We are Living in a Time of Trauma

Trauma can have a deep and lasting impact not only on the person who directly experiences it, but also for those around them. As a psychotherapist, I have worked with numerous clients processing and releasing trauma, for over seventeen years. The silver lining is, you can heal from trauma but you have to seek treatment for it.

We are Living in Times of Trauma (2)

We are living in traumatic times. No, I did not mean dramatic but traumatic. You may see some people acting out dramatically after experiencing unresolved trauma. In these instances, the body is saying “pay attention to me, something is not in balance.” An important distinction to remember is, drama is not always trauma.

Our current lives have the potential to expose you to trauma on a daily basis. You can witness a trauma simply by being on social media or scrolling through the news on your phone. How many times have you encountered a disturbing image which was difficult to let go of? It is challenging being a sensitive person in today’s world. This is why self-care, boundaries and support are essential.

Trauma symptoms- how many do you currently have?

Physically and Emotionally Reactive (Arousal symptoms)

  • On guard for danger (hyper vigilance)
  • Self-destructive or reckless behaviors
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Exaggerated startle response

Intrusive memories (intrusive symptoms)

  • Flashbacks- you see pictures of the traumatic event replay in your mind throughout the day, long after the trauma experience occurred.
  • Nightmares

Avoidance

  • Make efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoid the places, activities or people that remind you of the event

Changes in your thoughts and mood

  • Feel distrustful of yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future, or feel you will not live long (a foreshortened future)
  • Not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty enjoying life or connecting with positive emotions
  • Feeling disconnected from others/life and numb

You may say, I have a lot of these symptoms but have never had a trauma event directly happen to me. Next, I will discuss three types of trauma. Out of these three types, two trauma reactions arise when you an outside of the direct trauma.

1.) Directly involved in a Trauma-  You are exposed to a catastrophic event. Some types of trauma involve being in combat, childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse, sexual violence as an adult, physical assault, an accident, natural disasters, fires, sex trafficking, robbery, terrorist attacks, a shooting or an illness. 

2.)Vicarious Trauma also known as Compassion Fatigue- This type of trauma is the result of hearing other’s trauma stories and witnessing the pain, fear, and terror of the survivor. This can happen to counselors but also coaches who work with trauma. Self- care, awareness and professional support are critical tools for this line of work.

3.) Witness to Trauma- You saw or were in close proximity to a traumatic event happening to someone else. My husband and I witnessed a dating/domestic violence incident, while on vacation, to which we called 911. After the altercation, the woman followed the man as he walked away. This left me feeling unsettled. As we drove down a couple of streets, we saw a female officer talking to the woman involved. I don’t know if she pressed charges, if the couple will change or what will happen.

This uncertainty stayed with me for days until I processed it and decided to let it go. As a sensitive person, I felt many emotions attached to this event. I felt the danger in my own body, to which the man and woman were numbed to. I also felt their helplessness and stuck feelings. I acknowledged these feelings as not my own and released them. I know we did something in response and that is enough. The rest is now up to them.

When should you seek professional help from a licensed counselor? 

If you feel these symptoms are interfering with your daily life, seek help immediately, why wait? If your symptoms last beyond a month, acute stress disorder can become post traumatic stress disorder. Do not hesitate to reach out today, if you have thoughts of  suicide or of harming someone else. Treatment is available in every community.

You may also find this blog helpful: How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Pick up Lisa’s FREE gift 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!  at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, writing coach and the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals.  She helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. 

 

 

 

 

24 thoughts on “We are Living in a Time of Trauma

  1. I think any time can be traumatic.
    I cannot imagine how people could go through World War II, for example. My mom was 13 when she lost her mother (it’s my grandmother who I never met, obviously) and she had to care about 2 4 year old siblings without any support at all. My dad was sent to Siberia from where only 1 person out of every 1000 returned. I did not hear them ever complain, though.
    I think, it is also a question about our self-placement in the world as we see it. Many people go through natural disasters every year since the beginnings of the human race. We are feeling that we are a part of a big catastrophe is because the news and internet wants to make one feel that way.
    I was thinking last night, that in order to live a normal, balanced and healthy life in North America, the person has to move out to a tiny village or small town with clean air, turn off TV and internet and start working in their garden, maybe have some farm animals, too. There is too much poison in the mass-produced food, no wonder how people become mentally and physically more unstable and sicker all the time when it should be the opposite due to scientific discoveries, but it isn’t.
    Statistics say that by 2050 every fourth Canadian will have dementia and Alzheimer’s, every second some mental disorder, every third person is obese or overweight already now and they predict every second person to have cancer within next decade. How’s that for a nice outlook?
    Therefore, traumatic times have to be lived through, as well.
    I stopped watching any TV last year I just got tired of it. Movies and shows: so plain, so boring, so much bad acting, news; all the same.
    Therefore, I grow my own food, sew my own outfits, create my own art and write my own scientific research articles.
    We must find the peace and balance within us. We all experience traumas, but when the person is mentally depleted, they have no strength to live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trauma has always existed. In the past, there was no definition for traumatic stress or treatment, a lot of people suffered.

