about the negative traits of my results as well, which I can identify with.

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A New Kind of Growth

I’ve been very busy the past couple of weeks, which is why I’ve been near non-existent. A week ago I came to the conclusion that the post traumatic growth I was experiencing for the past year and half was starting to fizzle out. The world didn’t seem so bright and shiny. Things were just starting to become like everyone else seemed to experience it, just “Meh.” For example, I ran three half marathons in the past month and wasn’t like “Wow, that was completely awesome!” I didn’t want to lose the feelings I have about how amazing so many things in my life are, so I have been gripping onto them tight.

This week I noticed I was a little more relaxed version of myself even though I just wrapped up a super stressful week to flow into yet another stressful week. I might have let a lot of emails, texts, and phone calls slip by. I didn’t really feel like socializing. I just felt like being in tune with myself. Though I worked most nights, I took a couple hours to veg or explore new places and things. Then the stress finally caught up to me and I got sick and stayed in bed rather than go on my long run.

This morning though it was raining, I set out to do my long run, headache and all, before a long day of plans. I was smiling most of the run. I felt like I was flying and free.

Last week after finishing the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon, I said to my friends, I need something inspiring to read again. They said, “Why don’t you read Born to Run?” I had it sitting around for awhile now. Now, I’m almost done with it. Reading Born to Run, I had another eureka moment like when I read Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken. I read about how the real secret of the Tarahumara was they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. This really rung true to me too. And reading about Scott Jurek, who is also from Seattle like myself, I was inspired by his story where he was picked on growing up and dealt with the hopelessness of taking care of his mother who would never get better, where running was his outlet. My whole life running has been my outlet, as well as a zillion other outdoor activities and sports. But, running is truly where I feel free.

Then I started thinking about Michael Richards (@mtcrun) who is also playing SuperBetter and won the Skagway Half Marathon at the beginning of the month. Michael is using SuperBetter to get better from depression, but he set his Epic Win to run the Half Marathon. After winning, Michael said, “Jane, you and @SuperBetter are directly responsible for helping me run, win, and, most importantly, enjoy the 1/2 :).” And two weeks later I saw his post that he was setting his next Epic Win. I also noticed a ton of posts about his group runs and training leading up to the race, which all in all lead to getting better from depression. And suddenly I had this eureka moment. Why aren’t I setting Epic Wins to do things I love to accomplish getting better from PTSD? Rather than focusing on the symptoms of PTSD, which has made this kind of daunting. So I don’t know exactly where to begin, but I suddenly had a change in my mindset about playing the SuperBetter game and about life in general, which I think is going to lead to a new kind of growth.

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SuperBetter: Allies & Game Quest Ideas Revisited

This week I had an interview with SuperBetter to talk about the game and it was awesome because it allowed me to step back and reflect on the game. The game has given me a lot of things I needed to help me make progress on healing from the trauma of domestic violence and other abuse history. It has given me structure I need, the ability to track my progress, Power Packs with Quests, and tips and tricks to help me get to my goals and in a fun way. And I seriously love the secret files. If people would send me cool interesting facts that apply to my day-to-day life all the time, I would probably have the equivalent of the “runner’s high” without having to run.

Re-thinking Allies

There are a couple things I’ve been realizing I need to tweak. Originally, when I went into the game, I thought I’d invite my friends as allies and there’s certain things I think each of them could help with in person when we hang out on a regular basis which I mapped out in the post SuperBetter: Allies Mission Ideas. That hasn’t been the case. I talked about it in therapy a bit. Why are my friends not really engaging in the game? And brought it up in the interview with SuperBetter. My therapist had talked about it as people have a difficult time interacting with people they know in person, online. In person, they see you in one way, and then online, differently. Plus the subject matter I am working with, healing from trauma, is an extremely sensitive and uncomfortable one. People don’t want to deal with that. Both my therapist and SuperBetter suggested I try to work with allies I meet through the game who are struggling with similar problems. I have one ally I met through the game who has been my strongest and best ally in the game. And I would highly recommend pairing up with someone in the game. 

