To be traumatised means that you are suffering a lasting sense of shock as the result of particular events which have had a profound psychological impact on you.
It isn’t just that something shocking has happened to you. It’s also the fact that you have not been able to process and digest the shock. This is what makes it lasting. You have been overwhelmed by the events.
Trauma forces change on the structure and nature of the personality and psyche, and once these alterations have occurred they have to be appropriately worked with and explored so that you can learn how to recover and live with them better.
Being traumatised means that your mind has been overloaded.
What does traumatised mean? Is it the same as PTSD?
A diagnosis of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) refers to the way you may continue to experience the sense of being traumatised after the traumatic events have apparently ended.
If you have been traumatised you may experience these kinds of symptoms;
- being highly reactive
- loss of confidence
- fear of losing everything
Being traumatised means that the shocking event is too much for us to process
Often we try to cut it off, and to live as though it hasn’t happened. The problem is, that though we try to forget about it, frequently it goes on disturbing us. So you might start to have problems like these:
- have problems sleeping
- have nightmares
- bedwetting (in children)
- struggle to concentrate
- fail to do well at work or school
- experience profound sense of worthlessness
- develop addictive or destructive habits
- start self-harming
Many people identify signs that they are suffering from low mood, depression, or anxiety without realizing that these are symptoms of a deeper underlying issue of having been traumatised.
Trauma is a broad and complicated subject. As with all psychological experiences the symptoms we develop are highly individual to each of us.
When we are traumatised the events can remain locked in our memories
At the US Senate hearing (27 September 2018) Dr Ford was asked how sure she was that Kavanaugh was the culprit, she replied without hesitation: “100 per cent”.
In a follow-up question, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein asked her how she could be so sure of it, Ford replied: “The same way that I’m sure that I’m talking to you right now. It’s — just basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that, sort of, as you know, encodes — that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus. And so, the trauma-related experience, then, is kind of locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.”
For some people, being traumatised means that an event, or events, have happened that have been too much to process or take in.
Instead of them being digested and fitting into our memories in an ordinary and regular way through thought, reflection, and talking about them, they become cut off or dissociated.
Often, we feel ashamed of how powerfully we have been affected and so we become more secretive and work even harder to hide our pain and suffering. This tends to make things worse for us.
Blocking it out of our minds doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. When you avoid your traumatic experience, the events continue to exert a destabilizing and destructive influence on the your mind without being properly recognized for what they are.
You might not realise that your feeling are the result of underlying trauma, you might instead think they were all part of low mood, anxiety or depression.
Trauma is consistently overlooked and mis-diagnosed
You might be given a diagnosis of depression or anxiety without the underlying and original traumatising events being picked up on.
‘‘…trauma is a subject that is periodically investigated and then drops from public consciousness. …it drops out of public mind because it is subject that provokes intense controversy.’ Trauma and Recovery, (Judith Herman 1992)
To be traumatised means that you have suffered a powerful psychological wound. In some cases traumatic events are public:
- a traffic accident
- a football stadium disaster
- a terrorist event
In these cases help frequently comes to the traumatised person from their environment, from their family, work colleagues. There might be accessible routes to discussing what’s happened. This generally helps us to develop a relationship with the traumatic events. As we do so they lose their traumatic intensity and become less frightening and alien to us.
In other cases traumas occur in private;
- a complicated bereavement
- physical or sexual abuse
- domestic traumatised
- being subjected to bullying
- having been tortured
These kind of traumatising experiences are more likely to make us feel shame and secrecy. For example a death by suicide can be too difficult for a family to know how to speak of, so the feelings and the events surrounding the death become repressed.
In these cases the traumatised individual is unlikely to get appropriate help from people around them. The means that the trauma is less likely to be integrated, instead it becomes dissociated and continues to exert a destructive set of feelings on the individuals life.
Not being able to speak about what’s happened to you tends to mean that you become further embedded in the trauma. This is what it means to be traumatised.
How to recover from having been traumatised
Each of us must develop our own sense and understanding of the way we have been traumatised, and of how can find a way to integrate the experience into our lives so that its power to continue to shock and destabilize us is reduced. It can be very difficult to do this on your own
I have 20 years experience of working with people who are trying to come to terms with trauma and with having been traumatised.
Frequently this has involved helping people to identify the traumatic experiences which they may have overlooked or tried to avoid thinking about.
Psychotherapy can provide a confidential opportunity to explore the things that have happened to you, and to start to make constructive links between the traumatic events that continue to shape your life.
Psychotherapy could be the beginning of living a more constructive and satisfying life.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my work might help you.