When we go through a traumatic experience, we might struggle to make sense of the issue or find meaning from the event. Anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience, whether a life-threatening event or long-term exposure to stress, might have difficulty reconciling the trauma. Often, those with trauma in their past might ask, “why me?” or feel that life is unfair.
Unfortunately, no matter how badly we were mistreated or forced into harm’s way, we cannot change the past. We did not deserve to experience anything distressing, disturbing, or life-threatening; however, we might need to make sense of everything after the fact. We can look at how our trauma has shaped us and how we proved our strength and resiliency not only in surviving but in thriving despite what happened to us.
Treatment is Crucial to Make Sense of Everything
Without treating or acknowledging our trauma, we are unlikely to move forward. Trauma can have severe impacts on several areas of our life, such as:
- Physical health issues, like insomnia or being high-strung
- Problems with personal relationships and our ability to connect with others
- Mental health struggles, like anxiety, depression, paranoia, and developing phobias that prevent us from living life to its fullest
- Inability to relax and engage in meaningful activities
- Lack of trust in others, creating barriers to treatment, seeking support, or developing healthy relationships
- Self-esteem issues, especially if we blame ourselves for the trauma
- Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or behaviors, such gambling and sex, as a distraction from recalling traumatic events
When our life is impacted negatively by trauma, we will struggle to move forward and feel stuck. We might believe that we are protecting ourselves by bottling up our experiences or using substances to numb our pain. However, we are only preventing ourselves from getting to the other side of trauma. To heal, we need to push through the pain of our trauma, strengthening our resilience to regain control over our lives.
Seeking Support and Feeling Safe
Many who experience trauma find themselves unable to trust others, leading to a significant treatment barrier. They might reject anyone who attempts to help them, believing that the other person might let them down later or try to harm them in some way.
After surviving trauma, our needs for safety and security are understandable. We might need to take more time than others to develop trust. However, we are not alone in our experiences and emotions. Other people have been through similar experiences and have learned to thrive despite what has happened to them. Peer support can help us relate to others who have “been there” before.
If we are new to getting help or seeking treatment, we might want to think of who we trust. While we might struggle to trust new people, even treatment professionals, we most likely have at least a few people in our inner circle that we trust. Our trusted friends and loved ones might agree to support us during treatment by attending appointments with us or going to open support groups with us.
Why Is Trauma So Complex?
Traumatic experiences change our brain and body’s response system, making us hypervigilant as we anticipate the next threat. Part of trauma treatment is learning how to feel safe and secure again, switching from a reactive, survival mode to a healthy, calm mindset. We have to feel physically safe and need real-life experiences of opening up to others, otherwise we may never relearn how to feel safe again.
Healing from trauma will take time, as our brain needs to rewire itself with repeated exposure to feeling safe when we otherwise feel threatened. As we continue to work through our pain, we can learn ways to protect ourselves from experiencing traumatic events again, set healthy boundaries with relationships, and move forward in life following trauma.
Treating trauma involves talking about our experiences, changing the way we think about the world, and learning how to feel safe again. When trauma creates other issues in our lives, such as addiction or depression, we might need to treat both problems simultaneously. Some effective treatment options for trauma include:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Experiential Therapies, like Wilderness and Animal-Assisted Therapy
We can find hope and healing from our trauma. We deserve to regain control over our lives, and we can find strength in our ability to push through the pain of trauma in recovery.
Healing from trauma can take time, as we need to relearn how to feel safe to rewire our brain’s overly active threat responses. As we move through the pain of our trauma, we can grow and become more resilient in dealing with other stressors throughout our lives. Much like a wound heals stronger with scar tissue, we can thrive in our lives despite the trauma and live a fulfilling life. When kids engage in problematic behaviors, like cutting, promiscuity, running away, or addiction, they might have an underlying trauma disorder. If your child struggles to cope with life and is heading down a dangerous path, we are here to help. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center helps kids struggling with addiction and mental health concerns. We provide multiple therapeutic modalities and skills training to help kids in their recovery. Call us today at (303) 443-3343 to get your kid back from the impact of trauma.