Episode 54 - Why do I feel worse, when I am getting better?

Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about the downfall we experience, once we start our journey to healing or if we open a new step or chapter of it.
It is counter intuitive that you feel worse, when you are getting better, which is why many think this is them getting worse. Understandably, but that is a good reason why we have to talk about it.

I recently was asked by someone once again, why the experience they had was a good sign, when it made them feel so much worse. This question I have gotten several times. In different healing stages.
As we touched on it briefly before, it has everything to do with the boxes and our brain opening them. I refer to them often as Pandora's boxes, because once you open them - hell breaks loose and there is no way to stop it.
And part of the healing progress is opening those boxes. Those boxes are usually the core of triggers or even a part or segment of the trauma itself. Dealing with them is crucial and can not be avoided.
Then there is the instance, that people say they suddenly feel all those emotions, when they were completely fine with it before and why it is suddenly a problem and giving nightmares.
So first, we are going to talk about why it goes down, when you open one of those boxes, why the lack of emotions is bad and then we briefly check on how we can know we are getting better.

Open the box - why it makes you go down
So let us start first with the boxes, what are they? You see as mentioned many times before, our brain wants to survive and does everything to achieve that. It views any trauma or trigger as a threat. For a good reason.
So it tries to contain the threat in a box. The problem is, our brain is usually incapable of properly putting the thing in the box, so it is more of a half up to mostly contained thing - that spills out and poisons its environment.
Trigger reactions are usually when you open the lid JUST a little. And a swell of poison will come out. To properly contain whatever is in that box, we have to open it - deal with it and then put it in a solid box to store it.
If you do that properly, the trauma, trigger, trauma part or the like, will no longer bother you. With that I mean, you will be able to talk about it freely, without being affected by it significantly.
A slight ping of pain or the like might still happen, depending on what it was, but otherwise you are no longer controlled by it. Which is how you heal, step by step. Freeing yourself from it.
But as you can imagine, opening a box filled with poison brings you to your knees as soon as you open it. Fighting this poison is how you deal with it. But you can only deal with so much poison.
So you need to be better, before you can open the bigger boxes. You need breaks before you open more boxes. So, as said often before, one step at a time and you get there.

Lack of emotions - a very bad sign
The other thing I often hear is:  “What happened to me couldn’t be that bad, I don’t feel anything regarding it!” - which is extremely bad. Remember me saying that the brain does everything to survive and contain?
The same applies here. This is a sign, that the experience was so bad and/or overwhelming, that the brain shut down all emotions, because they were too much to handle. So the lack of emotions is a VERY bad sign.
The thing is, the emotions are locked in a barrel, which isn’t tightly shut - so now and then emotions will spill out. You might suddenly have an emotional outburst or respond unusually emotional.
Now what happens if you feel better and the brain tries to get rid of this barrel that causes so much issues? You of course drop in a hole of misery. All the emotions you felt will suddenly pour out and overwhelm you.
So, now often people who don’t know about this, will assume, they did something horrible wrong and have fallen back health wise. Which is kind of true, but more in the opening of the box kind of way.
Which leads often for the symptoms getting worse and adding depression to the mix, because they don’t know where this came from. Which is why it is so important to understand what is going on.

Am I really getting better?
Just a little throw in at the end about how you know you ARE getting better. To be honest, it only works in hindsight. As the healing process is such an up and down, as we recently talked about, it is hard to see otherwise.
I can really only recommend making diaries, lists or whatever, if you have trouble remembering what your state was earlier on. You really see only how far you have gotten if you look back and see where you came from.
It is a long road - so having some milestones along the way can really make the difference. And don’t worry about the speed of recovery, you get there when you get there. It only matters THAT you get there.

Private Words
This was quite a day. I was visiting the woman doctors because in the weeks before I had repeatedly chest pain. Well breast pain to be precise. Since my mother had breast cancer I was seriously worried.
As it is normal, my brain ran rampant and I dealt with the possibility I could be dying. I knew it was very unlikely I had cancer, but if, it would have been in a later stage. I have nothing - luckily.
But that whole ordeal did put quite a wrench into my life. And it caused quite a bit of an avalanche of things and my brain going rampant. Either way, all is well. Now back to business as usual.

That was it for todays episode, I hope you liked it. If you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at contactme@johannadraconis.com.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/Podcast, information regarding therapy you can find under johannadraconis.com/Therapy and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time!

The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD ~ Episode 54 - Why do I feel worse, when I am getting better?
Ep54 - Why do I feel worse, when I am ge
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