“Long-lasting responses to trauma result not simply from the experience of fear and helplessness but from how our bodies interpret those experiences.”
Anxiety limits our capacity to live fully and optimally
Impacts our quality of life – for example, difficulty or inability to go to crowded places, drive a car, participate fully in social or work events.
The somatic psychotherapy counselling approach, addresses these responses and interpretations of fear, that are trapped in our bodies.
There is now substantial evidence to suggest that the autonomic, endocrine and immune systems are not autonomous, and that the mind and body communicate with each other in a bi-directional flow of neuropeptides, hormones, and cytokines (Watkins, 1997; Rossi, 1993). There is an interactive dialogue between autonomic, endocrine and immune systems, the higher perceptual centres and limbic emotional centres in order to sustain life and combat disease (Watkins, 1997, p. 3). Disease related to stress has been described as “information overload”, in which the body-mind network is so overloaded with suppressed trauma or unresolved emotions that it becomes strained, and the normal flow of chemical messengers for largely autonomic processes such as breathing and blood flow is compromised (Pert, 1997a; Pert et al., 1985). Rossi (1993) indicates that it is the body’s inability to turn off body-mind signals which leads to a chronic excess of these arousal messages within the body and consequently an eventual compromise of the body-mind that we call “stress”, the “psychosomatic response” (Dawson 1999)
These behaviours are an automatic adaption to a threatening world. Ogden & Minton (2000) Fisher (2006) Siegel (1999)
“Addictive behaviour arises NOT as a pleasure -seeking strategy, but as a survival strategy
- to self soothe and self regulate
- to numb hyperarrousal such as obsessive thinking and impulsivity
- to combat helplessness by increasing feelings of power and control
- to “treat” hyper arousal symptoms of depression, emptiness, numbness, deadening
- to wall off intrusive memories
- to function or feel safer in the world” Fisher (2008, 2010)
OCD and compulsive behaviours may result in significant distress and disruption to everyday life, limiting normal activities, restricting opportunities, happiness and wellbeing.
These are difficult behaviours and can feel overwhelming. You are offered the opportunity to be supported and, strategies for changes offered in a non judgmental and caring way..
“Adolescents with eating disorders were at a substantially elevated risk for anxiety disorders, cardiovascular symptoms, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depressive disorders, limitations in activities due to poor health, infectious diseases, insomnia, neurological symptoms, and suicide attempts”(Johnson, 2002)
Challenges of self-image, seeking perfection, perhaps numbing can lead to vacillating between self harming behaviours such as binge eating bulimia and anorexia.
These stem from trying to control and distract leading to feelings of shame, secrecy and self loathing and may also result in financial difficulties in having to replace/substitute food.
The physical consequences can include bloating, skin irritation, osteoporosis and lack of feelings of normal human dignity.
The psychological consequences of shame and self loathing affect self respect and quality of life
Such difficult challenges need to be supported in a non judgemental way, finding strategies for understanding and self care.
“If you always do what you’ve always done – you always get what you’ve always got.”Mark Twain as quoted by Robbins (1990)
“Many of the people I’m meeting have realised that the ladder they’ve climbed was against the wrong wall”Campbell 1989.
Joseph Campbell suggests that one should attempt to “follow your bliss” and live an authentic life. But lack of self confidence, previous “mistakes”, fear, stress, perceived family expectation or commitment can limit us in our expectations and capacity to make life changes
It can be frightening and even incapacitating to contemplate and enact change. However unless there is movement there can be no growth towards life fulfilment optimism and joy. But no one said you had to do it on your own !