A Bit of Information About Trauma...
If you are here reading this you are likely wondering just what trauma actually entails, what it means, and what it looks like. In that case, I invite you to get nerdy with me here for a minute and hopefully you will find this information both interesting and helpful.
You likely have heard about those survival defenses that we all have, 'fight, flight, freeze.' But the ones you might not have heard of, and are no less equally important, are 'attachment cry, collapse, submit, and feign death.'
All of these defenses help us survive so they are extremely adaptive. They are also highly dependent on the environment and our own internal sense, not to be confused with belief, of our capacity to respond.
Trauma happens when we can't do what our bodies are meant to do when threatened. So those defenses get interrupted, but they do not disappear. They become trapped in our bodies and are stuck on repeat.
The second piece of the trauma puzzle is memory, which is influenced by factors we have absolutely no control over.
For some people, there is no clarity as to why they are feeling what they are feeling. There is no memory thus it often appears to be completely irrational.
For others, there are snapshots, dreams, weird images that seem to hint that something bad might have happened but still nothing really definitive.
Or there are some who have very clear memories, but by no means are those memories complete because they often do not allow for the ingenious ways in which we survived in the first place to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Trauma resets the system because it takes things out of the context that created them (ie, needing to run, fight, hide, freeze, go limp/numb) and brings them into the present when they no longer make sense and have no real clear connection to the past; they're almost just floating in time without an anchor.
An example of this "out of context" information is: a staunchly held belief that anyone wanting to get close to you, physically, emotionally, romantically or otherwise, is only doing so in order to hurt and humiliate you. Thus, you find yourself trying for relationships time and time again but inexplicably keep ending up disconnecting or running from them. There's seemingly no clear reason that can explain this.
But that distrust makes perfect sense within the context it was created in, such as: a caregiver or other attachment figure who caused intentional harm to you when you were young and thus all relationships are associated with distrust and danger.
In a nutshell, trauma affects our ability to orient towards safety cues in the environment and instead our brains and bodies focus in on why we are not safe.
The interesting thing is that the reactions that your body has to the somatic memory of the trauma are the clues to what it needs to do to complete the defense that got interrupted, or truncated, at the time in order to release the trauma energy.
That is what I look for in session and that is what we help your body release. Pretty trippy huh?
Possible Symptoms of Trauma can be:
- Depression/feeling numb
- Anxiety/Panic Attacks
- Feelings of Shame/Worthlessness
- Relationship/Intimacy Struggles - Addictions (alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, etc)
- Dissociation (feeling disconnected from yourself and/or life)
- Hyperarousal (too much) or Hypoarousal (too little)
- Diagnosis of PTSD*
- Gaps in your memory
- Digestive Issues
- Chronic Pain
- Disordered Eating
- Struggles with Concentration/Focus
- Suicidal thoughts/desires
The list can go on.
*One important distinction to make, however, is that you can have experienced trauma in your life and not meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).