Lexie Manion

@lexiemanion | contributor
Advocate
I am a mental health advocate, writer, artist and student. You can find my work on lexiemanion.com and follow me on Instagram.com/lexiemanion
Lexie Manion

How To Navigate Trauma Triggers

As a woman with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), I try to navigate this world as best as I can. I find myself facing triggers head-on time to time, and I also try to be mindful so I can avoid being triggered. The word “trigger” has become very popularized and because of this, it can lose its meaning and seriousness at times. The word has also been used to intentionally exaggerate someone else’s feelings in a way to mock them. A trigger in terms of trauma is defined as a stimulus that mentally brings us back to a past traumatic experience. Trauma can include abuse , neglect , assault, near-death experiences, loss and many, many other things. Triggers can happen through any of our senses, like smell, sight, taste, sound or touch. For instance, if you were to smell a passerby wearing a cologne in the present moment, the smell alone could trigger a trauma memory where you remember someone from your past wearing the same or similar cologne, and perhaps an emotionally charged, traumatic experience is surrounding the memory of that person, so then you are triggered and experience a flashback. Triggers attached to the senses can be especially upsetting because they can have a stronghold in your memory. We may not fully be aware of these types of triggers until they occur, unfortunately. Trauma triggers can make us feel as if we are in immediate danger, sometimes initiating a fight or flight response. We can feel things like panicky, tearful, frozen or even experience panic attacks due to being triggered. Flashbacks can accompany triggers, which is when we have a vivid memory of the trauma . Triggers and flashbacks are very serious and can impact our emotional state greatly. It is important we attribute the word “trigger” appropriately, and perhaps find different words when we want to explain other disappointing, upsetting or emotional responses. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a therapy created by Marsha M. Linehan, has introduced life-saving skills to me so I can return to my baseline if I feel triggered or experience flashbacks and nightmares . I learned about DBT in a women’s trauma program some time ago. Some of my go-to skills include paced breathing, utilizing cold temperature from TIPP and half-smile. Mindfulness, wise mind and behavior chains are helpful to me, too. Being able to drink cold water, run my hands under cold water, do breathing exercises or visualize my safe place are instrumental methods in soothing myself when I experience flashbacks. In the women’s trauma program I attended, I also learned about different responses to trauma as it is happening. We often learn about fight or flight. There are actually more responses: fight, flight, freeze and submit. This new information — that there are more responses to trauma than just two — was comforting to me. I felt confused about why I froze in the past when I wanted to run. I felt as if the trauma was my fault. There are real, psychological reasons why we may react in different ways in traumatic experiences. Today, some ways I try to avoid triggers is to be mindful of what I am consuming visually. I have made a great effort to not watch Demi Lovato’s latest documentary series. I support Demi and celebrate her strength; however, I had heard about some of the content that was going to be discussed, and made the decision to watch it at a later time in the future. In recent weeks, flashbacks have resurfaced for me, so I have been especially mindful of what I watch and listen to in order to avoid triggers. We cannot avoid every trigger, but it is important to me to do my best to avoid what I can, when I can. There is a song I gravitate towards that makes me feel validated, but I realized it was also bringing up a lot for me emotionally. I would listen to this song and feel heard, but then would break down when I finished listening to it. I have decided to delete it off my phone for now. I love writing poetry and doing creative writing. I noticed when I finished doing trauma work in therapy a couple of years ago, I felt more of a desire to write about it. I had bottled it up for so long on account that I wasn’t ready to unpack it back then. It began to spill out in my writing. I have had to stop myself from writing at times because I would be sobbing on and off for hours. I’m more mindful of when it’s too much and will use distress tolerance skills if I find myself becoming emotional. I have found it is good to allow myself to get emotional when I’m writing and trauma writing starts coming out, but I never let it get to that point anymore. I will put my writing away and do something soothing for myself like take a hot bath or chat with a friend. I also work on being open with my close friends and therapist on when I am feeling triggered so I’m not facing it alone. One of the worst things we can do when we are experiencing the effects of trauma is to not tell anyone. Shame thrives off of our silence. And there is nothing to be ashamed of because trauma is never our fault. The effects can also escalate and worsen if we are not seeking help. I try to be as gentle as I can with myself when I’m experiencing the effects of trauma . It is so easy to be hard on ourselves or overlook our feelings, but it matters that we treat ourselves kindly, especially in moments we feel so lost in emotion. We are not bad or broken for the wounds we carry. We deserve to be gentle with ourselves and have others be gentle with us. It is distressing to experience triggers from trauma , as well as nightmares and flashbacks. I have struggled to be present when these things overcome me. I can feel unsafe all of a sudden, as if I am in danger. I am an adult but can feel as if I go back in time to being a kid or teenager. It can feel as if the traumatic experience is happening all over again. The effects of trauma can feel debilitating at times. There is a heaviness that comes from carrying painful and scary memories. At the same time, there is help for us and there is hope. I try to remind myself that the child in me who was not privy to therapy or a life where she was not always in so much pain is still with me and I can show her healing today. My healing today is unifying my present self and my inner child. I am stronger than the effects of trauma , and you are, too.

