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What is it that YOU fear the most?

LET”S FACE IT!

We are all afraid of something! It can be the huge, looming protagonist of our nightmares or the tiny, nondescript bug we find crawling up our leg. Fear is powerful. It can motivate us or it can cause us to stagnate and block us from following our dreams. But we can work with our fear and make it our ally.

Artwork by Autumn- Monster

Criminologist Gavin de Becker wrote The Gift of Fear in 1997. Becker wanted us to know that we are all capable of (and responsible for) learning how to protect ourselves from violence. One of those skills is to trust our intuition…go with our guts. We teach our children about the “uh-oh” feeling – an internal cue of “ickiness” that helps the child to recognize when they may not be safe. Parents are encouraged to pay attention when their child reacts fearfully when Uncle Opa comes to visit or when they are left with a new babysitter. We tell them not to comply when asked by a stranger to help them find their puppy, etc. Throughout the book, Gavin de Becker offers sage advice about trusting our intuition and our perceptions of people or events that will likely end in harm or violence, and help to differentiate good from bad, and safe from dangerous. He does so, in part, by reminding us in situations that we have managed well, dreams that have manifested.

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“Like every creature, you can know when you are in the presence of danger. You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations” (Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear, p.6

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Gavin de Becker wants us to know that we all have the capability of and responsibility to protect ourselves from violence. One skill that we can develop is trust in our intuition and this can start in infancy.  It is an infant’s “intuition” that allows them to believe Mama will soon be feeding her. If an infant cries out at feeding time, most mother’s respond as quickly as possible. If ‘feeding time’ is delayed or does not come at all, the infant will soon learn that the parent is untrustworthy and may not adequately develop the power of intuition.

Some people define intuition as going with our gut and we often pass this one to our kids. Parents often speak with their child about the ‘uh-oh’ feeling – an internal cue of ‘ickiness’ that can help kids recognize that something in their environment is wrong and that they may not be safe.

 We teach our children about the “uh-oh” feeling – an internal cue of “ickiness”  that helps the child to recognize when they may not be safe. Pay attention when your child reacts fearfully when Uncle Opa comes to visit or when they are left with a new babysitter. We tell our kids not to comply when asked by a stranger to help them find their puppy, etc. We tell them to ‘run away’, tell a trusted adult but not to go anywhere with them. As parents, we often worry that by talking about safety we are frightening our children but it may be saving them from kidnapping attempts, molestation, etc.

Gavin de Becker offers sage advice about trusting our intuition and our perceptions of people or events that will likely end in harm or violence, and help to differentiate good from bad, and safe from dangerous. He does so, in part, by reminding us in situations in our own history that ended well and those that didn’t.

Fear of violence isn’t the only type of fear you might fear. I did a quick survey on Facebook about the kinds of things that we fear the most. To some people, a fear of spiders is benign…a fear that is easily ‘conquerable.’ But the person with a phobia for spiders may not agree. The sighting of a spider may send them into a panic attack. Intense fear or discomfort may consume an individual. They may experience palpitations, a pounding heart, sweating, trembling, a sense of smothering or feeling of choking, abdominal distress, fear of losing control (or “going crazy”) or even fear that they are on the verge of dying. The attack can be so extreme that they have feelings of unreality or being detached from one’s body. (“This is not happening to me.”)

What do you fear the most? 

 A lot may depend on where you live, sleep, work, or even the society or culture to which you belong. A decade or even a generation or two ago, our fears were different than they might be today. Now women who travel sometimes fear that they will be kidnapped or forced into prostitution or sex trafficking? Does this seem unlikely to you? Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Statistics vary, but I think we can all agree that it is a valid fear…as is rape. And Cancer.

