don't just talk about it (trauma, I mean)

I worry about people

This article about trauma in journalists makes me worry.

Because it makes it sound like the secret to preventing or overcoming PTSD is talking about it.

And talking about it is not the point.

It’s one of those thing where there’s a difference between WHAT YOU DO and HOW IT FEELS.

It’s very possible that simply “talking about it” will reinforce the trauma, digging the paths deeper and deeper into the brain.

BUT. Talking works when talking is your path to MOVING THROUGH THE TRAUMA.

The stress response, as I’ve described several times now, is CYCLE, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Trauma happens when your brain gets stuck in the middle of the story and can’t get to the end.

If you just talk about as far as you’ve gotten in that process, you’ll be underscoring the trauma, instead of moving through it. Which can actually make you MORE entrenched in the trauma.

Talking about can be helpful when (and only when) the talk moves you THROUGH the biological story, to the end. You get through the story as far as you’ve gotten now, and then you take THE NEXT STEP, too. You imagine a world where you beat shit out of your perpetrator. You envision yourself running and then flying and escaping the terror until you make it home. You talk about the way you were cared for, the way you survived, you talk about where you are now, how safe you are, how scared you were and how sometimes it’s hard to remember that you don’t need to be scared now.

How can you tell when you’ve gotten to the end? Well, along the way you’ll probably experience lots of muscle tension, maybe crying, maybe involuntary trembling. You might notice your body doing these things and think, “Wow, there is a LOT happening with my body right now!” And at the end of it, it’s like you’ve…. emptied the tank, maybe? You’ve released the tension, and you find yourself sighing, huffing, breathing, and your muscles soften, your scalp relaxes.

The path to the end hurts, it sucks, no doubt. That’s why people don’t go through it – it’s easy to believe that it will just continue to hurt forever. But it doesn’t. It won’t. If you take one more step forward, that’s one more step closer to the light.

Folks who’ve never been all the way through the stress response, if you come from an “emotion dismissing” background, have no reason to believe that it gets better, that it ends.

But it does. It has to. It’s a biological fact that emotions are biochemical cascades with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and when you ALLOW yourself to move all the way through that physiological story, there is always a happy ending.

So don’t just talk. Feel. Feel and allow.

Also? Therapy. It’s good fer ya.

Okay. Happy Memorial Day, y’all.