Episode 101: How to Cope When the Worlds Feels Unsafe with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Episode 101: How to Cope When the Worlds Feels Unsafe with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Alyssa Scolari [00:24]:
Welcome back to another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. I am your host Alyssa Scolari , and we are now on episode 101, baby. I am so excited. I hope that everybody has had a great week so far. It feels like forever since I’ve recorded an episode, it’s only been really a week and a half, but so much has happened in the world since I last recorded an episode and I originally had other plans for what I was going to talk about today. But I think with recent events, it is really important that I talk about how to cope when it feels like the world is falling apart. I feel really, really lucky because I have the most amazing people who listen to this podcast. And I have not been pressured by any of you to talk about what is going on in the United States, particularly the Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Alyssa Scolari [01:36]:
I know that with a lot of people who have public platforms, people who follow them or listen to them, people are demanding that others speak about it and they’re judging them for not having spoken about it. And I feel really grateful that has not been the case for me. And I will say this with regards to that, just because somebody’s not speaking about it on a social media platform doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings about it, right? Roe v. Wade was only overturned a few weeks ago at this point, or maybe a week and a half ago at this point. I’m not even sure, but it’s going to take some time for people to be able to process how they feel about it. And the overturning is very triggering for people who have… Well, it’s very triggering for pretty much anyone with a uterus, but it is especially triggering for people who have a history of sexual abuse, right?
Alyssa Scolari [02:47]:
Our bodies have already been taken from us. We have already had somebody else have more control over our bodies than we have. So for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and for people to say that it is okay for states to completely ban abortion, it almost feels like we are being victimized all over… I mean, we are being victimized all over again, and it’s very re-victimizing of our sexual abuse. So try to be mindful of that, right? If somebody’s not saying something about it, that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel strongly about it. It doesn’t mean that they’re ignoring it. What that might mean is that they are so deeply triggered by it, that they just can’t, right? Because especially when you put yourself out there in any kind of public platform, you are bound to have criticism and you are bound to have people who are going to say things that are hurtful, people that might disagree.
Alyssa Scolari [03:50]:
And while that might be okay, if you have deep traumatic ties to a certain topic, honestly, it might not be safe for you to share that publicly. So just give one another grace right now. I feel like I’m preaching to the choir. I don’t even have to tell you all because you all have been absolutely amazing in not asking me to speak up about this. And so I have been able to take some time and I have been able to get to a place where I am able to publicly say, I am so not okay with what is happening in this country. And anybody who knows a shred about me can already have guessed that. I am horrified. I am triggered beyond belief, the right to abortion. It is not a right, it’s not a constitutional right anymore. And it has been so hard for me to wrap my head around.
Alyssa Scolari [04:58]:
And it’s also been very overwhelming for me as a therapist to have to go into my office, right? Because the overturning was on Friday, June 24th. And then on Monday, I had to go into the office and I had to talk to a person upon person who has deep seated feelings and is extremely triggered by the overturning. And I haven’t even processed it for myself. So I have been just inundated with reactions to this and I’m handling it the best that I can, but there’s just no part of me that is okay. It is so scary for so many people out there. And some people are celebrating, right? Some people are celebrating, but I think so many of us, and I know many people who listen to this podcast, are mourning. We’re mourning. We are terrified about what this means. We are triggered because now we feel like we have no control over our bodies anymore.
Alyssa Scolari [06:08]:
It’s been really, really bad. And unfortunately bad has only turned to worse, right? We thought that it couldn’t get any worse on June 24th when they overturned Roe v. Wade. But now see what else the Supreme Court is considering. The Supreme Court is going to look at LGBTQ rights. They’re going to decide whether or not businesses are allowed to ban or discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community. That is being considered. They are also considering whether they are going to allow states to overturn federal elections. That is another thing that’s being considered. And I kind of struggle a lot with what all of this means. So I try to do a lot of research and I’ve done a lot of research, but then I also try to ask other people in my life who I know are well read on it and who understand a little bit better than I do, because I am not the best at understanding this stuff, right?
Alyssa Scolari [07:16]:
And as an aside, I also want to say this, I see a lot of people saying things like how could you not understand what this means? Or how could you not understand? How could you not have seen this coming? And I understand that to a certain degree. What I want to say about that is this. Please do not assume that everybody was present and/or able to pay attention in school when we were being taught about the checks and balances of our government, of our country.
Alyssa Scolari [07:57]:
Please don’t assume that everybody was able to do that, right. Maybe you were there and maybe you listened and you paid attention and you understood it. And it came super easily to you. But what about the kids who couldn’t show up at school because they had to stay home sick, taking care of their parents or taking care of their siblings because their parents weren’t available or they had to take care of grandma, or they didn’t live with mom and dad, or what about the kids who did show up in school, but they had undiagnosed ADHD to the point where they couldn’t even pay attention, they couldn’t listen.
