We are haunted by the images from Afghanistan. Families fleeing, bombs taking lives and shattering futures – people in the midst of a collective trauma. We watch as COVID-19 surges and the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths climb again – this time they include our children – and families grieve. We track flood surges and worry about our community – wondering if Ida has taken our home. We watch as forest fires devastate communities and people struggle to breathe – and people fear. We watch as Haiti struggles to dig out from the earthquake – taking the lives of loved ones – and people wonder how much more they can take. We struggle with toxic stress and burn-out. We are hurting. We are going through trauma.
Trauma is not a “them” problem – it is a “we” reality. We are traumatized. We are grieving. We are burned out.
We know from the neuroscience that trauma is passed down epigenetically – that it is intergenerational. We know that the parts of the brain impacted by trauma are the most primal parts of our brain – overwhelmed and dysregulated in the experience of trauma. We know trauma is directly linked to the six leading causes of death. We know that cortisol passes through the placenta to an unborn child and has implications for brain development before a child is even born.
It can feel overwhelming. What can one person do to help??
But here’s the secret – what we do matters! This is a story of HOPE equally real to the story of pain.
Equally we know the brain can heal from trauma. We know that individuals and communities have resilience strategies they have used through the generations. We know that protected spaces and protected relationships support the development of new neural pathways. We know that people can relearn trust, the physical proximity of another person, the skills they need for safety assessment and healing. We know we can support our DNA through mindfulness practice and meditation by strengthening and lengthening our DNA protectors - telomeres. We know that we can fight the inflammation of trauma with nutrition and other supports. We know we can learn from community based practices that re-integrate the parts of the brain that were dissembled during trauma. And we know that we can embed trauma informed practices into our daily lives and support the people around us by creating safe haven and inclusive practices that allow the brain to rest.
But that healing requires the community. We heal through connection to other people. We cannot heal alone – we need others to help.
So each and every one of you is an important person in the community. We all have a vital role to play in helping individuals and our community to heal!
I am excited that Cypress is offering a new schedule of classes to support you in developing the skills you need during this critical time. We are still offering our Mental Health First Aid certification courses – but we have added new classes too! We have workshops on trauma informed practices, strategies for de-escalation, supporting our children, how to support someone who is grieving and more.
You are an important person. What we do matters. So join our movement to make sure we all know what to do and what to say!