I'd like to share with you the first few lyrics to one of my favorite Green Day songs, "Basket Case":
Do you have the time to listen to me whine About nothing and everything all at once? I am one of those Melodramatic fools Neurotic to the bone No doubt about it
Sometimes I give myself the creeps Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me It all keeps adding up I think I'm cracking up Am I just paranoid? Or am I just stoned?...
The term "basket case" has a pretty dark history; it comes from the WWI military slang for a soldier who has lost all four limbs and cannot move independently (so must be transported in a "basket"). Currently, it used as a derogatory term for someone who is regarded as useless because of the inability to cope. Oh, that was me a while back--I was a freaking basket case! I truly couldn't cope with the normal pressures of living. I was anxious, depressed, and suicidal; I would break down crying over minor slights, didn't feel safe in ordinary situations, was sexually overactive, had problems with emotional regularity (highs and lows), and had trouble focusing and staying organized.
As I've spoken about before, I've experienced a lot traumatic events from the ages of birth to 25. This trauma "stuck" in my body for many years, but I was able to successfully stuff it down emotionally by intellectualizing everything, keeping busy, and essentially running away from my past. And, even though I wasn't experiencing the emotional aspects of the trauma, the trauma presented itself in my body as fibromyalgia and hyperactivity for about a decade. But, as soon as I had a major trigger seven years ago, I "cracked up". All of the trauma that I was trying to repress for decades bubbled up, and I became quite literally "neurotic to the bone".
Author and therapist, Resmaa Menakem, explains it this way:
"Our bodies have a form of knowledge that is different from our cognitive brains. This knowledge is typically experienced as a felt sense of constriction or expansion, pain or ease, energy or numbness. Often this knowledge is stored in our bodies as wordless stories about what is safe and what is dangerous...
The body is where we live. It's where we fear, hope, and react. It's where we constrict and relax. And what the body most cares about are safety and survival. When something happens to the body that is too much, too fast, or too soon, it overwhelms the body and can create trauma...Trauma is not primarily an emotional response. [It] always happens in the body...
Trauma is the body's protective response to an event or a series of events that [the body] perceives as potentially dangerous. This perception may be accurate, inaccurate, or entirely imaginary...An imbedded trauma response can manifest as fight, flee, or freeze or as some combination of constriction, pain, fear...reactive behaviors, or other sensations and experiences. This trauma then gets stuck in the body and stays stuck there until addressed."
So, how have I addressed it? Well, first I went to a traditional talk therapist who diagnosed me with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For several years she helped me analyze and understand the dynamics of the traumatic events, dysfunctional relationships, unhealthy behaviors and "core stories" that have informed my life. She tried to impart techniques for self-reflection, mindfulness and meditation, but they never really took hold. I had so much trauma "memory" in my body, I wasn't able to grasp the beautiful practices of stillness, self-compassion and non-reactivity that so many others find so helpful; I was just too damn riddled with trauma in my body. I also tried Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for several months, but that didn't help either. Don't get me wrong, I am not disparaging traditional psychotherapy or EMDR; I believe they are useful tools for most people. For me, however, the healing came from trauma-informed bodywork and energy therapies, such as local counselor Raechel Morrow's body-mind therapy and intuitive counselor Susan Duesbery's energy healing--and from David Elliot's style of breathwork. Through these modalities, I have dispelled much of what my body had held onto for 40-some years.
Quite honestly, I feel changed at the cellular level. After just two years of breathwork, energy work, and body work, I am optimistic, emotionally regulated, patient, self-compassionate, energetic, and creative! (Yay for creativity coaches being more creative!) Of course, this process has had some ups and downs (unfortunately, more physical and emotional trauma occurred while trying to heal), but I can tell you that I don't even recognize who I was even a few months ago! This expansion of wellness has been happening exponentially. I am telling you all of this because I want you to know that if you have experienced any form of trauma, there is hope! If you want to know more, please reach out to Shamama and we can refer you to some truly gifted trauma-informed counselors in the area who not only hold professional counseling degrees, they also work with the body and "subtle body" in incredibly powerful ways. And, of course, I welcome you to try one of Shamama's private or public breathwork sessions. All you have to do is lie there and breathe, and most participants experience a powerful, natural trauma release that transforms their lives!
Resmaa Menakem states:
“Years as a healer and trauma therapist have taught me that trauma isn’t destiny. The body, not the thinking brain, is where we experience most of our pain, pleasure, and joy, and where we process most of what happens to us. It is also where we do most of our healing, including our emotional and psychological healing. And it is where we experience resilience and a sense of flow.”
Please know that you are not alone; there is help available to you. We are all healing together. And when we heal, we can unleash our creative force in ways we never dreamed possible.
In love and light, Michele DeVoe Lussky Creativity Coach, Shamama
Adapted from Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Central Recovery Press, 2017), xvii, 5, 7.