Trauma and the nervous system

Atlanta-based trauma therapist, Sarah Pannell, shares more about the connection between trauma and the nervous system.

When there is a threat- our brain and body respond. Our nervous system gets overwhelmed- this is a trauma reaction. It is normal for those who’ve experienced to have a harder time relaxing. Anxiety and panic are not uncommon. This is not your fault.

Your pain matters, it's valid

Have you ever caught yourself invalidating your experience, your pain, because “someone else has it worse”? Comparison is the worst companion! It keeps us small and trapped in lies, unable to reach out & get the support we need!

So often I hear this from my clients ask: “Do I really NEED therapy? Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe I should just read another self-help book...” I hear clients, especially those with eating disorders, question if they are “sick enough.” Their body doesn’t “look sick,” they can still work or go to school, they haven’t yet experienced x or y symptom so clearly it’s “not that bad.” Honestly, I don’t blame my clients for this- if this is you, it’s not your fault. Our society has created a hierarchy around who “deserves” care, our medical establishment often still reinforces that somehow internal suffering should have visible’s ludicrous!

Eating Disorder Recovery

I could go on a rant here but succinctly- YOU CANNOT “SEE” INTERNAL PAIN!! And one more rant: there is NO “SICK ENOUGH”- SIZE and/or MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS are NOT PREREQUISITES for diagnosis of an eating disorder nor do they determine your level of suffering!! Eating Disorders can, often do, have medical complications, but having “normal labs” does NOT mean you’re “fine.”

If you are struggling with food, if you feel out of control around food, maybe you feel like you’re “addicted” to food, or maybe you’ve tried every diet and they always end with a binge (that’s not just you- that’s the way diets end for most humans)…know that your pain matters. You don’t have to have a diagnosis of an eating disorder to get help. I work with lots of clients who’ve been chronic dieters, struggle with their body image or just want to make peace with food. No matter where you are- it’s okay!

And this can be said for many other struggles- just because you can go to work, doesn’t mean your depression or anxiety isn’t worthy of attention. Maybe you have panic attacks, or maybe you function well all day but then you’re mind races as you try to go to sleep. You don’t have to wait for it to get worse to get help. And a word on trauma- I think people are very quick to discredit their experiences as trauma. Often people say “it wasn’t that bad”- but if it’s still bothering you, if it still hurts- it matters. Just because the event happened 3 years go (or 25 years) ago doesn’t mean you should be “over it,” even if others are telling you should be.

If you are suffering, if you are in pain, please hear that is enough! If you say you’re in pain, I will believe you. Please know you never have to prove you are “sick enough.” Being a human saying, “I’m hurting, I need help”- that’s so unbelievably brave, I will honor that! I will listen. I will be with you in your journey & help you to find the next steps for you. You matter. Your pain is valid, it matters because it’s your experience & you matter!

If you feel like you need help, I hope you will reach out. I recognize there are many barriers to care- worthiness of pain should never be one of them. If you are struggling, you deserve compassion, you deserve compassionate care!

If you’re in the Atlanta area and interested in working with me, you can reach me via this website, or you can call or email me to set-up a time to speak. I’ll do a free 10-15 minute consulation with you by phone to answer any questions and we can explore if we’d be a good fit to work together.

You are NOT "too much"

Eating Disorder Recovery- Too Much.jpg

Ever feel like you’re “too much”? Sadly, it’s a message most of us have heard too often in our lives (especially as women and girls, or really any marginalized group). We’re told to care but not “too much.” We’re told to use our voice but not be “too loud.” We should take pride in our bodies so long as they’re not “too big.” We should be leaders and create change but not assert ourselves “too much” (and definitely don’t be “bossy”).

This week I learned that Doritos has created new “lady chips” specifically designed so women won’t crunch their chips “too loud” and their fingers won’t get “too messy.” Seriously, Doritos?!? (Insert face palm and major eye roll)

Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect these type of messages from an advertiser- but what’s harder is you may also hear this from those you love- from family, from friends. These words cut deep. Please know these words are NOT about YOU. People says these words because it is such a LOUD message in our society, and most have internalized them to some degree or another (or are actively trying to unlearn them). I know it still really hurts. AND you are not alone!!

It’s hard to live in a world that constantly tells us it’s not okay to be fully ourselves. It’s hard to use our voices, own our space, take risks or even just find peace in our bodies when we’re bombarded with these messages. We’re not invincible, we’re vulnerable and it’s really, really hard. And, dear human, we are all also so incredibly resilient! We are a capable of doing hard things.

Be gentle and kind to yourself. Find people and spaces that affirm who you are as a whole human being! Surround yourself with these voices as much as possible. And as you are able, be brave! The world needs MORE of you, not less!

I am NOT too much. You are NOT too much!