Monday, February 16, 2009

PTSD Healing: Learning to Say It Aloud, Part 1, Or: Crafting Your Story

An interesting study was released this weekend (conveniently in time for the biggest collective kissing day of the year) that indicates cortisol levels are reduced by locking lips. This is a tough nut to crack for PTSD application. I mean, here we are dealing with symptoms of emotional numbing, anger and the detachment of dissociation – and scientists are proving that if we did just the opposite, if we passionately smooched for a while – it would actually be very healing for us. A conundrum, yes?

Just like the rest of the PTSD riddle what we need to do to bridge the gap from PTSD to healing is a bit of a big jump. But I still think this info is good to know, so that when we’re having a bad day we can stop ourselves mid-stride, say to our partner, “Come over here and kiss me!” and feel a little better afterward. Sort of a new twist on cognitive behavior methodology. And not a bad one to get us thinking that maybe the isolation in which we cocoon ourselves is not the best way to go. Let me know what you think about this.

Getting back to the idea that TALKING is part of the healing process, today’s the day to look over what you wrote last week and get it into the shape of a script. That’s right, today you’re a playwright putting the finishing touches on a climactic monologue.

Using a highlighter, read back over the story you wrote out. Pull out the sentences and paragraphs that you feel tell the story in the best possible way. Rewrite the piece so that your favorites lines, explanations and descriptions are all in one place in one stream of information. Good. Now you’ve taken the burden of telling the story in the moment right off your shoulders.

If you’re anything the way I was, I could not tell the story. I could get out jagged bits of info in completely unrelated sentences one at a time. I could not look at the person to whom I was telling the story. I could not think straight while I was telling the story. And I usually couldn’t get out enough of the details for the other person to get the whole idea behind the story. Usually, I’d abruptly say, ‘That’s all’. By the time I was finished trying to formulate the throughline I’d be a black emotional mess and my thoughts were all over the place. I think the main reason for this was that bringing up the memories in the moment and sifting through them was too much of an emotional overload.

Having a script helps us lessen and get over these issues. With a prewritten script we no longer have to rely on our own clearheadedness to get the point across. We can memorize the script and then go on autopilot. We have a guide; we don’t have to do the guiding of the story. We know what to say without dipping into the past in the moment of the present to get there. Now that’s my kind of healing!

Today, sit down with your recollection. Think about it like a big lump of clay. You’re going to take that blob and transform it into a piece of art. You’re crafting the story. You’re choosing the words. You’re hand-picking the memories. You’re rising up just a little at a time to take back your power and control. You’re the artist of your healing journey. Create. Create. Create.

(photo: wacky_tom)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well bugger me you describe the predicament of real-time story telling well! My version of "that's all" is generally trailing off with 'umm, so yeah..." LOL Oh dear. Thank you for these ideas. It makes an awful lot of sense to me, and that helps.

I really like the idea of pre-crafting the story. I do do it sometimes but I reckon being an 'artist of healing' is a very different thing to stumbling onto a good thing once in a while ;)