Lexie Manion

Fighting Anxiety by Attending My First Pride Parade

June 9th was my first Pride parade! It was also my first Pride parade being out as bisexual! In addition to these exciting things, I attended with the first person I came out to. It was a really exciting day and I’ll hold onto these memories as the time I fought back against my struggles and reclaimed my identity. To understand fully how much this meant to me, I want to take you back to when I was a high school student grappling with who I was. I felt so ashamed and alone. I felt like a problem, out of place and so unlovable. I knew I was attracted to both boys and girls as a child, but I greatly struggled with being open about it. It was not normalized in the culture I grew up in to be LGBTQIA+. I also carried immense shame for struggling with suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder. I felt like people never saw the full picture, which was so painful, because here is this girl acting out and in so much distress, but why? I feel like the root wasn’t addressed until it was much too late. I also struggled verbalizing what was going on. It was a difficult situation for everyone. I suffered a lot because of the circumstances. I felt like I didn’t have a voice or a choice. The trauma I experienced as a child and teenager silenced me to the point a “hello” was difficult for me to manage. Anxiety held me back from learning valuable social skills and reaching out. The wonderful friends I did make along the way I inevitably pushed away because I didn’t feel like I deserved them. I felt like I deserved to suffer. My friends worked very hard to keep me rooted in the friendships, but most invites I rejected. I felt as though they’d be happier if I was not around. The trauma I was unable to speak about came out in such destructive ways. I like to think of the damage done by the trauma now and not necessarily all me because it humanizes the person struggling. Like how we say in eating disorder treatment, ED (the eating disorder) is an outside force trying to control us. It’s not a choice to struggle with mental illness or trauma, but we can choose recovery. When we personify the illness, we take blame away from the person struggling and give our understanding that not every person is well enough to make good decisions when they are in deep pain. I was in deep pain as a teenager and was just trying to survive. A lot of the things I did and said at the time were occurring because I was forced to bury the truth — my trauma — in order to survive. I am on a journey of self-forgiveness now. I feel like I’m failing at it at times because I tend to picture other people not forgiving me and therefore, I don’t allow myself to be forgiven. I’m aware that I can receive forgiveness from others, but I know it will never be enough. My aching heart needs to let go and forgive myself so I can move forward and ultimately do better in the future. We can’t go back in time and not every person from the past will make it to our present. So, the path to healing lies in our court. We need to make the move to embrace healing for ourselves — it’s up to us. Being at the Pride event, understandably, brought up a lot. I had general anxiety about going to a Pride event, but this anxiety is also deep-rooted. It was in my hometown. I don’t live here anymore. A lot of bad memories reside here. I never felt like I belonged. The anxiety leading up to going back here caused me racing thoughts and lots of “what if’s.” The saving grace, which I didn’t learn until I was marching, was that yes, a lot of painful memories live here and at the same time, here I am making happy, peaceful memories. More importantly, here I am making new memories in recovery. I have been in strong eating disorder recovery for many years and my other mental health struggles have been managed since 2019. I’ve honestly been my best self these past few years having found the right medications, skills, and therapy. I adore that quote, “You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick.” It’s very applicable to different points in my life. In this instance, I’d want to challenge it a bit. Perhaps you cannot always heal in the same environment that made you sick, but you can heal somewhere else — somewhere safe — and when you’re ready, you can come back and offer what you’ve learned and what you’ve grown from. We don’t always get what we want in life, but for me, for right now, I think this is enough. Sharing my life online and with friends keeps me rooted today. I feel very connected in these communities. I want to continue to translate my online work to more tangible avenues as well. The only hurdle I need to overcome is my anxiety. I marched in the Pride parade with my former high school teacher and the GSA from my old high school. My former teacher/now friend was the first person I came out to when I was a teenager. It was so special to be there with her. We have been through so much. I don’t know if she’ll ever truly know how much she has helped me, but I certainly do not stop trying to convey it to her with my immense gratitude! There were absolutely moments during the march I felt anxious and out of place, but I pushed through for the best moments. Confidence comes and goes on me, but when I feel anxious, it can stray almost completely. With my teacher-friend walking in solidarity with myself and my former high school’s current students, I began to open up throughout the event. At some points during the march, I wanted to hide, but as I began to realize that all these people gathered downtown of the place I once called home were there for me and with me, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I embraced the sheer joy in my step. The exchange of cheering and waving from the people on the sidewalks and us marching on the street was so spectacular. The energy is unmatched. There were people with shirts that read, “Free Mom hugs” and plenty of elaborate, rainbow costumes. I heard students exclaim, “We own the rainbow now!” and one complimented an onlooker’s dog that was wearing a rainbow tutu, “I love your gay dog!” We chanted “Say gay!” and waved our flags triumphantly. Seeing these students embrace who they are gives me so much hope for the current and future generations of children. Their lightheartedness and pure joy from marching with their friends reminds me that we were never a scary community; we are a peaceful and beautiful community. Supporting and embracing LGBTQIA+ youth is the right thing to do. We simply want to be heard and feel like we belong. We owe it to those discovering themselves to provide safe spaces and to allow them to open up in their own time. We must dismantle the systems in place that say otherwise. Having a safe space at school helped me so much when I was a child. I think sometimes people can underestimate the power of support and understanding. Just a few words, a smile, a simple compliment or a willingness to listen can save a life. If you told me a decade ago I would be here today doing this Pride walk in my hometown, I absolutely would not have believed you! I’m so glad I did find the strength to go because sometimes we need to go back to the places where we fell apart so we can feel more whole and be sure of who we are. It wasn’t fully my wanting to speak about my sexuality to my teacher back when I was a teenager; I honestly felt so ashamed and alone though and I needed to let it out. I was not ready, but I also was ready. She is a safe person and still supports me today. She and my therapist at the time held space for me and fought to keep me alive during times I didn’t feel like I deserved to be alive. Having those two adults in my life who understood were sometimes the only reason I could stay alive. We talk about in the mental health community that you are allowed to stay alive for whatever your heart can find worth it— even if it is small. I’ve always told people that you need to try to stay alive for those small things and then one day, you will want to stay alive for yourself. I stayed alive for my pets, for my friends, for my supporters. I’m really proud that I can now say I stay alive for myself, too. I want to be alive for these moments and more. I know now that pain, discomfort, anxiety and more are part of life, but I also see that freedom, peace and love are the parts of life that make it so worth living. What Pride has taught me is that I deserve to feel proud of who I am. I’m very critical of myself, even though I am aware I have achieved so much since I was a high school student suffering deeply and struggling to find my self-worth. I deserve to feel pride in my work on and off the screen as well as my recovery. I choose recovery every day and I have come so far. I have had so many incredible opportunities and I continue to work on so many new things I want to be proud to share in the future. Old feelings certainly arose at the Pride parade, but I am learning that I have the ability to challenge these old narratives and thoughts. I am simply not teenager Lexie anymore. I am not that scared, trapped child anymore. I am a young woman who is working towards her dream career of being an art therapist. I am a psychology and art student. I am an advocate and activist. I work diligently in my job in healthcare. I put care and love into my relationships with others and myself. I am a kind person. I have embraced my sexuality. My compassion inspires others to have compassion. My words and art are appreciated. I have purpose. I hold clarity. I am free. And I am working on forgiving myself for the messes I created when my mind was muddled and my house was not a home. We are more than the problems we created when we felt we were so broken and unlovable. My younger self just wanted to be loved. I am forever grateful for every person who pushed past my scared and timid exterior and fought to love my younger self for who she was. My younger self was very brave and I want to thank her for pushing through even when all she felt was pain at times. Tears well up in my eyes knowing that my love for her may not be enough right now, but I know someday I’ll be able to love my inner child the way she needed to be loved all those years ago. I hope if you learn anything from my story, it’s that we must be the love, compassion and humanity for one another. Not all of us are able to look inwards and feel it for ourselves. We must be the love and break through the darkness for the hope that one day we can love and forgive ourselves, too. The anxiety I felt leading up to Pride and even during the march from time to time is nothing in comparison to the bright hope and profound love I feel today. Thank you to the Haddon Township Equity Initiative and all the wonderful sponsors and volunteers who made the day so special. I may not have felt like I belonged here in the past, but I do feel like I belong here today.