My ally from SuperBetter is in a completely different timezone, but that is not a barrier. We interact mostly through e-mail, in a pen pal type way. I do my e-mailing in the morning and she has my undivided attention. We work through problems that we’re facing, share our ideas for dealing with them, and ask each other for each other’s support. We both have similar personality types and are dealing with very similar problems. 

Epic Wins & Better Ties to Quests (and Putting More Thought/Time into Quests)

One of the things I’d like to start doing a better job of in SuperBetter is being able to plan out or tie Quests to complete in order to reach my Epic Wins. Epic Wins, to me, are really a goal you are trying to reach for. I’ve been planning my Epic Wins around the areas in the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence and areas I notice within that week or month time span that I am having a particular problem with. When I started SuperBetter, my big focus was on Negative Self-Talk and Hypervigilance because I know I was driving people around me nuts by doing it and they were being addressed early on in the chapters of the workbook. I am guessing the workbook is set up in the way it is for a reason. But, the workbook is not the end-all be-all and therapy is only one hour a week and I use it to bring the things I’m really struggling with to each week. I feel like if I want to really get better, make progress, and continue to keep it up, I’m going to have to make it more part of my day-to-day life. But, it also can’t be miserable and difficult. It has to be fun and rewarding. Some of the Quests I thought up in my 2 posts, SuperBetter: Game Quest Ideas and SuperBetter: Allies Mission Ideas, I haven’t even actually put them into my SuperBetter game! And there’s stuff my ally and I talk about that are great ideas, I also haven’t put into the game. So it’s time to put some real effort into this and make it really fun and rewarding.

Here’s some examples of my current Quests, most of which are from the Power Packs “Social Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day” and “Stress Buster”, that map up to my Epic Wins.

Stress & Muscle Tension

  • Learn About Stress
  • Find an Oasis
  • Doing the Meditation Deed: The One-Time-Only 25-Minute Challenge (OK so I did all the others but haven’t found 25 minutes to meditate yet. I must do this Monday night!)
Avoidance
 
  • Find a Dentist
  • Make a Dentist Appointment
  • Track when I won’t ask question to avoid conflict
  • Go to places or do something I associate with my abuser

Self Advocacy

  • I am thinking of loading the “Being Awesome” Power Pack for this area
  • Ask for Help – regular reminder to ask for help (or anything, including “excuse me”) which is something I have an insanely difficult time doing and should probably get to the root of, why?
  • Say Excuse Me to ask someone to move – I need to make this a regular Quest
  • Stop Negative Self-Talk

Social Anxiety

  • Pay It Forward – Do something nice for someone in your life. I did this yesterday! 🙂
  • Give the Gift of Experience – This will be done Tuesday and I can’t wait to hear their reaction! 🙂
  • Three Things That Rocked – Write down 3 things that rocked over 5 days (recurring Quest)

Hypervigilance / Anticipation

  • React instead of anticipate
  • Broken Babel fish game – Draw cartoons from the week of things I’ve heard, what I thought they meant, and what they really meant

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SuperBetter: Allies Mission Ideas

A week ago after a month of debating back and forth, I sent out an email to my friends to tell them my plan of using SuperBetter, the workbook, and therapy to get better and ask them if they’d play the game with me. Luckily, quite a few said yes, they would help me, but how? I started to think of things I needed help with and who I could see helping me with what. These are the missions I came up with so far.

Allies Mission Ideas

Mission #1: Encouragement and Remind me to Power Up – Weekly check in

I have one friend in particular who always inspires me whenever he talks about his day-to-day stuff. One of my most favorite Power-Ups is to learn something new. Undoubtedly I almost always learn something new around him.

