What is trauma?

Let’s talk about trauma. It can be a tough topic to discuss, but talking about trauma and knowing the signs are huge steps towards healing and building resilience. 

Too often, we equate talking about mental wellness with weakness or instability. It’s time we change this perception. Self-care is self-love. It’s for everyone. 

OK, so what is trauma REALLY?

Our feelings and the status of our emotional wellness are tied to biological factors, our family history, and the things we have seen and experienced in our lives. 

Deeply distressing or disturbing experiences, also known as trauma, can have lasting negative effects on our mental wellness when unaddressed. When someone experiences or sees a traumatic event, it’s common for them to feel the impacts on their body and mind long after the event is over. 

Trauma can be one big event, or an ongoing experience. It can be something that you experience yourself, or something witnessed happen to someone else. It’s common to react as if it’s business as usual following a traumatic event, especially if it’s something that is experienced often. But when we ignore trauma, we are ignoring the negative physical and emotional impact it can have on ourselves and our kids both immediately and in the long-term. 

Where does trauma come from?

The sources of trauma can come in different forms, but some sources that are experienced in our community include:

  • Racism, discrimination, and oppression
  • Violence in the community
  • Living in a stressful environment 
  • Grieving, or experiencing a loss
  • Sudden, unexplained separation from a loved one
  • Poverty
  • Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse
  • Neglect during childhood

How do I know if I’m experiencing trauma? 

The signs that you or someone you know is dealing with trauma can range from easy-to-spot to invisible in our bodies and minds. If you’ve ever experienced or witnessed a deeply distressing or disturbing event, the impacts of trauma can be there, even as you carry on with our day-to-day responsibilities. 

It’s really important to identify trauma in ourselves and the ones we love to address the impacts early on. Some of the more common impacts, also known as “symptoms of trauma,” include:

  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Racing heart or mind
  • Anxiety or Fear
  • Depression, Numbness or Dissociation 
  • Anger
  • Panic attacks
  • Flashbacks

Different folks show different signs of trauma. Some signs and symptoms can be more subtle than others, such as:

  • Not eating or binge eating
  • Relying on validation from others
  • Neglecting proper hygiene 
  • Engaging in impulsive and risky behaviors
  • Behavior that is out of character 
  • Being overly agreeable or quick to please
  • Being painfully shy or timid 
  • Engaging in impulsive and risky behaviors
  • Aggressive impulses

What happens when trauma goes unaddressed?

The effects of untreated trauma can be lifelong, especially for kids. It’s important to remember that if you feel the effects, it’s more than likely that your child feels them too. This is known as “generational trauma.”

 The impacts of unaddressed trauma include:

  • Poor performance in school 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor coping mechanisms, such as anger
  • Difficulty forming or maintaining relationships
  • Eating disorders, including over-eating
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions 
  • Alcohol & substance abuse
  • Unintended pregnancy 

How do I address trauma and build resilience

We all can play a role in addressing trauma in ourselves, those around us, and our communities. Some ways to address trauma and build resilience include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it and encouraging others to do the same
  • Connecting with friends and family
  • Getting physically active
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Learning coping skills and mechanisms
  • Being honest when somebody asks “How are you?”

Ready to get help healing? Fill out the form here and one of our community partners will reach out to provide support!