Lexie Manion

The New York Times for Kids Missed Addressing Unsafe Secrets

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m paging through The New York Times. I come across The New York Times for Kids section, titled “The Secrets Issue” — a blacked out background with a pair of eyes peering through contrasting blue window panels. The type across the top reads, “Editors’ Note: This section should not be read by grown-ups.” That tongue-in-cheek humor — or a true direction as to who should and should not read this section — makes me feel uneasy. Will a child assume no other adults read this or will they think this content is solely for them? Is this also creating a threshold where secrets are kept and never addressed? Will children who hold secrets of abuse get the wrong impression and continue to not speak up? On the fourth page, in the Science section titled “I’ll Never Tell,” I am relieved to read, “In some cases, like when a secret involves someone getting hurt, you need to tell an adult who can help” when discussing how some secrets are thrilling to keep. The writer breaks secrets down into three categories: The Fun Ones, The Juicy Ones and The Guilty Ones. While this brief acknowledgement of when we must confide in a safe adult exists, this is the only direct mention of unsafe secrets in the entirety of the thirteen page issue. It is careless to not expand on this idea or even create a fourth category potentially titled, “The Unsafe One.” The remainder of this issue details lighthearted ways to conceal a secret, hide a journal or money, how to spy and how to talk in secret code. In a piece of such popular news that is widely distributed throughout the country, The New York Times neglects to tell the other side of secrets that can cause immense harm. There is never an age too young to educate children on abuse. The details we give children may vary with each age group and we may elaborate more as they grow up, but they deserve at every age to understand the harmful effects of keeping unsafe secrets. Having been a child who kept unsafe secrets about my trauma and now deals with the effects of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) as an adult, I find it discouraging that The New York Times for Kids failed to address the difference between safe and unsafe secrets. I’d like to take a moment to further define the difference, as children deserve to understand. A safe secret, which is widely detailed in this issue, can involve a secret we keep in order to protect someone — but in a lighthearted way. For instance, as children, we may have kept a secret from a loved one about a gift we bought them or a party we planned. There is also the type of secret that we keep in order to not hurt someone else’s feelings. As we grow up and learn boundaries and how to grow healthy relationships, we naturally learn that it may be better to not tell others (parents, friends, classmates, etc.) every single thing; it is healthy to maintain boundaries and privacy. Perhaps you’ll tell your parents or friends about your day, but leave out that you have a crush on someone new. We may feel uncomfortable to spill the beans about a lighthearted secret until we better understand it ourselves. We may keep the secret for now and then one day, let them in on it, too. It’s important to note that not every family dynamic is the same and we may not feel safe to disclose more personal information with adults like family. Like anything in life, a healthy balance can be found. An unsafe secret can involve someone who hurt us or someone else who was harmed. We may keep these secrets because we do not know what to do with the information or we may be scared to speak up. I remained quiet in my traumas and friends’ traumas as a teenager, because I had no idea I could get help for us. I did not know help existed. I had no education on how to handle it. This caused a delay for me and my friends to receive the appropriate help. This is my qualm with The New York Times for Kids issue this month: I am concerned about the way they covered so much about secrets, yet failed to elaborate on what to do and how to get help if someone has hurt us or someone else. It is imperative to know there is help available. It matters that children know they do not have to keep unsafe secrets. In addition to not providing resources for children to find safety, The New York Times also did not define unsafe secrets, besides the one brief sentence differentiating the two. The New York Times had a great opportunity to provide a section outlining that it is important for children to know the names for their biological body parts, as children deserve to know what to refer to if they were sexually abused. Recent research has found that children not feeling embarrassed of their body parts and them being able to correctly identify them anatomically helps in the fight against child sexual abuse. In Psychology Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics explains, “In early childhood, parents can teach their children the name of the genitals, just as they teach their child names of other body parts. This teaches that the genitals, while private, are not so private that you can’t talk about them.” Perhaps if The New York Times delved into this glaringly obvious, yet sadly taboo aspect of secret-keeping in regards to recognizing sexual abuse, children would feel more empowered in their body autonomy, rather than left defenseless and uncertain. Lastly, besides offering resources to contact such as hotlines, as not all children have access to contact a hotline, The New York Times should have made it clear who a child can reach out to if they are being harmed. Teachers, coaches, parents of friends, etc. can be instrumental in getting us the help we need. Finding a trusted adult who we feel safe with is a valuable part of getting help. Friends and other family may also be great sources of support, but a trusted adult who has the power to report abuse or neglect is exceedingly important. My heart aches for those who may read this issue of The New York Times and may not get the full scope on secret-keeping. Their take on how secrets are captured in mostly a fun light detracts from the conversations we must be having about trauma, abuse and mental health. This issue feels rudimentary and incomplete at best. We may feel we need to exclude certain information and make everything lighthearted to make everyone feel comfortable, but children’s safety always precedes “comfort.” Children deserve to have resources for safety. Children do not have to keep unsafe secrets. When I was a child, I felt protective of those who harmed me; I never wanted to cause harm in return. The valuable lesson I have learned is that my safety comes first. If my seeking help and safety harmed others, then so be it; I never had to remain silent in order to be a peacekeeper. I want children to learn from what I experienced and choose help over self-hushing. It may very well be impossible to not discuss the other side of lighthearted secret-keeping in a time following the #MeToo era. It is our responsibility as writers to include resources and help when we are discussing this topic. How could we not acknowledge the importance of differentiating safe and unsafe secrets? It matters in our autonomy and growth to keep secrets and not have to tell everyone everything. At the same time, children deserve to know when and where to get help if the secrets they are holding are unsafe. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so let us be the voices, the survivors and truth-tellers who encourage The New York Times to be more mindful of the complexities and detriment of secret-keeping in the future. While they missed their last opportunity to speak on this, this month is a new opportunity to potentially share survivors stories and educate children on what unsafe secrets are and how they can reach out for help. Let us encourage children to be open and reach out when they are being harmed or know someone else is being harmed. All children deserve the space to be heard and kept safe.

