The world we live in is full of pain and suffering: the children who grow up with uninvolved or inexistent parents; the men and women who leave their families to fight for their country and never return; the women who are abused by boyfriends and rapists; the homeless that rest their heads on a different park bench every night. It’s never-ending. At some point or another, we will most likely experience trauma and what feels like the worst possible experience one could ever imagine or endure. But thankfully, there are ways to cope and to continue living in what is also a beautiful, astounding world.
Signs You’re Dealing with Trauma
We know trauma when we experience it. But sometimes, it’s hard to remember what it was like before the traumatic experience shook our world and everything familiar became a blurry mess. Here are possible signs, both emotional and physical, that you’re suffering from trauma:
- Disorientation: You don’t feel all there. You have a hard time responding to someone or engaging in the conversation. And when you do, you’re noticeably withdrawn.
- Anxiety: You grow anxious during everyday activities, which you never experienced before the given traumatic event.
- Mood swings: You feel fine one moment and the next your whole world is falling apart. You snap at your loved ones for seemingly no reason at all.
- Denial: You deny that the trauma had a severe effect or any effect on you at all. You act normal around friends and family, but typically breakdown when you’re alone or in random instances.
- Paleness: You may appear pale due to a feeling of sickness or overwhelming emotion in correspondence with the trauma.
- Poor concentration: You can’t concentrate at work or on even the most mundane tasks.
- Rapid heart beat: When you think back on the trauma, your heart rate quickens.
- Panic attacks: Revisiting the trauma also triggers panic attacks.
The Aftermath of Trauma
Everybody heals differently—some need time to themselves, others prefer to be surrounded by their family; some take a few weeks, others take a few years. While traumatic experiences are likely to leave a lasting impact in one way or another, there are ways to deal with trauma in a healthy way and to combat its effects:
- Allow yourself time to heal. Don’t try to rush the process.
- Confront your emotions. Don’t discount how you feel or apologize for your emotions. You need to feel them fully and allow them to run their course.
- Be patient. Know that recovering is not quick and easy. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be okay.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need external support, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Maybe your family and friends are sufficient or maybe you could benefit from talking to a therapist.
- Maintain your wellbeing. You might be emotionally shaken, but you still need to take care of yourself. Maintain a nutritious diet, make sure you’re getting sufficient exercise, and try your best to work out your feelings. This might involve writing them down or talking through them with a friend.
Facts vs. Fictions
- Anybody can experience trauma. Children, adults, men, women—we all experience traumatic events.
- Trauma can have long-term effects. While everybody’s different, trauma can lead to a long emotional and even physical battle.
- Trauma can lead to mental illnesses. Trauma can lead someone into developing depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other mental illnesses.
- Victims will never move on. While trauma can certainly shape one’s life and views on life, it does not destroy or ruin them. Victims will move on and be okay.
- Trauma only deals with life-threatening events. Trauma comes in many forms, it’s a soldier at war and it’s a child of divorce. Many events, not just life-threatening ones, can be the root of trauma.
- Nothing positive can come from a traumatic event. While there is certainly nothing positive about the trauma alone, the outcome that follows can be promising. Some individuals come out of the trauma appreciating life itself to a much greater degree.
The effects of trauma are hard to face on your own. You should lean into your family and friends for support and can also consider a couple of treatment options:
- Psychotherapy: This is the most effective form of treatment for those suffering from the aftermath of a traumatic experience. It helps individuals make sense of their experiences and associated feelings and also teaches them healthy coping techniques.
- Medication: Certain individuals may be prescribed medication to help them manage the side effects from their trauma. For example, individuals that fall into a depression may be treated with antidepressants and individuals that develop anxiety may be treated with anti-anxiety medication.