      Certain traumas can be avoided, while others are unavoidable. What is traumatic for one person, may not be for another. There are a lot of factors to consider.

      Today, people can heal from trauma but they need to be aware of trauma’s impact and the various methods of healing. To survive trauma and reach out for help is a sign of strength.

      Like

  2. Very insightful Lisa.
    So much information here.
    I have been victim of traumatic experiences and I thank God I got help.
    This was one moment I felt the world against me.
    But I learnt to let go and make space for healing.
    Thank you very much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Leila and I appreciate you sharing your experience. I am happy to hear you had the courage to reach out for help after experiencing trauma.

      I received treatment in my mid twenties, it helped me become a stronger person and a more insightful counselor.

      Like

  3. Witnessing such an altercation as you did while on vacation can be very disturbing, I remember an incident many years ago of a domestic on the street, A pregnant woman pushing a toddler in a pushchair, and her other half were arguing very loudly and he slapped her. I was walking on the other side of the road and whether I did right or wrong I crossed over and asked the young woman was she OK. The man did looked worse for wear from drink, when I got closer,
    The man I thought was going to continue his verbal with me, but he marched off ahead of the woman, down the street. The young woman said thank you she was fine..
    But like you that incident was with me for days,
    And that is just a mild incident compare to what some people endure or witness..
    So I found your advice crucial in helping people see how such energy affects them.

    And how important it is to either seek help or if you are able to let it go..

    Always your posts are full of wisdom Lisa..
    Sending love Your way ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sue for sharing your experience.

      I wonder how many people witness trauma on the street as we have? It is important to keep our own safety in these kind of situations but also follow our heart.

      Reliving trauma drains people of their joy, peace and love because it distracts our focus from the present moment.

      Sending you much love in return. Keep shining your beautiful light, Sue! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I spent most of the direct service portion of my career working with addicted trauma survivors: Viet Nam veterans and their wives, inner-city police officers, people who had been battered (children and adults)… I am grateful that there is so much more awareness of PTSD and that help is available. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Andrea. I am grateful there is more awareness but I also know there is a stigma that exists. The more people talk about mental health issues, the more acceptance it will receive globally.

      Did you hear of the book; Birds of a Feather: A True Story of Hope and the Healing Power of Animals by Lorin Lindner? It is about wounded veterans finding healing through treating wounded birds. I recently finished it and highly recommend it. With your past work experience, you may like it too.

      Like

  5. Most excellent article on trauma Lisa. Your article makes me think of our close friends in Denver, Colorado who’s son was at the STEM School Highlands Ranch where 1 student died and 8 students were injured. My friends son was in a classroom at the school and when the shooting started, they were all told to hide under their desks. She told me this trauma shook her and her family to the core. Trauma is widespread worldwide which your article’s title addresses. Counseling and therapy after trauma/PTSD is VIP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Debra.

      It is a complicated world we live in. When I was in school, we didn’t have to worry about our safety to the extent kids do today. I can empathize but on another level I can’t even imagine… My heart goes out to them.

      There are a lot of qualified counselors who can help, which can start the healing process.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wise words. I appreciate all you do, Lisa. Thank you for sharing your pearls of wisdom, professional insights and compassion. Trauma is not an easy topic to discuss (or walk through) and you support us with such grace. I’m sharing your article so it, too, can help others. Many blessings to you and all your serve.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a powerful article Lisa and so insightful and compassionate. I too work with people who have been traumatized and I am reminded how important it is to nurture myself regularly so I can show up fully with clients but not walk away feeling traumatized myself. I really appreciate your acknowledgement that we are living in a time of trauma and how important for all of us to do the deep healing work to cultivate more peace and compassion in the world. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is important information, and will be helpful to many people.
    I relate to what you wrote about the incident you witnessed on holiday; as a sensitive person myself, I can be affected deeply by events where others mightn’t. It’s crucial that we allow ourselves time and space to process these things, seeking help if needed.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your input and for stopping in to comment. I have struggled with trauma in the past and know what has worked for me. It is my pleasure to share this with others, especially if it helps ease another person’s pain.

      Liked by 1 person

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