Mission #2: Work on Social Anxiety and Isolation – Discuss when I anticipate and worry rather than do – Weekly check in

I have a group of friends who I often feel isolated from. I think it’s because of some of my behavior. I’ve heard they often think I don’t really sync with them or I don’t have the same sense of humor as them. I find that kind of funny, but I get it. And despite that, I really like this group of people and want to continue growing stronger relationships with them. The person from this group who I am thinking about for this mission is actually one of my heroes. She is an amazing person who has accomplished so much, is hardworking, goal oriented, adventurous, fun, introspective, kind, caring, hilarious, and inspiring. All the things that come natural for her, don’t come natural for me. I could learn a lot from this person.

Mission #3: Help Fix My Broken Babel fish – Every other week

This mission got turned down already! But, I think it would still be fun.

I have what I like to call a broken Babel fish. I hear people say something and think they mean something else, which is usually something negative. I almost see drawings being involved here with what was said, what was heard, what they really meant. Then I’d figure out why I thought they meant something negative and stop doing that. This is something we could do once a week or every other week.

Mission #4: Work on Avoidance

I have one friend who asks me how things are going at work, with music, and with other stuff on a regular basis. I don’t know how he can help me work on this yet though. Maybe help me set small goals and check-ins to get me to be able to work on music and go to the dentist.

Mission #5: Stop Negative Self-Talk

I have two friends who are already great at calling me out on this. When I first started dating my boyfriend, he actually made me say two positive things about myself every time I said something negative. I hated doing that so much, that surely the negative put-downs came to a halt.

But, the sorry’s, should have’s, could have’s, forgot to’s, supposed to’s, and “I feel” statements ending with words that are not emotions just keep on coming. And once and a while a negative statement slips out. He has gotten pretty good at countering them with the following statements, which is pretty much what the Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook tells you to think of when you go to say these things.

  1. “Why are you saying you’re sorry? Could you have stopped X from happening?”
  2. “You’re not supposed to do anything. You can do whatever you want.”
  3. “Are you responsible for that?” Or “Do you have any power over that?”

Mission #6: Self-Advocacy – Every two weeks check in

I have one friend who already is pretty attentive to when I don’t ask for something or take something I want. We could check in and tally up my battles for when I was my own self-advocate and where I may have lost, and learn from there. I hope over time I learn to be my own self-advocate.

Mission #7: Goal Check Ins – Every two weeks check in

I have one friend, like me, who is really big on goals. On one hike we talked a lot about goals and I really liked learning about her goals as well. I think she would be a great person to check in with and keep each other motivated on our goals.

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SuperBetter: Game Quest Ideas

Here’s my Quest ideas so far for the game SuperBetter to help work on some of the problems I identified in my previous post. Next I will write about my Allies Mission ideas.

Quest Ideas

Track Negative Self-Talk – Daily

Track your negative self-talk on a daily basis using a Negative Self-Talk Tracking Form. I created an online form using Adobe Forms to make it easier to track to see my results over time. The form tracks how often and what times and days you say phrases of concern such as:

  1. “should…” “should have…” “I could have…”
  2. Self-Put-Downs of your entire personality or character (e.g. I’m stupid, I’m retarded, I’m such a fuck up, etc.)
  3. “I feel…” statements ending with words that are not emotions (e.g. “I feel obligated…” “I feel overwhelmed…” “I feel sorry for…”
  4. And my greatest offender, “I’m sorry” (Apologies for no reason)

 

Avoidance: Track when I won’t ask questions to avoid conflict

After one therapy session, I got the assignment to identify when I’m ok with communicating and when I’m not and what the correlation is to conflict. In what I did test this out on, almost everything was because I was afraid of conflict and I was afraid of being judged.

This one I would like to most certainly use SuperBetter’s Battles to work on it. I’m not good at doing this one yet in my day to day. So maybe something like reflecting on situations afterwards will help me start being more aware.

Avoidance: Work on doing things or going places that I associate with my abuser

There are some places and things I would love to do that I just clam up about when I’m even just thinking about it. Some are going to certain restaurants, eating eggs, potatoes and spaghetti, working on music, drawing and working on creative projects, and going to the dentist.

