“You can be healing and feel broken at the same time. Healing isn’t a destination we reach where we’re perfect and at peace all the time. Healing is a journey which involves accepting and embracing ourselves as we break, as we heal, and as we reconstruct.” Najwa Zebian
1. Everyone’s trauma is different; everyone’s reaction to trauma is unique. This means there is no “one size fits all” recovery treatment plan.
2. The effects of trauma are profound. They ripple into the future in unexpected and unpredictable ways. This makes it hard to address, work on, and heal from our trauma.
3. Understanding your own reactions to trauma is a long, pain-staking process. But they reveal themselves, and their patterns, over time; and as we gain more insight and understanding, we can try more strategies to help us heal. This is going to take patience, persistence, self-compassion and, also, a degree of trial-and-error (because everyone’s reactions are different and unique).
4. We need to be able to tell our story to someone who’s empathic, and who gets ‘what we’ve been through’. Someone who gets the unfairness of it all. Someone who gets the horror of it all. Someone who gets how completing devastating, disorienting, and distressing it all is. Who understands how it destroys our sense of safety, destroys our self-esteem, and turns our whole world upside-down.
5. Although this is essential it is not enough. It is not sufficient to heal PTSD. This is because the memory of the trauma is recorded and stored in our body and brain. This is innate, and has clear survival value. We remember what has happened to protect ourselves from harm, should a similar experience ever happen again. This is why we’re triggered, and are hypervigilant.
6. We also need to learn how to deal with our triggers. Again, this takes patience, understanding, time and work.
7. However, there are certain commonalities in how we all respond when our body’s triggered, and we feel that we’re in danger. These include: a racing heart; trembling and shaking; feeling very hot and then very cold; feeling terrified, desperate and alone; wanting to hit out, or to escape and quickly flee; experiencing intense and powerful surges of emotions (like jealousy and rage).
8. These are usually uncomfortable, and also terrifying. Hence, we want to stop the feelings, and to run away from them. Though it’s understandable, this is the wrong thing to do.
9. The right thing to do is to let ourselves experience them, and notice what it is happening – like a witness, or observer. As we do this, we see that they intensify … and peak … and then slowly dissipate … then normality returns. Thus, these feelings don’t destroy us. We can cope, and we survive.
10. It is essential that our bodies complete this trauma cycle, and we don’t dissociate, or repress our triggered feelings. If we do that, all these feelings will get stuck inside of us, and they’ll only intensify and worsen over time.
11. In addition to this, using breathing exercise helps to calm us down, and keep us in present, grounded the here-and-now.
Also, EMDR (which must be used with a trained therapist) can be helpful for those who are dealing with events like a serious accident, or receiving shocking news. However, relationship trauma, like domestic abuse, may be helped more by ongoing, indepth therapy.
12. Although huge strides can be gained, and we can heal from our past, it’s important to know that we will still react at times. We are triggered as our body wants to keep us safe from harm. It shows us that we matter; that it’s looking out for us. So, although it is frustrating, it’s a sign of self-care.