Lexie Manion

The New York Times for Kids Missed Addressing Unsafe Secrets

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m paging through The New York Times. I come across The New York Times for Kids section, titled “The Secrets Issue” — a blacked out background with a pair of eyes peering through contrasting blue window panels. The type across the top reads, “Editors’ Note: This section should not be read by grown-ups.” That tongue-in-cheek humor — or a true direction as to who should and should not read this section — makes me feel uneasy. Will a child assume no other adults read this or will they think this content is solely for them? Is this also creating a threshold where secrets are kept and never addressed? Will children who hold secrets of abuse get the wrong impression and continue to not speak up? On the fourth page, in the Science section titled “I’ll Never Tell,” I am relieved to read, “In some cases, like when a secret involves someone getting hurt, you need to tell an adult who can help” when discussing how some secrets are thrilling to keep. The writer breaks secrets down into three categories: The Fun Ones, The Juicy Ones and The Guilty Ones. While this brief acknowledgement of when we must confide in a safe adult exists, this is the only direct mention of unsafe secrets in the entirety of the thirteen page issue. It is careless to not expand on this idea or even create a fourth category potentially titled, “The Unsafe One.” The remainder of this issue details lighthearted ways to conceal a secret, hide a journal or money, how to spy and how to talk in secret code. In a piece of such popular news that is widely distributed throughout the country, The New York Times neglects to tell the other side of secrets that can cause immense harm. There is never an age too young to educate children on abuse. The details we give children may vary with each age group and we may elaborate more as they grow up, but they deserve at every age to understand the harmful effects of keeping unsafe secrets. Having been a child who kept unsafe secrets about my trauma and now deals with the effects of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) as an adult, I find it discouraging that The New York Times for Kids failed to address the difference between safe and unsafe secrets. I’d like to take a moment to further define the difference, as children deserve to understand. A safe secret, which is widely detailed in this issue, can involve a secret we keep in order to protect someone — but in a lighthearted way. For instance, as children, we may have kept a secret from a loved one about a gift we bought them or a party we planned. There is also the type of secret that we keep in order to not hurt someone else’s feelings. As we grow up and learn boundaries and how to grow healthy relationships, we naturally learn that it may be better to not tell others (parents, friends, classmates, etc.) every single thing; it is healthy to maintain boundaries and privacy. Perhaps you’ll tell your parents or friends about your day, but leave out that you have a crush on someone new. We may feel uncomfortable to spill the beans about a lighthearted secret until we better understand it ourselves. We may keep the secret for now and then one day, let them in on it, too. It’s important to note that not every family dynamic is the same and we may not feel safe to disclose more personal information with adults like family. Like anything in life, a healthy balance can be found. An unsafe secret can involve someone who hurt us or someone else who was harmed. We may keep these secrets because we do not know what to do with the information or we may be scared to speak up. I remained quiet in my traumas and friends’ traumas as a teenager, because I had no idea I could get help for us. I did not know help existed. I had no education on how to handle it. This caused a delay for me and my friends to receive the appropriate help. This is my qualm with The New York Times for Kids issue this month: I am concerned about the way they covered so much about secrets, yet failed to elaborate on what to do and how to get help if someone has hurt us or someone else. It is imperative to know there is help available. It matters that children know they do not have to keep unsafe secrets. In addition to not providing resources for children to find safety, The New York Times also did not define unsafe secrets, besides the one brief sentence differentiating the two. The New York Times had a great opportunity to provide a section outlining that it is important for children to know the names for their biological body parts, as children deserve to know what to refer to if they were sexually abused. Recent research has found that children not feeling embarrassed of their body parts and them being able to correctly identify them anatomically helps in the fight against child sexual abuse. In Psychology Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics explains, “In early childhood, parents can teach their children the name of the genitals, just as they teach their child names of other body parts. This teaches that the genitals, while private, are not so private that you can’t talk about them.” Perhaps if The New York Times delved into this glaringly obvious, yet sadly taboo aspect of secret-keeping in regards to recognizing sexual abuse, children would feel more empowered in their body autonomy, rather than left defenseless and uncertain. Lastly, besides offering resources to contact such as hotlines, as not all children have access to contact a hotline, The New York Times should have made it clear who a child can reach out to if they are being harmed. Teachers, coaches, parents of friends, etc. can be instrumental in getting us the help we need. Finding a trusted adult who we feel safe with is a valuable part of getting help. Friends and other family may also be great sources of support, but a trusted adult who has the power to report abuse or neglect is exceedingly important. My heart aches for those who may read this issue of The New York Times and may not get the full scope on secret-keeping. Their take on how secrets are captured in mostly a fun light detracts from the conversations we must be having about trauma, abuse and mental health. This issue feels rudimentary and incomplete at best. We may feel we need to exclude certain information and make everything lighthearted to make everyone feel comfortable, but children’s safety always precedes “comfort.” Children deserve to have resources for safety. Children do not have to keep unsafe secrets. When I was a child, I felt protective of those who harmed me; I never wanted to cause harm in return. The valuable lesson I have learned is that my safety comes first. If my seeking help and safety harmed others, then so be it; I never had to remain silent in order to be a peacekeeper. I want children to learn from what I experienced and choose help over self-hushing. It may very well be impossible to not discuss the other side of lighthearted secret-keeping in a time following the #MeToo era. It is our responsibility as writers to include resources and help when we are discussing this topic. How could we not acknowledge the importance of differentiating safe and unsafe secrets? It matters in our autonomy and growth to keep secrets and not have to tell everyone everything. At the same time, children deserve to know when and where to get help if the secrets they are holding are unsafe. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so let us be the voices, the survivors and truth-tellers who encourage The New York Times to be more mindful of the complexities and detriment of secret-keeping in the future. While they missed their last opportunity to speak on this, this month is a new opportunity to potentially share survivors stories and educate children on what unsafe secrets are and how they can reach out for help. Let us encourage children to be open and reach out when they are being harmed or know someone else is being harmed. All children deserve the space to be heard and kept safe.