Alyssa Scolari [08:29]:
Or they had trauma and they were too busy trying to process their trauma to be able to listen about the checks and balances in this country, right. What about the people that don’t have internet access that cannot read up on this stuff themselves? What about the people that are so busy living paycheck to paycheck, that they don’t have time to understand how our system of checks and balances work in this country. Please keep that in mind and perhaps talk to other people about these topics because people are so quick to say things like, how could you not have known? How do you not understand how our government works? Why do you even live in this country if you don’t understand how our government works? So many people don’t, right. And I, to a degree, struggle so much with how things work.
Alyssa Scolari [09:19]:
So going back to the Supreme Court, now hearing a case about whether or not it’s going to be okay for the states to overturn federal elections. Basically what that means is our system of checks and balances could be taken away in the sense that states get to regulate elections, they get to regulate… They have a lot more power over elections, but also states have the power to say, oh, well, we suspect that there was fraud here. And because there was fraud, we are going to throw out these votes, or we’re going to say that the result is null and void and we have to vote again. Or no, no, no, they didn’t win. They did, right. So basically the states can kind of alter the results based on their own agenda.
Alyssa Scolari [10:19]:
And there’s really nobody that can back them up. There’s no court, there’s no higher court to be like, okay, well show us the evidence that says that this election was fraudulent, right? Show us the evidence. There’s really nobody that’s doing that. Basically the states just get to decide. And that is a really frightening thing because essentially it can make our votes meaningless if the state already has their own agenda. Now none of these things have actually been overturned yet, right? So I do not want to cause panic where we don’t need to be panicked because right now there are other things that have been overturned that we need to be panicking about. But people are talking about this stuff and anxiety and depression is at an all time high. Suicide rates are on the rise and things are looking grim. It is my hope that just because the Supreme Court is looking at the stuff that it doesn’t necessarily mean these things are going to be overturned.
Alyssa Scolari [11:30]:
They’re just looking at it. And it is my hope that they’re going to be like, this is ridiculous. And they’re just going to throw it out. That is my hope. But that was also our hope with Roe v. Wade. So we don’t know. Life is really scary right now. It is so, so, so scary. And I know that I’ve been talking about a lot of this, but I do not want this whole episode to be talking about all the things that can continue to go wrong in this country because things are going wrong so often. And these are really dark times in our country. What I want to talk about is how to cope, because if you are anything like me, you are struggling to cope. I’ve been having a really hard time. And I know that the people around me have been having a really hard time.
Alyssa Scolari [12:25]:
And I know that the people I work with are having a really hard time. So I want to talk about today, how we can get through this what feels like a never ending nightmare. There is a pressure I.n the media, in social media and in the world right now to be on all of the time to be up to date on the latest news, the breaking news, what’s happening, who said this, who said that. It is so much pressure in itself. And I want you to know that you are not any less of an activist, you are not any less of a supporter if you are not on all the time. In fact, I am here to encourage you to please take a break because we need it. We are all so tired and exhausted and burnt out from excessive media and bad news after bad news after bad news, not just in the year 2022, it has been three years of horror, right?
Alyssa Scolari [13:44]:
In 2019, it was like everybody was talking about this COVID virus and will it, won’t it reach the United States and we’re tracking this, but the numbers are low. And then 2020 hit. And it was like the whole world is shutting down. And since then it has just been an onslaught of death and chaos and destruction and bad news. And nobody, I mean, nobody is meant to be absorbing this amount of information day in, day out for years on end. It is chronic, toxic stress and trauma. And it doesn’t surprise me that suicide rates are on the rise. It doesn’t surprise me that the rate of mental health disorders, that the rate of PTSD is through the fucking roof right now.
Alyssa Scolari [14:38]:
But if you’re listening to this and this information is ringing true for you, and you’re like, oh yeah. Oh yeah. That’s how I’m feeling, I am just so done with all of it. I need to tell you that it’s okay to dissociate. And that might seem like Alyssa, what the fuck, right? What do you mean, dissociation is a trauma response. Not always, not always. Dissociation or dissociation or dissociation. People say it many, many different ways. And I say dissociate, but some people say it differently. I actually don’t know what the correct pronunciation is. I’ve seen multiple different pronunciations for it. So if somebody could tell me what exactly the correct pronunciation of it is, I would appreciate that. But for now, I’m going to continue to say dissociate. You can say dissociate, however you want to say it. It all means the same thing. It is your brain’s way of detaching from reality. And that is a very natural and normal mechanism.