If you watch the news today, you may wonder how people who live in the  Midwest are surviving the fires that are ravaging their land and homes. The undocumented fear deportation (or separation from their loved ones), we all fear terrorism even though sources tell us that fear will bring our nation harm. Black transgendered women (in particular) fear beatings and death, as do many in the LGBTQ community. People fear the disabling or even fatal viruses spreading my ticks and mosquitoes. Some people avoid going outside at all. Sadly, immigrant women fear to report incidents of domestic violence as it can result in deportation of either spouse.

Parents suffer from fears involving themselves and their families.  Many fear that they will predecease their child, that they will be forced with their family into poverty and homelessness. They are afraid their children will go hungry. Even home invasions.

Children fear the ‘monster under the bed”, getting lost, a parent(s) dying (which they also consider an ‘impossibility’), parental divorce, being kidnapped or abused, fire. But they also share many of the fears of grown-ups.  Some scientists believe that the concerns of the adults present in our children’s lives can be genetically passed on.

I have an acquaintance who does not want to be touched by another human being. Ever. He stiffens at the chance of a handshake or hug, whether it is that of a stranger, close friends, or even a romantic partner.   A little research brought me to a little-known phobia called haphephobia. Touch is unbearable. A similar phobia called mysophobia involves a person obsessed with protecting their personal space. Phobias can arise spontaneously or in response to touch that was harmful (abuse/battering), burglary, and even seemingly benign experiences.

Here is a quick look at some other unusual fears and phobias- some you may have heard of and others so rare that even a diligent search may not identify them:

  • For those of you who are werewolves (as well as, ordinary people) there is a fear of the moon. It is referred to as Sellenophobia.

Coulrophobia is a more generalized fear of individuals wearing makeup, wigs (often orange or red) and big red noses. CLOWNS. Author Stephen Kind propagated this fear in his novel, IT.  This evil clown pitch was a recent media hoax of killer clowns supposedly hiding in our forests and the edges of parking lots. Sightings have been reported in both the United States and the United Kingdom. This is often not an actual phobia and can be easily avoidable by staying away from circuses and other clownish events. Some individual did die as a result of the chaos the hoax caused. Coulrophobia does not typically interfere with our daily functioning as the fear of rain might.

Trypophobia is relatively rare and is a term coined on the internet in the mid- 2000’s. It is a fear of clusters of holes. I will write a bit more on trypanophobia in my forthcoming article about how fear affects our brains. I believe that I suffer from this visual myself as this image sends shivers up my spine. Seriously!!! So what is it about such images. Popular Science offers a “test” to see if the reader might have trypophobia. You can take it yourself to see if this might be something that can impact your daily functioning. Interesting stuff!

So  perhaps you are contemplating marriage or cohabitation, and you are trying to  get to know your partner. You know that she leaves her socks all over the floor and that he needs a lot of “space,” perhaps even a man cave on the premises. You ask all of the right questions in a most endearing manner. The topic comes up about whose responsibility it is to cook dinner in the evening as you both work 9 am-5pm at equally stressful workplaces.  Your partner has Mageirocophobia. Are you compatible? Are you destined to take-out meals every night? Mageirocophobia is the fear of cooking. Salads are still good, you consider, as you sign on the dotted line of your new “lease for two” and hope for the best.

But what about the fear of red lights? If you live in America, red lights help to control traffic, indicate that you should pull your car over because something is malfunctioning, and red identifies when you should or should not enter a room. Tapping a red button might mean that you hope to annihilate tens of thousands of people. Starting a nuclear war???? (This has been rumored, but I cannot state that it is true.) A fear of red lights is called Ereuthophobia. At least now you understand why the woman behind you is beeping her horn.

Why would someone be fearful of bald people? If you search google images, you could find hundreds of photos of Gene Simmons when he performed with the 80’s band, Kiss. I can understand the first image of Gene Simmons “in the day.” being terrifying to some. Search a little harder, and perhaps you will find a photo of Simmons now bald.  Fear of bald people is referred to as Peladophobia. Babies are bald. So is Gene Simmons.

