I attended a workshop this week that dealt with Trauma, particularly as it concerns PTSD. My quest to pursue further training started about a year ago. I felt that I needed to do something to stimulate further knowledge. To challenge me. To help me broaden my horizons. So earlier this year I registered to participate in training through the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute. It has been an interesting venture. The good news is that I am now certified. Completed my obligations. The bad news is that I am having a difficult time remembering what I learned. Perhaps it is my age catching up to me.
In my training this week we talked about the stressors all of us have, whether we have experienced trauma, deal with people that have been traumatized, or simply live a life that has over whelming stress. The trainer used the example of a container. She had us visualize the container inside of us where we store the stressful or traumatic events of our life. As long as these events stay in the container we have the ability to cope. We have the ability to function. To live life as it was meant to be lived.
However there may come a time when that container overflows. That can happen for numerous reasons. Perhaps a container is smaller than most. (I suspect mine is) Perhaps some people experience an inordinate amount of stress. Perhaps it is a single traumatic event in life that is unbearable and difficult to deal with that causes the contents of the container to overflow. And when that happens a person goes into crisis. Recovering from that crisis can be an arduous task. Something that takes time and effort, and has the ability to overwhelm. Literally pushes us over the edge.
As I sat there and reflected on this analogy, I know, I should have been listening, I thought of something I wrote about back in January of 2011. My emotional gas tank. I talked about how a car needs to have gas in the tank to operate. Our bodies need fuel (nutrition) to operate effectively. Our minds need to be rejuvenated to think clearly. The point being that when the emotional gas tank runs dry we invariably cease to function. So we need to keep gas in the tank. This can be done through a variety of ways. Through involvement in support groups, participating in sports, becoming socially active, spending time with friends and family, taking a vacation. We all have our way. I like to golf. So for the next six months my tank will be running on empty unless I find another way to cope.
As I contemplated this further I realized that these two containers are directly related to each other. Bear with me. Picture two containers side by side. The emotional gas tank and the stress tank. Each one is half full of a liquid. Let’s assume that is the way we were born. May differ for different people. As we experience life the stress tank level goes up while the emotional tank goes down. As we utilize various tools we find the emotional tank filling up and the stress tank going down. (I suspect the concept of liquids in two containers connected like that was covered in grade 9 science. I didn’t listen back then either.) The danger we run into is when the stress tank starts overflowing and the emotional tank runs dry.
In a roundabout way, through an over simplified analogy, I am talking about creating balance in life. What does that look like? My stress tank maybe almost full when something really serious happens. How can I avoid that? For many of us it becomes a matter of being self-aware. Know what is going on in your body and in your mind. Take the steps necessary to maintain balance in your life. For others whose stress tank is overflowing take the time to seek help. It is out there. As I have often said, there is hope and there is relief. Make it a good one.