Tag Archives: Disorders

Trauma: what is it?

Trauma according to the dictionary is

  1. an emotional wound or shock often having long-lasting effects.  This is also called psychological or emotional trauma.
  2. any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accident or fracture etc.  Typically an injury.

Trauma,  according to Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW,   is an event that is life threatening or psychologically devastating to the point where your capacities to cope are overwhelmed.  Following trauma you may relive the traumatic event,  fragmented memories related to the trauma arise unexpectedly,  emotional,  and behavioral dysregulation occurs.

Trauma causes your body to fill with adrenaline,  preparing it for fight or flight.  If neither are possible,  you will freeze.  In any case,  the memory and the effects of the trauma are stored in your body.  This is important to know in order to resolve the issue.

Trauma has three main characteristics:

  1. it comes with an intense negative emotion.
  2. you feel alone.
  3. you feel trapped.

Trauma causes your mind and body to be in shock. You have to process what happened,  work your way through your emotions,  accept the consequences and move on.

The length of time needed to process the event depends on the individual – we are all unique and different.  Thus there is no set time.  Just like there is no rule for what constitutes an event to be traumatic or not.  It is not the event,  but how you experience it that decides if it is a trauma.  Meaning it is subjective.

Therefore we can never judge someone else’s trauma and tell them to “get over it”.

With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),  you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.  source

It is also possible to sustain trauma while not even knowing it.  (I know,  totally unfair!)  This is known as subtle trauma.  An example is childhood trauma,  especially under the age of 3.  When the events are severely traumatic,  your emotions and memories go ‘underground’,  they disconnect.  PTSD is born.

When this occurs you fall into a vicious cycle.  PTSD produces anxiety.  Trying to manage your anxiety generates more anxiety which increases the need to try to manage it and so on.  Nasty business!

How do I know?
Unfortunately,  I am dealing with a lot of childhood and adolescent trauma.  Like abandonment & neglect,  emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse.  I think that covers it.  Hence,  I suffer from PTSD (ew).  Right, change that to:  I am overcoming PTSD.  (Phew, that sounds better!) 

I am not telling you so you feel very sorry for me.  Don’t.  (Well… a little is ok.  Maybe.)  Life is life and none of us come through it unscathed.  Plenty of peeps have suffered more,  plenty have suffered less.  Let’s be clear that this is absolute NOT the issue here.

If you have followed my blog even for a bit,  you know I am interested in how to live my life to the fullest and encouraging others to do so as well.  Working my way through my trauma’s will significantly improve my life and most likely my bipolar.  I decided to share it with you so you know you are NOT alone and there is a way out.  In that the traumatic event will sit in a place in your life where it will not disturb your daily life anymore.

Let’s go for it,  shall we?

Photo credit 1
Photo credit 2

For further reading:

What is Trauma? by  Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Symptoms,  Treatment and Self-help


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