Trauma Activation

A kind fellow blogger commented back to me on one of her posts in which I told her that what she wrote resonated with me. She replied that she is glad her and I are alike. I remember my automatic thought was one of confusion, why would anyone want to be similar to me, if they actually knew me? That’s the kind of state I’ve been in lately. I was doing ok for a while, but trauma reactions have been resurfacing lately with little to no provocation. The issue with trauma activation that is so frustrating is that your body is sounding the alarm, telling you, DANGER, that you need to take action. DO SOMETHING. But oftentimes there doesn’t seem to be anything to do, you’re just fearful, in emotional pain, etc. You may binge eat in these moments (I have), you may pick fights with someone (I have), you may drink or use drugs (thankfully I’ve never done this), or any number of other unhealthy things as a mechanism for distraction. Distraction can be a good thing, if it’s healthy, but obsession can take over and it’s hard when you’re certain you’re in danger. If you want to learn more about trauma, like I’ve been lately, I’ve been listening to The Body Keeps the Score on audio… and it confirms that remembering things that evoked negative emotions can produce the same visceral reactions that happened at that time in the past.

Trauma has shut down their [clients] inner compass, and robbed them of the imagination they need to create something better.

I used to be a creative person, I think. It’s been hard for me to find ways to comfort myself lately, which is why I know I’m doing badly. I know I’m becoming more depressed because I want to sleep all the time. I sleep through the night, but can take 3 hour naps during the day. Though, this could be related to my period, it happens even when I’m not on it. I never used to be bored, but lately I’ve lost interest in lots of things. I always used to find things to do, I would try to draw, paint, make jewelry, read a book, creatively write, go outside, in my free time… but lately nothing really seems appealing and everything seems like a chore, even just basic things like brushing my teeth. I’ve been doing the bare minimum with class and work, but that has been a chore too. Combating depression is exhausting, and today I definitely lost. But that’s ok, I did finish a couple of the tasks I set out for myself at least.

I’ve experienced, what my therapist calls, chronic relational trauma, throughout my life. I like this label because, though I have had a couple acute traumatic events happen to me, relationships in general, I think, have been the main culprit of my issues. This stems from not having trusting or stable relationships with parents and has carried on to friends and intimate partners. I don’t have stability, though, I’ve tried to create it for myself. This entry isn’t meant to be depressing, you can absolutely create stability for yourself, it’s just hard. I haven’t managed to rely on myself yet, but I’m closer. To have self-regulation, you need to have a friendly relationship with your body, (according to the aforementioned book), which I don’t have yet, but I have been working toward that. This deals with not trying to stuff or stop emotions/reactions, and instead, naming and acknowledging things. Suppression makes things worse. When you grow up in a house filled with tension, you feel the need to be very in tune with other’s emotional states in order to survive. You try to curb other people’s rage, sorrow, or at the very least try to anticipate it. It is in this way that trauma can be activated as an adult, when you still feel the need to take care of everyone else emotionally and feel as though you can’t stand tension with other people, because you find a way to see it as somehow your fault, or that you need to DO something about it, because that was the case initially when you developed your hyper-awareness of other’s states. This has been causing havoc for me, I think, having to deal with ongoing tension with some people in my personal life and at work/school. I feel uncomfortable when I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s an old familiar feeling and familiar path that I need to let go of. It’s not just my responsibility to fix things. Maybe some things can’t be fixed, and that’s ok. I need to stop requiring too much of myself and start to try to be comfortable in my own skin to occupy space unapologetically.

My long-time therapist has echoed what I wrote in this entry, that to work on trauma and work through painful emotions that I need to sit with them, accept them… but I brought up that if I do that, if I let myself do that, some days I’ll just be overwhelmed and need to stay in bed, useless. Where’s the sense in that? She said then, to strike a balance. I’m not sure quite how to do that, then, because then doesn’t that mean to stuff what I’m feeling like I had been all along? Though a therapist myself, it’s hard to work through things when they are personally going on for me. Practical advice doesn’t always seem so practical, and I realize that what may help will likely take a great deal of time.

I’ll summarize what I learn from the audiobook… it’ll like help me, and hopefully it’ll help someone else who reads this.

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