 

Some would say Simmons looks much less frightening with no hair. But not the folks who suffer from Now, he looks far less frightening. But I think is female companion may have a phobia against bright lights. In one small research project it was determined that people with an aversion to ‘bright lights’ suffer more panic attacks that others with this disorder.

 

 

 

 

 

Failure can be paralyzing. It can keep us from moving forward, of achieving our goals. Sometimes people with atychiphobia unknowingly sabotage their own efforts because they worry that they will not succeed.

Although I will address ‘triggers’ in my next article, some of those who develop this phobia grew up with overly critical caregivers and carry that negativity into their adult life.

The fear of failure can catapult itself into mental disorders. Some of these disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, depression, social phobias, depressions and OCD.

Cracks in the sidewalk? Fear or phobia? Always consider the following when attempting to determine whether fear or set of behaviors has developed into one of the true phobias or a mental disorder (inclusion in the DSM-5):

  • Is the fear or associated behaviors outside the norm?
  • Does the fear cause distress in your life?
  • Does it impact how you function on all or most days?

The list of fears and phobias is extensive, perhaps, unending. If it exists, someone probably fears it. Fears sometimes develop around Halloween. The paranormal world provides us with ghosts, ghouls, poltergeists, shapeshifters, skin-crawlers, and other non-worldly entities. It is a holiday that can be a lot of fun or a holiday that is terrorizing for some.

     I mentioned briefly that fear can be our “friend,” especially in situations involving the potential for violence- emotional, physical, psychic, etc. Can you think of a time when you felt threatened even before you were approached by a potential perpetrator? I get frightened if I have to use an ATM at night or when the ATM is accessible to anyone. If there is someone else present, I am likely to withdraw less money figuring if I get “robbed” (which feels ‘imminent’ to me) they won’t get much money. My imagination is stirred up, and I begin to consider what I would do if someone insisted that I empty my bank accounts and give them the money. Or even more hideous…if they threatened or assaulted me.

So what good is having this gut feeling of fear? How does it keep me safe? Fear is a teacher. It has taught me to only use an ATM during the day in a busy area where a robbery is unlikely. So, as Gavin de Becker says, “Fear is a Gift.” I learned ‘avoidance’ of a particular set of circumstances.

Survivors of domestic violence often express that they knew intuitively when they may receive a beating.  Take, for example, a wife returning home after a stressful day at work. She is tired and grouchy. Her partner had not started preparing dinner but was bathing the children. She slams her briefcase onto the kitchen table and yells at her partner to come get their dinner in the oven. Her partner promises he will after finishing bath time. The wife goes into an immediate rant of how hard she works and that since her partner gets home an hour earlier than she, dinner should be on the table. When her partner refuses to continue arguing and keeps shampooing their child’s hair, she comes into the bathroom and begins to beat her partner with an antique hair brush. The child screams and scrambles to get out of the tub. Her partner is left with extensive bruising and a deflated ego as her response was to protect the child and bear the brunt of the assault.

What do you suppose would have happened if her partner acknowledged the instincts that provided the knowledge she needed to avoid an assault? She must have known that her partner was already in a bad mood that would likely worsen when she did not respond immediately to her demands, dry off the child and get dinner in the oven. But perhaps, in this case, all of the ‘gut feelings’ may not have allowed her to circumvent the assault.  Perhaps her instincts told her to remain with the child and not join in the aggressive rant. Perhaps she knew that unless she ‘fought back,’ injury would occur. Where can we find the gift in these circumstances? Perhaps it is a gift of a future without violence. Maybe she would leave.

               So I’ll wrap this up with the promise of FEAR TWO…a discussion about how our brains are impacted by the high emotion of fear. We will examine how victims of stalking may react when they are first convinced that they are being stalked and more about how your survival signals can protect you from violence. No matter where you live, how much money you do or do not have, whether you tend to be quiet and live a predominantly isolating life or you are a “social butterfly”…no one is exempt from the possibility of victimization. You probably have already been a victim/survivor.

