After trauma our brains are sensitised to threat and our amygdala – our brain’s ‘smoke alarm’ – tends to react to burnt toast as if the house is on fire. In this article Carolyn Spring shows how to turn down the sensitivity of our smoke alarm – and overcome the impacts of trauma.
One of the hardest things I found in dealing with triggers was the aftermath: the shame, the self-blame, the sense of failure and powerlessness that once again something had happened that I’d had no sense of control over.
Denial and dissociation are two sides of the same coin. In employing dissociation, we are employing denial: “This isn’t happening” or “This isn’t happening to me.” We create alter personalities to whom it happened, so that it didn’t happen to me.
I have dissociative identity disorder. I have many separate, distinct and unique ‘parts’ of my personality. My ‘parts’ or ‘alters’ collectively add up to the total person that is me. I am the sum of all my parts. They are each a letter, and I am a sentence.
Physical symptoms are a big part of life for me with DID. Yes, I have ‘multiple personalities’, the “two or more distinct identities that recurrently take control of the body” and I’m not for one moment denying the significance of that or the impact it has on my day-to-day life. But I would say that physical symptoms such as chronic, unexplained pain, headaches and nausea have been and still remain far more distressing and life-impacting for me than the presence of parts.
Crisis makes sense. The adrenaline of it can become addictive, or be all we’ve known. Life doesn’t feel right if things aren’t frantic, if relationships aren’t disastrous. Crisis can be an attachment cry. Crisis is the language of emotions that we don’t know how to regulate.