The Regulating Emotions Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Background on Dysregulated Emotions

Last week, we discussed the Depression Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  If you’d like to refer back to the discussion you can click here.  This week we are discussing:  The Regulating Emotions Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  For someone living with and healing from trauma on a daily basis, regulating emotions can be a challenge.

Having difficulty regulating emotions is a sign that your amygdala has had a beating from all the trauma.  There are times when I have had a full two weeks straight of dysregulated emotions.  What I have managed to figure out recently is that it usually occurs for one of three reasons:  1) when my system is overloaded with grief, and I am having a hard time getting it out,  2) I am in a place where I feel that I need to get up and go to the bathroom to grieve because it needs to be heavy release, 3) the trauma is causing my mind and body to self-protect, and I don’t feel safe enough to let it out.

 

anger, dysregulated emotions, PTSD, trauma, emotional health, mental health

Getting it Out

Dysregulated emotions isn’t the worst thing.  However, it is not the most pleasant either.  Once your emotions are dysregulated, then it makes you wonder if you shouldn’t have just gotten it out anyway.  For example, when the emotions are dysregulated, your face may be showing something different than how you feel.  The worse thing is being around other people when this happens.  You almost feel like you have to put on a fake face to show that you are not in agony from being pinned up with emotions.  On the flip side, you could also end up being way over the top in expressing the emotion that you are feeling.

anger, dysregulated emotions, PTSD, trauma, emotional health, mental health

Anger is one of those emotions that this can happen with. It’s best to try to be honest with the people that you are around by letting them know you’re having problems regulating, and that you need to excuse yourself to grieve.  The best thing that I can advise, as I had to remind myself the other day, after having dealt with a two week flareup:  “Better out than in”.  Try to let the grief out as soon as possible.  It prevents your whole emotional system from going haywire, and you having a long drawn-out episode that could have been avoided.

Until next time!

Katina

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The Depression Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Introduction to the Depression Aspect

This is the fifth part in the series “Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  The fourth part in the series, “The Overwhelmed Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis”, can be found here.  Without having trauma, people living with anxiety and depression on a daily basis can find them both debilitating.  When you add trauma to the mix, it takes things to a whole new level.  What I have been able to finally realize within the last year is the difference between regular depression and trauma depression.

trauma, identity, depression, mental health, emotional health, healing, PTSD, The Giant Drop
Photo by Matthew Henry

 

Regular Depression and PTSD Depression

The difference with regular depression and PTSD/trauma depression is that there is no in between, or gradual shift into depression.  Sometimes, you might be sitting in a group talking to people, and they happen to mention one word.  That word might not have any major significance for them, but for you, it could be the opening of a traumatic experience that consists of twenty different things.  The next thing you know, your whole system has dropped without warning, like the ride called “The Giant Drop” at Great America.  The worst part about PTSD depression, which is similar to regular depression, is that it is felt at a deeper level if you are already dealing with other life events causing emotional stress.

trauma, identity, depression, mental health, emotional health, healing, PTSD, The Giant Drop
Adventure by Matthew Henry

Depressive Job Experience

A few years ago, I accepted a job at a manufacturing company, thinking that it was the ticket to getting out of debt, and more financial security for my kids and I.  It was my worst nightmare.  I stuck out like a sore thumb.  From start to finish, the entire process that had played out in my twenty year marriage played out at this company.  I went from being a trophy to being discarded like a broken toy.  I didn’t fit into the culture of anything and everything goes, so there was a plan set in place to fire me , with a good majority of the employees involved.  The workplace was a constant lion’s den of bullying, emotional abuse, and the “workplace untouchables”, so to speak.  It was God’s great mercy and grace that I was let go.  My whole system was wrecked with trauma when I started.  By the time I was let go, I was in worse shape emotionally, mentally, and physically than when I started.  The Holy Spirit had shown me what would take place from start to finish three months before I got fired.  I am not sure what was worse: knowing what would happen, or the anxiously waiting for it to happen.

trauma, identity, depression, mental health, emotional health, healing, PTSD, The Giant Drop
Picture by Matthew Henry

Fighting for Normality

I was not prepared for what happened afterwards.  The “Giant Drop” occurred without any warning.  When I explained how I was feeling to my therapist, she gave me a good analogy.  I was a deflated ball when I started.  So basically, the “already deflated ball” was kicked around.  One friend tried to encourage me by telling me not to let the job get me that down.  I was glad to be done.  However, my system had been through so much compounded trauma, that in turn this is how it responded.  I thank God that he slowly brought me out of it.  It took a few months for the “giant drop” to leave, but a few more years after that to even start feeling significantly better.  Have a blessed night!

trauma, identity, depression, mental health, emotional health, healing, PTSD, The Giant Drop
Photo by Gordon Hatusupy

Katina

  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3

The Overwhelmed Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Introduction to the Overwhelmed Aspect

The Overwhelmed Aspect is another section in our series:  Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  One might ask, “What is the overwhelmed aspect?”  When I am discussing the Overwhelmed Aspect with my friends, they know what I am talking about because I have given it the nickname of “The Movie Reel”.  Another one of my friends call the “Overwhelmed” Aspect a Whirlwind.  So, my new combined nickname is the Whirlwind Movie Reel.  It may sound funny, but believe me when I say that it isn’t a laughing matter.

