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A Guide for How to Support a Loved One with Structural Dissociation

~~~NOTE! This is a Work in Progress!~~~

You understand that your loved one lives with structural dissociation & is in trauma recovery to decrease the intensity & severity of its effects on daily life.

But what does that mean for you? How can you support their healing journey within day to day interactions?

Firstly, how can you {learn to} identify a dysregulated autonomic nervous system?

A dysregulated sympathetic nervous system will cause things to seem overactive while a dysregulated parasympathetic nervous system can cause things to appear underactive.

Signs of a dysregulated sympathetic nervous system:

  • psychomotor agitation, such as restless legs

  • rapid or pressured speech

  • mania or hypomania, mistaken for bipolar disorder

  • insomnia: sleeping less than usual, not wanting to sleep, sleeping less soundly than usual, awake at odd hours of morning or night, etc.

  • anxiety: {HOW TO RECOGNIZE????? Will come back to this!}

  • feeling of increased body temperature: wearing clothes too warm for the present weather, comments about it being hotter in the room than it actually is/feels, etc.

  • increased heart rate: compassionately say, "Take a deep breath for me," & feel their pulse

  • aggression: more critical than usual, more harsh than usual, more defensive than usual, more irritable than usual, may comment about feeling impulsive

  • on edge: physically prepare to “go” (run/fight)

  • anger

  • narrowed eyes: eyes not as wide & open as usual; more narrowed

  • furrowed brow: crease in brow, between eyebrows; may be mistaken for being upset with you

  • sleeping less or feeling less need to sleep {*See: Insomnia}

  • listening to music louder than usual or is healthy

  • speaks with uncontrollably loud volume {overextended "outdoor voice"}

  • higher tolerance to sour, salty, & spicy foods/flavours

Signs of a dysregulated parasympathetic nervous system:

  • psychomotor retardation: moving much slower than usual

  • selective mutism: being unable to effectively utilize verbal communication

  • depression {LIST SYMPTOMS}

  • exhaustion/fatigue

  • catatonia, which is characterized by an inability to move normally {psychomotor disorder}: the most common symptom is stupor, which means being unable move, speak, or respond to stimuli

  • feelings of decreased body temperature: wear several layers for moderate {not freezing} weather, comments about always feeling cold, poor circulation especially noticeable in hands & feet, etc.

  • decreased heart rate {causing minor movements to trigger “out of breath” or feeling like heart pounding out of chest: easily fatigued}

  • regression, such as age regression: responding from a child's perspective, etc. {HOW CAN THIS BE EXTERNALLY IDENTIFIED/ RECOGNIZED?}

  • physically curled up or pulled back

  • shame

  • large/widened eyes

  • raised eyebrows

  • sleeping more, or feeling the need to sleep more

  • prefers listening to music quietly

  • speaks extremely quietly

  • higher tolerance for very sweet flavors

This is important to identify because of what is happening within your loved one's body & brain beyond their conscious awareness or control.

~insert insight about how EVERYone's being, including brain, is all regulated/ managed/ controlled by the nervous system: make it valid & relevant.~

When triggered, trauma-related implicit memories are drawn from the subconscious & begin leaking into the consciousness, causing alarm.

This subconscious occurrence then triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which is the body's emergency response system.