Most people experience a terrifying event at some point in their lives. It could be a car accident, witnessing a person’s death, or discovering that somebody you love is, for want of a better word, evil. All of these events are part and parcel of what it means to live in the world and something that we must find ways of dealing with.
Some people can bounce back from terrifying events with surprising ease and grace. But for others, the process is much more difficult, with many failing to adjust to new psychological realities in healthy ways. The term trauma was first coined in the nineteenth century to describe this lack of adjustment. Some people who had been through harrowing experiences didn’t seem to be able to recover their old zest for life (or even their personalities). The event, whatever it was, left an indelible mark on their psyches.
Because of the profound impact of trauma, the effects can continue to rumble on in a person’s life, many months or years after the event, affecting how they feel and think today. Worse still, trauma is sometimes like a ticking time bomb in the personality, ready and waiting to explode in some dysfunctional way if conditions are right. To put it bluntly, trauma can be dangerous. Here’s how.
Traumatic experiences are often a threat to the survival of one kind or another. Either our lives are in danger, the life of somebody we know, or our reason for being here in the first place – a relationship, a job, or a faith. When those things are threatened, it can feel like the entire world is crumbling around you and that ultimately everything is fleeting – nothing survives.
People who suffer from trauma can get into patterns of rumination where they think about events over and over again. What’s going on inside is invisible to the outside world, making it difficult to spot and correct. People can suffer from rumination for weeks and months, and nobody else can do anything to help. Rumination leads to fear, anxiety, and depression as concern about the events continues to surface in the person’s mind. It ceases to be a method of preventing the same thing from happening again and morphs into something damaging and maladaptive.
In some cases, the person who inflicts trauma on you gets off free, while you suffer every day. In the case you experienced mental or physical trauma, expert attorneys like Dennis Hernandez can help. All you have to do is pick up the phone, and they will do the rest.
A Greater Propensity For Addiction
Whether you indeed need to feel terrible in some way for drugs to become addictive is yet to be proven. But what is clear is that addiction is something that disproportionately affects those who are already suffering. Trauma is a profound form of suffering because it’s so difficult to deal with the source. You can’t just take a pain killer and be done with it: trauma requires systematically dealing with whatever it was that happened and finding psychological coping mechanisms.
The problem is that these mechanisms are difficult to find and vary from person to person. Often the easiest course of action when a person feels the pain of trauma is to turn to substances, hoping that they can feel “normal” again – even if only for a few minutes.
Addiction to substances is not healthy and is something that people need to avoid. But avoiding crutches like drugs is hard when you have a trauma, and nothing else seems to put a lid on your anxiety.
A Feeling Of Numbness
The body is an ingenious machine that does anything it feels will increase a person’s chances of survival. People who suffer trauma often, therefore, experience feelings of numbness which take away both positive and negative emotions. People feel as if they should be having a good time in certain situations – like on a romantic date – but find that they can’t because of problems in their past.
How To Cope With Trauma
Dealing with trauma is a challenging undertaking, which sometimes requires the help of professionals. However, there are things that you can do right now that may help to alleviate symptoms and reduce suffering.
One of the things that you can do is to avoid thinking about the trauma for a time. This is not to say that you shouldn’t ever think about it again, but that most people find that with time, memories become more comfortable to process and less scary.
It’s also worth avoiding blaming yourself for the trauma. You can feel guilty after something terrible happens to you because you may feel in some way responsible. But once you’ve been through an adverse experience, it’s too late to think about how you might have done things differently.