Trauma 101: Before You Start Trauma Journey

In my case, as in many others, my trauma had laid underneath the surface for decades.

As time passes trauma literally writes itself on your DNA.  

It is not just the psychological effects we all know about – anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, nightmares. Trauma also brings a host of physiological effects on body process as well.  It is not uncommon to see a person with unaddressed trauma suffering from a host of physical symptoms such as chronic inflammation, dysregulation of adrenaline, cortisone + thyroid production, issues with digestive processes/ the composition of gut biome, and inability to to enter certain rest states during sleep cycles

Beyond the “body effects” then there are the “life effects” as well. Trauma plays itself out over and over again in relationships, interactions, and self-talk. It is a constant. Those dealing with unaddressed trauma, likely find themselves stuck in a life of unavoidable patterns and what feels like unbreakable cycles of hell.  

Unaddressed trauma can make life a living hell.

As scary as the journey can be. The path out of that hell is to choose to face the darkness. For those who are engaging in your own trauma work as part of their 2020 intentions, I’d like to share a few guideposts from my own journey:

  • Do as much prep as you can for your journey.  Often we can feel the internal tension rising in the months preceding this type of work.  If you know that you are about to embark on the process, go ahead and set up a buffer of support before you begin.   Ideally your system will be composed of a mixture of family, friends, professionals, and support groups.   When appropriate, go ahead and talk to these people before hand about vulnerability and your hope that you will be able to discuss your experiences with them over the coming months.
    • Things to consider: Who are the people you really trust? Who are you comfortable being vulnerable around? Whose do you admire for their willingness to be open about their own story?
  • Find the right professional to walk this journey with you.  In the end it comes down to doing the work ourselves – period, point blank, no matter what approach you take to it.  So I don’t believe it has a ton to do with the methodology, approach or certification of who you work with – therapist, pastor, yoga instructor, acupuncturist, naturopath.  It doesn’t matter as long as you trust them and they are invested in taking this journey with you. Their role is not to have all the answers or even to make this process easier for you. Their role is to be a facilitator on your journey – to shine a bright light on the days when you fear getting lost in your own darkness.  
    • My experience is it’s easier for me to trust someone who is willing to discuss their own healing process.  Personally I want to know you’ve walked the path before you guide me.  But hey that’s personal preference.
  • Practice the principal of non-attachment.  Work of this nature tends to be upheaving.  To reach a life that is not rooted in trauma, we often have to let go of aspects of our lives that we have long held dear. Try to adopt a stance of willingness to let go of that which no longer serves you.  Accept that change is necessary for new life and loss is part of that change. 
    •  Of course also give yourself space to grieve those things your are permanently releasing as well.  
  • Prioritize self-care.  This process will bring you down. It is a time when you will likely require a more deliberate practice of self love.  Create and follow rituals for:
    • Cleansing: bath, shower, dry rub, sauna
    • Releasing: yoga, running, punching bags, group fitness
    • Reflection: meditation, prayer, journaling
  • Give yourself a break.  Everything is harder when you’re in the middle of trauma work.  You may need to practice self-soothing more frequently than you are accustomed to. (I smoked more cigarettes last year than at any other point in my life. Now that I am on the other side I’ve completely quit).  You may forget to drink or eat.  When you notice, don’t beat yourself up for these things, just give your body what it needs with compassion.  In DBT we use the phrase non-judgmental stance for this specific cognitive process. It’s a healthy perspective to have as you build the foundation for your new life. 
  • Finally.  Don’t give up hope.  I know there will likely be days when it just won’t seem worth it.  I promise you it is.  You are strong enough to face whatever darkness this journey hands you.  You have already proved you are a survivor.  But you deserve so much more than that. You deserve to be a THRIVER!

As I write this I am sending out great vibes of love to all who stumble here during a dark period of their journey. My hope is that it provides you with a small measure of comfort and peace in your storms.  


P.S. Please feel free to share any further tips for the journey in the comment section! We can all benefit from the open and honest discussion of healing!!!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #thriver #hope #namaste#trauma101

Adios 2019 – I’m Happy to See You Go

It is January 1, 2020.  Lets just say 2019 is a year I am grateful to be leaving in the past.  Very few aspects of my life bear any resemblance to the life I naïvely believed I had built just twelve months ago.  It was an ugly and painful year that came with a side of destruction. As the pieces of my life fell like dominoes one by one, I realized that sometimes you have to burn gloriously to be reborn.  

