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. 

 

 

 

 

How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

 

How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Under stress, the human mind is vulnerable to unresolved trauma. When you or someone you know feels reminded of a traumatic event, you either freeze (become detached), fight (verbally or physically) or take flight (avoid and leave). Often you don’t know what happened inside of your own mind or someone else’s; what you see is a change in behavior which causes your relationship to suffer.

What is a trigger? 

A trigger is something that someone says or does that reminds your subconscious mind of a past trauma. Some people experience flashbacks or a reliving of the event after being triggered. These flashbacks happen a lot for people who have post traumatic stress.

Trauma Reactions

You can experience a trauma reaction from war, sexual assault, death, or any type of abusive relationship in which you felt your life was or is in danger.  Being a witness to other’s experiencing trauma can be traumatizing for some people. Empaths may be more susceptible to trauma reactions because of their sensitivity.

An example

Veterans who hear fireworks may feel as if they are back in the war. In that moment and time, their mind is occupied with a trauma image. As a result, they appear tense, angry, anxious or detached from the present moment.

When you do not heal past trauma it continues to be an energy that gets expressed. It often comes out in one of these three ways in relationships. 

3 Trauma Behaviors that Cause Relationship Difficulty 

Chaos-  Your relationships are unstable and chaotic. This energy is acted out and seen as dramatic arguments in relationships. For others who repress chaos within, the energy causes illness and chronic pain. Since your mind is overstimulated, you find it hard to focus and are easily distracted, similar to people who experience attention deficit disorders. You may turn to substances or have addictions.

Avoidance–  You feel fearful, overwhelmed or frozen. Another reason why you avoid is due to feeling numb. When you cut yourself off from feeling, you disconnect from the painful traumatic emotions but also the happy, pleasurable emotions of life. Since you find no joy in life, you stop maintaining connections. If you are in a relationship, you appear detached and don’t know why you can’t connect with others even when you are together. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

Over-reactive to life – You feel angry. You and others notice you have a short fuse and react impulsively. You feel jumpy and on edge because your brain believes it is under a threat, in psychology this is known as hypervigilance. This super reactivity is good in times of crisis, it is not useful in everyday life. Your outbursts can lead to arrests and legal difficulties. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

To Wrap It All Up

If you are experiencing these trauma behaviors you and your relationships do not need to suffer, seek out a qualified therapist who works with trauma. The good news is, trauma can be healed and you can have successful relationships.

Remember everyone is coming from their own perception and experiences. When someone is overly reactive, avoiding you or stuck in their own drama, it is not personal. It may be a sign of past unresolved trauma they have not healed yet.

Some people stay in these reactions their entire lives while others seek therapy. My advice to you is lovingly detach from them and heal your own wounds. With time and space, you will know how to respond to these types of relationships.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach for empaths and artists. Unresolved trauma is one of the many ways your energy becomes depleted overtime. Lisa specializes in working for professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, refill and rejuvenate their energies, Visit www.lisahutchison.net and get  FREE – 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!