So it’s June 15th, 2016,a warm summer day.
I just graduated high school,
and I’m riding the euphoria of all that comes along
with going away to college.
Now, most stories start off with:”Today was not a normal day.”
But not mine.
Today was anything from normal,from sunup to sundown.
I cancel plans with my friends.
I decide to not go to my favorite museum with my family.
And I wash my car by hand.
All of these actions are really out of the norm for me.
For whatever reason, I was home all day.
And just after drying up my car,
I was in my room, not really doing much,
and my little sister Allison comes in.
She asks,”Can we go pick up Maddiefrom Jason’s house?”
I say yes without giving ita second thought,
and within a couple minutes we’re driving.
A little backstory on Maddie and Jason.
Jason is a junior, goes to my high school,
and he’s dating Maddie –
a freshman who’s friends with my sister.
Now my sister likes to throw parties like any other teenager does.
So I’ve gotten to know Jason a little bit.
And what I’ve learned from watching him
is that he is the center of his social group.
He is the one that everyone looks to,
to see what they should be doing,
and if they like it or not.
Now, I’ve also noticed
that he can get angry sometimes and has a hot temper.
When my sister first asked,
if we could go pick up Maddie,
I said yes pretty quickly.
And this was for a couple of reasons.
首先 于我 从对方男友家中接朋友
The first was that it’s kind of weird
for me to pick up a friendfrom a boyfriend’s house.
Usually, I just chauffeur for my sisterfrom house to house.
第二 在学校里 我已经听说
The second was that I had heard in school
about Maddie and Jason havingsome relationship problems,
and that kind of set an alarm bell off.
The third was that my sister wears her arm on her sleeve,
so it’s really easy to tell that she was anxious
about the situation also.
So we arrive at Jason’s house,
and I park my black sedan
on the right side of the street,
opposite from his house.
我打开车门 下车 走进弗吉尼亚
I open the car door and I step out
into the warm, cloudy afternoon Virginia air.
And I notice that Maddie’ssitting on the porch,
which is out of place.
Normally, my sister’s friends just wait inside
for a text or knock at the door.
But Maddie walks across the yard,
I open the car door behind mine, she gets in,
and I shut it behind her.
Now, at this point, I have to admit
that I’m really relievedthat Jason is nowhere to be seen
and that there had beenno incident or altercation.
So I head back in the car,
buckle my seat belt, close the door
and start a three-point turn to head home.
The first turn was the leftinto Jason’s driveway.
I put the car in reverse to back out,
and I look up at the house and noticed a
figure in the doorway that wasn’t there before.
I recognized him instantly from his red,
white and blue American flag tank top.
It’s Jason, and he’s holding a broom
in his hand, it looks like,
but as I take a closer look,
my heart begins to thump inside my chest
as I recognize the metaland wood as a shotgun.
I begin to think aboutwhat’s about to happen.
My first thought is that Jasonis just trying to show
that he’s more manly than I am.
I can’t hurt him.
And the second, but more scary,
is that he’s going to come out
and show his anger through the firearm.
And that’s what I act on.
I put the car in reverse and I back out of the driveway.
I stop, and I’m about to head home,
and I put the gear shifter in drive, and then park.
咔 咔 咔 来回切换
Chunk, chunk, chunk.
Drive for getting away safely,
and park for getting out and trying to talk some sense into Jason.
I choose to drive, slowly lift my foot off the brake
and feel the carstart to push into my back.
I take one last look
at the house to make sure everything’s still okay,
and I don’t see Jason anymore.
But I see red, white and blueat about waist level
and notice that Jason’sbent over like this.
As I scan my eyes down, pa
I see what looks like a pink mist
covering the doorthat Jason was standing behind.
I’m trying to wrap my brainabout what just happened,
and I force myselfto come to the conclusion
that what I was seeingwas Jason’s brain matter
splattered on the doorand the skylight above.
I hear a faint”Joey,
something just happened,”from the backseat,
and I realized that Iknow something the girls don’t:
Jason just shot himself.
My first thought is to get the girls away.
I put the car in driveand begin to speed away
across one intersectionand maybe even two.
I hear rustling fromthe backseat and next to me,
the girls are starting to panic.
There’s rustling in seats,slamming on windows,
so I lock the car to keep them in.
I grab the phone and dial 911.
The operator picks upand I have to utter the words:
“I’ve just witnessed a suicide,”
and chaos immediately eruptsinside the sedan.
As I’m trying to relaythe information to the operator,
像地址 我的名字 出于某种理由还有我的生日
like the address, my name,and for some reason my birthday,
I get a faint look from my sister
with tears in her eyes
and asks if Jason is going to be okay.