 

I WOULD LOVE SOME FEEDBACK AND SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO PROGRESS TO FEAR TWO. DID ANY OF THE INFORMATION IN THIS POSTING SURPRISE YOU? FRIGHTEN YOU? SHARE WHAT YOU ARE COMFORTABLE DOING…YOU CAN ALWAYS SEND ME A PRIVATE MESSAGE ON FACEBOOK OR AN EMAIL AT fetsybay@yahoo.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

Betsy of Betsy’s Beaten Path.

 

Can we link mental health to our creative selves?

creativity image

What is creativity?

Creativity happens when an individual makes new connections between thoughts or objects. It is the architect who figures out how to build a 3 story high handicap ramp and the scientist who breaks another DNA code. Creative thinkers explore the unknown, sometimes without ever needing to leave their front porch. He or she may “produce” something that has never been produced previously. Their achievements provoke us, tantalize, entertain or teach those of us whose minds are open to the experience.

Some say that creativity is unique to human beings. I don’t.

spider web

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Is there a link between mental illness and creativity?

A link between the two has been theorized. However, only a few studies were felt to have established that link. I worry that some of signs/behaviors often displayed by persons with mental illness are the same behaviors that you might see in a person described by many as “eccentric”. Creative people are often perceived as just a little bit different than the rest of us. In fact, there is no doubt that creative persons share some of the psychological processes that you might see someone in a state of madness.  Additionally, creative individuals often exhibit unusual thought processes and affect, personality treats (disorders?) and characteristic behaviors.

So what does all of this mean?

            Consider an extraordinary opera star who truly rose from the dust of ordinariness. For those who believe in a connection between creativity and mental disorders, genius cannot exist without the presence of madness.

Ever since I first started studying psychology, I was impressed by the seeming enormity of creative persons who suffered severe mental illness. I’ll give you just a few names:

  • Vincent Van Gogh-
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Ezra Pound
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Robin Williams

Artists, writers, scientists, philosophers, composers, sculptors…. just about any over-achiever. Some suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, personality disorders, etc. Their illness is severe. But please consider that there are many, many more creative geniuses who are also emotionally healthy.

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Does this suggest that emotional instability is key to creativity?

Perhaps for some but I believe that mental instability is detrimental to creativity. It certainly did in my experience…and I am no ‘creative genius.

For most of my life, I have suffered from Major Depression and sometimes required hospitalization in a psych unit. I may, at that point, been stripped of many things including my privacy and freedom. But I did have pens and paper and I put them to good work. From the deepest depression, I wrote my deepest, darkest, most disturbing yet illuminating poetry. I did not have the focus to write a short grocery list, yet……………??

My gloomy affect and attitude oddly lended itself to my feeling more motivated whereas just a few weeks earlier, I would not have been able to life a pen. My mood began to lift. My imagination was intact. The darkness was inspiring. The feedback I received on my dismal poetry was that it hurt too much to read it. No, I’m not a creative genius. Not even close.

I think the safest thing to say is that, yes, my journey through many years of therapy did unleash some creative abilities and interests. The subject matter for my poetry often came to me in the form of nightmares and flashbacks. Fighting off traumatic memories brought my past to the forefront. My illness may have provided me with ‘gist’ for the mill. Depression was not my friend but at times it was my inspiration.

That Old Creative Madness

So, would I have to “stay sick” to be creative

Can I try to live my life with the hopes that life itself will now provide me creative ‘gist” for my writer’s mind?

The relationship between creativity and insanity may simply be apocryphal. (defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary, apocryphal is defined as “of doubtful authenticity:  spurious)

I am quite sure that there are musicians, writers, poets, and many more creative individuals who have led emotionally stable lives who are simply creative geniuses. A few examples, include Albert Einstein, Duke Ellington, William James and the Carl Jung. Perhaps creativity should be linked to mental health!

