EMOTIONAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH- OCTOBER
This year has been a roller coaster on so many levels and fields beyond understanding. It has been an overwhelming year for every human and business out there. We are no different in that. What does make us different is that we have been able to navigate and re-organize our priorities and our resources. Ask ourselves some hard questions and execute some hard decisions.
One of the things we can do is provide you with information and continue the conversation about mental and emotional health as we have been doing. It may not be as often as we would like to and as fast as we would want to due to the constraints we are facing as well but that does not mean we cannot do something.
Part of our mission in PHInc., is to communicate and educate through that communication. We have been able to maintain that through our blogs, Creative Project Initiative and now our podcast/videocast series. We hope to increase our communication with you as we recover from the impacts of 2020 and begin to execute the things we can control and create with the resources we have. Humans are the greatest resource to have and because of them we have been able to continue with our mission and accomplish our goals. The smallest accomplishments lead to the greatest victories.
October is Emotional Health Awareness Month and to be honest, I was not aware of it until recently. One of the greatest lessons in my own personal journey as human in this project of self evolution, discovery and comprehension is the strength the connection between our mind, emotions and our physical body in the deepest parts of our subconscious play a role on our everyday existence. Emotions are something we are just now beginning to have an open idea to discussing. Emotions are valid and have to be treated as such. My own journey proves it.
Researchers now realize that emotional literacy helps to prevent and solve myriad problems that we experience in our personal and professional lives.(5)
For years, I struggled to understand why I was in such emotional pain and why I could physically feel it. My mind could not process it because there were no memories of trauma in the mind. The mind would search for hours and hours at a time, sometimes days, fixated on a why, because my heart hurt so much. Literally, my heart hurt so much. I did not know why nor how to stop it. In therapy, the techniques learned helped in the smallest of ways that now led to the victories I am claiming in my emotions.
As I write this, I realize a connection to something a therapist said to me a long time ago as I sat in her office, uncontrollably unstable in my emotions, " You have a disconnection in your brain where only one part of it fires at a time." She mentioned, limbic system and cortex and so many big words I did not understand. I honestly could not connect. I can't remember much else from the sessions but I remember when she said that for one moment I felt like there was hope and it was not necessarily me that was crazy. I hung on to that hope and today I made the connection in my brain between the spots that were disconnected. I created new pathways in my brain because the brain is capable of anything. I could not face my emotional trauma of life because I have no connection to it in my mind. My memories are repressed and may or may not ever come back and that is something I have to accept on the emotional level of what I have truly lost. Once I began forming the connections and filling in some missing pieces in my life, I fell in love with studying the brain, psychology and emotional intelligence.
I want to share with you what I have learned how I connected some dots as to why I behave and respond in some of the manners I do and how it has confirmed my own self study over the last 3 years that I am so excited to scan my brain and find out what in the world is there. Knowing everything I know now about my trauma, the damage the brain can sustain through any type of trauma shows me yet again we need more focus on the brain and more access to the resources that provide the necessary tests and care for those who need education and resources, like I needed. I chose to pursue the knowledge for me, even if it has taken over a decade to get here.
Reminder, we are not medical professionals. We are humans sharing our experiences and what we have learned through our own journeys in mental and emotional health.
The limbic system is a brain area, located between the brain stem and the two cerebral hemispheres, that governs emotion and memory. It includes the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. (1)
Limbic system was mentioned to me in therapy when I was told about my disconnections and dissociations. I emotionally removed myself from any and all bad situations that were happening to me in my childhood by closing my eyes and removing myself from the situation within my mind and body. I dissociated from reality during my development stage as a child. I functioned on the Old Brain designated for survival. The brain stem is the oldest and innermost region of the brain.
The old brain control the most basic functions of life, including breathing, attention, and motor responses. (2)
I shut off my connection to the upper part of my brain as a child, the limbic system and survived on the basic functions.
