What does a 60 year old woman reacting to a stranger’s face on a bus have in common with a teenage boys ongoing nightmares.

The answer is they both had a traumatic event that happened long ago… that is unresolved.

That is because symptoms (not memories) can surface months or even many years after the event. 

Do you relate to one or more of the following symptoms?

  • Times of sadness or despair
  • Feeling confused about a reaction to something
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Emotional overwhelm (like on a roller coaster)
  • Startled easily
  • Shame
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nightmares and sleeping difficulties
  • Fear, anxiety, panic attacks, stressed out easily
  • Feeling trapped or paralysed especially if confronted
  • Angry out of control outbursts or don’t get angry at all
  • Use of drugs/alcohol/self harm/risk taking/sex/relationships/work/food/money to cope
  • A high achiever and successful but still feel something missing
  • Difficulties with intimacy and relationships
  • Sensing there is something wrong in your life or relationships but not being able to name it

You could be suffering from unresolved trauma.

What is Trauma?

Trauma comes in many forms …from an accident to an act of violence…  a shock or great emotional distress or loss that doesn’t resolve.

Trauma may also result from a situation where we feel helpless or as if we have no control…like an illness, surgery, medical or dental procedure, not being believed, a difficult birth,  involvement in a cult, being threatened by violence or simply being a witness to suffering, accidents or acts of violence on others.

Another type of trauma results from our early attachment relationships. It forms our beliefs about oneself and our world and impacts on our identity, sense of worth, our relationship with our self and others.

You may have developmental trauma if growing up you experienced one or more of the following:-

  • separation from a primary caregiver as a young child
  • many unhappy memories/or few memories at all
  • feeling distant or disconnected from a parent/family
  • an overly involved parent
  • a sibling or parent that was sick or disabled
  • a sibling, parent or someone else that picked on you, hurt you, yelled at you or was controlling
  • ongoing hunger, cold, loneliness, confusion
  • always being in trouble /or always being good and reliable or high achieving
  • you had to make your parents proud/or you could never measure up
  • you witnessed a distressing event
  • you were scared, or someone else in your home was often scared
  • having to keep secrets
  • spending  a lot of time day dreaming

We have all experienced some form of trauma.

Whatever trauma you may have encountered in your life, healing is possible. By understanding the nature of trauma, your instinctive response and the event it is linked to, you can not only heal from past trauma but prevent yourself and your loved ones from the debilitating effects of future trauma.

Every thought and every behaviour today is linked to an event or relationship in the past.

Like the woman in her 60’s who realized she wasn’t going crazy after all… To the teenage boy who could finally sleep through the night. You may benefit from understanding trauma and how past events and relationships, frightening or not are impacting on your life today.

To make an appointment with a trauma therapist or to discuss your own or a loved one’s particular needs, phone Body of Life Health Centre.

Article written by Larrainne Hilton.