Navigating Mitigations or “Medications”

As I am learning more about the nervous system and about trauma, I am better able to see, notice, and understand what happens in my body. Basically I almost never really feel ok. Sometimes I feel pretty ok, but I’m still not whole-heartedly enthusiastic or joyfully or fully embodied. And much of the time, whatever level of ok I feel, it’s fragile, it can easily be derailed by conflict, stress or confusion. One way of explaining this is that I can get thrown off balance by something that is a trigger of a past trauma. And sometimes that’s clealy what happens – I notice my whole body moving rather quickly from relative stability into being wired, alert, concerned, distressed, and unable to feel calm.

But I believe that there is a different dynamic that also occurs. Here is what I think is going on. My post-traumatic nervous system is never actually at ease. When I feel pretty ok it is because the combination of mitigations that I have put in place is working. I’m not organically ok; rather, I’ve arranged to feel and function ok because of the various things I’m doing to take care of myself. Here are some examples of things I do to take care of myself; that is, to regulate my nervous system.

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I need an Owner’s Manual

I’m coming to understand more of the neurology and psychology of post-trauma, bit by bit. I understand that I have a pattern of being in chronic freeze mode – that any sort of challenge or conflict sends me directly into freeze, where I am in a state of continuously actively numbing myself. And I understand that underneath the freeze or numbness are powerful urges to flee and/or fight. And those urges for positive action are in conflict with the urge to remain motionless at all costs. And that this exhausting battle and stalemate continues perpetually in my bodymind. And I understand that I do not have the required neurological hardware to easily or organically develop and sustain healthy connected safe relationships with anyone – that the lack of healthy attachment bonding as an infant left me without the infrastructure I needed, so I’m working at a deficit in my efforts and wishes to build relationships. And I understand that there is a whole complex of unresolved trauma in my system, which produces a range of neurological and physical symptoms. And that some kinds of activities can mitigate and sometimes suspend those symptoms but that they tend to just keep showing up day by day and hour by hour.

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Making Friends with the Discomfort

I’ve had a difficult few weeks – physical discomfort, intense procrastination patterns, unease: moderately intense post-traumatic stress.

Last weekend I completed the second Somatic Experiencing class session, Beginning II. It was a good class, and I felt more regulated at the end of it than when I started. But even then I did not feel great, more like “pretty much ok”.

My realization today is that the discomfort of post-traumatic stress is not going to go away quickly or easily. I should already know that. But my focus has been around finding various tools, resources, approaches to make that discomfort go away. That’s a reasonable approach but I’m thinking that it may not be enough. Because the discomfort is not going to go away quickly, so in addition to trying to get rid of it, I also need to work out how to live with it in a way that works better than what I have done so far.

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Why Do I Forgo Self-care?

I didn’t feel so bad this morning, likely because I took my supplements last night for the first time in several days. So why don’t I make a point of taking the supplements every day if they help me to feel better?

I came across some reasons in my post-sleep study. Note that I’m not saying they are valid, just that they are there.

Feeling better doesn’t fix anything, it just obscures it.

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How to Stay Connected with My Self?

I finally got up – it’s almost noon. I’ve been lying in bed trying to process. Asking how can I feel good about my life? How can I have a day where it feels like I am ok? Yes there is a lot about my life that is difficult, frustrating, maddening and out of my control. But what I was feeling into is that even if all of those things were gone that I still would not feel ok.

There IS a lot that is outside of me, but what is inside me is still a huge problem.

I have the sense that I want to somehow move through my day in slow motion. I don’t yet have the concepts around what that means, what it would do, how it relates to things. It feels like if I could move in slow motion then I could remain connected to myself. If I move fast or even at a normal pace I lose myself and become the task or activity.

If I move at a normal pace I lose myself. If I relate to another person, I also lose myself.

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Anger. What to do? What does it want? Self-processing

I am angry about something. It’s something that it makes sense to me that I would be angry about, something I can’t change or influence, something that I believe is counter-productive or destructive. The question: “Is it really accurate that I can’t change or influence this in any way” is always a fair question. In this case, the answer is something like “Maybe but not really or not easily, not enough that trying to effect change is an effective way to be with my anger.”

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Self-processing – old stuff

This piece is my journaling and self-processing through a fairly intense activation. The content is real time content as I recorded it, edited a bit for my privacy.

Yesterday I was quiet – reclusive – difficulty with interacting – ended up hiding in puzzles for hours – also ate chocolate. Day before was a good day – I felt safe – I went to bed feeling less wired than has happened in a long time. My story was that I dropped down to a different level of settling and have gotten in touch with a new layer of stuff.

Today right now I feel really activated. I ran into a bit of a conflict and I feel like I have no resources to manage a conflict – or any other challenge. I feel stripped raw. That’s a post-traumatic activated feeling. So here is an opportunity – I’m right there in the soup. So I can try things and see what works. But I don’t want to try anything. I just want to curl up in a corner.

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My thoughts about your expectations

One of the things that I notice getting in the way of my productivity, creativity, and sense of peace is the pressure to meet the expectations of other people around me, pressure that is based on expectations that I am making up.

I started this blog with the intention of capturing my ideas, insights and observations related to the healing of trauma, through doing – or attempting to do – my own personal trauma healing work. I figured that some of the things I observe and discover may be useful to others.

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Thoughts on navigating a post-traumatic life

In a healthy state, I will continuously be engaged in Self-expression, Self-protection, and Self-care.

I can calibrate the amount of attention that my self-protection and self-care require, and I will be consciously aware of the signals that come from my body, indicating specific needs for protection and care.

When I am in a post-traumatic state (which means most of us to at least some extent), several gaps are introduced into this process:

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