What I have realized after having experienced compounded trauma in such a short period of time, is that the ability to handle stress is significantly lessened.  Not only is your stress fighting abilities lessened, but your brain processing speed is affected as well.  The overwhelmed aspect is a combination of the following:

Four Parts of the Overwhelmed Aspect

  1.  An acute traumatic panic attack.
  2. Replaying the details of the stressful event(s) in your head over and over again.
  3. The feeling as if you are literally in a whirlwind and can’t get out.
  4. Images of the stressful/trauamatic events going around inside of the “whirlwind”, literally like a movie reel of events.
PTSD, trauma, healing, overwhelmed, depression, mental health, emotional health
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

My Experience with the Overwhelmed Aspect

When I first experienced this, it totally knocked me off my feet.  The whirlwind/movie reel effect was slower.  Now, since God has increased my brain processing, the movie reel is faster, which makes me feel even more out of control when it happens.  To be honest, there is no time table on when this will happen.  It isn’t something that can be predicted.  One day, one of my friends posted an article on Facebook.  I decided that it was a good read since I have a teenage daughter.  I clicked on the article to read it, but the article wouldn’t load properly.  After trying for so long, and getting more frustrated by the moment, I figured that I would just read it later.  I was disappointment because the topic seemed really good.

PTSD, trauma, healing, overwhelmed, depression, mental health, emotional health
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

With trauma, sometimes one word can send you into a tailspin.  After finally making peace with the fact that I would just read the article later, my brain opened up every traumatic event that I had experienced as a child.  The whirlwind movie reel took over, and it took me a good thirty minutes or so to get out of it.  What I have noticed as of lately if it happens, is that it is best to try to see if I can allow myself to come out of this whirlwind by giving myself permission to feel the pain from some of the events.  I just recently learned that when this happens, this is a coping mechansim/form of dissociation as well.  If we can feel the feelings a little bit at a time, we can more easily come out of it, and sleep better as well.

I hope that this series has been helping those of you who live with and are healing from trauma on a daily basis.

Have a blessed weekend!

 

Katina

The Dissociation Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Background

This is the fourth part in our series of “Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis”.  A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the triggers aspect.  Today, we will be discussing the disassociation aspect.  Due to the response that I received from my ex-husband years ago, I started stuffing my feelings.  I can remember very clearly the exact moment that I decided that I would not cry anymore.  I was on the middle level of the townhome, not realizing I’d been heard.  At this point, I had been crying for almost an hour.  He told me that I should quiet down or the kids would possibly wake up.  He kept asking me for the reason behind my crying.  I refused to tell him because I had already figured out that the knowledge didn’t transfer over to things getting better.

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Handling the Pain

Fast forward several years later to 2012, when it became clear that we were heading for divorce, the pain, crying, and feelings came on with full force.  I hadn’t cried for so long, that I had to relearn how to feel the feelings, if that makes sense.  Grieving was difficult because I was afraid of being out of control, and the crying not stopping.  This was due to stuffing my feelings for so long.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

What happened before, during, and after the divorce, including now, is that I have been living with managing trauma on a daily basis.  When I finally felt safe enough, I was able to start grieving a little at a time.  I quickly realized that the more you grieve, the less trauma that is stored emotionally, mentally, and physically in your body.  The less you grieve, the more trauma that is stored emotionally, mentally, and physically in your body.

The Dissociation Process

What I didn’t realize is that along with living with trauma on a day to day basis, you are still constantly having more trials, bringing more compounded trauma, and your brain gets on overload.  This is like a computer that has too many processes running at one time.  What ends up happening is that everything locks up, and you can’t do anything.  You have to reboot.  It’s the same way with trauma.  When you are so overloaded with compounded trauma, the one thing, no matter the intensity of it, becomes the straw that broke the camel’s back.  You start numbing out, and then dissociating.  Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity.

Prayer for Relief

You are probably going to laugh at this one.  At first, I started feeling out of control because my feelings started coming back on line, and then I start feeling out of control when my brain starting disassociating from the feelings to protect me.  I can remember one time in particular when the kids and I were living at our last residence, I was loaded up on trauma.  It was so bad, that I started dissociating.  Back then, I didn’t realize that dissociating helps to protect your mental state in these cases.  I prayed real hard, because I starting feeling out of control in the state that I was in, asking God to get rid of the dissociation.  He answered right away, and then all of the feelings came flooding through, with no bottom to ground me.  That’s when even in this bad state that I was in at the moment, I laughed, and told God that I guess I’d better be careful for what I pray for.  Now, I know that I just need to ride it out.  Everything happens for a reason.

 

Please feel free to send an email or respond with a comment down below if you are so led as to how you deal with the dissociating side of trauma.

Hope you have a blessed night!

 

Katina

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

New International Version (NIV) Proverbs 34: 18-20