I will eat eggs, potatoes, and spaghetti, but I feel completely nauseated when I do.

Last week I went to a bar and restaurant because I wanted to spend time with my friends. But, I felt really uneasy about going there. I dug deeper to figure out why and remembered both times that I went to that place resulted in some pretty bad nights when I went home. The first time I went there resulted in such a violent fight that I was covered in bruises for two weeks. That night was also significant because I almost got out of there and I think I would have gotten help then like the night that I did finally leave. But, I went back. I didn’t want to tell my friends I felt uneasy about the place and why, and I decided I was strong enough to disassociate the place with my ex. It is an irrational fear. I can go there as long as he is not there to hurt me.

I hope I can continue to break through these things and be able to do them again in the future. Some might take more work than others.

Self-Advocacy: Treat myself like I treat others and how I want to be treated

One thing I discussed in therapy is how I have no problem at work identifying if something is a waste of time, money or resources. But, when it comes to something I want or need, I spend an endless amount of time anticipating judgment or worrying about it rather than just asking and reacting. If I treat things I want the same way I treat a problem at work, I will ask for what I want and spend a whole lot less time, money, and energy on it. I also find it takes a whole lot less time to react to someone than anticipating what will happen if I ask for something. I don’t think this exact way of thinking will work for everyone, but it helps me act in my best interest better.

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About Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook for Women and SuperBetter

When I started therapy last year I set the following goals:

  1. To have closure
  2. To build confidence
  3. Not to repeat the same mistakes
  4. To change my relationships by having good communication and strong friendships

I had no idea what I was dealing with. Through therapy I found I was:

  1. Doing a lot of anticipating for fear of being judged
  2. Doing a lot of negative self talk
  3. Saying a lot of “Supposed to’s”
  4. Having a lot of nightmares
  5. Having a lot of irrational anxiety for unknown reasons
  6. Doing a lot of avoiding of conflict by not asking questions
  7. Not being my self-advocate by not asking for things I want or need or putting my foot down for myself

I chose the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook for Women because the chapters spoke exactly to the things I wanted to work on. It covers:

  1. Self-Advocacy
  2. Strategies for Letting Go
  3. How to Stop Negative Self Talk in the chapters “Feel Better by Changing the Way You Talk to Yourself” and “the Power of Nonnegative Thinking”
  4. How to manage stress by controlling Muscle Tension
  5. How to get rid of your guilt
  6. How to get rid of “Supposed to” beliefs
  7. How to be assertive
  8. How to overcome fear
  9. How to identify potential perpetrators

I’m not that far through it, but I already see it gives you some great tools to help you get better, such as a Negative Self-Talk Tracking Form. But, it can be hard to get through it. It is also difficult to deal with PTSD because I often feel very isolated. And I think I know that some of the reasons why I am isolated is because of the behavior I have adapted over the years from being abused.

Now that brings me to SuperBetter!

With SuperBetter you can:

  1. Identify your goals
    1. It is probably better for these to be broken down into smaller missions that you can accomplish in a day or week
  2. Identify your “Bad Guys”
    1. These are the things I listed above like anticipating or saying a lot of “Supposed to’s”
  3. Identify your “Power Ups”, the things that make you feel better
    1. Power Ups can be anything as small as “look at pictures of kittens” to “go for a walk at a park” to as a big as “going to some place new and foreign”, whatever makes you happy and feel empowered or excited about life
  4. Invite Allies, your close friends and family members, to join you in the game and assign them a mission
  5. Your Allies can also assign you missions

I already see some immediate benefits here to playing the game.

  • It can make getting better fun
  • It helps break down isolation
  • You are more likely to put the effort in to meet your goals
  • You can check in daily or weekly and see immediate results

Here is a story of a person with Crohn’s disease who played a game similar to SuperBetter for more information on how it works:

http://crohnsend.com/tag/superbetter/

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