Recognizing, Living with and Resolving Trauma
Part 1 - The Connection between Suicide & PTSD
Every event we experience directly or indirectly has an impact on our nervous system – for better or otherwise. Current research suggests that, 80% of our mind is comprised of unconscious actions (impulses, urges, cravings, instincts and drives). The remaining 20% is conscious – that which we are aware of with regard to person, place and time.
Each of us has a different threshold of activation of our Autonomic Nervous System (which is unconscious and reacts very quickly – in some instances, fractions of a second. The ANS has 2 sub-branches, sympathetic (stimulating) and parasympathetic (sedating). We know this as the Fight, Flight or Freeze response. The ANS system allows us to quickly respond to danger and is also common to most higher functioning animal species. We need our ANS to live well.
Nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) are key factors when it comes to activating the ANS. Suicidologists report that the mind records trauma exposure much like our bodies record exposure to radiation. There is a point at which we exceed the ability to process and “shake it off” – particularly if the exposure(s) happen close together and at a young age. New PTSD studies indicate that “fear circuitry in the brain never rests”. The idea is that the more traumas the mind is exposed to, the more the fear circuitry has to keep it busy. The same way a song gets stuck on “repeat” in our head – whether or not we like the song.
We really have to be aware and careful of what we expose ourselves to regarding trauma – no different than second hand smoke, heavy metals, sodium and animal fats. The unconscious mind cannot distinguish between real and unreal. Only the smaller conscious part of mind has this ability. If we expose ourselves to violent or scary movies or the more mundane nightly news, our sub-conscious mind believes the unbelievable and is experiencing a level of discomfort just below conscious awareness. We can be operating just below the threshold of ANS activation due to self-induced over accumulation of bothersome information and troubling entertainment choices. We have learned that risk for suicide is higher for those with PTSD. Recall that our "fear circuitry" is responsible for processing fearful and anxious emotions and regulates sensitivity to pain and negative emotions which will increase with each additional exposure.
To make matters more complicated, repeated exposure to trauma (large or small) decreases our ability to integrate information regarding the awareness of time (past, present and future). The resultant state of confusion creates a “re-experiencing” as if it was happening again, now.
Be willing to ask yourself if you have any more room for more self-inflicted negative exposures (trauma) and what the gain would be, even if you did? We are conditioned to take in negativity (minor trauma) and think little of it. Those with a family history of depression and those who have had high exposure to traumas need to be even more aware of their small tolerance for more.
Depression is degenerative – untreated it becomes progressively more severe and in general, requires professional care to treat. All of us though, would do better to reduce our exposure to undue negativity. In order to live well, we need our ANS to function well.
Part 2 - The Connection between Suicide & PTSD
For the purpose of understanding our own feeling state and energy level, it is paramount to understand that our energy is contagious. We transmit our energy with emotion through chemical and electromagnetic processes. We truly affect those around us and are under the influence of other’s feeling states and energy levels. We regularly use the following statements as a way of recognizing how much we are tuned in with others: “Are you feeling me”? “I feel your pain”. “You look like I feel”. “You look awful”. “You look radiant”. As much as we recognize the unpleasantness of bad breath, a baby’s diaper or someone passing gas, we also notice the feelings and energy of those near-by and even those who are far away, but are close with emotionally or are related to.
To be in sound emotional health, requires us to be in the company of other’s who are also sound emotionally. The adage of “we are what we eat and we are who our friends are” is another colloquialism that supports our experience of being influenced energetically by others. Have you ever wondered why a hotdog tastes better at a picnic or at a ball game? Or why music is more enjoyable at a concert than it is in your car or at home – it’s the positive energy from other’s that is present in those places. Everyone is enjoying themselves and resonating in that engaging atmosphere.
Recent research from Bielefeld University reports that “plants can draw an alternative source of energy from other plants”. Researchers believe that this discovery will support the same finding in humans – we exchange energy with others. The study posits that “our physical bodies are like sponges, soaking up the environment. The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger.”
This energy can be vibrating in a positive resonance or in a negative dissonance. The same way a ripe strawberry can tantalize the taste buds or a rotten strawberry can make you nauseous. We have to be mindful and aware of the condition of those around us and what type of energy they are transmitting and receiving (sending out and taking from us).
Many traumatized, depressed and suicidal people are confused by what they feel. We never discount what people feel, but we may gain understanding by becoming aware that the feelings and energy may not be our own. Some of the negativity we experience may originate in those around us. By learning healthy boundaries and limiting our exposure to the negative forms of energy we can reduce our level of desperation and discomfort significantly. It will require change and change is generally not exciting, but it is worth strongly considering.
In the stronghold of depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts, surround yourself with the positive energy from those who have some to spare. Be respectful, ask before you take it. Most positive people will be happy to “share the love”. It’s easy to tell them from those who are suffering and in misery as we know that “misery loves company” and that company we call a “pity party”. So whose company (ENERGY) do you want to keep?
The reference lists five energy tools to use to clear your space and prevent energy drains while releasing people’s energy