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Trauma

So often people don't understand the concept of trauma. Trauma doesn't have to be surviving a hurricane or natural disaster. Trauma is experienced when you struggle with the event you survive. Typically our brains can't avoid the straightforward trauma of a near-death experience. But trauma can also be the impact of going back and forth between two households as a kid. It can be a large scale, obvious event but it can also be your experience with a demanding parent over time. Trauma is your personal experience with anything and everything. Every individual will respond to a situation differently. Developmental milestones, perception, and the experience of each individual in a situation impacts differently, and therefore may or may not result in trauma.

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Think About Your Responses

Trauma is...

Trauma is any experience that is too painful for your brain. Your brain does what it does best in those moments. It scrambles up your experience so you are able to survive. After the experience, you are left with pieces of the puzzle and horrible symptoms that contribute to your challenges with day-to-day functioning. And now its your job to sort it out - untangle the mess - so we can relieve you of those challenging symptoms and let your brain know that new experiences are different than previous traumatic experiences.

Trauma is...
 

An experience. 

What happens inside of us as a result of what happens to us. 

Our response to the event, rather than the event itself.

Accidents, Assaults, Natural Disasters

These are types of shock traumas.

 Chronic Adversity, Abuse, Neglect, Lack of Safety

These are developmental and relational traumas.

Chronic Toxic Stress, Childhood Medical Procedures, Adverse Community Environments

These are other traumatic experiences. 

Nervous system regulation matters.

Over half off us have a chronic immune disorder such as high blood pressure or an autoimmune disease. Rates of anxiety, depression, PTSD and addiction are skyrocketing. Traumas are the cause.

The Autonomic Nervous System - Operations Below Our Conscious Awareness

A regulated nervous system is critical to our mental and physical health. Your Autonomic Nervous constantly scans the environment for safety and regulates essential bodily functions including your heart rate, breathing, and digestion - maintaining homeostasis physically, emotionally, and cognitively.

 

Stress will activate an autonomic state of defense in order to keep you alive. Illness, neglect, abuse, worrying, trauma, and stress all activate our autonomic state of defense. And our Autonomic Nervous System resets after a disruption occurs.

Over time - if these stressors persist - our body will stay in the autonomic state of defense - in chronic defense. These defensive states present as anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain and/or fatigue, aggression, and sleep disorders. In children these defensive states present as emotional upset, aggression, unsafe behaviors, sleep disorders, and selective eating. Please note that not all of these symptoms need to be present in order for an individual to suffer from a chronic state of stress. 

At the very core, your body and autonomic nervous system is there to keep you alive. But living in this state of duress for too long, suffering can occur over time.

If stressors persist, our bodies will stay in the autonomic state of defense presenting as anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, aggression, and/or sleep disorders. 

If this feels like you, you have been suffering for too long. There is a way out. Healing is possible.

Your Autonomic Nervous System is constanly communicating between your brain and body

There are two branches to your autonomic nervous system - your parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system - along with the vagus nerve, which is also called the "wandering nerve" that connects these two systems to help regulate and activate the sensory and motor functions of our body so our body and brain are able to communicate. And how our system is able to subconsciously respond to stress.

Your parasympathetic nervous system controls your homeostasis - these include your rest and digestion functions. 

Your sympathetic nervous system controls your flight and flight responses, preparing you for activation if necessary.

Ideally, our system responds to external threats or stress at the "right" level so we efficiently respond effectively. 

Your regulated nervous system is critical to your physical and psychological health and wellbeing.

The vagus nerve controls your ability to go back and forth between rest and digest - and fight or flight. Polyvagal Theory acknowledges two branches of the vagus nerve.

Ventral vagal is the safe state and gateway to co-regulation and learning, where you experience growth, resilience, flexibility and resourcefulness. You are also flexible and present, curious, relaxed, and taking full deep breaths.

Sympathetic state is the mobilized state, where we are activated, anxious, armed, and hypervigilant. Disconnection and separation exists and cognitive functioning is limited. We are in our fight or flight response. We may be hyper-aroused, tense, experience an elevated hard rate, and muscle tension.

Dorsal vagal is the immobilized state. In this state, we shut down, feel disconnected, alone or lost along with hopeless or helpless. We feel unavailable, and may have slow reactions, experience fatigue, weak muscles and present in a collapsed posture, experience shallow breath, and a lack of motivation.

Your state of being affects our ability to be receptive to connection and welcoming or defensive - impacting our health and growth

Cues of safety and danger decide our ability to rest and connect. There is no way to think our way to safety.

Play

The state of safety and mobilization combined.

Intimacy

The state of safety and immobilized combined.

The ability of the Autonomic Nervous System to move between the different states is important for individuals to bounce back and move on from events. When trauma and chronic stress exists, we stay stuck in survival and feel threatened by mundane events such as a work meeting or play date at the park. 

Become unstuck.

Bottom up therapy.

There are many interventions to assist with chronic stress on the body, but the most impactful are forms of bottom up therapy. These therapies start in the brain stem (where your stress response comes from) and work their way up into the cerebrum (where you remember memories, problem solve, think and feel). 

Results when you don't experience chronic stress symptoms

01.

Resilience

02.

Regulation

03.

Improved focus

04.

Better cognition

05.

Reduced symptoms

Let's Talk

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