Alyssa Scolari [15:45]:
Dissociation in moderation is not a bad thing. We all need to detach, and we all need to be able to focus on things that are more reassuring in life so that we can keep our anxiety at a minimum. Sometimes. It is so, so healthy. I mean, honestly, when you meditate, right, when you meditate or are mindful, that can kind of be a… Meditation can be a healthy form of dissociation. There are so many ways in which we dissociate on a regular basis. Have you ever been in school or in a class, and the professor is just droning on and on and on about something. And before you know it, you are two weeks into a fantasy, not two weeks, I should say, but you’re 20 minutes into a fantasy about vacationing somewhere on some tropical island with your crush and getting married and this and that.
Alyssa Scolari [16:51]:
And you’re thinking about, oh, what is my wedding dress going to look like? Or things like that, that is dissociation. You have checked out and you have checked in to a fantasy that is much more pleasurable than where you are at now. It’s not a response to toxic stress, but you are just like, I need to check out for a little bit. That is such a good thing. It is healthy to be able to check out. Now, of course it becomes unhealthy when your brain is doing that as a result of toxic stress, right? That is when it becomes like this is a trauma response. But right now I think that so many of us are probably having trauma responses as a result of everything that is happening in this world. We need a healthy form of dissociation. So it is not a bad thing.
Alyssa Scolari [17:50]:
I cannot emphasize that enough. When you are doing it to try to help yourself and intentionally, right. We want to be very intentional about this form of dissociation. So what does that mean? It means literally checking out, checking out of reality for a little bit and checking into other things that feel much safer. I highly recommend putting timers on your phone right now, right. We could all use it, right. We could all use less time on social media, but now more than ever, where you can barely even open up an app without seeing something about abortion laws or LGBTQ rights or gun control, put a timer on the apps that you use. How long do you want to be absorbing that information? I recently, I think maybe like a week and a half ago, when all this happened, I just decided, no, I cannot do this to myself.
Alyssa Scolari [18:55]:
I cannot be inundated with this information right now. I have to do something. And so I decided that I do not want to consume any more than one hour of social media time a day right now, that is what I can handle. And even that might honestly be a little bit too much. I might bring it to 30 minutes. And so I have been doing that and it has been so helpful for me. Not only have I done that, but I’ve also decided that when it gets to a certain time, either in the morning or the night, I do not want to be on my phone. I do not want to be on these apps at all, regardless of how much I’ve been on them throughout the day, I’m giving myself a small window. So basically my apps will essentially turn off at 8:00 PM and then from 8:00 PM until 10:00 AM the next morning, I do not allow myself to go on these apps.
Alyssa Scolari [19:56]:
And if you have an iPhone, you can just do it right in your settings. Your iPhone will just do it for you. It’s pretty easy. If you have an Android, I think you can download an app that will allow you to do that and it’s free. So I highly recommend that. Then at night, right, my routine is not only do I actually have much more time, but I can do things that help me to engage in a form of healthy dissociation. And then in the morning, the reason why I have the apps off until solely into the morning is so I am not starting my day off with traumatic or horrible or scary or anxiety provoking news. When I wake up in the morning, I can’t open my phone right away and start scrolling through social media.
Alyssa Scolari [20:49]:
No, I have to get up. I have to get out of bed. I have to make my coffee. I have to do a little bit of work. I have to eat. And then when my day is already started, I can be like, oh, let me check social media for a little bit and see what’s going on. And it helps not to start the day off on a wrong foot or effectively, it helps me to not be triggered and be having PTSD symptoms from the moment I get up in the morning. So I highly, highly recommend that if you haven’t done that already. Now, the other thing is figuring out what to do with that time that you’re not on social media, because if you’re not on social media, but then you’re sitting down on the couch watching something that’s equally as traumatic. Well, it’s not really going to help you much.
Alyssa Scolari [21:40]:
Personally, I love Stranger Things. Love it, love it, love it. And I was so excited for it to come out, but two weeks ago before Roe v. Wade was even overturned, David and I sat down to watch it. And the first 20 minutes, now I’ll give them a little bit of credit, because Stranger Things did give a warning about how the scenes that we were about to see could be triggering about the shooting in Texas. And so, okay. You know, I was like, all right, but the whole thing, it was 20 minutes, I think, probably of just horror. Horror that was so similar that I’m like, honestly, I’m a little infuriated that they didn’t just cut that scene or make it much shorter together. And just kind of say, we changed the scene out of respect, because it was so similar to what I’m sure so many people saw when they had to witness that Texas shooting.
Alyssa Scolari [22:57]:
So I was horrified and I was like, turn this off. I cannot watch this. And I have heard, I have not watched it since, but I have heard from a few people that it actually doesn’t get much better and that it’s actually a very gory season. And as much as I love Stranger Things and was so excited to be able to escape into a fantasy world, I know that that is going to be entirely too triggering for me. And so I have set a boundary with myself that I am not watching it because I can’t do that to myself. And so it’s important to keep that in mind too, right? If I were to say, oh, I’m not going to go on social media, but I’m going to sit down and I’m going to watch Stranger Things and inundate myself with gore and death and blood and violence.