Even more conflict between viewpoints

               Did I need my depression in order to pump up my creative side? Is mental illness a must or is it simply incidental to the creative process? Do different types of mental illness serve as inspiration? Some believe that persons with psychotic disorders display an ability to see the world in a novel form.

Creativity is non-negotiable. Life has been hard. But it is “precisely what will help you fight the darkness of the soul and the demons of the ordinary” (Pavita et al. 2007)

 

References

K.S. Pavita, C.R. Chandrosheker and Partha Choudhury. Creativity and Mental Health: Profiles of

Writers and Musicians. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. (2007). Jan-Mar; 49 (1): 34-43.

Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2899997/.

Staff. Merriam Webster Dictionary Online. n.d. Definition of apocryphal.

Linking Creativity with Mental Health

Hello Readers!

It seems like months since my last blog. I am finally writing again after a prolonged period of writer’s block. During that time away from my blog, I braved a total knee replacement (my third) and experienced a challenging recovery.

It’s true. I am back!

I will be finishing up the article Linking Creativity with Mental Health by the beginning of the week, July 11th…or perhaps even sooner. Writing on this topic has been challenging but a good place to re-start this blog. I’ve completed a ton of research and I am now attempting to piece together two very opposing viewpoints.

So stand by!

Bets

 

Whoa…I am way behind

Just wanted to say a quick hello. I had promised some blogging about chronic pain and mental health. I started taking an intense 30 day writing course and I am finding it to be very time-consuming. I’m doing a lot of writing…just not on my blog. I will return come September and in the meanwhile I may post some of the prose and poetry that I have been writing. Soon, then…bets

Chronic Pain -3

Understanding the Psychological Impact of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is about biology. Not only does emotional stress affect our pain but emotional stress causes our pain. But who really can claim to live a stress-free life. Seriously? Then why do some people fare better in spite of severe chronic pain while others who appear to suffer less watch their days pass with despair?

Trust me, no one will ever catch me saying “I have no stress in my life!”.

stressmanagement

Many doctors, researchers and pain specialists theorize that chronic pain worsens with stress. I can certainly vouch for that. Managing my pain means managing my stress.

Emotions like sadness and anxiety aggravate chronic pain. I think I was the sickest in my life just after my mother died. I suffered my first false diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis within a few short months. Does that mean that my illness was not real? No. It simply meant that my nervous system was on OVERLOAD and the stress and “pain” had nowhere to go so it buried itself in my nervous system. LITERALLY!

Sometimes, when we talk about pain, we are talking more about our lives, even if our losses are not recent.

People who dwell on their pain tend to be more disabled but it than those who seem to tolerate it well. There have been a lot of studies of people who have been injured on the job and receive compensation for long beyond what the doctors and their bosses imagined they would need it. . Questions often arise about whether they are “faking” it, malingering or whether or not their pain is real. Unless they are indeed “faking it”, all pain is real whether or not it comes from the knee pain of osteoarthritis or by worrying that you won’t be able to feed your family. It can also come from past (or current) unresolved trauma – I’ll get to that later.

SO…when someone tells you that your pain is “all in your head”, they are right. After all, that is where your brain sits.

Whether your chronic pain is affecting you medically or emotionally (or both), it should be treated aggressively. If your doctor refuses to treat it aggressively, find another doctor. Treating pain aggressively does not mean writing out a new prescription for narcotic pain relievers although pain medication may be one of the most important parts of your treatment. If your pain can be moved from an 8-9 or 10 to a 4-5-6 you can become so much more “functional” and able to work on your pain through  other means…physical therapy, exercise, stress management, psychotherapy, etc.

BACK TO THE  SWITCHBOARD ANALOGY!

