You’ve been through something horrifying. You try to forget it but you are struggling. You avoid things that remind you of it. But it keeps coming back. The quiet moments are the hardest.
So you stay busy. You wish for rest. You hope for sleep. But you can’t let your guard down.
If this sounds familiar you may be experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms. Post-traumatic stress occurs after we have experienced an event during which we felt horror, helplessness or hopelessness (Herman, 1992).
After the event we may have experiences including but not limited to: feelings of being on high alert, intrusive thoughts, re-experiencing the event, difficulty managing feelings of rage, numbness, avoidance behaviours, intense fear or anxiety, suicidal thoughts or depression.
Connecting with a counsellor trained and experienced in trauma can lessen these symptoms and help you feel relief. Letting the symptoms go on for too long without treatment could cause them to be harder to unlearn later down the road.
Trauma treatment is comprised of 3 stages (Herman):
(1) Establishing safety in the client’s life by building coping skills, safety planning, and developing a good therapeutic relationship with the counsellor.
(2) Working with the trauma memories gradually, whilst practicing the newly learnt skills, and finally,
(3) Reconnecting with life, with those memories now integrated properly.
Remember, humans are not meant to land from a traumatic event alone. Like other animals we regulate our system by turning to others who really get it.
Learning specific skills that work for you and gaining a knowledgeable support person can by the keys to turning things around. You don’t have to go through this alone. You aren’t meant to.
Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence – From domestic abuse to political terror. NY: Basic Books.