Trauma Drastically Shapes How We View Ourselves, Others, And The World We Live In.
If you’ve experienced trauma, you feel different than everyone else. You wonder if other people struggle in the same ways you do or if you can ever be “whole” again. Maybe you don’t even know what that looks like. The effects of trauma cause you to feel isolated and broken down. You miss the way life used to be. Indeed, the world looks and feels like a different universe after you’ve experienced trauma. But what is trauma exactly?
Trauma is any experience that has a lasting effect on you. Trauma can be physical, emotional, racial, sexual, and more. When you experience a natural disaster, abusive relationship, or an unexpected loss, your understanding of the world shifts. This change in your view of the world, others, yourself, safety, and sense of control is a traumatic reaction.
Furthermore, sometimes traumatic experiences are not validated or acknowledged by those around you. This is what leads many people who have experienced trauma to feel alone and isolated. As a result, you might question your own judgment and sense of reality. People who have experienced trauma are at a much higher risk for:
- Issues with memory and attention
- Sleep disturbances
- Low self-esteem
- Self-harm or self-sabotage
- Flashbacks and/or unwanted thoughts
- Mood disorders, including depression, anxiety, and anger
- Personality disorders
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Eating disorders
Trauma also has a profound effect on our relationships. This manifests itself as:
- Mistrust in others
- Shame and guilt
- Inappropriate boundaries
- Criticism of others
Triggers Are Unavoidable
When something in the present (consciously or unconsciously) reminds us of a past traumatic experience, we become triggered. When you’re triggered, the sirens in the alarm system of your body start going off. That’s when we become dysregulated. Triggers and dysregulation can cause us to have a wide range of reactions, such as:
- Gut feelings in our stomachs
- Crying spells
- Panic attacks
- Anger outbursts
When the alarm system in your body starts going off and you’re triggered, you try to find ways to cope. Over time, we develop unhealthy or unhelpful patterns in order to cope with, and protect ourselves from, the pain from the trauma.
Those dealing with trauma are doing the best they can to cope with these uncomfortable feelings. Unhealthy coping skills are a means for survival, even if we know it’s not the right thing for us. So what should you do when you realize you’re struggling?
There Is Hope For Change
Trauma treatment includes understanding why your body and mind react in the ways that they do to certain triggers. Treatment also includes learning ways to calm your nervous system and cope with triggers. Your trauma therapist can help you find your strength and resiliency to keep going on. Your behavior and your intentions can start to match up. You can find pieces of yourself again that you thought were lost forever.
If any of this resonates with you, know that you’re not to blame. Your struggles related to trauma aren’t your fault. And you don’t have to figure it out alone anymore. The good news is that in therapy, your reactions won’t be dismissed. Your labeling of “trauma” won’t be questioned. Your trauma therapist is here to help you understand, from an outside perspective, how the trauma has impacted you and the other pieces of your life. From there, your trauma therapist can help you replace unhealthy or unhelpful patterns with coping skills that feel right for you.
Most importantly, your trauma therapist will provide a safe space for you to be your authentic self, without judgment. There is no one-size-fits-all for trauma therapy. Instead, your trauma therapist will provide education and coping skills specifically for you. No matter your life history, we’re here to help guide you through it.