Posted on 30th November 2023
What is trauma?
Trauma is a reaction of the brain to a set of circumstances or one event that sets up more that a fight or flight response. A panic response is set up. Often this is a result of a feeling of 'being trapped in a situation' or 'unable to get out of a situation' 'doomed' or 'life threatened'
What I mean by life threatened could be a complete loss of hope a feeling that things can never be better. For instance I had a belief that I would never get out of addiction, that would have been a trauma for me as I had lost all vision or any previous perceptions of how my life was going to turn out.
In response to these moments, events or series of events (which can sometimes be a series of mini events) the brain sends a message to a part of the brain called the amygdala.
Here the information gets stored that anything in anyway related to the traumatic event is dangerous and should be avoided.
Therefore for instance a particular song was playing on a radio at the time of an event then if that song is heard again it can evoke a trauma response.
The same for particular situations, e.g feeling under pressure, stressed, overexertion, unable to be at home and many many others can cause a trauma response in someone. It is different for everyone and is dependent on the efficiency of the amygdala (biology), the intensity of the situation (memory) and the amount of times that the person has become 'used' to this familiar situation since the trauma (the soothing effect and reframing of the amygdala's response from danger to safety)
What can cause trauma?
Being lied to
Violence or abuse
Negative personal comments
Being in an accident
Witnessing an accident
Death of a loved one
Sudden change in circumstances
Illness or health problems
Not being validated for your emotions or who you are as a person
And there are many more
Trauma is an individual and subjective experience so be careful to not judge anyone for their trauma just because it may not be your experience of that situation.
How does it affect us?
Trauma can cause a number of physical and mental issues
Below are a list of these
Dissociation (a feeling of not being present or outside our body)
Sudden surges of emotion
Sudden feeling of wanting to escape
Sleep pattern disruption
Overeating or not eating
A feeling of immediate aversion on meeting certain people
Panic feelings when certain music comes on
Panic feelings when smelling certain smells
Sensitivity to sound
Senses disruption (certain textures)
What can we do about it?
The amygdala needs to learn that thing are safe.
The most effective way of treating trauma is to practice grounding techniques, walking in nature, yoga, giving yourself lots of time where you are feeling 'safe'. Safe environment, safe emotions, warm baths, sensory soothing (blankets, pets, cuddles, love, nice smells (essential oils).
When is a triggered situation using safety statement e.g I am safe, I am loved, I am cared for, I am not getting harmed, I am not trapped can really help. Interestingly the brain believes what you tell it. If you are reacting that you are not safe and you run away from a situation, for example you will not go to your friends house because it has a smell that triggers your trauma, you are reinforcing your trauma response and telling your brain that her house is unsafe when it is not.
I am not suggesting in any way that you go to unsafe situations and tell yourself you are safe. That is counterproductive and confuses the brain.
Build boundaries into your life of what is realistically safe and nurturing and what is not.
For example do not allow people into your life who are abusive or do not value you.
Keep away from toxic relationships or do not engage in them.
Put your needs first and always keep a check on how you are feeling.
Take time out if you need to if you are feeling yourself getting overwhelmed.
If you are experiencing trauma and would like help do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Share this post: