Hormones and Delayed Reactions

When the past that is living inside of a person decides to rear it’s head, stressor drugs, or hormones, are released into the body. The hormones that get released are preparing the body for life-threatening danger. The issue or disorder is that the life threatening incident is over. You already survived! It is the past being processed that causes the hormone surges. The fight, flight, or freeze responses are a delayed reaction to a traumatic instance.

The most effective way to handle the incidents of fight, flight, or freeze is to remember these two things:

  1. That it is temporary, and
  2. that focusing on your breath will calm down the nervous system.

You can practice this skill when not highly triggered with simple observations of your breath. Are you breathing slowly? Quickly? Can you control your breathing rate? Have some fun with it, if you can. Sometimes the most basic things get lost when the past floods in and overtakes the brain. Getting back to the basics is helpful. From a physiological standpoint, the quickest way to calm the nervous system is to breathe deeply.

Oh, and be easy on yourself, too.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Our trauma thoughts have glowing weaknesses when studied as they exist as separate entities. In plain English, trauma or trauma thoughts are impermanent and without a power source. Our attention towards our trauma thoughts are the power that keep it alive.

    Our trauma would die right here, now, if you withdrew any attention towards it. It would be much easier to calm the nervous system from dumping cortisol first, then proceed with choosing to direct your attention somewhere else.

    Next trauma is impermanent as well as thoughts. Having a skill that let’s you direct your attention to your breath when a trauma thought occurs can dissolve it. If an emotional trauma memory pops up, the ability to follow the breath for maybe only a minute can outlast the thought. If so the thought will have faded by the time you follow your breath.

    The possible trigger reaction followed by panic, cortisol, fear and terror has past and we have a new confidence, we can handle daily life better.

    From this space many more healing shifts are attainable. We heal in small shifts with our daily practice, slowly.

  2. Posted by Ali on October 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks Marty, this simple message is helpfull as at times I can feel overwhelmed.

    The KISS principle, keep it simple stupid…


  3. Ali, sounds like you are healing, learning to cope a little better as time passes. Great for you. It may seem like it will ever end however it became better than any part of my life when it integrated.

    This blog is a way of sharing that all this is waiting for all of us not just me. We all can be this happy, this present to live and experience each day empty, free and excited.

    That daily devotion to practicing our tools or skills heals us in an accumulation of days worked. Each week we sit quietly developing our skill of being empty and aware which integrates us slowly. The ability to stay present when trigger thoughts arrive facilitate their removal. Thoughts are not concrete or real.

    Try taking a thought and apply it to the real world. Something small, as making the salt and pepper shakers move a few feet. We sure buy into our trigger thoughts of terror to be dangerous almost lethal. I know for me shivering in my dark garage for 6 months believed my thoughts could destroy me.

    Now they are as strong as cartoons or a mirage, plentiful but nothing concrete.
    All my worry, thoughts of doom and terror never happened. None of them entered into reality or my life. How can that be?

    They seemed so real and lethal, insurmountable to even face. No they resemble air or an illusion. My worries, fear, pain, trauma, anxiety and panic are infrequent visitors. Fear and pain are just emotions. Pain has not harmed me physically or mentally so it hurts more some days. So what.

    My challenge is to assess what skills and assets I have left in me, then do the best I can with what is left. Try passionately, then move on to the next experience, empty.

  4. Posted by Ali on October 21, 2011 at 4:30 am

    Marty, how much was therapy important to your healing?

    I’ve just come home from my second session with a new therapist, and I’m already feeling dissapointed. I feel I get more understanding and learn more ways to move forward in the virtual world and from reading books, than spending an hour talking about the past.

    This was so apparent to me because I’d had a 5 week break from my previous therapist, and I felt so happy and at peace before recommencing with a new one.

    Looking back again has just stirred up the nightmares and anxiety, and I feel I’m going backwards again. I feel i’m just being re-traumatised….


  5. Hey Ali,
    Therapy is a tricky selection process. We really have no experience with many therapist to make a informed decision. I tried everything with the encouragement of my therapist. Some of the things I tried, actually triggered me every visit. Looking back on all the intuitives, hypnotist, acupuncturist or therapies tried, some made me worse.

    Going back into the trauma can cause us to relive our trauma. Sometimes it is the kind of therapy the therapist is using. CBT and exposure therapy delves into the past continually.

    My thought Ali is to find a therapist who uses Acceptance therapy or DBT, they use mindfulness. You heal by accepting and meditating observing the trauma thoughts.

    A therapist could be triggering you trying to integrate the trauma.

    For me my therapist pointed out the direction explaining how to use acceptance and assuring me that I was headed in the right direction. My healing happened in between therapists visits. Healing took much more time than a visit to the therapist.

    Hope that helps. Ask that acceptance therapy be used and stay out of thinking about the past. I healed by directing may attention to my breath and not thinking about thoughts.

  6. Posted by Ali on October 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Sam and Marty

    Thank you for taking the time to think about my post and offer me your perspectives.

    After pondering during a long brisk walk along the beach this morning, I realized what dissapointed me about the session yesterday was the lack of validation, empathy and feeling of connection from one human being to another. I started to feel unsafe and became conscious of feeling shame about my past, even though I KNOW I’m not responsible. It felt the like the secondary wounding you spoke of Sam.

    I’m looking for professional help because I sometimes suffer from nightmares and am still triggered at times. I chose this particular therapist because she uses mindfullness and EMDR, and told me she was experienced with childhood abuse. I guess I’m looking for professional help because I sometimes suffer from nightmares and am still triggered when talking about my family of origin, even though I have cut them from my life.

    I feel much safer and positve in the online trauma recovery community as the people there seem to get it. I also find that reading has helped me enormously in my understanding of and recovery from PTSD. My current daily practises of meditation, exercise, gardening, playing with my dogs, reading, and reconnecting with people again, are all contributing to not only living a functional life, but being happy and at peace.

    What I’m wondering is this, is it possible to recover from PTSD without a therapist if you are proactive and motivated to do the work?

    Thanks again

  7. Wow? In my opinion that is very difficult to decide. My therapist gave me a sense of security. My path of integrating the trauma was quite emotional and somewhat violent inside my mind.

    It felt like a big panic attack filled with a heavy emotional charge that was very uncomfortable. Was I really healing or maybe just triggered again.

    Judith my therapist was there to just say keep going, it is healing. That meant the world to me and let me keep up the constant pressure. So having someone to help validate your journey and direction is awfully valuable sometimes.

    Another answer is yes. meditating exercise and the rest of your practice are excellent. My question to you would be are you really applying your mindfulness and the rest of these tools in a concerted way. How do you use your mindfulness practice to deal with trauma thoughts and emotions? How do you handle dissociation and staying present during the day. Are you using your meditation practice to discover how to be empty without thought for a while so the body soothes and repairs itself.

    Also, I would like to add that improving, integrating or healing may not be quiet or passive but emotional and terrifying the first time.

    Ali, take a few sessions and see what happens. It takes time to build a relationship. Notice if this triggering was a one time or infrequent happening or is constant. Share your thoughts about being triggered and not having the session be integrated when you leave.

    Therapists are trained to stay neutral and some are very rigid almost cardboard. If you are like me I desire my therapist to care and be invested in my mental state. Evaluate your therapist and make sure they have a plan B and maybe C.

    I would ask for some short skills to practice to limit dissociation. Maybe share that this fuels and energizes PTSD. Besides using mindfulness, what practice skills does she recommend.

    Maybe ask what clients of hers/his with childhood trauma improve the most? Does she have an idea of how long most clients take to improve? Does she/he have practice handouts and expectations of success. Most people show up and are passive wanting to be healed with the least inconvenience. Ali demonstrate your knowledge and depth of your practice and they will look at you different. Tell them you are motivated and proactive. Ask what they think you should work on first?

    Good Luck

  8. Posted by Ali on October 22, 2011 at 2:08 am

    My main reason for seeing this therapist was because she uses EMDR, a therapy that is said to treat unresolved traumatic memories effectively and efficiently.

    I currently have 4 subsidised treatment sessions left (courtesy of our governents mental health policy), so will continue and reassess at the end of the 4 sessions.

    I’ve given some thought to the questions in your last post, and I feel that my improvement has been independant of therapy, and can be attributed to my own endeavours. For me the proof is in the pudding, I feel heaps better and functional again. I understand that may not always be the case, but for the moment it’s heaps better than any therapy that I’ve encountered.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, your support is really appreciated.


  9. My experience with EMDR was interesting. The technique reaches a deeper level of our brains so the therapist should be very competent or we may hay some emotional reactions.

    My healing was concentrated on my daily mindfulness practice, exercise and application of observing thoughts and emotions.

    Feel free to take the lead on your next minute and ask her what her plan involves. Ali you know what you need to help you heal, so ask her. Your sessions should be a partnership with you leading the charge at times.

    Good Luck

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