So when my pain is a Number 9 on my scale, I am dishrag.  (Thank goodness, it is rarely a 9). Little else becomes possible. I can’t read, move around, engage in activities like exercise (even stretching) to help the pain diminish a bit. All of my “outlets” are plugged into my pain…even my creativity is dwarfed which is usually an ally in pain.  I consider myself lucky. For some, no amount of pain medication helps, usually malignant pain (like with cancer). Not even LOVE can help these individuals.

Gate Control Theory

Our thoughts and emotions definitely influence our perception of pain.

Some researchers believe that there is some sort of “gating” mechanism in our spinal cords. Studies done in the 1960’s suggest that our spinal cord contains a neurological “gate” that either blocks pain signals or lets them pass on to the brain. The spinal cord is able to differentiate between the types of fibers that carry pain and those that do not.

Pain messages travel along the peripheral nervous system until they reach the spinal cord. (Some pain is carried in the “sympathetic nervous system”. This theory says that there are “gates” in the spinal cord that either allow pain messages to continue on to the brain or they are “blocked”.

The “gates” determine how the gates will manage the pain signals. It depends on a lot of factors, including:

  • How intense is the pain
  • What other incoming nerve messages are competing (touch, heat, etc.)
  • Signals from the brain telling the spinal cord to increase or decrease the priority of the pain signal.

THEN…

The pain messages are handled in one of the following ways:

  • They may be allowed to pass directly to the brain…OUCH.
  • They may be modified before being sent to the brain (influenced by your expectations, perhaps?)
  • Prevented from reaching the brain.

 The Role of Trauma

 C.P. is not only caused by physical injury. There has proven to be a connection between chronic pain and mental health, stress and/or trauma.

Trauma occurs “when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelming” Peter Levine, Trauma Specialist

People with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) often suffer from chronic pain. If fact, 15-30 % of those patients with chronic pain also have PTSD. Chronic pain is also highly correlated with depression. Sometimes, prescribing psychoactive medications helps physical pain, especially fibromyalgia. People with PTSD experience:

  • Hyperarousal ( this is like an exaggerated startle response, i.e., someone approaches you from behind and you jump in an exaggerated manner.
  • Hypervigilance – when you always need to be aware of your surroundings. A victim of rape may be super-aware of being out by themselves, walking in secluded area, etc.
  • Flashbacks – person feels or acts as though traumatic event is re-occurring.
  • Helplessness
  • Nightmares– related to traumatic event
  • Avoidance -avoids places, activities, persons, physical reminders of trauma – like a victim of sexual assault who avoids all men/women who are heavy-set with black hair. Or the child who refuses to be left with a caregiver who many have been abusive or neglectful.
  • Numbing

SOME THOUGHTS ON LOVE AND PAIN

As I have said before, I am trying to base my comments on actual research and I found out about a rare heart condition caused by acute emotional stress. It is called Cardio-Stress Myopathy.

OR…broken heart syndrome.broken heart

I remember a story I heard in my childhood although I am not sure my memory serves me correctly which is not uncommon. Memories fade, connections are lost. Anyway, my paternal grandfather died shortly after the death of my paternal grandmother. They said that he died “of a broken heart”.

Neuroimaging of the brain found that the same brain regions that involve physical pain overlap with those tied to social anguish.

IN OTHER WORDS: LOVE HURTS  –

But we all know that love can also be very healing.

In the late 1970’s, researchers were studying social attachment in puppies. When separated from their mother’s, the pups cried much less if they were given small doses of opiates. The same studies were replicated in pigs, monkey, rats and chickens. Humans were tested much later when neuroimaging became available. Induced social pain seems pretty cruel to me but it does make a point.

So why does it hurt physically when we lose someone we love? Physical pain has two components:

  1. Sensory – provides us with information about the intensity and location of our pain be it a physical trauma (bee sting) or an emotional trauma (rejection).
  2. Affective (feelings) – although some believe that animals don’t feel emotional pain, I do not believe it. Have you read seen the photographs or videos of grieving dogs sitting my their masters ?

