Dealing With Your Trauma
Have you ever experienced something in your earlier years that still haunts you today? Well, that is called a traumatic event. As a society, we are taught to “get over it,” and move on. The reality is not as simple. Some of us think that just because we pushed that moment far within our minds that it doesn’t impact our everyday experiences. The brain is a powerful mechanism, and it never forgets. So, what is trauma?
Trauma is a person’s emotional response to a distressing experience. Few people can go through life without encountering some kind of trauma.
Trauma can include things like a death in the family, an accident, incarceration, medical issues, divorce, moving/immigration, abuse and many more things. Some of the impacts of trauma include: short-term fear, anxiety, shock, and anger/aggression. You may also experience sadness, changes in mood, feelings of loneliness, which may or may not impact the relationships in your life. Now this does not mean that everything that was distressing in your life is a traumatic experience.
Even if you believe that trauma doesn’t impact you, have you ever been in a situation where you think “oh this happened to me before” so you responded in a way based on your previous experience. This is called a trigger. Triggers can come about consciously and unconsciously. Triggers can include a smell, a noise, certain words, a tone in a person’s voice that causes your mood to shift.
Here are signs to look out for: incessant crying when triggered, significant fears that cause you pause, PTSD related symptoms (unable to move, hypervigilance, significant anxiety about going to a particular setting, or being around certain people/person, flashbacks, cold chills, etc.).
Trauma can lead to health concerns. According to the CDC, people who have experienced more than two or three traumatic experiences (adverse childhood experiences) can lead to health problems. Studies show that people of color, along with people who live in poverty will most likely experience more than two or three traumatic events in their lives. This can cause health issues such as obesity, alcohol or drug abuse, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.
Here are a few practical recommendations to start the healing process:
- See a mental health professional: Depending on the trauma, therapy goes beyond the advice that friends and family give.
- Engage in self-care that supports your mind, body and spirit: Mindfulness, physical activity, meditation, yoga, long walks, etc.
- Keep up with your medical doctor: It’s important that you are informed about your family history as well as manage your health and medical needs.
These are just a few ways to start the healing process. Remember, you can’t address a problem without first talking about it. Today is the day that you face your trauma.