In order to keep myself togetherI have to look away.
I pull the car over and get out
because I cannot keep myself togetherinside with those two girls.
I know that I have to stay
at least calm and collected
to keep them thereand away from that door.
I finish relaying the informationto the operator, and they say,
“Hang on, the police will be there soon.”
And then click.
The phone line goes dead.And the operator hung up.
And I’m all alone.
I stand outside in the familiarneighborhood of Vista Woods,
knowing that I am the only one that knows what just happened.
The whole world is oblivious.
A car drives behind me.
Someone is mowing their lawnoff to my right,
and I hear little kids playing to my left.
Everything is normal as far as the rest of the world is concerned.
But I am stuck in a different universe than the rest of the world.
In a movie when somethinglike this happens,
the screen goes darkand ominous music comes from underneath.
But it’s not like that.
I was scared, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
Now, I tell you that story
because today I want to tell you
what it means to experience trauma.
因此 就像所有父母所知 教养没有“圣经”
So, there’s no real book on parenting,as all parents know.
There’s no textbook you can turn to,
to know what to do next.
And even if there wasa textbook on parenting,
I seriously doubt
that any of the chapter titles would have been
“What to do when your childwitnesses a shotgun suicide?”
So my parents did the best thingthey could think of
and took my sister and me
to a talk therapist in town
the very next day.
And we set up more sessionsfor that summer,
and throughout that summer
we told her what happened and our feelings and stuff like that.
And it definitely helped,
but it didn’t help where I needed it,
which was in my psyche -if that makes any sense.
我真的能从人们的思想 行为 言语
I’m really into knowing where people are coming from,
in their thoughts, actions, and words.
And I subject myself to the same analysis.
And over the summer,I was doing these intrusive thoughts,
and what I was coming up with was: I was milking it.
I was fine and didn’t needany extra attention.
And I think a lot of peoplego through that.
I thought to myself:
“This event is in the past Joey;
just move on and get over it.”
So I start school hereat Behrend, in the fall,
and on the surface everything’s great.
But there were these little thingsthat were happening
that showed methat everything was not great.
For instance, I would be
in my dorm room or in a classroom,
I would hear kids down the hall laughing,
and instantly, I would thinkthat they were crying.
It’s really amazing
how much hysterical laughter and hysterical crying sound the same.
I would blank outinto this thousand-yard stare,
replaying the event in my head,
and would be scared over something moving or someone touching my shoulder.
最终 夜里睡觉时 我会不自觉地哭
And finally, I would cry myself to sleep at night,
not a sad or angry cry,
只是 盯着墙 眼泪会从脸上滑落
just there, staring at the wall with tears rolling down my face.
So I’m a bit of a nerd,
and I started researchingwhat was happening to me.
And I learned that your brain talks
through the exchanging of charged particles
through neural pathways.
And when these pathways get used more,
it’s easier for your brain to follow.
Now, most people have heardof”fight or flight,”
and what this is,
it’s an instinct that happens
when your body feels in danger.
Your amygdala, which is the oldest part
of your brain, takes control
and tells the rest of your brain what to do, and your body.
Now, if there’s a tiger in front of you,
you’re really not going to benefitthat much from thinking:
“What am I going to do next? Oh,
what’s the tiger going to do next?”
It’s a lot more beneficialfor your longevity
if you fight the tigeror run away really fast.
And that’s what the amygdala triggers.
Now, my brain thought
that the right way to act
in a sad or scary situation
was to do what my amygdalasaid on June 15th –
which makes sense; it was just trying to protect me.
But what it was actually resulting in
was a torrent of emotionsthat I had never felt before.
当时 虽然发生了这一切 我还是对自己说：
Now, despite all this, I was just telling myself: “Joey,
you’re just a freshman.
You’re just anxious about this semester starting to ramp up,
and you’re homesick.”
You know that part
in a movie where things start to really get bad,
this is that part.
And the part where they reallystarted to not get okay were my dreams.
I was struggling to sleepwithout nightmares
and eventually started sleepwalking.
And one night, I started sleepwalking,
left my dorm room, left my building,
and ended up eight miles away from campus,
in rainbow flip-flops.
我最终被警察找到 没有方向感 很混乱
I was eventually found by the police,disoriented and confused.
And their first thought was:
“Dang, this college freshman definitely can not handle his booze.”
因此 他们带我去医院 给我父母打电话
So they took me to the hospitaland called my parents,
and eventually, everyone realizedthat I wasn’t drunk or on drugs,
but I was having a PTSD breakdown.
Now, this sleepwalking incidentwas a wake-up call
for me and my parents that I needed help,
and that I wasn’t okay.
