Have you ever wondered….is what I’ve been through, trauma?
Can you look back on your life thus far and say I’ve BEEN through some sh*t? Maybe it didn’t hit you until just recently that those things you thought you left in the past, haven’t really gone anywhere. You continue to have memories about what happened, or you find yourself getting triggered in your daily life and old feelings of terror, hopelessness, or shame wash over you. For the longest time you pretended it wasn’t there, or told yourself to just get over it. “other people have had it worse,” you try to remind yourself,but it only helps for so long.
Often times we arn’t even aware of how experiences have shaped us. Especially if they happened in the home as we grew up, because it felt normal. It’s all we ever knew. Unprocessed trauma can rob us of feeling joy and connection in our lives. Those with adverse childhood experiences often have a really difficult time establishing any sense of safety in their lives. You might feel distant and disconnected, or on edge and distrustful when around other people.
The thing is, Life can leave us with a lot of scars.
the cool thing about human beings, is that our brains and body find a way to adapt to whatever life throws at us. It’s what makes us so successful as a species. But a lot of times, those ways we found to cope, while so necessary to get us through those hard times, begin to work against us in the long run. Like maybe you had a really painful breakup, and for your own emotional well being you put up walls to protect yourself from being hurt again. Rejection is REALLY painful after all. But now its been years since you’ve had a meaningful relationship, and you feel lonely and disconnected, and are longing for connection and intimacy again.
So What do I even mean when I say trauma?
Usually what comes to mind for most people when they think of traumatic experiences are things like natural disasters, car accidents, fires, or forms of physical or sexual violence. These are absolutely types of trauma, but trauma comes in many other forms. In many ways, what makes an experience traumatic for someone isn’t necessarily the content of the experience, but how it impacts an individual. Things like bullying, verbal abuse, critical parents or teachers, being humiliated in front of groups of people, or the unexpected death of a loved one can all be forms of trauma.
The lasting effects of trauma can impact people in a variety of ways. Most classically, trauma may present as a form of Post-traumatic-stress disorder or PTSD.
What does PTSD feel like?
Many individuals with Post-traumatic-stress-disorder experience flashbacks or nightmares in which parts of the traumatic experience are replayed over and over. It can often feel as though they are reliving the experience, with its sights, sounds, smells and sensations locked in their mind. Feeling hypervigilent, or being constantly on edge is another common experience.
Other symptoms of PTSD
avoidance of triggering people or places
feeling emotionally numb
feeling distrustful of others
feelings of rage
feelings of terror
intrusive thoughts, images, or memories
Easy to startle
difficulty with planning or decision making
Simple versus Complex PTSD
If your symptoms seem to be related to a single incident, such as a car crash, this is referred to as simple PTSD. Complex PTSD results for those who may have been chronically exposed to traumatizing situations. Growing up in an abusive household, living in a war-torn country, or having a career as a first responder might all be examples of people exposed to repeated and potentially traumatizing situations.
Negative Life experiences do not always show up as a diagnoses of PTSD. Early trauma can manifest later in life as depression, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, or create attachment issues which can develop into personality disorders.
What is trauma therapy like?
We live in a lucky time where there has been a boom in research and developed treatment options for those who carry the burdens of trauma. We’ve come to understand that trauma is much more prevalent than we had known before.
My first priority is to help you feel safe. We will take time to get to know each other and build trust. The reality is, trauma therapy can bring up some painful emotions, and it’s important you trust that I will help you through it (cuz I will). We will work on skills and exercises to better help you regulate your nervous system and gain control of your stress response.
EMDR Therapy: EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy is a powerful form of counseling. EMDR is about more than just coping, it actually helps your brain and body to heal from your past experiences. EMDR mimics the process that occurs in the brain during our REM sleep cycles which is associated with processing information. Think of it like this: often times our brain gets “stuck” during a traumatizing incident the same way a a record or CD may skip. When this happens the sights, sounds, smells or feelings can get triggered over and over and over again. EMDR un-sticks the record, and plays the song through to the end.
How is EMDR/trauma therapy different than talk therapy?
lets say your faucet is running and the sink is overflowing. Therapy that is overly focused on coping skills is like spending all your time and energy using towels to soak up the extra water. Trauma therapy focuses on turning the faucet off.
What this means for you is that EMDR can help you to feel safe, calm and confident again.
I know that thinking about the road ahead can be scary. I want you to know that I will be your partner from start to finish. The work isn’t easy, but its the way out of the dark and into the light. Connect with me below to begin the healing journey.