Trauma

While some forms of trauma are more obvious (witnessing or experiencing assault or violence), other forms of trauma may be more subtle, sometimes occurring over a long period of time rather than one overwhelming event. This may include loss, ongoing chaos, or relational trauma such as emotional abuse, neglect or even having your experience/feelings dismissed on a regular basis. While it can seem easy to label an event or situation as ‘traumatic’, I find that framing trauma as what happens to us when our nervous system is overwhelmed in a way that is consistent with ‘trauma’ a more helpful way of understanding such experiences.

You may wonder: “Do I have trauma?”

Trauma is often experienced as…


 

Unpredictable, overwhelming emotions

In the wake of trauma, we often feel caught off guard by emotions that consume us for no apparent reason. It is common to feel anxious or angry out of the blue, or to snap at others, having little tolerance for things to go wrong. You may alternate between feeling highly emotional and feeling shut down, numb or empty, which often seems like the only way to maintain control of your life and emotions.


Constant panic or fear

You might also feel you are in a state of constantly bracing yourself, or feeling like you are in “flight or fight” mode. This could be experienced as panic attacks, or experiencing your body ‘take over’, with constant tension, rapid heartbeat and other physical symptoms of anxiety.


Feeling disconnected from yourself and others

When we experience trauma, at times we go on ‘auto-pilot’ just to be able to cope with our daily lives. While you may appear to be functioning just fine (though this may not always be the case), you feel empty or dead inside and disconnected from others, which is sometimes experienced similarly to depression. You may also find yourself caught in memories of your trauma rather than being able to be present. Many individuals find themselves experiencing relational issues, hiding from the world and isolating themselves from others.


Doubt or shame

As we don’t often talk about trauma in our day-to-day life, many individuals who have been heavily affected by trauma find themselves wondering: is this actually trauma? Am I over-reacting? Was it my fault? This may be exacerbated by debates on social media or in the news, or you might find yourself constantly thinking about someone expressing their disbelief or surprise that you are still not ‘over it’ or ‘back to normal’.


Low Self-Esteem

Sometimes following trauma, we are plagued with experiences of anxiety, doubt or feeling “not good enough”, about several or all aspects of ourselves. You may find yourself unsure of who you are, find yourself in a constant state of comparing yourself to others, or feeling unable to set boundaries or communicate your own wants and need in relationships with others.

 

In counselling we will approach these issues head on. We will begin by creating a comprehensive plan with strategies for you to manage panic, overwhelming emotions and numbness, while working to explore and resolve shame and doubt related to trauma. We will also empower you in the face of memories and flashbacks and work together to process your trauma, recreate safety and regain sense of ownership over your life and your story.

 
 

To learn more about my approach to counselling or ask questions about how I might be able to support you, connect with me for a free consultation call.