Getting help; why wouldn’t you?
People who have experienced trauma may also struggle with getting help. One of the most common outcomes of trauma is avoidance. One because you may not even be aware that something from the past can influence you and your health that much; trauma has the characteristic to tuck itself away. And two, when you are aware, you’re not really keen on dragging the past up. You know it’s there and you want to live your life today.
“Some people may be in denial about the role past trauma is playing in their life. I would say that a lot of people are unaware of how trauma is affecting them. One of the hallmarks of trauma is the fact that people often use defense mechanisms to protect themselves from stress. Denial is one of those, as is trying to normalize past problems. People may say things like, ‘oh, everybody I know got hit as a child”.
Getting help: why, how and where?
If you suspect that past trauma is affecting your life, there is help. This is a treatable problem. Treatable in a way that the trauma can ‘change’, your views on it can change. You can become more aware of what is happening in your life. I don’t know if it is ‘treatable’ in way that it will magically disappear someday, I can’t promise you that.
Taking steps to address the problem may also help others in your life. Very often people who have experienced trauma pass problems on to others in their family through a process called observational learning. So, helping yourself may help those around you.
If you want to address trauma, consider the following steps:
Work with a therapist. A trained therapist can help you reframe what happened to you and help you move past it and support you. Treatment may also include medication to address any mental health disorders you are experiencing. I go to drama therapy myself where I learned to work with my Inner Child to address the trauma from my past. I found it a gentle way of bringing those memories and feelings to the present moment. I understand that is not for everybody. You need to find therapy that works for you. You need to feel comfortable with the methodology used. It isn’t always easy to find a good fit but when it works it is really worth the trouble. If you are interested in working with the Inner Child, I’ve written the following posts on it: The Inner Child and Peter Pan. and Why connecting with mini-me is not a bad idea.
Self-Care. There are numerous lifestyle measures that can help you reduce stress and anxiety. These include yoga, tai chi, and meditation. Regular exercise can also help you manage stress and other symptoms. I’ve written a Self-Care guide for low days because going to the gym isn’t going to work for everybody. (Well, I don’t like it, that’s that.)
Reach out to others. Research has shown that maintaining strong social ties with friends and family members is crucial to good mental health.
When you’re depressed it is hard to do all these things. You need to find a starting point like therapy, talk-therapy or medication. A combination of those is said to be the most effective. Later on, when you feel a bit better, you can implement the other strategies.
To get more information about trauma and PTSD or to find treatment resources, here are three good websites from leading professional organizations:
If you want to read more posts in this series about childhood trauma, I’ll leave with these links:
You can take the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire if you are interested to learn your score.
Picture credits click here.