Trauma

2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, and of love and of sound mind (self-discipline).

Trauma is a natural emotional response to an overwhelming and distressing event/s. It overwhelms an individual's coping skills leaving them feeling helpless, out of control, and feeling alone. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will go on to develop trauma symptoms or be diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Still, those that do may require help to figure out how to cope living in the aftermath of such events.

According to the DSM-5, PTSD symptoms can develop after experiencing or being exposed to violence, like domestic violence, a terrorist act, or war/combat.  Experiencing a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunamis, flooding or hurricanes, etc. Sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, such as rape or childhood abuse.  Being threatened with death, sexual violence, or severe injury can also cause an individual to become overwhelmed. Trauma can present in many other ways, such as: 

Transgenerational Trauma 

Trauma can be inherited through previous generations, which affects multiple generations' health and well-being despite not having experienced the trauma themselves.

Examples include slavery, terrorism.

Chronic Trauma

This type of trauma is repeated and prolonged exposure to overwhelmingly stressful events.

Examples include child abuse, neglect, and abandonment, domestic violence, witnessing domestic violence, and bullying.

Acute Trauma

A single event that is overwhelmingly stressful or threatens your sense of safety or your life.

Examples include a car crash, a violent attack, witnessing a traumatic event, and natural disasters like floods or earthquakes.

Complex Trauma

Sometimes referred to as Complex-PTSD. It is when you are exposed repeatedly to traumatic events.

Examples include child abuse, neglect, and abandonment, terrorism, slavery, or witnessing violence repeatedly.

Bonding Trauma 

Is where a child is bonded to a parent who is violent, abusive (emotional/Psychologically), and they internalize as a learned pattern of behavior for attachment.

Traumatic Grief

It is an abrupt and unexpected loss. The magnitude of the loss leaves a person in survival mode.

Examples include the loss of a child or a loss as a result of a terrorist act.

Vicarious Trauma

A slow accumulative process that occurs over the course of helping those who have suffered tragedy, loss, and pain.

If this is you, you may be experiencing 

  • Insomnia
  • Depression or Sadness
  • Irritability 
  • Uncontrollable Anger
  • Lack of energy/exhaustion
  • Appetite issues, eating too much or too little
  • Lack of Concentration – Brain fog
  • Flashbacks 
  • Avoiding reminders of the trauma - Isolation
  • Feeling alone
  • Physical Illness – Headaches, upset stomach, body aches, and pains.
  • Using substances to help cope, such as Alcohol, drugs, etc

 

The good news is that what you are going through is treatable. Talking to a trained professional who understands the nature of your experience, who can help you develop your awareness surrounding your experience and how it has affected you. They can help you to develop the skills to cope with and transcend your experience allowing you to return to your life on your terms.

Trauma can have you replaying the scenes and images from the events that overwhelmed you; therapy allows you to slow this process down. It helps you process in more manageable bits that avoids the risk of overwhelm. In this overwhelming state, we can no longer process what is happening cognitively; we go into fight or flight mode. Only when we return to a calm state can we truly take in or process our experience. My job as a therapist is to help you understand what is happening, know the signs that indicate overwhelm, and how to return to a more relaxed state. This work takes time a commitment, but it is worth it.

 

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”