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 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.
- 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.