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When Trauma Comes Knocking Again – 8 Steps For Embracing The Slippery Slide

Written by: JL Keez, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Trauma is understood to be a deeply distressing experience that disturbs the mind, body and soul. Trauma can result from many different scenarios in life. Trauma debilitates, hold’s its victim to ransom and, left untreated, takes its owner into a world of unexplained health characteristics until in recovery, the story elements of the trauma surface to inform. It will eventually be these story elements that guide the healing process.

A woman in white lying down on her bed in despair.

Not all trauma-related health characteristics are initially diagnosed as such. In many presenting cases medical practitioners will initially connect suffering to a suitable medication designed to holt the pain. When the medication does not do its job, further explanation is explored. Where trauma is not considered, trial and error may well result; and around the mulberry bush we go!


The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare identifies several mental illnesses that develop due to the experience of trauma. Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, self-harm and PTSD are a few on their list. With an estimated 75% of Australians experiencing trauma during their life time, the need to understand this area in terms of developing health is high on the agenda of requirements!


Childhood trauma can be difficult to identify as a causative factor. Where diagnosis is not undertaken until well down the track in a person’s life, the impact of trauma can be missed, especially where the trauma is deeply buried OR occurred away from the prying eyes of adults. Locked away in the mind, shielded by fear, the information required may well decide to remain in this position. Oftentimes, the full impact of trauma may not be immediately evident. Health characteristics may be slow in initiating a response. This too can result in misdiagnosis when assistance is sought.


This was my case. Childhood trauma of sexual abuse buried itself deep and first presented through an eating disorder. Missed in diagnosis, the associated mental illnesses formed. All formal methods for healing were explored; to no avail. Not surprising – a wrong diagnosis will never result in recovery!


My lived experience demonstrates the need to consider trauma as part of the diagnosis when traditional methods deliver no joy. An eating disorder, chronic fatigue, migraines, depersonalisation, OCD and suicidal depression had all joined me on my quest to heal. Eating disorder recovery was undertaken with weight restored, however, due to the core reason not being known until my mid-thirties, the additional co-morbidities replaced it. The important clues had been overlooked, the claws of trauma lived on and my body folded.


Where, then, are clues to be found?


Clues are embedded in each of the presenting illnesses AND the story we carry. The reason I endured a collection was due to the mis-diagnosis when I first entered the corridors of recommended psychiatrists. The longevity of suffering reflected missing the mark. My body continued to break down – or how I came to understand this – my body was shouting louder and louder in an attempt to open up the discussion which would see clues identified and recovery a possibility.


Meeting the psychologist who FINALLY asked the right questions I FINALLY discovered my clues. Trauma elements turned up in spades! Identification delivered understanding. Understanding encouraged and designed my recovery.


And … just when I thought I had arrived, elements of the trauma returned with new pieces showing themselves. Disappointed, I was guided to understand that this was what I now call, ‘fine-tuning’ my recovery. Recovery unfolds as we strengthen. At times we may feel we have dealt with the trauma, but out of the blue, up pops more pain. I encourage readers to not be dismayed. This is your body and soul knowing you are ready to face another level; you have the strength.


Finding oneself in this position has the opportunity to take us down that slippery slide of, “Get me out of here” coupled with anger, tears and rage at needing to face more. This was my response! However, once I realised this was for the benefit of releasing more of the trauma impact, I embraced the pain, identified the cause and resolved the presenting element.


Gosh, that sounds easy; it is not! Hence the purpose of this article:


8 Steps For Embracing The Slippery Slide

  1. Acknowledge this moment in time as ‘fine-tuning’

  2. Sit quietly, breathe, accept, embrace

  3. Recall the last time this occurred – it DID pass – be patient

  4. Discuss what is happening for you with your trusted counsellor/psychologist/friend

  5. Step through the process of challenging the clues/messages being shared

  6. Resolve

  7. Let this go

  8. Give thanks/gratitude

The slippery slide of the recovery process is yet an extension of the door you opened when in pain you called out for healing. Once the door opens trauma elements turn up, some in isolation, some in unison. Like the initial trauma they can tear us apart – we wish we never started! Do understand, that in order to recover, we need to fully experience the original impact. Giving ourselves the time to endure this is paramount. Pencil into the diary rest time. Pencil into the diary sleep time. Pencil in social time. Pencil in acceptance that this too shall pass.


It is that last suggestion that carries the most weight. Acceptance, not rejection or fighting, will see you emerge. You are working toward a new life, one without suffering. As bazaar as it may sound, to release the suffering one first needs to suffer. This is why it is so important to embrace everything that comes your way, to be gentle with yourself, and nurture you throughout the process. Adopting tools and skills to meet your elements front on will empower.


As important as acceptance, giving thanks, or as we often hear today, expressing gratitude, is extremely beneficial to closing the door of healing. Our bodies are wonderful places we inhabit. Without us needing to do much it works away in the background supporting our day to day existence so we may enjoy our earthly time. In the absence of trauma it will happily provide us with health. In the presence of trauma it may well become agitated, yelling out through illness for us to acknowledge what the heck is going on. It has the capacity to hold us together through adversity. It has the capacity to restore after tremendous folding and debilitation has occurred. It makes complete sense then to thank both our bodies for enduring and holding on, and the information, born from questioning, for revealing the required knowledge necessary for recovery.


Gratitude may be as simple as saying, “Thank you for supporting my healing” or, sitting in the silence to mindfully express gratitude through visualising those areas of your body or life that were involved in the latest round of resolution. Gratitude concludes a step in the process, allowing more to appear; we are signalling readiness to move toward the next layer.


And this is the final acknowledgement for this article – understanding that trauma leaves layers. Each layer represents an aspect of the trauma. In recovery, the layers demonstrate their intelligence. The intelligence initially to protect the carrier through remaining hidden, out of reach. Then the intelligence to know the order in which to disclose the layers and their attached information so the carrier can learn the embedded truths.


When the layers turn up follow the ‘8 steps for embracing the slippery slide’.


Remember, when trauma comes knocking again, hold onto your hat, adopt the 8 steps, accept the experience, express gratitude and know that another layer is wishing to inform you and then happily leave!


Trauma recovery is a challenge worth pursuing … and conquering …


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JL Keez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

J.L Keez survived a nine-year struggle with anorexia nervosa. She endured years of mental illness, including suicidal depression, OCD and depersonalisation. Today, she is the Director of JL Keez Anorexia Unlocked, a passionate speaker, author and Thought Leader in her field. In her role as a Reality Therapy Coach and influential teacher she empowers others to heal their lives through delivering the understanding required to do so.

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