June is PTSD awareness month.
Post – Traumatic – Stress … Disorder
While commonly known as PTSD, in most wellness circles we’ve let go of the “D”. Disorder makes one feel like they did something wrong, like if you had followed the proper order of things this wouldn’t have happened or once you are fixed and re-ordered your life will come back in line and you’ll go about your merry way like nothing happened.
Life is not that simple and we all know that.
While you can’t catch PTSD, it has a way of creeping up on you and taking over. It develops over time. After an acute episode or specific event that was traumatizing that you either experienced, someone you loved experienced, you witnessed or you heard about.
Just because you’ve experienced trauma doesn’t mean you will get PTSD.
Just because you have PTSD doesn’t mean that you’ve experienced a recent trauma.
PTSD develops over time. It can surface after many years from traumas experienced in the past. In particular childhood traumas that have been suppressed. Immediately after a traumatic event there are a number of experiences we might have that may include nightmares, flashbacks, loss of memory, hypervigilance, numbing or avoidance, insomnia and difficulty concentrating. These are all normal occurrences that may last weeks or months as our nervous system continues to process what happened. When we are having these experiences and they last for more than 3 months a medical professional will often provide a diagnosis of PTSD.
In PTSD it’s like we toggle between fight flight and numbness or freeze with no relief. Our brain and nervous system are on high alert waiting for the next bad thing to happen. The messages from our brain to our body and back again are being driven entirely by our HPA axis – hypothalamus (memory) pituitary (main frame) and adrenals (stress hormone) which is meant to turn on under stress and then turn back off when we don’t need it. This leaves us in a continual feeling of depletion and it isn’t just an emotional experience. Lack of rest drives up inflammation and chronic pain, plays havoc on our digestion, reduces our energy and motivation while increasing both anxiety and depression. So many people are suffering inside this vicious circle and don’t even know why or what or how to stop this.
Over a year of lockdowns, isolation, job loss, life loss etc.. is the perfect antidote to send so many of us into despair. It is the perfect breeding ground for past traumas to re-surface, or for what we thought was okay to just not be okay anymore. We have become wary of each other, suspicious of those we don’t know and generally afraid. Our ability to take care of our mental health has been compromised and this is creating a domino effect in our society that we are only beginning to see.
It is not only first responders and those in the military that experience PTSD. It is human beings. It is all of us. Knowledge is power. The more we know about managing our mental health the better we will be. The more we understand the signs of PTSD the earlier we can seek help.
For immediate aid in Canada:
In Toronto, CAMH has a free resource line: 1-855-310-COPE (2673)
Suicide Prevention Hotline in Canada: 1-833-456-4566
For long-term solutions seek out the following:
EMDR trained Therapist
Addiction Recovery Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcohol Anonymous (AA)
Residential Treatment Centre such Bellwood (private) or Hope Place Centre (gov’t funded)
Trauma Informed Yoga or Yoga Therapy
Plant Medicine Ceremony
To be an ally of care:
Learn about trauma-informed practices and how to be trauma-sensitive.
Become Trauma Aware is a 4-hr live/virtual training on the science of trauma and how the brain and nervous system are affected by and process trauma. Part theory and part practical, this training also includes the somatic work (through the body) to help move through the healing process. Next course date is Friday, June 25, 2021. For the privacy of all students, trainings are never recorded.
Become Trauma Aware: Creating a Healing Practice is a 2-hr online course also offering theory and practical work with unlimited streaming capabilities.
These courses are sold together and separately to help serve you best.