Therapist 2.0 is covering so much with me I hardly know where to begin. At the moment it’s all very much about me learning how our brain works, how it reacts to things, why it reacts in certain ways, and how this can impact on our day to day lives by way of the physical responses it’s causing. It’s phenomenal really. Yesterday she was explaining how when we think of something, our body reacts as if it’s actually happening. The example she used was food – pick something I really like to eat. Chocolate. No brainer. Then she got me to just sit and think about chocolate for a minute – it’s taste, it’s texture – and try and notice what was happening in my body. Needless to say I was salivating.
The same thing applies for when we think about events – good things, bad things, things that have actually happened, things that are going to happen, things that we fear may happen………..it’s HUGE. Something that I’ve been really concerned about is that there may be some horrible memories hidden in the depths of my brain that I’ve long since tried to forget. It’s on my mind because I have very, very few memories from when I was younger, even up to teenage years. There are things that I would expect to remember – starting school, starting secondary school, my first day at college being just some of the more (presumeably) memorable ones that currently escape me. When I mentioned this to the psychologist in the hospital months back during my pre dbt assessment, she said that hearing that always made her ears prick, that it usually meant there was some kind of trauma in our past that we’ve suppressed.
Needless to say, that’s not something that anyone will ever want to hear. But when I asked Therapist 2.0 about it, she explained a couple of things. First of all, not everyone experiences the same events as traumatic. Typically when we think of trauma we think of abuse of some form, but that’s not always the case. What she was at pains to emphasise to me was that the form that the trauma took, whatever it may have been, was of far less significance than how it was reacted to, and how we subsequently came to speak to ourselves because of it (this isn’t just for me, this is for everyone).
At the moment I’m still of the belief that I had a trauma free childhood, and unless something pops into mind I’ll happily continue believing that, as I have no reason to think otherwise. What has occurred to me though, especially given some of the other inner workings of our brain she’s told me about, is that perhaps it was simply that I was so anxious as a kid (which I really, really was) that my brain just didn’t have the capacity to form memories properly. If I was really anxious it was probably tipping me over into fight or flight mode, and from what she’s told me, when we’re in that mode our ability to think rationally, and presumably do things as unnecessary for survival (in the primitive sense of the word) as make memories, just shuts down. So that would make sense, wouldn’t it? If I was always anxious, I physically couldn’t take in what was going on around me.
I cannot get over how helpful it is to be learning about all this, because it just makes so much sense. Our bodies don’t think, they react. Our brain thinks, and that makes our body react, which makes our brain react, which makes our body react…………if we don’t know that that’s what’s going on, how can we ever try to intervene to help ourselves?
This is a whole new world for me.