Our refusal to bring mental illness itself into the light of day, de-shaming it and thereby allowing those currently struggling with depression and anxiety to feel much more open to admitting their need for help, only sets us up for more shocking surprises, from Columbine to Parkland. We suffer from morbusanimiphobia! Continue Reading Here’s an Idea for Curbing Gun Violence: Stop the Nut-Shaming
why would I love this season of intended scariness? Why would I encourage you in the joy of “boo”? Because practicing a little frisson of fear, from time to time and in good company, inoculates us from that very anxiety. Think of it as exercise. We do reps. We do laps. We rest between, and recover. In that way, we build strength without becoming overwhelmed, without injuring ourselves. The scary moment in the movie is followed by a funny one, gets resolved at the end. The scary halloween house is visited and then left, as your children turn towards you for assurance and find it. Fear, unlike anxiety, is based in the present, and the conditions inciting it can therefore be managed, giving us a sense of confidence around scary sensations that can be expanded to those selfsame anxious sensations. The breath we automatically take after the monster is vanquished, the laughter when the loud noise turns out to be a cat, the shiver of delight are all, also, forms of discharge, teaching our nervous systems to handle fear and anxiety more effectively. Continue Reading Boo!: In Praise of Getting Scared
As a therapist, I deal with individual torment, but as a country, as a society, we must also think of trauma as something socially induced and with cultural impact. Regardless of where one stands with gun control (and I doubt that Las Vegas’ tragedy changed not one NRA mind), this country is subtly changed by each new slaughter, becoming more inured, more tolerant… much as my individual clients survived by dissociating, by learning to live without safety, becoming hypervigilent and chronically anxious. By learning not to care. Continue Reading Where is the Humanity?
In a healthy family, each member seeks to empower both the self and other, wanting to tell, and to hear, the authentic concerns that threaten the bond of care and concern. Even when the voices get a little loud, there is the sense of people fighting for each other as well as for themselves. Continue Reading The Sauna: Managing Conflict Well
On the bright side, this really is a journey I’m on. I don’t know where it’s going, or how long (if ever) I’ll get to the other side, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone…but I am trying to learn things, like how to lean on others, how to notice also that which is beautiful and comforting, how to be in the moment, how to heal from whatever brought this about in the first place. This letter is meant to help you join me in this journey, in whatever way you see fit, with greater confidence…and maybe, a journey of your own.
Continue Reading Trauma 101: Helping Friends & Family Not To Put Their Foot In It
When I started writing this series, I explored “safety.” What it means, particularly to those of us who were not nourished by it often enough as our young spirits grew. Many of the essentials I’ve since explored with you, grounding, resourcing, meditation, all help reduce the constant undercurrent of distress in our lives. However, none… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Discovering Your Inner Protector
Trauma takes us away from our bodies, and turns us into their harshest judges. The path towards healing and away from this dissociation must therefore reunite us with our physical selves…Yoga, from the Sanskrit meaning “to join, unite, or attach,” invites us to enter our bodies gradually, allowing energy that has become stuck to begin flowing once more. It is even good preparation for entering a deeper meditative state, and the two together are profoundly therapeutic in becoming more mindful, and more present. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Stepping Gently Into Your Body With Yoga
Meditation is a discipline. Sometimes, it gets to me. In this video, in which I am upstaged by my dogs, I give a little taste both of the effort I put towards sitting, and how easy it is for me to get distracted from focusing on the present. What is important for all of us to wrap our minds around is that, if you’re expecting your brain to cooperate and stop thinking, you will not succeed. You will get frustrated, and you will give up on an intervention that is free and requires no travel, taking 15-20 minutes out of your day. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Meditation
Trauma deeply impacts our sense of personal territory. Do we have a right to territory? What does it take to keep myself safe within that territory? If I feel an alert, should I mention it, because I might hurt someone else’s feelings? Because for me, and in my experience, our boundaries physically mark the beginning of what constitutes “us,” they are not merely a concept, and in becoming more embodied, less dissociative, we are more able to feel physically when someone is crossing those boundaries and entering what we sense as our personal space. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 2
Boundaries. I love how the therapeutic community throws words like “boundaries” around, without a clear explanation. Before you read on, in fact, go ahead and test this (and for those of you who’ve had therapy, or at least read a multitude of self-help books, this should be especially fun). How would you describe boundaries? Are… Continue Reading Trauma 101: Boundaries, Part 1