Trigger Warning: There are sensitive topics in this article that may mention physical or sexual assault or other traumatic topics. Reader discretion is advised. Remember to practice good mental health coping skills before, during and after consuming triggering content.
I really wanted to talk about this in last month’s edition of “Her Perspective,” but to be honest, much like the concept of this article, “trauma” itself is not timely and does not have a set deadline.
I’m very open about my experiences with anxiety and depression because I’ve dealt with them for years, however, I never thought I’d experience trauma. Not to mention, trauma is a way more complex thing to come to terms with.
To be able to talk about trauma, I want to explain what exactly trauma is and the types of trauma that people face.
Trauma, defined by Oxford Dictionary, is a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” Though I wanted to give a straight definition as to what it is, trauma looks different for everyone. What might be traumatic for someone, might not be for someone else.
There are three types of trauma: acute, chronic and complex.
Acute trauma happens from an isolated event. This could be a car accident or sexual assault. Some people don’t have a traumatic response, symptoms can develop weeks or months later and others develop symptoms almost immediately.
Chronic trauma develops from prolonged or ongoing events – weeks, months or years. Typically, but not always, this could be within the context of a specific relationship. Bullying can be example of chronic trauma.
Complex trauma is best defined as experiencing chronic trauma with long-term emotional and physical symptoms. If it’s severe, one’s sense of safety and development can be affected.
Med Circle gives examples of how complex trauma can be present in both childhood and adulthood, with probably the most evident examples being bullying or substance abuse.
For a more in-depth explanation about trauma, I highly recommend “The Butterfly Effect” podcast, which focuses on a range of mental health topics. The host’s first episode dives into this specific topic.
It’s been about seven months since the traumatic incident happened and I wish I could say I am fully healed, but I’m not.
I don’t want to get into the specifics of the situation, but I will say that it is not easy to recover or heal from. According to the three types of trauma, I would say mine falls into the complex or chronic trauma category.
I wanted to take the time to share some things that we don’t talk about with trauma and some things that feel weird about the healing process.
1. Being in the same place/location that the trauma happened took months to overcome.
The worst of it happened for one day in the same location. Honestly, it was more like 1-2 hours in that exact location. That’s all it can take. But that location or place can become a concrete memory you don’t want to be a part of.
2. It also takes months (or maybe more) to be able to talk about.
A few months after it happened, I couldn’t talk about it without crying. Even now, I cringe if I have to bring up the conversation. That’s okay. Feelings are allowed to be felt.
3. I think about it more often than I should, even though it’s in the past.
As the event becomes less and less of a core memory, I still do think about it from time to time. I think it’s healthy and normal to think about it and not be upset or triggered by it, because to me, it’s a symbol of healing.
4. You become a “before” and “after.”
This isn’t always a bad thing, but there’s a version of you that exists before the trauma and a version of you that exists after the trauma. There is a difference, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad difference.
Trauma is not an uncommon thing for people to face and everyone’s story is different. The best thing you can do for someone with trauma is to listen and be there for them the best way you can.
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