So, for simplicity, now try conceptualise mental illness as living within our Threat System (i.e. fight, flight, freeze, collapse). Think of depression as freeze; anger, anxiety, terror as fight or flight. Remember the Threat System is only intended for a real life and death threat (i.e. poverty, danger). #HealingTrauma
So the two fundamental questions to ask are:
Is this moment safe or dangerous?
Is this moment real or my imagination?
We need to get good at telling the difference between danger vs safety. Between imagination vs reality. That’s pretty much it.
If the moment is dangerous, then we fight, run, freeze or collapse to stay alive: safety is primary. If we think the moment is dangerous and it turns out to just be our imagination (i.e. anxiety; fear of something bad happening), remind yourself: “It is not real. There is nothing to do.”
When the moment is safe the Social Engagement System is intended for the experience of peace, joy, love, compassion, blissfulness, ecstasy. This system is essentially “friendship” via:
Intimacy is “stillness” like freeze/collapse. Play is “movement” like fight/flight. The difference: safe vs danger in stillness vs movement.
How cool is that!? Now we can drop the labels (i.e. I’m Depressed). Rather, check danger vs safety – Threat System vs Peace System – where we are determines what we need. If depression is freeze, stillness, low arousal, then try intimacy: like music, a hug.
If anger, anxiety, terror is fight/flight, movement, high arousal, try play: running it off, kick boxing. Notice what will not work due to intensity of arousal: i.e. freeze (low) cannot immediately play (high), fight/flight (high) cannot immediately do intimacy (low). So cool.
Crack the code: Where am I? Threat System? Peace system? Is there danger? Is this moment safe? Is this real? Or my imagination? Where exactly am I: fight, flight, freeze? For collapse you won’t be awake. Can I switch fight/flight to play? Freeze to intimacy? You can try.
Intimacy: connecting deeply with life or someone, including yourself (i.e. it is okay to be your own friend), in this moment, in stillness, such as: “Be thankful (i.e. gratitude) to feel (i.e. empathy) right here right now (i.e. mindfulness), with a book, nature, friend, lover, pet, music, movie, rest, anything.
Play: deeply connecting with life or someone, including yourself, in this moment, in movement, such as cooking, cleaning, working, helping, volunteering, creating, campaigning, entertaining, yoga, martial arts, dance, games, sports, science, technology, arts, anything.
Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong
Dr Louise Hansen Psychologist PhD in Psychology Human Rights Activist
#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong
Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo
You can listen my talk with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, the President of Blue Knot Foundation on my own healing journey, training and study and how it has informed my work and advocacy for a trauma informed world here:
This is a free educational website on Trauma Informed Care for survival and wellbeing.
While each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power. Let’s break the cycle of injustice and trauma together one day at a time.
The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing. Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Knowledge is power:
“Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. #YouBelong
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