My personal theme for 2019 was trauma work.  I am no stranger to therapy.  At this point in my life I think its fair to say, I’ve earned my stripes on both sides of the chair.  I’ve seen my current therapist on and off since I was 16.  However, this time the work we focused on now was much deeper.  This trauma had always been under the surface, psychologically I was just unable to process it until had garnered enough strength and life experience to truly handle the ramifications of it.

January brought the perfect storm of stress in my life to move this long buried trauma to the forefront of my subconscious.  Once it was open, it was present all the time.  Repeatedly re-experiencing intrusive memories, hpervigilence, insomnia & digestion issues became the norm. And personal therapy sessions (which had not been a big part of my life for the preceding 5 years) again became a biweekly occurrence

As the months unraveled I sloshed on in therapy.  Processing memories, tying patterns of behaviors back to the initial trauma, and deciding what I was no longer willing to tolerate in my life. 

By May, I had broken off an engagement.  June brought the devastating blow of my business partner cutting ties.  This summer also brought a litter of 10 puppies (my exes project that he abandoned to me).  Plus a hospitalization for a staph infection (that should have been caught with outpatient treatment but instead nearly killed me).  

By my 30th birthday in August, I was stuck.  Surviving the summer had taken everything out of me, and I didn’t have the emotional energy to reengage with the work. My depressive tendencies took over, and I allowed myself to wallow for much of the next four months.  I engaged in some of the unhealthiest behaviors of my life.  Plus I allowed a new relationship to get completely out of hand.  Because I just didn’t care anymore.   I also knew I could not expect things to get better until I re-engaged with my work. So the craziness, the lies, the tears, the insanity, the destruction, the betrayal just continued.

I was struggling with severe insomnia and night terrors. The inability to complete a sleep cycle without relieving the worst experiences of my life had worn me down to a barely functioning, completely on edge, grade A bitch.  Each morning this fall was like waking up to my own personal hell: everything was foggy, I was constantly on edge, loud noises startled me, and God help you if you crossed me on the wrong day.  Because guess what?!?! Sleep deprivation will do that to even the best of us – that’s why they use it as a torture technique.  

The good thing is – when live in that tension long enough, eventually it becomes unbearable. On December 12, I had a dream that I had done what I had known for months was the final step to this trauma work. In this dream I had THE conversation that I had been avoiding.  The one that would forever change dynamics in my family and once said could never be taken back.  For a few brief moments in that dream I felt relief.  Waves of tension rolled off of me and I wasn’t carrying the weight of the world inside my head.

When I woke that next morning, the tension was back worse then ever. I knew I could not continue to slug on like I had been.  The relief I had felt in that dream, it had been like water to my parched soul.  I needed that to be real. That morning I got dressed, and I took the plunge.It was painful and raw.  But it was over, after all the tears and anxiety released, I began to = experience the relief that I had felt in my dream.  

Not only was it real this time, it has been enduring as well.  I finally stood up for this little girl inside of my who was victimized so long ago, and now she can be at peace. I have slept through the night, experienced pleasant dreams and now awake feeling rested. I have hope again!!  That I can rebuild this time and I will finally be free of the chains of my past.  That this time the cycle won’t be repeated.  That life can be good. 

So as I enter 2020, I enter with excitement to see where things will go.  

What will my phoenix moment look like?

#2020 #goodbye2019 #newyear #reflection #intention #intentionsetting #recovery #healing #trauma #ptsd #cptsd #anxiety #depression #counselor #therapy #dbt #therapist #emotion #emonionallysensitive #freshstart #lifecoach #awake #mystory #authentic #findingmyvoice #hellobloggingworld #higherconsciousness #goodvibes #raiseyourvibrations #darknightofthesoul #intothelight #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #jamieleighann #rebirth #metamorphosis #phoenix #arise #fromtheashes #heailng #mentalhealth #wellness #lifeworthliving #dialectical #myjourney #soulwork #brokenspirit

How did I end up here?

After two months of mulling over this project, a conversation with my dear friend Phillip helped me realize today was the day to jump in.

Hi there! My name is Jamie Schmidt. I’m two weeks away from turning thirty, and my life is a complete wreck. I’m trained as a Licensed Professional Counselor though my career is in transition again for the umpteenth time in the past 5 years. And honestly that’s ok because I’m completely disillusioned with the mental health field. I believe healing will never efficiently occur in a system as innately flawed as American healthcare. My passion is to be a healer, not a cog in the insurance based machine. If that means re-branding and a couple more years of being broke while I figure it out – Ah so what?

