Trauma and PTSD

 

 
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Trauma and PTSD make your world very small. They remove people, places, and activities that overwhelm you. People who you feel safe with are harder and harder to find. Crowded places like movie theaters, restaurants, or concerts, places you once enjoyed, are now too claustrophobic and may send you into a panic attack. Or things you once enjoyed doing don't hold the same joy, life feels like a practice in just surviving and removing those things that might trigger you. Mental clarity escapes you and life feels muted at times, and other times it is like the volume is turned up on everything. When you get triggered the source of the trigger is often insignificant such as a loud sound, having to make a sudden stop in the car, a certain color shirt, or a person of a specific build or height. There is no immediate danger to your life, but it feels like something very bad or wrong is about to happen, or that you are very bad or wrong. Whether the event is a one time traumatic event (i.e. a car accident) or something that occurred over a longer period of time (childhood neglect, physical, or sexual abuse) the results have deep and profound effects on your life, body, emotions, and the very structure of your brain.

The treatment and recovery from trauma often follows a structure in three phases:

  1. Symptom reduction and resourcing

  2. Processing of traumatic memory

  3. Integration of "new self" after trauma has moved through

This simple and yet very powerful process brings the possibility of freedom from the confines of trauma. The trauma, once present every day dictating your actions throughout the day, becomes a part of your past and actually lives in the past. Our goal in most trauma work is not to forget the trauma, but to let the stuck energy and movement of the past event move through your body and take its proper place as an event in the past. This allows for you to react and respond to life from the here-and-now, seeing things as they are in this moment rather than through the trauma lenses that currently color your view of the world.  Please click here to read about Sensorimotor Psychotherapy the trauma modality I use in my practice.

Many people struggle with the effects of trauma and PTSD, common coping mechanisms are drugs, alcohol, and process addictions such as food, sex, internet, and gambling.  Often these addictions are ways to help regulate a nervous system which has been hijacked by a past event. I am often struck by the tenacity of the human body and psyche to find a way to regulate an overactive nervous system, and how these coping mechanisms, which once brought relief, have become another source of pain and suffering.  

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Here is the good news, you are not alone. There is a process and there is support for whatever manifestation of trauma you are currently working with. One of the pieces of trauma that is most painful is the isolation and firm knowing that no one can help you, that you are too far gone. These thoughts are actually a part of the trauma because at the time of the event, or events, you were not helped, you were alone and could not get away or defend yourself, thus the creation of trauma and/or PTSD in your body. Through the work of processing and resourcing you have the ability create a new version of your history that will drastically change the trajectory of your future. 

At this time you may be thinking that this will not work for you, that you have too much trauma. Or that you can just power through the emotions, anxiety, and panic that has been coming up hoping it will eventually go away. Both of these thoughts probably have a basis in truth considering your history. If nothing has brought long term relief you are probably feeling hopeless or defeated, which is to be expected when living with trauma/PTSD. If you are leaning towards wanting to power through the symptoms and hope they resolve themselves then please continue on with as much compassion for yourself as you can, and if it gets too hard then ask for help.   

Reaching out and taking steps for your own recovery can feel daunting and overwhelming, and yet all we can do is take it one step at a time. Making that one phone call or email today can begin a ball rolling that builds momentum. I offer several years of working with trauma and specific training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. I have also had my own journey with trauma and have found relief from the symptoms that at one time felt overwhelming and hopeless. My own trauma makes me particularly sensitive to the process for people struggling with these effects. This creates in me a passion about the discovery, curiosity, and compassion that is inherent in trauma work. The privilege to be with others as they walk this path is truly an honor.