I have been sitting in my office all day long, being super effective at NOT writing this paper for our research class. I have made a stew. I have surfed facebook. I have pondered my future in nursing and in life. I have done everything you can imagine except a.) laundry and b.) write a paper. Those are the two things that I actually NEED to be doing.
Alas, I am not. Instead, I am ponderings the stages the body goes through when dealing with trauma.
Though I can’t remember its name (nor the names of its stages), there is a theory that says your body has stages for reacting to acute trauma. For instance, when you get a cut on your finger, your body goes through this series of stages when it’s fixing the cut by stopping the bleeding. The stages are something like this:
– Recognition (there is a problem, I am bleeding.)
– Reaction (I will trying to fix the problem by sending clotting mechanisms into action.)
– Stabilization (the clotting mechanisms start to work, a.k.a. the scab starts to form.)
– Recovery (healing, or, if you’re me, picking the scab 100 times, and starting the whole process all over again.)
The theory says that our bodies can’t stay in the ‘reaction’ stage forever, because eventually we will run out of our resources. In the example that I gave above, if the body stayed in the reaction stage forever without ever getting to stabilization, the person would bleed to death. Bleeding to death is never good.
You with me so far?
Okay, so I’m sure that the whole system that I mentioned above has something to do with hormones and the nervous system. This is a fair assumption since everything in our body is basically controlled by hormones and the nervous system. More scientifically, I’m guessing that has something to do with the turning on/off of the SNS/PNS systems (read: going into the fight-or-flight adrenaline response) and the release of cortisol (read: steroid released in the body in response to stress) into the body.
Before I started thinking about any of that, I was thinking about crying. Specifically, I was thinking about why I can’t cry right now (because of the depression medication). Then I thought about how funny it is that we can’t cry on demand (unless you own an Oscar), and then I was like, wait, what causes us to cry at all? I don’t know anything about crying. Some quick googling tells me that it’s somehow connected to the Parasympathetic Nervous System (bing! That’s on one end of the Fight-or-Flight teeter-totter), but that’s about all I have dug up so far.
Then I was thinking about trauma and crying and how they are both related to the same nervous system, and I realized that if you were to chart the progression of an intense emotional reaction a.k.a. A Good Crying Session, it would graph out exactly like the Recognition-Reaction-Stabilization-Recovery. Which made me wonder: do the same systems control both things?
This is my attempt at helping you understand what the hell it is I'm still droning on about.
Because I can only weep for about 15 minutes before I start to feel better, and I could only bleed (and I mean BLEED) for about 15 minutes before I’d be dead. I haven’t completed my scientific research on this yet, but I just thought I’d clue you guys in. It’s fun to be on the breaking edge of science and/or The Insane Progression Of Pseudo-Scientific Thoughts Inside Sarah’s Head, Now With Visual Illustrations!
P.S. In case you wanted to know how the stages specifically relate to the crying process, it goes like this:
- Recognition (Quivery lip, teary eyes, RUN FOR THE BATHROOM, FAST.)
- Reaction (The weeping itself. With the snot running down your face, getting all over everything. Bonus points if the snot is getting all over your husband. Zack LOVES that part of my weeping.)
- Stabilization (Unstable breathing, big gasps, the tears start to run out. This is usually when you’ve stopped crying and your head is in somebody’s lap and they’re loving you even though your face is swollen up like you’re having an allergic reaction and you’re bright red & covered in all sorts of bodily fluids.)
- Recovery (This stage often involves ice cream for the general public. For me, it mostly involves margaritas.)