Many people who are suffering from trauma don’t realize it.
They may associate the word “trauma” with a shooting or a kidnapping, not the car accident they had at seventeen or the years of food instability they experienced as a kid. Because they survived and moved on in their lives and because they don’t consciously think about these events on a regular basis, no trauma lingers, right? The answering may be a resounding, “Wrong.”
Myths and unresolved trauma
Just because you were able to live through an event does not mean that it didn’t cause trauma. Being successful as an adult and having overcome a lot of obstacles does not mean you don’t have emotional residue from traumatic childhood situations. And it’s a myth that all trauma comes from events that would make the 6 o’clock news. Even if you are not consciously aware of it, think you have dealt with it, or think that what happened to you “should” be “no big deal” anymore, you may still display the effects of unresolved trauma.
Trauma is defined by the impact of an experience on an individual person’s psyche. This means that the same experience can happen to two people and it may be traumatic for both of them, just one of them, or neither of them. Some catastrophic events, like a pandemic or a Category 5 hurricane that decimates a town, are more likely to cause trauma to more people but even then, you will see variations in the impact and in what event sticks in a person’s head, playing and replaying. Other events may have only happened to you or your family, like a house fire. Whether from a large-scale or small-scale event, the fear, your terrified thoughts, and the sense memories — the smoky smell, the adrenaline surging through your body, and the sounds of your baby sister coughing — can all cause trauma to lodge in your body.
Ten signs of unresolved trauma
- Hyper-vigilance, which is the feeling of constantly being on guard. You may be the person who always needs to know where the exits are. Or you may be monitoring the moods of the people in the room in case they turn ugly.
- A feeling of detachment, like you are often on the outside of situations looking in.
- Over-reliance on numbing behaviors, such as those exhibited in addictions.
- A persistent underlying feeling of shame.
- Nightmares and flashbacks of the traumatic experience.
- Avoidance of situations or people that trigger bad memories.
- Difficulty tolerating conflict, which can lead to people-pleasing.
- Experiencing both anxiety and depression.
- Dissociating, which may be evidenced by stretches of time in which you have no memory of “getting from here to there” or frequently “zoning out.”
- Trouble sleeping, which may include falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep.
Treatment with EMDR
If you recognize a lot of these signs in yourself or just don’t feel like the healthiest version of yourself, counseling can help. EMDR, which is a trauma treatment approach that helps you to resolve old, lingering issues, can be particularly effective.
For more information about EMDR, here are some articles that may be helpful:
If you are interested in counseling in the Burke, Virginia area, please consider reaching out to Nova Terra Therapy. We would love to help.