Whereas the primary function of the brain stem is to regulate the most basic aspects of life, including motor functions, the limbic system is largely responsible for memory and emotions, including our responses to reward and punishment. (2a)
When I came to America, I was 11 years old, and six years of unknown trauma and experiences. I began displaying signs of Complex PTSD and I believe I can pinpoint to the moment I was triggered. I can recognize it was the separation in an unknown enviorment at 11 in summer camp that triggered a body and emotional response I could not process nor handle. My mind shut down. Disconnection and dissociation. I do not have much of a memory of that summer camp because of that one moment of recognition of separation. I did not want to remember being separated so I shut off the parts of my brain that would allow me to remember.
Over the years many more moments caused me to recognized triggers and many more things made sense in which I could begin the process of building NEW pathways in my brain and maybe sparking up some old ones.
The amygdala which consists of two “almond-shaped” clusters (amygdala comes from the Latin word for “almond”) and is primarily responsible for regulating our perceptions of, and reactions to, aggression and fear. In addition to helping us experience fear, the amygdala also helps us learn from situations that create fear. When we experience events that are dangerous, the amygdala stimulates the brain to remember the details of the situation so that we learn to avoid it in the future. (3)
I remember the moment I cut myself off from the reality. I remember the terror that ran through my little body, the sensation of absolute fear and drowning in it. Physically existing and being frozen in that moment in time. Helpless. The inability to scream, move, think, feel, only exist. Absolute zero control of the outcome of your life.
I said to myself " I do not want to be here anymore" in the cold concrete basement of the cell. I decided to stop remembering. As I grew into adulthood, my mind could not connect to the trauma by body was and still is experiencing. Because I had not learned at a young age how to connect the brain functions that as an adult and through art I have awoken, I suffered greatly emotionally and mentally. Once I was able to understand the brain, I understood why I do not understand the things I should or why I can understand and process things others can't.
I have learned so much and have had to be corrected in my own thinking in so many ways.
I had to learn to counter the negative pathways already formed in fear and terrible educational environments and learn to form them in the opposite emotions and environments. Humans have 6 basic emotions anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.
I began to learn those emotions as a child, then shut them all off to survive.
That stopped me from learning to use the slower emotional pathway where I would take the time to process my emotional response and think about my actions before they are taken. Due to the circumstance and the traumatic experience of my life, I was forced to use only my fast emotional pathway and only respond.
Fear is determined through the fast pathway and when that was the only emotion I could recognize and associate with my existence it was not an emotion I wanted to exist in so I shut it all off. An experience in my 20's awoke so much trauma in my life and it felt like I was separated in two humans. Two sides of one that were so far apart there was no connecting them. I was either an emotional unstable and unsafe state of existence because it was so overwhelming or completely shut off there was no emotional recognition within. Stone cold. When I became consciously aware of that disconnection, that was when the real work began and walking through it all. It was not until 3 years ago when I found artistic expression where I began to remember through music, through painting and creating. My mind still will not unlock the images I want to connect but I am able to connect the emotion to the rest of my function and exist. I have found a way to set the boundaries and create pathways in my brain in which I can understand my own state of being.
I painted that 2 years ago (9/2018). My Beautiful Mind and it was the moment I recognized how I was forming those bridges within myself.
It is not perfect and I do not come close to hitting it right every time, but the process of retraining my brain from the controlled perception of my life to a regulate one is a process worth taking.
My perception is regulated by my me and I regulate my brain.
This process helped me connected my mind because I associated each color placement as a part of my brain.
The canvas was my physical being and I had to connect them without downing because I was. The black represented the darkness that I knew. I also knew it was a very small part of my life and my existence no matter how dark it truly was. I knew that canvas represented my life and that my life was larger than what I though I knew.
This painting is my constant reminder of how transformative we are and can be. The colors within me are bursting and what they once represented in a negative state, like red and anger, now is red and passion for life.
I am learning new triggers coming from sounds and smells, things I would never think of because in my mind they do not exists. But they do. I know the memories are there and that the connections will be made someday somehow. I feel it.
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. (4) The work on emotional intelligence started gaining traction in the early 1990's and has since gradually grown to become part of the conversation amongst scientists and psychologists, but it is still so far removed from the conversation in the everyday life for humans.
Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month is October and it was founded in 2006 and we as an organization and I personally know the first hand results of education in emotions and the mind can do for a human. We hope to bring you more and we hope that you find these links below useful.
Links to check out:
Until next time, AH