Create more choice.
Trauma robs us of our humanity and our potential. Long after the trauma, the mind and nervous system continue to operate out of survival mode. Behaviors and beliefs that were once life saving can become a hindrance in the present. Our main goal as trauma specialists is to help people move from survival mode to thriving mode.
What happened was a tragedy. To continue living with the pain and suffering is heart breaking and absolutely needless.
One of the insidious side affects of trauma is high anxiety all the time, 24/7. Sometimes the high anxiety escalates into panic attacks, without reason. You will feel unsafe and know that something’s wrong, but will be unable to put your finger on just exactly what is wrong or unsafe about your current situation, which leads you to think you’re “crazy” or “making things up.”
The real reason for the high anxiety is the original trauma. Long after the event or events, the anxiety (feeling of fear) is still running in your nervous system. You are still in survival mode.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) treatment, developed by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. goes directly to the nervous system where the anxiety resides. My goal is to help you process the traumas via your nervous system so that you no longer have to live in survival mode and instead, move to thriving mode where you can experience ease and safety.
Depression is a side effect of trauma. The essence of trauma is chaos. Trauma happens to us. Trauma is unwanted. Trauma is unexpected. Trauma disrupts stability. Stability is the essence of safety. There is no safety when trauma happens. We are left with feelings of fear and distrust for the world and all that lives in the world, including our relationships. When we feel unsafe we naturally seek safety. When we cannot trust the world or other people, we withdraw into our homes, into ourselves.
This natural urge to withdraw when scared runs counter to our need to be connected to the world and be connected to other people. We are social creatures. We are pack animals. Our interdependency have allowed for our species survival.
The combination of these two powerful impulses, withdraw due to fear and connect for survival, are fighting within the self producing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness long after the original trauma. This is depression.
You do not have to stay in this vicious cycle of pain and suffering. With therapy that combines insight into your behaviors, your beliefs and the sum affect on your biology, such as your brain and your nervous system, along with new skills, you can break free from this debilitating cycle. You can live and thrive as you were meant to do in the first place. Because thriving, being the whole you, offering your gifts to humanity is your birthright.
Dissociation enables many a child or adult to get through a traumatic event as it is happening so that they can live to face another day. Dissociation becomes an issue when it is an automatic or unconscious way of dealing with everyday life stresses, situations and people.
Dissociation can be experienced in many forms. For example, most of us have had the experience of daydreaming during a boring lecture. The act of being elsewhere with our awareness is dissociation in the broadest sense of the word. Dissociation exists on a continuum. On the extreme end is having no idea what just happened, as if jumping out of the body, even if only for a split-second. Some might even develop different personalities to deal with certain traumatic events in life, commonly called Dissociated Identity Disorder (DID).
Depersonalization is another form of dissociation. Depersonalization is feeling that you don’t belong to your body. In the extreme you may not recognize your reflection in a mirror. Some experience depersonalization as a numbness in the body or as a complete disconnection from the body altogether. Numbness can refer to emotions as well as to the physical body.
Emotional disregulation is when emotions are experienced at such an extreme level that they feel intolerable. Also, the emotions experienced in some situations can be inappropriate for the situation. For example, some people feel nothing when facing imminent, extreme danger. Another example is when someone reacts with complete rage at a perceived slight such as someone cutting ahead of them in a line, causing them to react with yelling and cursing, and, for some, even to the extreme of violence. The goal is to learn how to modulate and tolerate all negative and positive emotions.
Most people who suffer from PTSD do not believe they have PTSD. This is because the symptoms of PTSD creep up quietly, slowly and over time. Due to this time lapse between event and symptoms most people cannot link the event to their symptoms of panic, pain, suffering, depression, anxiety, migraines, constant fear, and constant worrying.
What’s really happening underneath the skin, specifically in the nervous system, is that when trauma happens fight/flight or freeze responses are triggered. These are natural, instinctual survival tools encoded within all human beings. When the fight/flight/freeze responses do not get expressed, this helpless energy stays in the nervous system. In other words, the nervous system gets triggered and is now stuck on “ON.” This “ON” switch leads to flooding of chemistry in the nervous system and the person feels unsafe and exists in a state of constant vigilance.
If that is not bad enough, there are side affects from this flooding of survival chemistry in the nervous system. Excessive survival chemistry can lead to metabolic health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, migraines, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, loss of sleep, poor concentration and an over-all feeling of helplessness.
Over time the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness combined with metabolic health issues erode the self and self-esteem plummets. Shame sets in. And suddenly, we feel like we are forever in no-man’s land or that we are always drowning. And worse, we feel “there is something fundamentally wrong with me.”
Somatic Experiencing (SE) treatment, developed by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. goes directly to the nervous system where the stuck traumatic energy resides. My goal is to help you teach your nervous system to come out of PTSD gently and with great compassion.