breaking rope

Why is everyone and everything so annoying?

One reason for this is because following trauma, your sensory systems often over-register incoming information because they become set on high alert to monitor for danger. This makes it difficult to ignore things and you can become easily agitated and stressed by things like smells, noises, bright lights or even the movements someone is making.

Not only is your sensory system more sensitive but the bit of your brain that helps you ignore things and focus on something else is also not working as well to help you ignore the sensory input. This therefore creates the perfect storm of greater detection and reduced ability to switch off from it.

In this scenario, it can often feel easier to pull away from everyday life just to cope, which is understandable. It’s worth knowing that one of the great thing about your brain is that it can change and rewire to form new patterns and habits.

One thing you can do to help your nervous system is give yourself lots of regulating sensory input at home or during times of relaxation.
There are some fairly simple things you can do using sensory inputs to help you feel calm and relaxed. Sensory needs are different for each individual, but one tool that is quite universal in terms of helpful input is using deep pressure. This can be in the form of using a weighted object or getting a deep pressure massage. Some people don’t want to be touched, as this is triggering for them, but using a cushion filled with rice and placing it on your lap can help – weighted pressure through the shoulders is also worth trying.

This may not work for everyone, but it is easy to try and can be something you can use at home to help your sensory system be more calm and regulated. The more your system has good experiences in this way, the more you will be able to access calm states more when you’re anxious or low. Change doesn’t happen overnight but if you keep giving your system what it needs it will adapt and recover.

Birth Trauma -“I feel like a zombie!!”

A traumatic birth experience can leave you not only feeling battered and bruised but also detached from your body and your old self. Journalist Leah McLaren said she, ‘felt weirdly detached, like a zombie shuffling through the motions’ when writing about her traumatic birth experience for the Guardian newspaper a couple of years ago.
Feeling this way is particularly distressing at a time when you want to bond with your baby. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in your experience, The Birth Trauma Association estimate that over 200,000 women feel traumatised by childbirth and develop undiagnosed and untreated symptoms of PTSD.
It’s important that we find ways to help and support women who can feel their experience is overlooked so long as their baby is healthy and they are physically patched up. Disregarding a mother’s experience misses the essential point that the wellbeing of a new mum and her baby- cannot be so easily separated.
At our small group sessions we will help you understand how trauma impacts your whole system and how you can do some simple things to help your system recover.

Trauma Isn’t Just In Your Head

When a person has experienced trauma, whether that is an acute event or ongoing chronic life stressors, it can change their physiology –  including resetting the brain’s alarm system – causing it to become focused on survival above all else. The areas of the brain that send out signals of alarm to protect us from threat become sensitised and easily activated at the slightest sense of danger. At the same time the body is programmed to secrete large amounts of stress hormones, leading to unpleasant emotional responses, troubling physical sensations and  impulsive or even aggressive behavioural responses that are seemingly out of control.

Feeling out of control in this way is frightening and can lead to a sense of being fatally flawed or damaged beyond repair – which is one reason why survivors of trauma can feel stuck and unable to move beyond their past experiences and live fully in the present. Life becomes an exercise in managing threat rather than an adventure of new experiences. Research has also shown that trauma compromises the brain area that communicates the physical embodied sensations of being alive in the present moment(1), which means that experiences like standing by the ocean or feeling the sun on your face as you take in the moment, can feel impossible to trauma survivors because their hyper-vigilant sensitised brains are always scanning the environment for threat. They may not be aware that this is what is happening, they just know they can’t relax and that life has lost the joy and spontaneity that it once had. It also makes daily living tiring, stressful and a challenge rather than a pleasure, as any encounter may trigger traumatic reactions. It also means that trauma survivors can’t just change their minds and decide to get on with life because their physiology won’t let them. This is why it is important to include therapies that work with and support the body when recovering from trauma.

The good news is:

“New brain pathways can be formed through repetitive exposure to new information and through practising movement patterns and acquiring new skills” (Robert Scaer – 8 Keys to Brain Body Balance)

This is true for stroke survivors and trauma survivors, as the brain is plastic and responds well to movement interventions that allow the body to process traumatic reactions and experience defensive physical actions that were often denied at the time of the trauma.

Through utilising the body’s own resources and receiving the right support it is possible to move past difficult or traumatic  life experiences and lead a full and happy life.