Trauma Awareness: It’s Time to Find Your Lifeline | News, Sports, Jobs

From early childhood to this present moment, every memory and experience we have shaped us into the person that stands before us in the mirror every day. Life is like a patchwork quilt where every moment has been carefully etched into the fabric of the complex and intricate masterpiece that you are. Life is beautiful and there will be moments that warm our hearts, take our breath away and leave us speechless. Think of those moments, and think of them often. Use them to carry yourself high when things get turbulent. Life is tough too and there will be moments when we feel completely empty and totally alone in this world. The beautiful moments get us through the tough moments, but sometimes the tough moments let us down a little longer than we would have liked. Sometimes something happens and it rocks our world so completely that we forget what stability feels like. We forget who we were before the clouds came and darkness covered us. We forget how it ever felt to be happy at all.

A traumatic event is any experience that overwhelms your thoughts, emotions, or body. Traumatic events are a sonic boom that comes like a tsunami and can bring feelings of horror, fear, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. No one is spared from joy and love, but no one is spared from tragedy either. Tragedy tends to make us feel like we’re floating out to sea without a life jacket. Although we are never truly alone, tragedy and trauma fool us into thinking there is no help to be found, but rest assured there is. There’s a whole world out there ready to help you mend the pieces that feel torn, to give you the hand that gets you back on your feet, and to show you the compassion that you are so urgently need.

Below are some examples of incidents and events that are commonly considered traumatic to a person’s life:

Natural disasters, war, the sudden death of a loved one, being assaulted, witnessing community violence, witnessing a violent death, being involved in an accident, childhood neglect, verbal/physical/sexual abuse, being a victim of domestic violence, being in constant violence fear of harm or being in a high stress environment.

When we experience trauma, we don’t always act and feel the way we did before the traumatic event. We feel somehow altered and altered to the point where we may no longer recognize ourselves or our behavior. It may feel like the dark veil of trauma lives in our wake forever. Trauma tends to rewire our way of thinking and it tries to convince our body and mind that it cannot trust others and that it cannot trust that life itself is good. Untreated trauma can lead to additional mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and even substance abuse disorders with symptoms that are difficult to manage on your own. Emotional symptoms to look out for include feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, flashbacks, confusion, brain fog, exhaustion, shock, anxiety/panic attacks, difficulty regulating our emotions and impulses, and even social isolation/withdrawal. The stress response from trauma can reduce your body’s immune response over time and cause more serious illnesses later in life, such as heart attacks, strokes, weight gain, cancer, memory loss, personality changes, and more.

If it feels like too much to carry, maybe it is, and maybe it’s time to ditch it. There is hope on the other side of despair and that weight is not something you have to carry alone. It is imperative that there is someone who can carry the burden with you. Someone who will listen to you and support you when the feelings are too hard for you to bear alone; someone or something that can really be your lifeline. Friends and family, spiritual or religious alliances, a support group of people who have been through the same thing as you, and a licensed psychotherapist can help you take the first steps towards healing. Creating a network you can rely on will really make the difference in your healing journey. Surrounding yourself with people who can give you the tools to manage your symptoms can help you break free from the chains of trauma.

Take a moment to think about your network. Who’s on the other end of your lifeline? Are they people to help fix the broken parts? Are they equipped with the right tools to ensure the damage doesn’t get worse?

If you feel ready to ask for help, there are resources available in our area.

Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, Inc provides mental health therapy to individuals in the surrounding community and can be reached at 716-488-1971.

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