Lexie Manion

To Those Upset That Adele No Longer Represents a Plus-Size Person

In December of 2019, I wrote an article about the uproar and celebration of Adele’s weight loss, which was apparent from photos she posted to social media, yet not directly addressed by her herself. I discussed how weight loss is not always a positive thing, as eating disorders are used as maladaptive coping behaviors, yet yield results that society wants to celebrate. I concluded that we should be mindful to only celebrate weight loss if the individual brings it up themselves. If we compliment someone’s weight loss every single time, we may very well also be complimenting mental illness like depression or an eating disorder, physical or chronic illness, substance abuse, grief or even trauma. It is best to let people use their voice in their own time and when they are ready, rather than assuming weight loss always deserves praise. Adele recently spoke to Vogue about her feelings over the controversy and celebration of her weight loss. While I felt Adele was a wonderful representation of a successful plus-size woman, and that representation is valuable for all plus-size people to know, we must respect each and every person’s path of wellness, as it is their body, their rules. Being under as much public scrutiny as Adele is, I can understand how she must have felt confused and upset by mixed messages from the public. Some were celebrating her wellness, some were celebrating just her appearance and some were upset the plus-size community no longer had her as positive representation. It is so easy to judge from the outside, but we never know what people are facing. As I closed with in my initial article, I am so glad Adele cleared some of it up when she was ready. As I said in 2019, “Our culture loves sensationalistic tales of weight loss marketed as ‘inspiration,’ but what would happen if we broke away? What if we actively decided to focus on what people think, feel, do and create rather than what they look like? Perhaps we’d live in a more grounded world. We lose our touch with reality when we put all our focus and worth on what we look like. Adele is still the same talented and captivating woman as she was before.” Adele echoes this sentiment in her own words in Vogue, “My body’s been objectified my entire career. It’s not just now. I understand why it’s a shock. I understand why some women especially were hurt. Visually I represented a lot of women. But I’m still the same person.” I believe in body autonomy, so each and every person has a right to do with their body in whatever way they’d like as long as it’s not harming anyone else. Adele does not have to remain plus-size just because she has paved a path as a successful plus-size woman; contrarily, it is important to note that she was plus-size and she can still speak on her valid past experiences on how she was shamed and treated unfairly due to her body size. The difference is she now benefits from thin privilege. Adele also possibly addresses the women who were upset she is no longer plus-size, “The most brutal conversations were being had by other women about my body. I was very fucking disappointed with that. That hurt my feelings.” As a woman in recovery from an eating disorder who is always on her path of wellness and has both gained and lost weight over the years, it becomes a tricky thing to vouch for the side that is upset that a plus-size person is no longer plus-size. Change is a great fear for many people, and we may worry Adele losing weight changes who she is and the space she carved out for plus-size women, but she still holds the struggles of being a plus-size woman in the public eye. She still holds the baseless, vile hatred thrown at her where she was just living life, existing in a larger body. One could say it was by some miracle she is talented and successful as a musician because she once lived in a larger body, which is not true. Plenty of plus-size people can be successful. It is assumed people living in larger bodies are lazy and useless, but we prove people wrong every day. The side that is upset about her no longer being plus-size is valid in their feelings and so is Adele. We were rooting for Adele as a talented, award-winning individual, and we were especially rooting for her as a plus-size woman. Dialectics in DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), which is a therapy I learned in treatment in my eating disorder recovery, tells us that we can hold two opposing truths at the same time, and both can be true: we can be upset that Adele no longer represents us as a plus-size person and Adele is also allowed to change. Adele benefits from thin privilege now, which is defined by fitting into society more easily, not being fat-shamed, having doctor’s take you seriously and often being treated properly medically, having access to many more clothing options in your size, etc.; however, she still understands the other side. We must trust that Adele will continue to hold onto that understanding and ideally use her voice to declare she understands systemic fat shaming from past experiences. My hope is that if she feels she could one day, to speak on her current thin privilege and reflect on how she was treated differently when she was in a larger body — that would be powerful. Skinny shaming can be comparable to bullying; however, fat shaming is vastly different as it is systemic and about the oppression of people in larger bodies. Adele does not owe us anything, but I would personally love to see that dialogue unfold because it could shed some light on body shaming and fatphobia, as well as help her connect with people who may not understand the depths of this conversation. There is always nuance to these discussions, so be mindful of other perspectives other than your own. We all deserve to speak about how we feel in our own time. We all deserve to pursue our individual wellness journeys and be free in our body autonomy.

Lexie Manion

To Those Upset That Adele No Longer Represents a Plus-Size Person

In December of 2019, I wrote an article about the uproar and celebration of Adele’s weight loss, which was apparent from photos she posted to social media, yet not directly addressed by her herself. I discussed how weight loss is not always a positive thing, as eating disorders are used as maladaptive coping behaviors, yet yield results that society wants to celebrate. I concluded that we should be mindful to only celebrate weight loss if the individual brings it up themselves. If we compliment someone’s weight loss every single time, we may very well also be complimenting mental illness like depression or an eating disorder, physical or chronic illness, substance abuse, grief or even trauma. It is best to let people use their voice in their own time and when they are ready, rather than assuming weight loss always deserves praise. Adele recently spoke to Vogue about her feelings over the controversy and celebration of her weight loss. While I felt Adele was a wonderful representation of a successful plus-size woman, and that representation is valuable for all plus-size people to know, we must respect each and every person’s path of wellness, as it is their body, their rules. Being under as much public scrutiny as Adele is, I can understand how she must have felt confused and upset by mixed messages from the public. Some were celebrating her wellness, some were celebrating just her appearance and some were upset the plus-size community no longer had her as positive representation. It is so easy to judge from the outside, but we never know what people are facing. As I closed with in my initial article, I am so glad Adele cleared some of it up when she was ready. As I said in 2019, “Our culture loves sensationalistic tales of weight loss marketed as ‘inspiration,’ but what would happen if we broke away? What if we actively decided to focus on what people think, feel, do and create rather than what they look like? Perhaps we’d live in a more grounded world. We lose our touch with reality when we put all our focus and worth on what we look like. Adele is still the same talented and captivating woman as she was before.” Adele echoes this sentiment in her own words in Vogue, “My body’s been objectified my entire career. It’s not just now. I understand why it’s a shock. I understand why some women especially were hurt. Visually I represented a lot of women. But I’m still the same person.” I believe in body autonomy, so each and every person has a right to do with their body in whatever way they’d like as long as it’s not harming anyone else. Adele does not have to remain plus-size just because she has paved a path as a successful plus-size woman; contrarily, it is important to note that she was plus-size and she can still speak on her valid past experiences on how she was shamed and treated unfairly due to her body size. The difference is she now benefits from thin privilege. Adele also possibly addresses the women who were upset she is no longer plus-size, “The most brutal conversations were being had by other women about my body. I was very fucking disappointed with that. That hurt my feelings.” As a woman in recovery from an eating disorder who is always on her path of wellness and has both gained and lost weight over the years, it becomes a tricky thing to vouch for the side that is upset that a plus-size person is no longer plus-size. Change is a great fear for many people, and we may worry Adele losing weight changes who she is and the space she carved out for plus-size women, but she still holds the struggles of being a plus-size woman in the public eye. She still holds the baseless, vile hatred thrown at her where she was just living life, existing in a larger body. One could say it was by some miracle she is talented and successful as a musician because she once lived in a larger body, which is not true. Plenty of plus-size people can be successful. It is assumed people living in larger bodies are lazy and useless, but we prove people wrong every day. The side that is upset about her no longer being plus-size is valid in their feelings and so is Adele. We were rooting for Adele as a talented, award-winning individual, and we were especially rooting for her as a plus-size woman. Dialectics in DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), which is a therapy I learned in treatment in my eating disorder recovery, tells us that we can hold two opposing truths at the same time, and both can be true: we can be upset that Adele no longer represents us as a plus-size person and Adele is also allowed to change. Adele benefits from thin privilege now, which is defined by fitting into society more easily, not being fat-shamed, having doctor’s take you seriously and often being treated properly medically, having access to many more clothing options in your size, etc.; however, she still understands the other side. We must trust that Adele will continue to hold onto that understanding and ideally use her voice to declare she understands systemic fat shaming from past experiences. My hope is that if she feels she could one day, to speak on her current thin privilege and reflect on how she was treated differently when she was in a larger body — that would be powerful. Skinny shaming can be comparable to bullying; however, fat shaming is vastly different as it is systemic and about the oppression of people in larger bodies. Adele does not owe us anything, but I would personally love to see that dialogue unfold because it could shed some light on body shaming and fatphobia, as well as help her connect with people who may not understand the depths of this conversation. There is always nuance to these discussions, so be mindful of other perspectives other than your own. We all deserve to speak about how we feel in our own time. We all deserve to pursue our individual wellness journeys and be free in our body autonomy.

