When you shut down emotion, you’re also affecting your nervous system. So the repression of emotion, which is the survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on.
—Gabor Maté, MD
Trauma and Triggers
As most of you know from following me and my blog, I have been dealing with C-PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks as a result of dealing with old buried trauma from my childhood. I am working through deep-rooted trauma from years ago.
So along with that, I need to realize that there are many changes going on in my life. When things go wrong, I start to feel anxiety and panic.
Having very high blood pressure I need to make sure that I am always taking care of myself. Yesterday, was an extremely stressful day for me. Work and pressure, coupled along with the holidays (this is the third year I have not spoken to my mother at Christmas) have had an effect on me.
I became triggered yesterday when my husband tried to talk to me about something, and I didn’t handle it very well. I seemed to go in a downward spin. I think sometimes he feels at a loss how to talk to me because I get so upset (emotional regulation is something I am working on).
What I really want to share is this: when we are dealing with opening up childhood trauma from the past, there may be setbacks. We are working with the nervous system, and it takes time to work things out.
I needed to remind myself that I need not panic; this is a long slow process. I needed to figure out how to pick myself up from my setback. I realized this is the “hard part” about working through my journey to healing. It is about small steps; baby steps I call them. I know that there will be stressors, pains and triggers as I go through my new life.
It is about recognizing what is going on first.
So, I first realized I needed to calm myself from my anxieties. They were high. I picked up my iPad and listened to the Calm video on anxiety. That helped, but I could still feel my blood pressure was high and needed to take more steps.
I became mindful. I started to look around the room. I started the “Grounding Exercise” I have read about:
Describe in detail:
- 5 things you see
- 4 things you feel (this one was hard)
- 3 things you hear
- 2 things you smell
- 1 thing you taste
Then I went to the bathroom and threw cold water on my head and hands. My therapist said that this will have a biological reaction in my body. It really helped.
I took one of the prescribed pills from my doctor for my anxiety and then I watched a very calming video from Jason Stephenson (he has many videos on YouTube).
I felt better. I had stopped my panic attack and stayed in the present moment.
Our journey when we have decided to deal with our childhood trauma is a slow one. And we must be gentle with ourselves. We are dealing with the nervous system and healing does take time. But I believe it is a long slow process that we can all heal from.
I hope that this helps anyone that is dealing with anxiety over the holidays. I’m not a psychologist or medical doctor, I am simply posting what I’ve learned to help other people.