Yup, a kick in the groin may hurt for a minute or two but the pain of a break-up can linger forever.

The remedy for one may double as therapy for the other. Tylenol can actually relieve the pain of emotional stress as well as physical body aches.

SO…now I have established that chronic pain can stem from injuries (that kick to the groin), inflammation (arthritis, infection), neuralgias (fibromyalgia) and neuropathies (nerve pain). But many people suffer from physical pain when none of these is present. And, the physical pain is often accompanied by hopelessness, depression and anxiety (stress). So what gives?

 

We simply cannot discount the role of negative emotion when it comes to managing pain.

Trauma (when it occurs and decades later if it remains “unresolved”) is such a huge contributor.

When we experience a traumatic event, our sympathetic nervous system goes into “survival mode”.  Our blood pressure may rise, we may experience shortness of breath, trembling, a rise in blood sugar, the release of stress hormones and it can even impact how well our immune system works. Some people have a hard time returning to a recovery mode (para-sympathetic nervous system).

This is one of the reasons that children who have experienced trauma fare better if they receive “treatment” as soon after the trauma as possible, as opposed to, days, weeks, months or years later when it is more difficult. At that point, a listening ear, sensitive explanation, the opportunity for a child to tell his or her story, etc.

 

As an Infant Mental Health worker, many years ago, I visited a young boy (5 years old) who lost his Daddy when he was murdered in a “drug deal gone bad”. The young boy (I will call him Michael) was struggling with confusion and heartbreak. He had witnessed the murder. Even though I had referred Michael for ongoing counseling, I felt the need to offer him immediate help- a chance to process his thoughts with an adult other than his grieving mother. He refused to say much. His stare was vacant. We were sitting in the living room where the incident took place. I gently guided some conversation and commented that Michael had never been given a chance to say “goodbye” to his Dad. I handed him a play telephone and suggested he “call” his Dad. Michael did call his Dad and I listened intently to the one-sided conversation as Michael asked questions, seemingly satisfied but saddened by the answers. He got to say “goodbye”.

Now I am certain that Michael continued to need grief work and support, perhaps throughout his life but I feel that he may have been saved just a little bit of despair having had an almost immediate opportunity to “talk it out”.

If Michael were to experience a different trauma later in his childhood/life, old memories of his Dad’s murder would likely be triggered adding another level of trauma. So, it is important to try to “resolve’ trauma before another one comes along. So many of us (me, included) do not recognize how these cumulative traumas can impact our development, mental state, physical and emotional pain, etc. decades later.

Not everyone experiences trauma the same way. For the most part, people make a good psychosocial adjustment. No two people experience stress the way another does. They may feel or behave like they are being traumatized all over again.

Chronic pain can alert us to the possibility that we have unresolved trauma in our nervous systems. Even if you believe that you have healed from all of your trauma, your nervous system may still be holding you hostage.

It is important to not only take care of yourself physically but also emotionally. There are many types of psychological treatments that can target old stress and trauma and work to diminish it. A traumatic memory can become a simple memory – something that happened that is still present in your nervous system, perhaps but no longer has the POWER it once did.This about sums it up: double arrow        PAIN/ STRESS equals STRESS/PAIN..one leads to the other in all cases.

WHO REMEMBERS THIS OLD SONG ???

WELL, it’s kind of like that!

 

 

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Writings on the Wall

The Last Bit of Green

“They’re all dead now – my friends. We played too hard. I should be dead now, too. 

A single blade of grass

thirsts for chlorophyll.

The sun set too early, too quickly.

He is taller, stronger… the others

succumbed to trampling by

joyful children and puppies,

the mowers and the clippers.

Nights of heavy frost.

Amid clover – he stands tall.

Refusing to turn brown

he lay dormant through the winter

But his roots survived and he

would rise again come Spring.

Buried beneath a soft

blanket of white –

a bit of green

stretches for the sun.