Lexie Manion

Stop Selling Halloween Costumes That Mock Mental Illness

It’s October 31 and the town is bustling with people dressed up as princesses, superheroes, big screen characters — anything you can imagine. You hear the joyous chatter flooding dimly lit sidewalks in between trick-or-treat stops as they fill up their bags with chocolates and candies. It’s a night of self-expression and fun. Yet, perhaps Halloween can also be darker than it seems. Halloween can be a merciless masquerade. Halloween can be an exciting day to dress up in an outfit you wouldn’t normally wear and go out to parties or events. While many costumes are harmless acts of self-expression or fulfillment of the fantasy to be someone else for the day or your favorite character, there are unfortunately some “costumes” that cause great harm to the mental health community. Many party goers may choose a horror-themed costume or a pop culture character. Others, however, dress up in costumes for Halloween that are also available in the store, fitting snugly on the clothing rack next to the others, waiting to be chosen, yet these costumes are unequivocally offensive. Part of the issue is these offensive “costumes” are available to be bought in the first place. They have been popularized year after year and have become normalized by society. Costumes that include the words “mental patient,” “psycho,” or “insane asylum” are options that should be avoided at all costs. These “costumes” are incredibly offensive to the mental health community as they exploit those with mental illness and minimize the torture and abuse of those struggling who were locked away, deemed unfit to be in society. Those locked away often received lobotomies and other inhumane, gruesome treatments instead of receiving ethical care. While such costumes may seem harmless to some who may not fully understand the extent of harm being done, these labels thoughtlessly slapped onto a plastic bag with cheap, yet harmful contents in the name of raking in money carry a great amount of pain and stigma. Mental health care has improved since the 1800s when asylums were the solution to a person “acting crazy,” but there are still unethical and inhumane practices being done today on those with mental illness. We still have a long way to go as a society and within health care itself. To dress up as a mental health patient is to make a mockery of oneself and to blatantly overlook the deep pain and suffering of this country’s past and present. Suffering is suffering and is not to ever be made lightly of. In 2011, an “Anna Rexia” Halloween costume was being sold online by a costume and beauty store chain. Naturally, the costume and its creators received massive amounts of negative press. “Anna Rexia” sensationalizes the mental illness anorexia — the eating disorder with the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. The “costume” consisted of a short and tight black dress with a skeleton on it, a tape measure to hold around one’s waist, and a badge reading “Anna Rexia,” as if to boast a “cute” and “clever” nickname for a life-threatening mental illness. The public outrage was notable, so much so that a coordinator at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and a Change.org petition denouncing it forced the companies to cease selling the costume. As a person in recovery from an eating disorder, I recall feeling so confused and upset in 2011 when I watched the public outrage unfold surrounding this costume surfacing online. It made me furious to imagine what they’d include if they made a costume for bulimia, too. Costumes are supposed to be a means of entertainment. To glorify one’s restricting of food and becoming dangerously obsessed with their size is deplorable. Today, I wish more people spoke out just as passionately as they did with the “Anna Rexia” costume with other costumes that harm those struggling with other mental illnesses. It is incredibly common today to go online or into a store selling Halloween costumes and find “mental patient” or similarly listed costumes. We need these costumes to be discontinued. This country’s history of treatment of mental health patients is incredibly horrifying. We must not forget. Mental illness can present in ways that can make others feel scared, but we must remember to be scared for the person struggling and not of the person struggling. When an individual dons a costume of an “insane asylum patient,” many of which include a straightjacket and restraints, it does an incredible disservice to the mental health community, as if to say this is what we all look like in our illness and furthermore, as if you are an evil person for needing to be restrained. Not to mention, there still are mental health facilities today that do not treat patients with the compassion or respect they deserve to be met with. The history of how mental health patients were often treated so inhumanely — and even today — is not a costume. My struggles are not a costume. How someone is mistreated or protected in their darkest moments is not a costume. While the history of mental healthcare is horrid and unjust, we must also see how far we have come. There is no way to erase the past pain “insane asylums” have inflicted on countless lives; however, one of the first steps toward healing is to ensure we are not disrespecting those who struggle with mental illness. We must not wear costumes that parody an individual’s pain. A costume can shock, entertain, or scare others, but a costume simply isn’t a costume anymore if it harms a group of people — notably almost 20% of the population in the United States. I encourage you to reach out to stores selling such inappropriate costumes and educate them on the history of mental health care and advocate for all of us whose lives have been touched by mental illness. There is no excuse why stores still sell these wearable depictions of cruelty and imprisonment. Not everyone may understand why these costumes bring such heavy pain to those who struggle with mental illness, but with open discussions, we have the opportunity to explain why stigma is so dangerous, how stigma has harmed us, and how we can break away the stigma and let the light in. As Ann Voskamp has said, “Shame dies when stories are told in safe spaces.” Let’s be the safe spaces for those of us with mental illness so we can foster healing. By speaking up and asking people to be mindful of what Halloween costumes they wear, we are actively creating a world that is more understanding, and ultimately, less stigmatizing. It’s October 31 and the town is bustling with people dressed up as princesses, superheroes, big screen characters — anything you can imagine. What will you be wearing?

