It is not easy to tell others we are struggling, or that a past trauma keeps us in mental and emotional lockdown. Worse, sometimes we don’t even realise that we are hiding or engaging in behaviours that harm us and those around us.
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has become a common, household phrase, but very few have an actual understanding of the nature of the disorder and even fewer know how far reaching and truly debilitating its effects are. The common understanding is that it only affects combat veterans and abuse victims, but the real story is that it affects an estimated 24.3 million people in the US alone.*
PTSD is diagnosed when the following three symptoms are experienced.
1 The traumatic event is relived/reexperienced again and again also known as “flashbacks”.
2 Avoidance of people and places that could potentially trigger memories of the trauma.
3 Being hyper-alert, looking for danger. Not able to focus, relax or sleep.
Overwhelmed with guilt, shame, disassociation, feelings of failure, and suicide clutter the lives of sufferers as they attempt to live normal lives.
But this doesn’t have to be the whole story.
Through the help of trauma therapists, craniosacral work, diet, and other holistic approaches we can begin to unfold insights and opportunities that present themselves throughout the healing process. Theses opportunities and insights provide the way to wholeness and home.
Recently, I was interviewed by the host of the Anxiety Slayer podcast, Shann Vander Leek about my experience with trauma and the strategies that helped me to deal with setbacks, pain and making important decisions after my trauma event of 2nd and 3rd-degree burns caused by burning jet fuel from an exploding plane.
Anxiety Slayer was created in 2009 by Shann Vander Leek & Ananga Sivyer. The two teamed up to present Anxiety Slayer podcast with the intention of supporting anyone whose life is overshadowed by stress or anxiety. The podcast episodes have been downloaded over 3,372,518 times in total.
*See more: http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/#sthash.o7mTy09T.dpuf
When someone’s pulling for you to fail – give them your joy.
What else would you want them to have?
Dazzle them with your light, talent and warmth.
Don’t hold back.
And, if by some chance, you find that you are beating yourself up take a deep breath and surrender to your desires. Drop in on them one by one. You may want to rest. Maybe make love or sing to the hills.
Let yourself have it.
This week, if you find yourself being frustrated with others or yourself, spiralling into negativity, self-doubt, or procrastination, I want you to take an alternative approach to these behaviours. I want you to unmask your good stuff and amplify it.
Make splashy entrances.
Wear animal print.
If you do, you might find yourself dancing in the face of a to-do list or picking wildflowers instead of driving to work. You may unleash a few miracles, change the name of the game whilst following your bliss.
So, let yourself have it. If not now, when? And if not you, who? (I just let myself have this cliche with great relish!)
Have a great week dear trailblazers and cherish the way of the sun, from sunrise to sunset.
Do you ever turn away from joy?
Do overly content people make you feel uncomfortable?
Have you ever withdrawn from the world, believing that no one else would understand why? Knowing that no one else could understand?
Are you ever just too tired, worn down or exhausted to even try to explain what is going on?
Believe it or not, there are more of us in that boat than you would imagine.
I would hazard that almost all of us, at one point or another, have experienced this kind of disconnect in our lives. For an unfortunate few, it is an ongoing event without respite.
There are many causes for our feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection. Over the last 24 years, I have listened to stories, memories, and experiences of clients and found that neglect, abuse of all kinds (physical, emotional, sexual), physical injury, the death of loved ones and many other types of trauma can lead to dissociation from self, others and life in general.
When we experience loneliness, or we feel isolated such experiences impact not only us but our families, friends and the community as a whole.
How can we heal that? How can someone who is deeply hurt, begin to recover from their isolation and disassociation?
In sessions with my clients, I noticed and continue to notice that the brighter notes in their lives that uplift them or bring harmony tend to be experiences in nature.
There is a somewhat controversial hypothesis put forward by Edward Wilson called Biophilia Hypothesis that I lean towards. It is the idea that humans evolved as creatures deeply enmeshed with the intricacies of nature and that we still have this affinity with nature ingrained in our genotype.
Perhaps that is why when we connect with nature, we heal faster. We reconnect to our roots. We feel home and belonging. Of course, it doesn’t heal everything or address the many complexities inherent with trauma, but it does present a starting point.
In studies across the board- prison inmates, patients in hospitals — those who have a view of a natural landscape recover more quickly. Currently, studies are showing that children in natural playgrounds versus concrete playgrounds are likely to think more creatively, play cooperatively and invent their own games.
Nature offers healing balm to our sufferings and it is within reach for all of us. It can be the sky above or the sound of the wind. It can be a blade of grass or the trees along the highway.
If we look to nature and begin to seek her out with more regularity, not only as part of our search for wholeness but as a place to play and celebrate we can begin to soothe the neural networks that make us feel isolated and lonely.
It doesn’t matter what time of year or day it is; nature is always available to take us in. We just need to make the first move and begin a process of healing and wholeness.
Here are 3 simple ways to help you make the first move with nature:
1 Make a date with nature – find a park or a trail that you can go on and set a date on your calendar. Plan a picnic or shop for some delicious treats t0 take with you. Make it something to look forward to.
2 Invite a friend or family member to join you – sometimes it is easier to go into nature by taking a buddy along with you.
3 Take time to connect with the nature around you when in the park or on the hike. Use all your senses. Smell the air, listen to the sounds, feel the textures around you and observe what you feel.
If you feel afraid or unsure of yourself, don’t worry. Take a few breaths and ease into the experience. Step by step, moment by moment you will begin to connect. Make a commitment to do this more than once in a while and you will find your way home.
The New Book
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