Dethawing while Queer: PTSD
2 min read
Working with clients through the particulars and pain of their queer experience, each story seems a variation on a theme. . Families who refuse to make space for everyone (either out of cruelty or fear), partners or strangers who react violently to queer bodies, and organizations that create and enact oppressive and controlling policies that create trauma and suffering for Queer people; who are left to pick up the pieces. Regardless of the source of trauma, the question remains the same: how do we heal and move forward?
Even beyond the common barriers to accessing Queer Affirming mental health, resolving queer-specific trauma requires a committed partnership between you and a therapist that is affirming, knowledgable, and compassionate. Trauma is the result of an experience (or experiences) that shock and overwhelm the mind beyond our ability to rationalize what happened. This creates frozen memories that our minds cannot digest, which can look like: staying the same emotional age as our bodies continue to age, or believing that what happened to us will define us for the rest of our lives. Trauma is also not separate from our physical bodies, but often creates a somatic response. Our shoulders tense when we see the same kind of car that our abusive ex drove, or our heart races in the late afternoon around the same time when a cruel parent would have typically arrived home.
In most pop culture examples of trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you’ll see veterans or first responders who witness violence or suffering as a result of their profession. Queer trauma is inextricably tied to a foundational element of our identities.
Resolving trauma so that it no longer impacts your daily functioning requires us to show your brain different ways to process those single experiences or complex traumatic situations (CPTSD). We need to ‘melt’ the frozen memories and allow our brain to heal itself, which is part of what makes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) such a powerful tool. EMDR works to replicate our brain’s natural process for digesting memories, eye movement and free association. We’re usually asleep for that part, but the EMDR approach to therapy gives us the ability to ‘melt’ trauma while awake. Both affective and non-evasive, EMDR allows Queer people to take back control over their brains, bodies, and memories in a liberating way.
As a therapist trained in both EMDR and Queer affirming therapy, I work to create space for you to access and resolve any Queer-connected trauma. Trauma connected to your Queer identity does not have to define you, nor does the circumstances that helped the trauma form. Together we can push back against the memories that cruel systems and harsh people have left to us, and in doing so strive towards a healthier relationship with ourselves and the world around us.
If you think you could benefit from Queer Affirming EMDR treatment, contact us asap!
About Lilith Beason
Specializing in LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy, Lilith enjoys helping people explore, understand, and develop their gender and sexual identities in a safe, welcoming environment. They also work with trauma, anxiety, depression, anger, men’s issues, failure to launch / young adults, identity development, and religious abuse. Lilith has a talent for navigating intersectional issues with individuals and couples who need an empathic and supportive perspective.View Profile