When you’re processing a trauma, and are in a state of shock, you experience emotions you’ve never felt before. Also, you sometimes act in ways that you almost can’t believe. You are in a scary place where you hardly know yourself.
The following information might help you see and grasp what is actually quite normal when you’re in a state of crisis.
Important facts to be aware of include:
- To be violated or betrayed by a person you trust and depend on has much more serious consequences than being harmed by a stranger, or experiencing an impersonal trauma like an earthquake.
- Memories of traumatic events are like shards of shattered glass. Our memories of the trauma itself come in pieces, turn up in unexpected places, and pierce and cut us at unexpected times. Our reactions to these triggers are generally intense and overwhelming. In this way, traumatic memories are very different from normal memory recall.
- Trauma leaves its footprints on the body and the mind. Understanding how trauma affects the body can help us understand what is going on when we experience distressing, and frightening, symptoms. It can also stop us blaming ourselves for these symptoms.
- Trauma responses include both arousal and shutting down, and we tend to go back and forwards between these two responses.
- When it becomes too painful or threatening for us to stay present, our subconscious mind finds a way for us to leave, psychologically. One way of achieving this is through dissociation, where we temporarily split off some part of ourselves. Another common strategies is numbing – where we don’t have to feel anything at all.
- When the emotional brain is on overdrive, it overpowers the brain’s higher cortical centers. This makes it almost impossible to focus, concentrate, think clearly, recall information, and remember information.
- It’s crucial that we learn how to contain intense, negative and overwhelming feelings. These can feel too powerful for us to manage, so we feel helpless and out of control.
- The majority of trauma reactions are caused by excessive levels of cortisol being released into the body and brain.
- It takes a long time for the body to recover after it’s been flooded with stress hormones. Often, the most effective strategy is to create a safe place for yourself, and wait for the stress hormones to subside.
- Unprocessed trauma does not go away. Thus, we need to confront and integrate what’s happened in order to heal, and to pick up life again. Doing this will make you more resilient as well.
- The only way to effectively heal from trauma is to face, and open up to the anguish and terror. But the suffering has a purpose; it won’t last forever, and will set you free.
- Traumatic experiences are so intense that they often affect your whole worldview. They end up distorting your entire outlook and vision. However, support mitigates the effect of trauma. It’s easier to lie through if you don’t feel so alone