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Episode 40: Dealing with Trauma

When something happens to us — either an ongoing traumatic experience or a single incident — there are many ways to deal with it. I read something recently that reminded me of what happens to us when we don't cope. Today I wanted to share that with you, in addition to the things that have helped me cope with my PTSD.

Transcript:
[00:00:00] So today is going to be a little bit different, and that's because I want to read something to you. When I came across this, it really struck a chord with me. I've been thinking a lot lately about the way that people deal with trauma and difficult life experiences, and how many of us try our hardest not to deal with whatever it is that has upset us... Because it's scary to face it, it is scary to figure out how to cope with it. Some of us feel like we aren't going to be able to cope with it. And so we may numb ourselves with Netflix or drinking or marijuana or watching YouTube, because it's easier than facing the emotions that keep coming up when we don't deal with something.

[00:01:05] I always encourage people who have dealt with something really difficult to process it with a therapist. After my divorce, I went through about four years of therapy to figure out why I had made the decisions that I made and deal with some of the trauma surrounding my divorce. And it really helped a lot.

[00:01:26] Some things are a little bit more difficult than that. I had a lot of medical trauma resulting from my cancer diagnosis. And this was things like replaying in my mind when I was diagnosed, but also incidents like when I went in to have my port put in, which is part of getting chemo. That was a really traumatizing experience.

[00:01:53] These traumas contributed to a general level of stress in my life. And I didn't really connect it back to that incident or similar incidences until I went to a health therapist who did something called EMDR, which honestly seems crazy when when you find out what it is. Basically you are holding these two vibrating things, one in each hand. And it kind of helps your brain process the trauma. It works like a charm. I can't even tell you how much it has worked for me and it works for other people who have post-traumatic stress. Anyway, I have gone off on a little bit of a tangent. My point is there are different ways that people deal with trauma.

[00:02:45] And when I read this, it really resonated with me as a basically "what not to do" or what ends up happening when you don't process what's happening. So, again, this is from the Light through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah. So she says, “Trees can do this amazing thing called Compartmentalization of Decay. When they get an injury, the cells around the wound change and put up a wall that contains the process of decay. Around that wall, a different kind of change in the cells forms another wall. Then a third wall. And a fourth.” She looked at Jasper and River. “Down the hill, there’s a huge live oak that has a big hollow in its trunk, but the tree is thriving. The protective walls allowed the growth of wood to continue around the injury even as it turned hollow.”

[00:03:43] So to me, this is an absolutely beautiful metaphor for what we do as humans when something terrible has happened to us. If we don't process that injury or that trauma, it begins to rot and we can try and build walls up to compartmentalize what has happened to us and not think about it. But it doesn't change the fact that something is rotting and eventually it ends up hollow on the inside.

[00:04:19] My encouragement to you is that even if you feel like your trauma cannot be faced, even if you feel like you've done a good job compartmentalizing it and that it's not affecting you, the truth is it is eating away at you. And if you're able to get help in the form of a professional, you can really work through a lot of this stuff and it helps heal that . . . so instead of it turning hollow and rotten and contributing to your general stress level, you can move forward in a healthier way, where you're not interrupted by feelings of stress or things that are triggering that old trauma.

[00:05:08] So I hope this has helped you. If you would like more information about EMDR or, you know, finding a therapist, please don't hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to connect you with someone who can give you some more information. Again, I am on Instagram at mightyandbrightco, or you can email me at sara@mightyandbright.com

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher is the Founder + CEO of Mighty + Bright. She's a young cancer survivor, mom, and former single mom.

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