And since my dad is a retired marine,
we’re well connected with the military community.
And we’re pointed in the direction of EMDR,
which stands for eye movementdesensitization and reprocessing.
And it’s a way to helpour brains deal with trauma.
So I took a three-week leave
of absence from school to go home to Virginia
and start EMDR therapy.
The first sessionwas about an hour and a half,
and the therapist went overall the science of everything,
which again I was into.
She told me that EMDR is based
on the research of REM sleep,
which is rapid eye movement sleep.
And what happens during REM sleep,or what’s theorized at least,
is your eyes are movingback and forth rapidly and randomly,
and you’re filing awayall the information from the day.
So if you had a stressful day at work,
your dreams might have some relation to that.
Now REM sleep is almost likethe visualization of what’s happening,
and those come out as dreams.
What was happening when I was dreaming
was I was seeing June 15thin a different light.
Your brain during REM sleep
is moving everythingfrom your short-term to your long-term.
And it kind of reads what it is,
labels it and then sends it away for filing.
It isn’t always come acrossexactly in your dreams.
What was happening in my dreams
was I was replaying the event
over and over and over again
because my brain couldn’t file it.
It just kept trying to refile and refile.
But it just wasn’t able to.
Now, the way a typicalEMDR session would go
is the therapist would hold their fingers
about six to 12 inches away from my face
and swipe from my left peripheral to my right peripheral, back and forth.
And they call this bilateral stimulation
because it stimulatesboth hemispheres of your brain.
She would tell me to put myselfback into June 15th,
back into the sedan,
and let her know what I was feeling and what was happening.
And when I came to a partwhere I was upset
or didn’t really understandwhat was happening or angry,
she would input a sentence or two,
and then we would swipe on that.
And now I kind of cementthat thinking into my head.
Now, there were two really big problems
that I was having with June 15th.
The first was that I felt responsible for what the girls had seen.
If you remember I turned left,
but there’s a way to get home straight.
And I thought that because I turned left
that that was the reasonthe girls saw what happened,
that I was the reason they saw it.
If I would have gone straight,they would be fine.
The second was that I felt like I could have helped Jason.
I don’t know what I could have done,
but I just wish I would have done something better for him.
What EMDR helped me do was realize
that I could have done nothing better,
and that situation went the wayit was going to happen.
With traditional talk therapy,
你可以说：“噢 我很好 那不是我的错 我很好”
you can say:”Oh, I’m fine;it wasn’t my fault; I’m okay.”
But you can lie;
you can lie to the therapist, and you can lie to yourself.
What EMDR does is it really forces you to believe
what you’re saying and thinking.
Now, one way to show
this is when I’ve been researching EMDR,
I found that people would start crying out of nowhere, during the swiping.
我想 不不不 我不会哭的
And I thought,”No, no, no, that doesn’t happen to me.”
It happens to me. (Laughter)
We would be sitting thereswiping back and forth,
and I would just start crying uncontrollably.
It was like someone had taken a champagne bottle
and pop the cork, and all of that was coming out was everything
that I had bottled away on June 15th.
And now it was finally escaping.
Luckily I was only need,
luckily, I only needed two EMDR sessions.
Part of this is due to the fact
of the neural pathways that I mentioned earlier,
and how when one gets used more, it gets easier to follow.
Now, in my brain,
the trauma only had time to
set up a walking path through the woods
that my brain could follow.
But in other trauma victims,
like someone who’s been to war
or someone who’s in an abusive relationship,
they might have a highwaythat’s been formed.
For me, all we had to do
is take a rake and brush the leaves back over,
and my brain would forget it was there.
But for someone else,
you may need to take a jackhammer to it
and plant trees and wait for them to grow,
and that takes time.
Now a little statistic on EMDR to show
that I’m not just, like, a poster child.
After, on average of six 50-minute sessions,
100% of single trauma victims
and 77% of multi-trauma victims
had zero signs of PTSD after.
Now, EMDR is just one
of the ways that we’re learning about trauma
and the way our brains process it.
And who knows what scienceis going to bring us
in 5, 10 or 20 years.
What I do know is that
before this event happened to me,
I thought that trauma was just
something you need to get over,
just accept it and move on.
But what I realize now
is that we have to help ourselves
if we truly want to get past something.
For months, I was wanting to knowwhy this happened.
Why did Jason take his life?
Why those two girls?
And what I’ve learnedis that some events in life
just feel like a crappy movie,
one where the last scene endswith more questions than answers.
And do we want those answers?
But we can find peace
even though we knowwe will never get those answers.
I hope that you think about trauma differently
than you did before
and have a better understanding about how your brain processes the world around you.
And just remember that sometimesit needs a little help.