Lexie Manion

Lifting COVID-19 Mask Mandates Has Helped Me Emotionally Connect

We dropped our mask mandate at work recently, as long as you are vaccinated and as long as you are comfortable doing so. I forgot how good it is to see people’s faces. I can also see my friends again after over a year of keeping my life simple: Go to work and come home, go to school and come home, go shopping and come home. I truly underestimated how important it is for me emotionally to see people’s faces again when conversing with them. Growing up, I lacked emotional connection with those around me. Being consumed in my eating disorder , anxiety and other mental health struggles barred me from opening up. I felt shameful in my truth. I didn’t know how to stand my ground or be unapologetic in my openness as a teenager. I was not taught vital skills. I also was taught to conceal my emotions and hide what was going on inside. In my child and adolescent psychology course I am taking right now, I am learning about how children develop in their biological factors and environmental influences. One component of childhood development is synchrony, where a child’s response matches another’s behavior, emotional state or biological rhythm. Essentially, a child mirrors behaviors and emotions they see in those around them, notably caregivers as those relationships are very influential. In those around me, I learned to push down my emotions and pretend I was OK. I was trapped in this back-and-forth of reaching out and running away due to my habits and shame. Through therapy, hard work and time, I have learned to embrace recovery as I embrace my openness. I value sharing what I’m thinking and feeling because how else do we get our needs met as human beings? How do we truly connect with others if we are hiding ourselves away? Connecting with those I love emotionally matters a great deal to me now. With where we are at in this pandemic, I am gleaming with joy as I can now see my friends, co-workers and bosses smiling, laughing and talking. I can hear the joy in people’s voices and finally see the joy on their faces again — how comforting. There is so much emotional connection lost in the mix since masks were mandated last year. At the same time I love rediscovering this human connection, it was my duty to wear my mask and I absolutely will wear it again if I need to. Sincerity can also be lost as we all have had to wear masks during this time. Human beings are always looking for validation. We may assume we just need words to feel validated, but a person’s body language, facial expressions and tone absolutely impact how we feel when conversing. As someone who struggles with anxiety , it has made me feel anxious to not see a person’s full energy toward me as they wore a mask. It made me feel like I was always missing something; I felt uncertain if I had the full picture. This pandemic made me more mindful of looking people in the eye, as I searched for some sort of sign they were conveying various emotions. Connecting with people in recovery means no longer being ashamed to look people in the eye. It means taking in every part of what people show up with, including a smile or an open stance. I am very thankful for everyone who worked tirelessly on the vaccines and continues to promote everyone’s safety and welfare during this time. As a human being, I am incredibly grateful I can see you smile again.

Lexie Manion

How To Navigate Trauma Triggers

As a woman with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), I try to navigate this world as best as I can. I find myself facing triggers head-on time to time, and I also try to be mindful so I can avoid being triggered. The word “trigger” has become very popularized and because of this, it can lose its meaning and seriousness at times. The word has also been used to intentionally exaggerate someone else’s feelings in a way to mock them. A trigger in terms of trauma is defined as a stimulus that mentally brings us back to a past traumatic experience. Trauma can include abuse , neglect , assault, near-death experiences, loss and many, many other things. Triggers can happen through any of our senses, like smell, sight, taste, sound or touch. For instance, if you were to smell a passerby wearing a cologne in the present moment, the smell alone could trigger a trauma memory where you remember someone from your past wearing the same or similar cologne, and perhaps an emotionally charged, traumatic experience is surrounding the memory of that person, so then you are triggered and experience a flashback. Triggers attached to the senses can be especially upsetting because they can have a stronghold in your memory. We may not fully be aware of these types of triggers until they occur, unfortunately. Trauma triggers can make us feel as if we are in immediate danger, sometimes initiating a fight or flight response. We can feel things like panicky, tearful, frozen or even experience panic attacks due to being triggered. Flashbacks can accompany triggers, which is when we have a vivid memory of the trauma . Triggers and flashbacks are very serious and can impact our emotional state greatly. It is important we attribute the word “trigger” appropriately, and perhaps find different words when we want to explain other disappointing, upsetting or emotional responses. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a therapy created by Marsha M. Linehan, has introduced life-saving skills to me so I can return to my baseline if I feel triggered or experience flashbacks and nightmares . I learned about DBT in a women’s trauma program some time ago. Some of my go-to skills include paced breathing, utilizing cold temperature from TIPP and half-smile. Mindfulness, wise mind and behavior chains are helpful to me, too. Being able to drink cold water, run my hands under cold water, do breathing exercises or visualize my safe place are instrumental methods in soothing myself when I experience flashbacks. In the women’s trauma program I attended, I also learned about different responses to trauma as it is happening. We often learn about fight or flight. There are actually more responses: fight, flight, freeze and submit. This new information — that there are more responses to trauma than just two — was comforting to me. I felt confused about why I froze in the past when I wanted to run. I felt as if the trauma was my fault. There are real, psychological reasons why we may react in different ways in traumatic experiences. Today, some ways I try to avoid triggers is to be mindful of what I am consuming visually. I have made a great effort to not watch Demi Lovato’s latest documentary series. I support Demi and celebrate her strength; however, I had heard about some of the content that was going to be discussed, and made the decision to watch it at a later time in the future. In recent weeks, flashbacks have resurfaced for me, so I have been especially mindful of what I watch and listen to in order to avoid triggers. We cannot avoid every trigger, but it is important to me to do my best to avoid what I can, when I can. There is a song I gravitate towards that makes me feel validated, but I realized it was also bringing up a lot for me emotionally. I would listen to this song and feel heard, but then would break down when I finished listening to it. I have decided to delete it off my phone for now. I love writing poetry and doing creative writing. I noticed when I finished doing trauma work in therapy a couple of years ago, I felt more of a desire to write about it. I had bottled it up for so long on account that I wasn’t ready to unpack it back then. It began to spill out in my writing. I have had to stop myself from writing at times because I would be sobbing on and off for hours. I’m more mindful of when it’s too much and will use distress tolerance skills if I find myself becoming emotional. I have found it is good to allow myself to get emotional when I’m writing and trauma writing starts coming out, but I never let it get to that point anymore. I will put my writing away and do something soothing for myself like take a hot bath or chat with a friend. I also work on being open with my close friends and therapist on when I am feeling triggered so I’m not facing it alone. One of the worst things we can do when we are experiencing the effects of trauma is to not tell anyone. Shame thrives off of our silence. And there is nothing to be ashamed of because trauma is never our fault. The effects can also escalate and worsen if we are not seeking help. I try to be as gentle as I can with myself when I’m experiencing the effects of trauma . It is so easy to be hard on ourselves or overlook our feelings, but it matters that we treat ourselves kindly, especially in moments we feel so lost in emotion. We are not bad or broken for the wounds we carry. We deserve to be gentle with ourselves and have others be gentle with us. It is distressing to experience triggers from trauma , as well as nightmares and flashbacks. I have struggled to be present when these things overcome me. I can feel unsafe all of a sudden, as if I am in danger. I am an adult but can feel as if I go back in time to being a kid or teenager. It can feel as if the traumatic experience is happening all over again. The effects of trauma can feel debilitating at times. There is a heaviness that comes from carrying painful and scary memories. At the same time, there is help for us and there is hope. I try to remind myself that the child in me who was not privy to therapy or a life where she was not always in so much pain is still with me and I can show her healing today. My healing today is unifying my present self and my inner child. I am stronger than the effects of trauma , and you are, too.

