Sept 13, 2015
In part 1, From Chaos to Calm, I talked about how the first step in healing is creating stabilization. Stabilizing symptoms might feel like the end-goal for some, but there’s much more healing that’s possible.
In this blog, I’ll tell you what comes next, but I’ll warn you in advance: I’m describing in a somewhat linear way a process that is not linear – it’s organic (like us!).
The next phase is what I’m calling reintegration. It actually starts to show up during the stabilization phase, like when you make popcorn – you’re waiting for the oil to heat the kernels and ping! ping! ping! A few pops happen before the popping really gets going.
When we start, there are parts of us that are stuck and rigid, like ice cubes (“dorsal vagal”). This can be parts of the body, access to emotions, symptoms, etc.
We add some “heat” to the stuck places as we bring attention, awareness (and in my case, touch) to the area. The molecules start to move, become less ordered and bounce around, making it feel more like fluid.
In that period, when people are moving out of freeze, it is common for fight and flight (sympathetic) responses to appear, as a (hopefully) temporary time until the fluid state of “social engagement” becomes available more often.
August 31, 2015
I saw this picture of the warm and wonderful Mr. Rogers and got inspired today.
When you share your emotions with a trusted other, do they try to move you out of the emotion? Examples: cheer you up, talk about the problem, find a solution, or worse, ridicule you?
It’s helpful if you can let yourself have the feeling you’re having until it’s done. Often, intense emotions will come up, peak and start to feel better.
Side note: if emotions are too big, it’s better not to get overwhelmed by them, but if you can tell yourself the emotion will pass and avoid blocking it, it will most likely pass in a fairly short amount of time.
When the emotion has it’s time, then you might want to move to content (if there is content or a “something that happened”). It will be easier to deal with when the emotion is less.
It may be that when you start talking about the content, a new round of emotion comes up – this is fine, as long as it doesn’t get overwhelming. If it does, slow down, take some pauses and begin again when you’re ready.
Help your trusted other understand this process and tell him/her what you need.
July 20, 2015
In my last post I talked about how increased regulation in my nervous system was a key factor in some really big changes for me. I mentioned that it helped me stop relying on sugar, but it also was part of reducing fatigue, anxiety and depression.
How does that happen? Here's how I work with clients.
Step One: We build a container.
Back in my early days of learning Somatic Experiencing, I was also just starting to help my own nervous system. During that time, I actually became more over-sensitive to sounds, light and crowds.
Which is why it seems like an odd choice that I went to Target – even on a weekday in the middle of the day.
I guess whatever I was looking for was important enough to go through the draining effects of being overstimulated, but by the time I reached the check-out line, my anxiety was up and my energy was dropping fast.
A few days later, on a phone call to my SE consultant, Twig Wheeler, I told what happened next.
June 8, 2015
The Purgatory of "Why?"
If there were a version of Dante's Inferno for trauma, the looping thought would surely be one of the tortures. "Why" is one that I've been hearing a lot lately.
Last week, a client who has been seeing me for a few months came in for her session. She is a successful professional in her 40's who survived a very chaotic alcoholic family growing up. Her husband recently left her after two years of marriage. I'll call her Jenna.*
Jenna: If I could just figure out why he left me. Was it something I did? Why wasn't I enough for him?
7 Things We Learn About Trauma from Outlander
June 1, 2015
The Last two episodes of Outlander's season one have created a lot of buzz for the boundaries it pushes with its storyline of rape and torture of a male hero. As a trauma-healing-geek (one who is passionate for creating transformation), there are so many interesting things to notice about how the story handles trauma.
1. Honor and love made Jamie override his fight/flight impulses. When Jamie gives his word that he will surrender to Black Jack Randall, he is consiously suppressing what his body wants to do - get away.
Licensed California Marriage & Family Therapist #49771
Copyright Brandy Vanderheiden 2007. All rights reserved.