Often people feel ashamed for the ways they’ve survived. There is no shame in survival. Bodies are incredible- they have so many beautiful mechanisms to keep us alive, and there is no shame in any of them.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When there is a threat- our brain and body respond. They activate to help us to run, to fight, to hide- whatever is needed for survival. Sometimes when the threat we experienced (or are continuing to experience, as may be the case) is overwhelming to our system, we stay in this state of activation, or we lower the threshold to become activated. This is protective in nature. It’s to try and keep us safe. AND sometimes this constant state of hypervigilance/ sympathetic nervous system activation can have detrimental effects on our ability to function. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Being able to turn off this system is important because those are the times when our bodies can rest, repair, heal. It’s important AND it’s not easy for those who’ve experienced (experience) trauma (all forms- assault, abuse, neglect, oppression, etc). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It’s not your fault if you cannot “relax.” [And if you’re with someone who is panicking- stay with them, with permission, but please don’t tell them to “just relax,” which evokes shame! ] There are ways to help “down-regulate” our nervous systems when activated AND I always begin with this: self-compassion. It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay for your body to respond exactly how it is responding right now! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Then, if you can or wish to... If you can let yourself feel, feel. No feeling will last forever- let it come & it’ll go. Or if it’s too overwhelming, can you get yourself somewhere that’d feel (even a little bit) less overwhelming? If you can’t leave, is there something or someone that you can find (or think about) that can calm you (not completely, but even just a little)? Your grandma, your cat, the beach? Do whatever you need to do for you. Survival is enough. Sending you lots of compassion!
If you’re struggling with the effects of trauma, whether or not you have a diagnosis of PTSD, know there is help. It’s not easy to manage alone. Therapy can help. If you’re in the Atlanta area and interested to learn more about working with me, I’d love to speak with you. I provide a free 10-15 minute phone consultation. Contact me via this website or by phone: (678)653-3352.