Three Quick Quotes and a FREE resource – 10 March 2021
In this week’s email our quotes explore the question of … why therapy works in treating trauma-related dissociation so that recovery can be our best revenge!! And our free resource is the PDF version of ‘Three parts of the brain: impairments during the ‘suicidal mode’ poster, available here. A low-ink version can also be found here.
“Remember that the purpose of the brain is to enhance survival through the prediction and control of future outcomes. More specifically, the right hemisphere, biased toward anxiety and shame, wants us to always worry about whether we are acceptable to others, if we are going to get fired, and is always anticipating anxiety and shame. Concern about the future and being accepted by the group appear to have been woven into our genes, brains, and minds. Some of us have especially harsh and critical voices that never let up. This may be because we had critical parents, have a bias towards depression, or lack self-confidence and feel ashamed of who we are.
Because these voices seem to come from deep inside of us, we forget that they are memories, and we come to identify them as who we really are. A central aspect of taking control of our lives is to understand the voices as memory programming errors and learn how to interpret, manage, and mitigate their negative effects. I’m not sure they ever go away. We may even need them in other instances when their advice is accurate and actually helpful. But we all need to learn which of these voices are counterproductive and to tell them to get lost. This is one way that understanding how your brain evolved and developed can turn your mind into your friend.”
“I had survived by dissociating, and would have continued to do so, if my mind had not been determined to heal.
Something deep within me wanted a life that was abundant, not simply to survive. I wanted to know truth in my innermost parts, not hide in the shadows within myself. A primal instinct for life won out over the survival tactics of avoidance and denial …”
this week’s free resource
Being suicidal is not a choice, or just an extreme form of depression or despair. Instead researchers suggest that there is a specific brain state that we enter – which they have dubbed ‘the suicidal mode’ – in which key parts of our logical, thinking front brain shut down. This week’s psychoeducational poster summarises some of these impairments, and is available here as a free PDF. Please feel free to share, and if you want to find out more then check out our online course ‘Dealing with Distress: Working with Suicide and Self-Harm’ which explains in much more detail. A low-ink version can be found here.
snapshot of my week
I haven’t been able to be out and about much lately (who has?!), but on my way to a medical appointment this week I came across this bank of beautiful crocuses. Spring is on the way! – as I like to tell people, usually when I’m running late … 😁
This feels to me like the longest winter since the last Ice Age and like everyone else I’m eager for A New Season: the lifting of lockdown, to be able to see people again, to do the simple things we took for granted, like sitting in a coffee shop, meeting a friend for dinner, going to the cinema. I’m wondering if, when these freedoms return, they will feel strange and special, or whether we’ll click straight back into things again, a bit like do when returning home from holiday: within a few hours the holiday is forgotten and we’re ‘back to normal’. Or will we retain an instinctive anxiety and caution at the thought of being in a crowded room, touching someone, or shopping without a mask?
For trauma survivors, this is a familiar feeling. Is it really safe to do these things that others count as normal? Is this relationship, this therapeutic setting, really safe? Really? Our brain continues to sound the alarm long after the danger has passed.
So I’m curious as to how our collective experience of Covid-related trauma will play out over this coming year. Is it really going to be over soon or will we face a fourth wave, even a fifth or sixth? When it is finally over, will be be able to tell our brains that it is? … so much anxiety, and so much uncertainty. On Saturday it was a year to the day since I last stood up and spoke in public at a live training event. I never imagined on that day, with the lovely people of Darlington, that it would be the last of 2020, and possibly 2021 and beyond – for me, as for everyone, the world has turned upside down. And so the last 12 months have been a tiny insight for the general population into the soundtrack of dread and uncertainty that plays out in the background (and very often the foreground) every single day, every single year, for survivors of trauma.
But in the meantime we have beautiful crocuses, and I eagerly await the explosion of yellow that is our spring show of daffodils …