“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.” ~Kimberly Jones-Pothier
About PTSD and Traumas…
Trauma and PTSD can sound like… ”I’m not good enough,” “Nobody likes me,” “I have to be perfect,” “I’m powerless,” “I can’t do anything right!” We have countless experiences and memories that would prove differently. However, our subconscious can’t kick ‘em.
Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be caused by a single incident, like an assault, betrayal, or accident, or several events that build up over time, such as emotional or physical abuse, bullying, and bad relationships. Smaller events that we often underestimate can have big impacts, too.
You’d be surprised at what constitutes trauma – we ALL have experienced it in one form or another.
Trauma is more accurately defined as not being about an event or experience itself, but instead by the body’s chemical reaction to an event or experience. The brain doesn’t know the difference between a big trauma or a little trauma – and it also can’t tell the difference between then and now when a similar situation feels like it arises. It’s also important to note that two people can experience the same event and one can have the chemical response while the other does not. Having this physical chemical response to an event is what constitutes having a trauma.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is recognized by the DSM-5 and is defined as a psychiatric condition that arises after exposure to a traumatic event, such as natural disasters, war, accidents, or personal assaults. PTSD symptoms include intrusive thoughts, memories, nightmares, flashbacks, dibilitating anxiety, and avoidance of anything that might cause a recollection of the traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD may also suffer from emotional numbness and an increased state of arousal, which can manifest as difficulty sleeping, irritability, or hypervigilance.
Complex trauma refers to exposure to multiple traumatic events over time, such as ongoing abuse, neglect, or prolonged exposure to situations where there is a lack of safety and security. It is the repetitive and collective nature of these occurrences that create “complex” trauma. This often occurs during critical periods of development in childhood, which can disrupt an individual’s identity, sense of self-worth, and ability to regulate their emotions – and also can create higher levels of dissociation. This may lead to long-term difficulties such as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). The impact of complex trauma is profound and can affect nearly every aspect of an individual’s life, including emotional well-being, relationships, physical health, and the ability to function in everyday activities.
What do trauma symptoms feel like?
Trauma symptoms can be psychological or emotional: self-doubt, hypervigilance, irritability, self-hatred, flashbacks, lack of focus, panic attacks, upset stomach, chest tightening, nightmares, avoidance, etc. For example, you can feel low self-esteem that may root back to a small trauma of being picked last for group projects in school. You can be overly alert – even paranoid – constantly looking over your shoulder after being the victim or witness of an attack. You can also be ultra-perfectionistic due to having attended a high-pressure school, being on a demanding sports team, or being criticized regularly at a competitive job. Trauma can often manifest in destructive behaviors such as self-harm, codependency, and many others.
You try to put the experienced trauma out of your mind, but there are constant reminders…
Perhaps the trigger is hearing a voice or a name. That panic feeling surges through you. Your body interprets danger, and your shields go up – whether you need them to or not.
Sometimes, you keep seeing the events on repeat in your head like a broken record. It may be hard to get through the day, make decisions, or even complete simple tasks. You may be flooded by feelings of confusion, anger, shame, or disbelief. You may even view the world differently and doubt who you can trust.
On the other hand, many traumas aren’t even recognized. We frequently find that the first part of therapy is unraveling and discovering the hidden hurts – these memories were not understood to be actual traumatic events – lessening their perceived validity.
The process of healing from trauma and PTSD is not linear.
“Time heals all.” We wish this were true, but, often, it just isn’t. Sometimes we think we’ve moved past these experiences, but our alarm systems keep going off for no apparent reason. Your stress response system is a natural human method for protection in actual situations that require them – and this is a good thing that protects you when needed.
However, with traumatic events, this system continues to remain on high alert long after the triggering event. If there is disturbance to your everyday life, we find it important to locate and neutralize those stressors and regulate your system again in order to improve your overall daily performance. Understanding and addressing trauma, complex trauma, and PTSD requires a comprehensive, empathetic approach to treatment.
In trauma therapy, you get to take control of your healing…
… and define what your life looks like moving forward.
We will incorporate a variety of modalities to safely and efficiently provide healing and relief. All of our therapists are trained in (or in the process of being trained in) EMDR therapy, which is proven to naturally release uncomfortable memories and negative beliefs to allow your brain to reprocess in a more objective light. Many of our therapists also actively engage in advanced EMDR trainings, including the process of becoming EMDR certified and/or EMDR consultants. EMDR is an evidence based approach that is highly recommended for treating trauma and PTSD.
Through treatment, we’ll enable you to look at situations and relationships with a different lens. You’ll reclaim your power so you can feel at ease again. As we work together, you’ll learn self-compassion and how to reshape the negative self-beliefs that have held you in their grip. We’ll get your stress responses under control. You’ll be amazed how liberating the trauma therapy process can be!
Get started with a trauma-centered therapy practice to move beyond the stressors that affect your present day functions!
Helping to heal from trauma is what we specialize in. We’ll listen and work hard to understand you. We’re not afraid to hear the difficult truths about what you’ve experienced.
We know it takes a lot of courage to ask for help. But you are here, you are capable, and we’ve got you.
You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s time to heal the core. Call today to book a complimentary conversation with a trauma-informed therapist: (480) 485-8824.