Shutting down all non-life-essential bodily functions means that our brains shut down our centers of higher learning: our complex logic, our long-term memory, and most importantly? Our centers of speech! Our brains literally shut down when we're under stress, making the formation of even basic sentences under stress very difficult.
For survivors, this means that often when we most need to communicate, to our therapists, to our friends, or to our family, we can't. When we're most upset and want or need to explain why, our brains just can't come up with the words. Not being able to communicate at these crucial times is frustrating, and often leads to some pretty negative feelings about ourselves. When we're not in crisis, we find it just as difficult to explain about that stressful situation - as thinking about that moment when you couldn't talk can sometimes trigger that same speech-center shutdown, starting the cycle all over again.
So this week we'll focus on keywords and their use.
A keyword is something you set up in advance with someone with whom communication is important in stressful times. Say for example that you have a trigger that makes you absolutely terrified. If you tell your partner, your friends, etc. in advance that when you're triggered, you often can't let them know what's wrong. Let them know that you're upset enough that you can't explain it, or answer questions well. Then, give them a specific word, or words that will be your keyword. With the trigger example I used, let's say you choose "Trigger-scared" as your keyword. Saying that word indicates to those close to you *exactly* what is going through your mind.
When you set up a keyword, you are giving your circle of supporters a key to knowing what to do. Often, our supporters want to help, but just don't know what to do and when to do it. By setting up a keyword with them, you can tell them *exactly* what to do with each keyword. Yes - it's okay to have more than one (if you have more than a few, it's okay to write them down). You're giving them the power to help you, how you need it and when you need it. It helps you get the support you need, and it helps them feel less helpless to support you
So this week's questions:
- When do you most often find yourself unable to communicate?
- Is there a keyword you could use to indicate you've reached that place?
- If you've used keywords already, how have they been most helpful?