- WRITTEN BY: MARQUIA CALDWELL, LPC
- “Trauma is much more than a story about the past…trauma is re-experienced in the present, not as a story, but as profoundly disturbing physical sensations and emotions that may be associated with memories of past trauma”
-Bessel van der Kolk, a trauma expert
When mental health professionals talk about trauma and mental health, we are talking about an emotional or psychological injury. Trauma is a response to an experience that overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope, often as a result of dangerous situations or life threatening events. This can be a single event or multiple events. These experiences cause a negative impact on the mind and heart. There are various forms of trauma such as, but can include the following:
- Abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional),
- Life-threatening accidents or illnesses,
- Violence in school or the community,
- Domestic violence (witnessing or experiencing),
- National disasters,
- Acts of terror,
- Public health crises such as COVID-19,
- Loss of a loved one, especially when sudden or violent in nature,
- Refugee or war experiences,
- and Neglect.
- Poor concentration,
- Intrusive memories and thoughts,
- Mood changes,
- Detachment from reality,
- Nightmares and/or flashbacks,
- Panic attacks,
- Loss of hope,
- Lack of vision for future,
- Inability to regulate emotions or lack of emotional response,
- Hypervigilance, and more.
Trauma writes itself on the mind and body of survivors. This means our actions, reactions, and behaviors are a result of our painful experiences. Each traumatic experience is unique and can manifest in lots ways such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Chronic Pain, Increased chances of experiencing life-threatening conditions, Relationship and Social Issues.
“Our traumas do NOT define us; they are just a PART of who we are.”
Recovery and Support
Recovery with trauma is a journey. Think of having a deep cut on your arm. There are options presented to us to heal this cut. You can leave it alone and let it heal on its own, clean it and cover it, or go to a professional to close it up. When it comes to emotional wounds, most cover it up and hope for the best. However, sometimes when we think things are healed, we realize it didn’t quite heal right.
- Re-opening wounds can be part of the process of healing, and with counseling, this is oftentimes the case. There are various forms of counseling and psychotherapy to help survivors cope with their traumatic experiences. Along with therapy, doing enjoyable activities/ hobbies and surrounding oneself with a positive support system is incredibly helpful in coping with trauma as well.
- If you’re not sure where to start, but know you have experienced trauma, don’t wait for things to get harder or worse. Remember, getting help for trauma doesn’t have an expiration date. Even if traumatic things happened “a long time ago,” your heart can still find healing today.