Lexie Manion

How To Navigate Trauma Triggers

As a woman with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), I try to navigate this world as best as I can. I find myself facing triggers head-on time to time, and I also try to be mindful so I can avoid being triggered. The word “trigger” has become very popularized and because of this, it can lose its meaning and seriousness at times. The word has also been used to intentionally exaggerate someone else’s feelings in a way to mock them. A trigger in terms of trauma is defined as a stimulus that mentally brings us back to a past traumatic experience. Trauma can include abuse , neglect , assault, near-death experiences, loss and many, many other things. Triggers can happen through any of our senses, like smell, sight, taste, sound or touch. For instance, if you were to smell a passerby wearing a cologne in the present moment, the smell alone could trigger a trauma memory where you remember someone from your past wearing the same or similar cologne, and perhaps an emotionally charged, traumatic experience is surrounding the memory of that person, so then you are triggered and experience a flashback. Triggers attached to the senses can be especially upsetting because they can have a stronghold in your memory. We may not fully be aware of these types of triggers until they occur, unfortunately. Trauma triggers can make us feel as if we are in immediate danger, sometimes initiating a fight or flight response. We can feel things like panicky, tearful, frozen or even experience panic attacks due to being triggered. Flashbacks can accompany triggers, which is when we have a vivid memory of the trauma . Triggers and flashbacks are very serious and can impact our emotional state greatly. It is important we attribute the word “trigger” appropriately, and perhaps find different words when we want to explain other disappointing, upsetting or emotional responses. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a therapy created by Marsha M. Linehan, has introduced life-saving skills to me so I can return to my baseline if I feel triggered or experience flashbacks and nightmares . I learned about DBT in a women’s trauma program some time ago. Some of my go-to skills include paced breathing, utilizing cold temperature from TIPP and half-smile. Mindfulness, wise mind and behavior chains are helpful to me, too. Being able to drink cold water, run my hands under cold water, do breathing exercises or visualize my safe place are instrumental methods in soothing myself when I experience flashbacks. In the women’s trauma program I attended, I also learned about different responses to trauma as it is happening. We often learn about fight or flight. There are actually more responses: fight, flight, freeze and submit. This new information — that there are more responses to trauma than just two — was comforting to me. I felt confused about why I froze in the past when I wanted to run. I felt as if the trauma was my fault. There are real, psychological reasons why we may react in different ways in traumatic experiences. Today, some ways I try to avoid triggers is to be mindful of what I am consuming visually. I have made a great effort to not watch Demi Lovato’s latest documentary series. I support Demi and celebrate her strength; however, I had heard about some of the content that was going to be discussed, and made the decision to watch it at a later time in the future. In recent weeks, flashbacks have resurfaced for me, so I have been especially mindful of what I watch and listen to in order to avoid triggers. We cannot avoid every trigger, but it is important to me to do my best to avoid what I can, when I can. There is a song I gravitate towards that makes me feel validated, but I realized it was also bringing up a lot for me emotionally. I would listen to this song and feel heard, but then would break down when I finished listening to it. I have decided to delete it off my phone for now. I love writing poetry and doing creative writing. I noticed when I finished doing trauma work in therapy a couple of years ago, I felt more of a desire to write about it. I had bottled it up for so long on account that I wasn’t ready to unpack it back then. It began to spill out in my writing. I have had to stop myself from writing at times because I would be sobbing on and off for hours. I’m more mindful of when it’s too much and will use distress tolerance skills if I find myself becoming emotional. I have found it is good to allow myself to get emotional when I’m writing and trauma writing starts coming out, but I never let it get to that point anymore. I will put my writing away and do something soothing for myself like take a hot bath or chat with a friend. I also work on being open with my close friends and therapist on when I am feeling triggered so I’m not facing it alone. One of the worst things we can do when we are experiencing the effects of trauma is to not tell anyone. Shame thrives off of our silence. And there is nothing to be ashamed of because trauma is never our fault. The effects can also escalate and worsen if we are not seeking help. I try to be as gentle as I can with myself when I’m experiencing the effects of trauma . It is so easy to be hard on ourselves or overlook our feelings, but it matters that we treat ourselves kindly, especially in moments we feel so lost in emotion. We are not bad or broken for the wounds we carry. We deserve to be gentle with ourselves and have others be gentle with us. It is distressing to experience triggers from trauma , as well as nightmares and flashbacks. I have struggled to be present when these things overcome me. I can feel unsafe all of a sudden, as if I am in danger. I am an adult but can feel as if I go back in time to being a kid or teenager. It can feel as if the traumatic experience is happening all over again. The effects of trauma can feel debilitating at times. There is a heaviness that comes from carrying painful and scary memories. At the same time, there is help for us and there is hope. I try to remind myself that the child in me who was not privy to therapy or a life where she was not always in so much pain is still with me and I can show her healing today. My healing today is unifying my present self and my inner child. I am stronger than the effects of trauma , and you are, too.