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I've Tried Everything & I'm Still Numb!" / SNB140

Updated: Mar 24, 2022


  • In this episode, I discuss…

    • Having tried everything, shutdown and numbness and how safety can actually lead to defensive feelings.

  • My hope is that…

    • You gain some clarity into what is keeping you stuck as well as some new ideas for getting a bit more unstuck starting today.

  • My name is Justin Sunseri.

  • I’m a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist that thinks the world needs a new understanding of mental health.

  • Welcome to Stuck Not Broken.


This podcast is not therapy, nor intended to be a replacement for therapy.

From ? - Stucknaut Andy Marsh!

Hello! So I’ve been working with a trauma specialist therapist once a week and we’ve been doing EMDR. I’m on Zoloft which I started back in February which has been the only thing to help me basically be able to function again. I am diagnosed with CPTSD from childhood misattunement basically. I have really no connection with feelings. I don’t have DID but I just don’t feel connected anymore. Whenever I feel into my body I never feel safety. I know you have a safety anchors course and at this point I am skeptical about anything being able to help me. I assume I’m stuck at the way bottom of the Polyvagal ladder and just feel like I haven’t budged up at all. I know everyone probably thinks they are the worst case scenario- but I swear I am. I’ve literally tried everything. When I try to feel safety in my body all I can feel is anxiousness rolling around my tummy. Every time. I can’t seem to get past it. Hoping you maybe have experienced this before…


  • Might not be an issue of technique or ideas

    • But an issue of implementation

    • Meditating can look different

  • Find a way that works for you, no matter what the technique is

    • A way that feels safe enough

Even the same therapy modality will be different person to person!

  • How I do somatic work may be different

  • EMDR may be different

  • Fidelity to the modality is not guaranteed

    • I’ve seen this in tx teams, trust me!

  • What do you need in the moment for your state?

    • EMDR might not be it

    • CBT might not be it

    • Try things based on your state

    • Therapist needs to be able to read your state and adapt


  • These go together

  • Dorsal response, conservation, numbness, dissociation even

    • Body is often numb, empty, hopeless (“nothing will help!”)

  • Yes, this is the bottom of the ladder

    • Last option for a mammal to survive

    • Can’t run, can’t fight, then shut down

  • Shutdown might be the most difficult to climb out of

    • Defeated person, lack of motivation

    • Have to reconnect with the world, with the self

    • Learn everything all over again in a sense

    • Get used to sympathetic energy, connection, safety

  • C-PTSD makes this even more difficult

    • Lack of a history of these things

    • Lack of healthy play, attachment, co-regulation

    • Connecting with others is a major challenge and also with the self

    • Development of a true self may not have happened, or truer self

      • We learn who we are in the context of others, building off of a safe attachment and co-regulation


  • Might seem odd

    • But the ans is neurocepting safety and attempting to self-regulate

      • Maybe safe environment or safe person

    • Mindfulness can allow defensive energy to surface as well

      • Mindfulness is like giving permission to self-regulate, aligning consciousness to body

  • Like meditating successfully, then feeling anxiety or anger

  • Even therapy can too

  • Need to build the window of tolerance

    • Vagal brake

  • Feel safety in tolerable doses

  • Build safety little by little

    • Like lifting weights


Building Safety Anchors -

Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats -

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1 (800) 273-8255

National Domestic Violence Hotline -1 (800) 799-7233

LGBT Trevor Project Lifeline - 1 (866) 488-7386

National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1 (800) 656-4673

Crisis Text Line - Text “HOME” to 741741

Call 911 for emergency

This and other content produced by Justin Sunseri (“JustinLMFT”) (i.e; podcast, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) is not therapy, not intended to be therapy or be a replacement for therapy. Nothing in this creates or indicates a therapeutic relationship. Please consult with your therapist or seek for one in your area if you are experiencing mental health sx. Nothing should be construed to be specific life advice; it is for educational and entertainment purposes only.


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