Resilience. We all have it to some degree. Sometimes it’s easy to bounce back. We’ve all seen it. We’ve probably all experienced it. This can make some people believe that not bouncing back is simply a matter of will. It is not. So, how do you tell the difference when you are just being willful and self-pitying and when you can’t just get over it? Here is some insight that might help.
First of all, NOBODY who is stuck stays there because they are being willful and wants attention. Nobody enjoys being in pain. Everyone would move out of that if they had the skills, support, and information on how. So, if you are in something that you can’t just get over, don’t let anyone make you feel badly about it. The shame only makes things worse. Everyone is entitled to their perspective; however, those who think that negative experiences can’t have a lasting impact don’t understand the human body or the psyche.
Grief is a process that takes time. No two people do it alike. Sometimes we hold on because we’re afraid that letting go will mean forgetting or losing the bond. Sometimes we hold on out of guilt. We use the pain to punish ourselves for not being or doing what we thought we should have been. Sometimes grief is extreme resistance to things being what they are. When you wake up and that person is not beside you, you fall apart. When the phone doesn’t ring at a time when it typically did, you feel the heartbreak all over again.
When time doesn’t heal, it’s almost always because there is an energetic block. It can feel like the past is the present. Fortunately, there are way to quickly remove energy blocks that don’t require rehashing your story, investing lots of time, or reliving the hurt. When the energy is released or transformed, the past feels like it is a safe distance away so you can move on. Your thoughts about the event (like your guilt or fear of losing the bond) become more neutral instead of judgmental. And you feel safe and whole again.
As long as the energy block remains in place, you will continue to feel the hurt. Eating, not eating, taking a pill, exercising, wishing it away, and prayer won’t remove it. Some of that may help, but that’s not really how you move energy. Every problem has an appropriate intervention. If you’ve tried things that have not worked, it’s because you haven’t tried the right intervention. It’s not about you “failing.”
Trauma appears to be a psychological issue. It’s actually a physical one. It’s created in the brain as a self-protective measure to keep you out of danger. It’s a great strategy that sometimes goes awry. It’s a complicated process, but the very short version is that something happens that makes us feel overwhelmed and afraid. This can be something small, like a mouse scurrying across our foot, or something large, like being threatened with a gun. No person can define whether or not an incident is “bad enough” to start off a trauma response. The brain makes that decision.
The vagus nerve clamps down. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS- fight or flight) kicks into gear to prepare the body for defending itself or fleeing. If the stress continues or is overwhelming, the parasympathic nervous system (PNS) also kicks in and sends us into freeze. (Normally the SNS and PNS work in opposition to each other, not simultaneously). If we cannot process the movement through the nervous system (or physically “shake it off”), trauma happens.
The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are: flashbacks, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, feeling numbness or like you’re not fully present, feeling keyed up or always on the look out for danger, being triggered by things that remind you of the event, emotional instability, memory loss, crying, nightmares, impulsivity, and/or unexplained physical symptoms. If you are stuck in the “freeze” state, you may appear to have a higher level of functioning because you are not responding in this way. This is actually because you are too numb to feel the horror of the event.
Time doesn’t heal this. Talk therapy doesn’t heal this because it’s a physical issue. The brain didn’t receive a “done” signal, so it’s still firing as if it were in crisis. When the body can “shake it off” and reset, the trauma memory will feel like your memory of going to the grocery store last week. (Watch the video above to see what I mean). It may not be pleasant, but it will be bearable and healing can begin.
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental illnesses. They are so common now that about 18% of Americans are begin treated for anxiety. Seventeen percent of Americans will experience depression at some point in their lifetime. Half of all anxiety sufferers also have depression. These, and other mental illnesses, are often seen as willpower issues or thinking errors. If you just put a smile on your face and think happy thoughts, you’ll be okay.
That actually works for some people sometimes. After all, attitude is everything… unless it’s physical. Eating the wrong foods (processed foods, allergens, chemically ladened foods, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, sugars, genetically modified foods, etc) means our bodies don’t have the energy or nutrients to heal itself. Exposure to toxins (air pollution, recreational drugs, prescription drugs, chemical cleaners, fluoridated and chlorinated water, heavy metals, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc) slowly poison us. What looks like a mental issue can actually be a toxicity issue. If you clean up the toxins, the body can repair itself.
Another cause of mental health symptoms is a blow to head. People often discount this because they feel the blow wasn’t hard enough to cause damage, they weren’t knocked out, the CT scan was clear, or it was a long time ago. None of these are good reasons to rule out neurological damage. Neurological damage can appear suddenly or gradually. Drugs can mask the symptoms. Eating well always enhances performance, but unless the brain is repaired, it will not function optimally again.
Some physical illnesses are mysterious. They don’t really fit into any diagnosis. They don’t respond to typical treatments. They can appear to be psychosomatic, but many are actually manifestations of malnutrition and toxicity, stress, or trauma! Yes, when the brain is stuck in a PTSD mode, it’s not just something that happens in the brain. It happens in the body. The blood is shunted to the extremities and away from the gut. Stress does the same thing.
Thus, as food enters the mouth, there is reduced saliva and enzymes to start the digestion process. The throat is tight and we are in “speed mode” (stress speeds us up) so we aren’t present with our food and don’t chew well. Saliva and mucous production is impaired. As the food moves into the stomach, stress and trauma continue to negatively impact digestion because there is less stomach acid produced. Transit time is slowed. This interferes with protein breakdown and allows for harmful gut bacteria to be produced. The enhanced cortisol production (a function of stress) means that the liver is working to filter that out instead of filtering the blood. This decreases immunity and the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients. If the macronutrients are not broken down enough, the body may recognize them as invaders and provoke an auto-immune response.
Poor elimination is correlated with anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. Why? The gut produces 90% of the neurotransmitters needed by the brain to regulate mood. If the gut can’t get the nutrients it needs because digestion is impaired, it can’t give the brain what it needs. So, the brain controls the body. The body controls the brain.
There are lots of other examples that support the idea that recovery from what ails you isn’t always a matter of mind over matter. Sometimes you really just can’t get over it without a targeted intervention that focuses on the cause of the matter. If you feel this could be you, come see me for an assessment. We can get to the bottom of this and get you on the road to recovery.