If we had crossed paths a few months ago, I would have told you I was in a completely different place. I was engaged, and had been a mother to the most amazing little boy for the past 3 years. After taking a break from my career to find my footing in parenthood, I had spent the last year rebuilding and was excited for what the future would bring.

But things happen and life smacks you in the face sometimes. Today I’m ok with that. Other days I’m consumed with grief. It’s all part of the process.

What I’ve come to realize though –

is that maybe it didn’t work out,

maybe I am starting over YET again,

because I’ve always built the wrong thing.

Ouch! That’s a harsh pill to swallow, all the time energy and effort gone towards the wrong objective. (I can at least say it was not time wasted because there were tons of valuable lessons learned in it!)

I did not want to begin blogging my story until I had all the details worked out on what the next chapter would hold. I am a recovering Type-A personality and not having an idea of the final outcome before beginning a project IRKS me to no end. But I’ve realized I’m wasting valuable time + I totally need the grounding benefits of a writing routine in my life right now.

So as I begin to share this, I kinda, sorta have a plan for where I’m going with both my life and career. What I think might just be the right path. It means a complete re-arranging of lots of pieces. And as of right now, many factors are up in the air thanks to spending the last few months waiting on a litter of puppies to be ready for homes (a story for a different day I promise).

I think that by doing this I can take all of the lessons I have learned in the past decade and deliberately create a life that works for my unique needs and that is sustainable.

This blog will share my journey along the way. It is a practice in authentic living for me. The first time I have ever been able to pull the curtain back and publicly share my own unique ideas and perspectives on these topics.

As I wrap up this intro post, I want to share just a few of my core beliefs about life. These four themes have been consistently present in my life and the work I do with clients over the past decade. They make the cornerstones for my understanding of life and what I believe is necessary to reach an existence that is less filled with suffering.

  • Authenticity is a necessity on the path to happiness. We cannot expect to find lasting contentment unless we are living as our truest form of ourselves. If we are hiding important aspects of who we are out of fear or shame, it will inevitably effect our overall wellbeing.
  • Trauma occurs in all of our lives and the overwhelming majority of mental health concerns can be viewed as symptoms of trauma. When we move from a disease based model (your brain chemistry is flawed + you need medication) to a symptom based model (you are experiencing this difficulty because of something that happened in the past) we reduce shame and stigmatization and provide hope that true and lasting healing is possible.
  • Healing is possible for all. Healing occurs through connection. Therapy is not the be all answer to getting past your hang ups in life. Any time you can sit and be honest and real with another human being you are in the space for growth to occur. When are experiences are validated by those we trust, we then have space to let go of nasty emotions like fear / jealous / shame / disgust.
  • Many, many aspects of 21st century life are very bad for mental wellness. We know that technology is changing what it means to be human and has already dramatically altered the path and flow of our lives in over the past 30 years. Mental health diagnosis (especially in youth) are at crisis levels. If we want to begin to get his under control, we must begin addressing this at the societal level. This is cultural – there are things we can do and choices that could be made to improve the quality of life for all and we need to start having those discussions.

I’m super passionate about HEALING and I believe it is time we reframe how we talk about mental health. This blog is my engagement in the conversation. A clinician who is taking a stand and saying instead of talking diagnosis and medication management lets talk about how we can get to a place where our clients no longer struggle with XY&Z.

I believe that is possible. If you feel the same way, I’d love to connect and chat. We always need more likeminded individuals in our tribe!

I think that’s a good enough start for now! Don’t want to bore you with too much at once!

#zerotohero #myfirstblog #intro #hellobloggingworld #mentalhealth #wellness #awakeshegoes #higherconsciousness #deliberateliving #trauma #healing #cptsd #freshstart #turning30 #newbeginning #cleanslate #authentic #authenticity #depression

While this blog will often discuss topics of mental health & my opinions are informed by my training in the field, information found in these posts is solely educational in nature. My belief is that you are an informed consumer and you are the only expert that resides within your body. Thus I truly believe you are most suited to make decisions about your life and your mental wellbeing. That being said, I am legally obligated to tell you “do not make changes to medication or treatment plans without consulting with your prescribing physician.” Interaction with this blog does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. I think it’s absolute bullshit that a liability message of this nature is necessary, but that is the time and day that we live in…