Trauma – It Hurts Too Much

By September 15, 2016 February 13th, 2017 General

Is there something that you’ve gone through that still troubles you? That still haunts you? That broke you and made you feel like you’ll never be the same again? Most people go through something in their lifetime that could be considered traumatic. Many people go through multiple, extremely stressful or traumatic experiences (e.g., violent victimization, sexual assault, car accidents, natural disasters, unexpected death of a loved one). Even if this hasn’t happened to you directly, you may still be quite affected by witnessing it or learning about it happening to someone you care about.

Unfortunately, if you have had these experiences, you might have heard from others that “It happened a long time ago. Get over it. Why is that still bothering you?” In reality, traumatic experiences, whether they happened last month or 30 years ago, can be life changing and the impacts can be long lasting. For some people, this may result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and severe anxiety or phobias buy generic lasix. After traumatic events, some people also develop drug or alcohol problems (or other addictive behaviours) that started out as a way to quiet the mind and end up spiraling out of control and possibly resulting in other traumatic experiences. Struggling to recover from a traumatic experience does not make you a weak person. You’ve survived something and are trying your best to keep moving forward; even though it may feel as though you are only moving backwards.

After a traumatic experience, it is common for individuals to replay the event in a variety of ways. This may take the form of unwanted intrusive thoughts or images that seem to keep popping into your head, and you may try to do whatever you can to stop thinking about these things.

I don’t want to think about it anymore. It hurts too much

Nightmares are another way that the traumatic event may be re-experienced. This may lead to significant sleep disruption and possibly a fear of falling asleep. Some people also have the experience of feeling as though the event were happening again, as though you were back in that moment and are seeing and hearing everything again (i.e., a flashback).

In order to stop these things from re-occurring, you may try your best to distract your mind, to block your thoughts, to shift your focus to something else, or to suppress the thoughts and numb yourself. You might also start to avoid all reminders, to avoid people who are associated with the event, to avoid the area in which it happened, to avoid related conversations, television programs, smells, sounds, anything that could make you think or feel something related to that event.

Traumatic events can also change the way you view yourself and others. The world may start to seem increasingly unsafe and it may be harder to trust people, even those close to you. Perhaps you are constantly on edge, waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. This makes it difficult to enjoy your life or feel positive about anything. Although social support and close relationships are crucial to healing from trauma, many trauma survivors pull away from those who are close to them and feel detached and disconnected from other people in general.

I wish I could be who I was before this happened.

Fortunately, there is help available and there are a variety of treatment options that can assist with recovery after someone has been traumatized. Through supportive psychotherapy, including discussing the traumatic experience when you feel comfortable doing so, many people not only reclaim their old self, but also realize that they can become a better version of that self … a stronger, more resilient person who has come out the other side and will not be afraid anymore. Often, the hardest part is reaching out and asking for help. There may be a fear of judgement, or a fear of making things worse. You may have become quite skilled at avoiding these memories and feelings, but that is likely exhausting and becomes harder when other parts of your life are unmanageable and full of stress. Even when you are not thinking about these things, they can still affect you and control you in other ways, and it may be time to learn new skills, to confront these painful thoughts and images, and to reach a point where you are no longer afraid, where you are no longer hurting, and where you are not controlled by your past. There is hope. Recovery after traumatic experiences is possible.

Author Colin Perrier

Dr. Colin Perrier is a clinical psychologist who is skilled at assisting individuals and couples with working through the barriers and struggles that prevent them from fully enjoying life. His approach is compassionate, non-judgmental, and accepting, while creating a safe therapeutic environment that fosters healing and recovery. He has training and experience in helping individuals and couples overcome stress, trauma, and tragedy, including addressing the problems that often accompany trauma (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, fears, substance abuse, and intimacy and attachment problems). He will help with strengthening your capacity to cope and assist you to move beyond suffering, so that you may thrive. Colin will work with you to identify treatment goals and will assist you in achieving these goals. He has training and experience in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of a variety of clinical and cognitive assessments that inform diagnoses and treatment planning. He provides clinical services that incorporate multiple evidence-informed therapies and techniques, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), motivational interviewing (MI), emotionally focused therapy (EFT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Seeking Safety (SS), Solution-Focused therapy, and the good lives model of treatment. Colin has also published and presented research related to trauma, addiction, intimacy, attachment, ethics, and positive psychology, among other areas. He has also lectured on these topics. He is also registered as a forensic psychologist and has experience completing a variety of risk assessments related to violent and sexual offending, and has worked in the correctional system in Ontario, assessing and treating individuals who had been incarcerated for a variety of offences.

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