Let’s talk about trauma.
Many people have experienced some form of trauma in their life, minor or major. It can range from losing your childhood pet to grieving for the loss of an immediate family member. It could be having a sibling go through an armed robbery (secondary trauma) to yourself actually experiencing it. It could be child abuse, domestic violence, and so much more.
“Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.”
Trauma will affect us all differently.
You may struggle to find joy in things.
You may always believe the worse is going to happen.
You may feel numb to the outside world.
You may feel fine.
Or a mixture of all of these at some point.
The reality is there is no wrong way to feel trauma.
But it is in the coping mechanisms that we use to protect ourselves that we can harm ourselves.
Many people’s first instinct with trauma is to pretend that it did not happen.
And we all know this is an unhealthy coping mechanism, because that means you are ignoring the issue, which is called denial.
It’s OKAY if you do not want to talk about it, but find an outlet.
The best thing I did for myself when Ryane passed away is journal and start this blog.
Because once I wrote those feelings down, it’s as if they transferred from my heart onto the paper (or computer screen).
Before writing them down, my head would be in a fog. I would be forced to run through the same thoughts over and over again.
But once I wrote them down, I could focus again on school, meetings, work, etc.
And if I ever wanted to go back to that pain, I could. It was not forgotten. Ryane was not forgotten, because it was all on paper.
Now you may not be as comfortable with sharing your feelings as I am.
So journal about it (remember there is no wrong way to journal). Then, burn the pages if you do not want copies of it.
Sometimes these physical representations of letting go can help us mentally perceive our healing process.
Another instinct of trauma is fear.
I remember being afraid that death was around every corner after Ryane passed.
That my family was in danger.
You cannot live in fear.
If fear dictates your life, then you are not really living.
Work through this.
For me, I found my protection through Psalm 91. (Here’s my post regarding this powerful passage: The Power of Psalm 91 )
But this might not work for you.
I challenge you to address the rationality of those fears one by one.
Slowly expose yourself to those fears.
If you are now fearful of walking down the street, walk around the block.
Then, the next day walk two blocks.
Do this until you find the fear has subsided.
Be patience with yourself through this process.
If you are numb or struggling to find the joy in life, this might take time.
I know I believed my life was worse then everyone else’s when Ryane passed.
That no one else’s burdens were as heavy as mine.
And then, I went to Haiti on a mission trip – where the norm was poverty, malnutrition, and death. But these people had the most joy I have ever seen.
That woke me up to reality.
And I’m not saying this cured my numbness right away.
But it did plant the thought in my head that everyone is struggling with something.
And everyone is still going through their day.
Trying to get by just like the next person.
And everyone feels that their burdens are the heaviest.
Sometimes the answer to fixing the numbness is to give it time.
Allow yourself that time to be selfish to heal. Because your mind is trying to protect it.
And at times, it may feel good to sit in that negativity.
But remember to take the time to see joy.
Most importantly with trauma, is to be kind to yourself.
Your body and mind are doing everything they can to protect you.
If you are indulging in these unhealthy coping mechanisms for a long period of time, that is when I would recommend seeing a counselor.
The stigma against therapy needs to end.
For the sake and betterment of the world.
It is okay to ask for help.
It is okay to not be able to handle this burden alone.
So please seek help if you need it.
You can find counselors within your insurance plan and area here: Psychology Today
Just know that healing through trauma takes time.
So give yourself that.
Just for fun, here is a list of healthy coping mechanisms:
- Exercise – This releases dopamine, which is the hormone that is related to happiness.
- Talking about the problem
- Healthy eating
- Seeking profession help
- Relaxation techniques (ex. deep breathing, mediation, or yoga)
- Taking a bath
- Playing with a pet
- Go on a walk or hike outside
- Clean your house
- Read a book
- Watch a movie
- Yoga or Mediation
- Cook a meal
- The list goes on!
What do you like to do to cope with the stresses of life? How do you cope with trauma?
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” ―
“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”
“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.”