Roots of Emotion

Bloggies, I am a seeker. At least that’s what I call myself. When presented with a problem I will throw all of my energy into it until I find a workable solution. Walking away from problems, while often times the only solution, is the absolute HARDEST THING EVER for me. It’s not just inter personal problems, it’s ALL problems. Logistical, organization, if something isn’t functioning as it should be I will find a way the most efficient way to fix it, and I absolutely will not rest until I do. Even if I can put things at the back of my mind, or the bottom of my priorities they are never truly gone. It’s a curse, really it is. Anyway… I said all of that to say this:

Over the past few months I have been researching the pants off of various different mental disorders that have a direct effect on my life. PTSD, BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), OCD, NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and BiPolar among others. Granted I will never have the level of understanding as some one who struggles with any of the aforementioned (aside PTSD) personally, but I am at least trying. I figure that if I expect the world to accept my wacky emotions in relation to my PTSD, I should at least attempt to do the same for others. In my various researching I’ve come across a relatively new study. I’m going to share it here today with the disclaimer that I am NOT a licensed professional, and other than months of personal studies from the internet and books at the library I don’t have any formal education in regards to psychology. Take it as an opinion, not a fact, and if it’s something that you are interested in do your own research, ask your therapist, whatever. 

Because the research into trauma, and effects of trauma has really taken off since 2005 there is a lot of new information floating around. One statement made by a researcher in Europe hypothesized that many of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders have their roots in unresolved trauma, and in the old methods of trauma counseling. This quote I pulled up this morning is the best way I can describe what I’m trying to say with out going into a whole bunch of technical jargon.

“Here is an example of the layered processes of an emotional flashback. A complex PTSD sufferer wakes up feeling depressed. Because childhood experience has conditioned her to believe that she is unworthy and unacceptable in this state, she quickly becomes anxious and ashamed. This in turn activates her Inner Critic to goad her with perfectionistic and endangering messages. The critic clamors: “No wonder no one likes you. Get your lazy, worthless ass going or you’ll end up as a wretched bag lady on the street”! Retraumatized by her own inner voice, she then launches into her most habitual 4F behavior. She lashes out at the nearest person as she becomes irritable, controlling and pushy (Fight/ Narcissistic) – or she launches into busy productivity driven by negative, perfectionistic and catastrophic thinking (Flight/Obsessive-Compulsive)- or she flips on the TV and becomes dissociated, spaced out and sleepy (Freeze/ Dissociative)- or she focuses immediately on solving someone’s else’s problem and becomes servile, self-abnegating and ingratiating (Fawn/Codependent). Unfortunately this dynamic also commonly operates in reverse, creating perpetual motion cycles of internal trauma as 4F acting out also gives the critic endless material for self-hating criticism, which in turn amps up fear and shame and finally compounds the abandonment depression with a non-stop experience of self-abandonment. Here is a diagram of these dynamics: Triggered ABANDONMENT DEPRESSION — FEAR&SHAME –INNER CRITIC Activation: (Perfectionism & Endangerment) — 4F’s: (Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn Response). Especially noteworthy here is how the inner critic can interact with fear and shame in a particular vicious and escalating cycle.”

The above explains why the cycle continues even to the chagrin of those who suffer and desperately want it to end.

‘This state indicates a sense of containment has been lost. Emotional instability shows itself as continuous movement from one emotional state to another, often to extremes. There is constant acting in or acting out of the current emotion through intense identification. Persistent emotional instability can lead to bipolar, depression and/or schizophrenia disorder.’

And this explains why my personal symptoms of PTSD often mimic the aforementioned disorders. I have mood swings, which fit into the category of rapid cycling BiPolar, yet I also have symptoms of chronic depression even though my depressive state doesn’t last long enough to be considered chronic , and during times of intense stress/massive triggers I have many intrusive thoughts bordering on paranoia. All of it comes back to unresolved trauma and the responses I was conditioned to have toward it. Redefining my response to trauma, and all of the emotions associated with it I’ve been able to really get a handle on things. It’s not that I don’t experience the emotions anymore, I do, but I understand them. I can now pinpoint where they are coming from, and stop them from getting away from me as they have in the past. 

It is possible, but before any progress can be made the past has to be addressed. Not the past as you perceive it, but the past as how it actually is. You know, part of the inappropriate coping mechanisms for trauma is disassociation. In layman’s terms denial. You can know the truth, you can hear the truth, but until you accept the truth it’s only going to get worse. I’m not saying that’s easy, because trust me, it SUCKS. It really does. It’s quite possibly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I did it. I survived, and I’m better for it.

The truth has not changed over the course of time. I’ve worded it different ways, I’ve presented it in different formats, but it really hasn’t changed.