Tuesday evening, Jessica Blasi, alcohol and other drug education director at Lafene Health Center, presented “Resiliency in the Face of Trauma” as the second installment of Lafene’s Relevant Resilience workshop series.
Blasi described trauma as an emotional response to a disturbing or distressing event or series of events.
“It’s really part of the human condition,” Blasi said. “I think everybody may have experienced trauma at least once in their lifetime.”
Trauma symptoms may include anxiety, fear, shock, anger and disconnectedness.
“When I think of ‘disconnected,’ it can be a variety of things,” Blasi said. “You may be used to be very active in school activities or very active in your career and all of a sudden you’re not wanting to engage.”
Blasi shared one tool experts use to assess trauma: the Adverse Childhood Experiences quiz.
The ACE quiz measures different types of childhood trauma including physical and verbal abuse. It consists of 10 yes or no questions, such as “Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?”
The purpose of the quiz is to evaluate the relationship between one’s health status and their childhood experiences. The number of questions a person answers “yes” to is their “ACE Score.”
Attendees were given a physical copy of the quiz to take home.
Attendees were then asked to write down three things that they see, smell, hear or feel, and then breathe in and out slowly three times to combat disconnection from the present moment.
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When the presentation ended, Jessica Henault, prevention specialist at the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, said she specifically enjoyed writing down what she was feeling.
“So often, I get busy with my work and the day-to-day tasks, I begin focusing on all that I have to do and not what I’m currently doing,” Henault said. “Sometimes I get overwhelmed and so when I take a moment to step back and really think about my surroundings and what I’m feeling it helps me regroup and reground myself. ‘What am I feeling right now? I’m feeling overwhelmed. Why am I feeling overwhelmed?'”
Blasi then went through six ways to foster a growth mindset in the face of trauma. The first is “awareness,” or looking into ourselves to see if any changes need to be made.
“As college students, are you guys, you know, getting your basic needs met?”Blasi said. “Are you eating the meals that you eat during the day? Do you have your clothing? Do you have your shelter? Do you have your sleep?”
The second topic was “safety” and knowing who you can go to and trust, or even having a place to get away. Marissa Lord, Lafene health educator, said her safe space was her bedroom, and gave the following advice.
“Just do small things like even lighting, lamps and smells and creating an environment that makes me feel like I can genuinely and truly relax,” Lord said.
Other ways included knowing your resources and practicing self-care. Blasi noted she and others at Lafene are more than willing to help people get in contact with resources.
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The fifth way is “connection” — building healing relationships that are going to foster healing and growth.
The last way is “meaning,” which includes being okay with little victories.
“It takes time, healing is a process,” Blasi said. “Knowing that you’re willing to push through and, I think, despite anything that happens to somebody, they’re still willing to wake up the next day, they’re still willing to get out of bed, shower, go do what they need to do for work.”
At the end, Blasi gave the attendees a list of 23 self-affirmations and asked them to choose from one to three, including, “I give myself permission to do what is right for me.”
“I think that it’s important that we leave today finding some positive things about ourselves,” she said. “And sometimes we forget to pull those out.”