Alyssa Scolari [23:48]:
Well, how’s that actually helping my brain, right? That’s that’s only just triggering, it’s triggering me. It’s not really doing anything. So what will you do during that time? So instead of watching Stranger Things, I’ve been playing a lot of Mario. We actually bought a new game called Mario Odyssey. And listen, it is exactly the form of dissociation that I need. Helping me to check out and check into a world where I am a small Italian man with a red cap. And I am jumping and hitting those little square boxes. The yellow ones with the question marks on them and collecting coins. And I’m in all these fantasy worlds. And there’s great colors. That has been really helpful for me. Another thing that I’m doing is I am doing yoga. I am trying to be so vigilant about doing it so that I can help move emotions through me.
Alyssa Scolari [24:55]:
That has been really helpful. I highly recommend restorative yoga. If you haven’t done restorative yoga, it is the bomb. It is very different than regular yoga in the sense that you’re not actually doing much, basically what restorative yoga is it’s propping up your body and supporting your body in different positions so that you can maximize your relaxation and meditation. And it is amazing. I don’t even think that explanation does it justice, but if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it. I’ve also been doing Yoga with Adriene and that is free. If you look that up, she has some free classes. So you can try those out. I highly recommend those. Now fair warning, she does have a section where it says yoga for weight loss. So if that might be a triggering for you then perhaps don’t check that out.
Alyssa Scolari [25:57]:
Another person who I am loving is, what’s it called, Underbelly yoga. That’s who she is. To sign up for her classes is $10 a month, but she is awesome. And it’s unlike any kind of yoga I’ve ever done before. She’s super messy and super in her body and just lets her body do whatever feels good, which I feel like a lot of yoga classes don’t do. A lot of yoga classes feel super rushed to me. It’s like, do this, do that, do this, do that. And I’m like, okay, I didn’t even get in one pose before I have to go into another pose. So also highly recommend the Underbelly yoga. I think she’s awesome. But that has been something that has been honestly not negotiable for me, in addition to finding ways to releasing my anger. So boxing. Boxing has been a lifesaver.
Alyssa Scolari [27:00]:
You don’t even have to go to a class, get a bag, get gloves, find a partner, and box. Being able to punch things is so therapeutic. It’s so therapeutic. Now that’s not necessarily dissociation. That’s more channeling your rage, but it’s still very, very helpful and very relevant for what all of us are experiencing right now. The other thing that’s been really helpful is reading. And not reading true crime books. I am really interested in true crime, but I’ve needed to step away from that. I have made the decision that I need to set a boundary with myself. I cannot be inundated with more disaster and horror. So I have been reading a lot. I just read a book called, Where Do You Go, Bernadette? It’s actually, I think now a movie or it’s being made into a movie. It was good.
Alyssa Scolari [27:57]:
It wasn’t the best. It was good. I have another book on the way called The People We Meet on Vacation and I’m really looking forward to that. So finding ways to completely detach, put on a show. I don’t care if it is a show that you have seen 95,000 times, if it makes you laugh and it’s not triggering and it feels safe, put it on. I don’t even really like to be in much silence anymore right now. So I almost always have the TV on with either a Disney movie or Disney music or just a sitcom that I really like. I love The Nanny. I have been watching The Nanny. I love Mike and Molly. I’ve been watching Mike and Molly, both on HBO. Both can be triggering for an eating disorder though. So disclaimer about that. I really don’t recommend, especially Mike and Molly, do not watch that if you have an eating disorder, but those are shows that feel comforting for me.
Alyssa Scolari [28:58]:
And those are shows that make me feel like nothing else is wrong in that moment. And it’s very important for you to find books, games, movies, shows, and people that give you that sense of safety. I know that with David, there’s a time and a place for us to talk about this, but then when we’re not talking about it, we are not talking about it. And we are inundating ourselves with other things. Going outside and taking care of the plants. We are spending more time with our dogs. We are doing a lot of research on how to attract different birds to our yard. We have a bird feeder and we have the most beautiful cardinals that are coming to our bird feeders and just things like that. And it might seem at first, how can I be spending my time on this when I have to be out there protesting?
Alyssa Scolari [29:56]:
You don’t have to be on all the time. Get out there, protest, donate, call people, sign petitions, do whatever you need to do, but do not do it when you’re sacrificing yourself. That is something I need you all to remember. Dissociation can be healthy sometimes, especially right now. I know it feels like the world is falling apart. I’m scared too, but I’m not going anywhere. I love you. And I am encouraging you to take the best care of yourself through all of it. So I hope that this helps. I am wishing you the absolute best week. I feel like that’s unreasonable for what’s what’s happening in the world now. I wish you some peace this week. I will say that, and I of course will be holding you in the light and I will see you next week.
Alyssa Scolari [31:00]:
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter, it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over again. That’s paton.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you. And we appreciate your support.