What is Trauma
Trauma is defined as a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” This painful experience imprints on your brain and body so any future thought or reminder of that experience leads to an excessive physiological and emotional response, often showing up as intense anxiety or panic. It becomes like a wound or scar you can’t heal from or escape. Trauma can be from a single event, a prolonged or repeated series of events which can include abuse or neglect.
Effects of Trauma
Trauma is also a uniquely personal experience. This can be experienced as an individual, a community or even across generations of people. Trauma impacts your ability to process thoughts and make good judgments. With trauma comes feelings of immense shame, guilt, and even physical pain. This, and the resulting anxiety, impacts muscles, digestion, sleep, and immune system. It can completely alter your view of everything. Soon you begin to see the world as unsafe even if it previously felt safe. The increase in anxiety and often accompanying depression impacts your ability to manage careers and relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
Trauma and Anxiety
A common expression of trauma is anxiety. The hyper-vigilance leading to a sense of angst and uncomfortable feelings in your body compels you to completely close off from everyone. Life becomes about avoiding anything that might risk more emotions and therefore that feeling of anxiety. This is where the use of substances grows in an effort to gain relief from the physical and emotional pain trauma and anxiety create. Alternatively, you might find yourself telling everyone about the trauma, desperate to be understood and validated for not being worthless for feeling the way we feel. Neither is safe nor relieving. Yet, they’re both a means to try and take back the power and safety that was taken from us.
How can Counseling help?
It is possible to heal from anxiety. Or, at the very least to lessen the impact of trauma. Using gentle, yet effective evidence-based methods, we work together to move toward a place of posttraumatic resiliency. This is where you can acknowledge that you’ve been through the challenging experience, yet not be emotionally activated by that experience any longer.
Recovery is more than possible; it’s expected with the right support and guidance. At Bellevue Family Counseling we believe in “trauma-informed care”. This means seeing you as the whole person that you are. It means honoring the skills and tools you’ve developed to manage what you’ve had no choice but to manage. This approach allows for survivors to be respected, informed, connected, and hopeful regarding recovery and healing.
How we get to that place is up to you. Typically, it looks like increasing your coping skills for the distressing feelings that happen as we begin to acknowledge what we’ve been through and heal. Here, we don’t have to talk about the trauma. Instead, we focus on identifying what we are feeling and how best to safely cope. Then, once we have the tools to safely cope with distress we can begin to unpack what we’ve been through and move towards a place of healing where we are no longer defined by trauma. It is part of us, yes. However, we are so much more than our trauma. Knowing that and feeling that in your bones, is a powerful and inspiring place to be.