Supporting Trauma, PTSD & Flashbacks
"I wanted to feel ok again"
Trauma is the body's response to deeply disturbing events or experiences. Almost all of us have experienced some form of trauma, either directly or indirectly. You only become traumatized when your response systems to the perceived threats become overwhelmed. The ability to cope with a traumatic experience will vary from one person to another, and depends upon many factors including genetics, attachment style, support network and individual resilience. An event is most likely to be experienced as traumatic when:
- It happened unexpectedly
- You were unprepared for it
- You felt powerless to prevent it
- It happened repeatedly
- It happened in childhood
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is an anxiety condition resulting from the single exposure to a traumatic event. The event may be actual or threatened, and may be directed to yourself or others. Complex PTSD is caused by repeated exposure to traumatic events, such as from abusive relationships.
The term PTSD is the medical term for what is happening to you. I prefer to use the term PTSI post-traumatic stress injury, because it recognises that your condition is the result of an injury from something that has been done to you. Your symptoms originate from the way your body is trying to protect you from harm.
Symptoms of Trauma & PTSD
You may experience some or all of the following:
- Constantly thinking about the event even when you don’t want to
- Flashbacks where you re-experience the feelings and body sensations of the event
- Having nightmares and disrupted sleep, leaving you exhausted
- Experiencing extreme feelings of shame or guilt
- Dissociating – shutting off and closing down from your experience and feelings, spacing out or adopting a new personality to cope with the effects of the trauma
- Feeling on edge and expecting danger
- Avoiding people or situations which you find triggering
Sometimes you will not have a clear recall of the originating trauma, such as when your mind goes blank after a road accident or a serious assault; or you may block out significant periods of time from your memory following years of child abuse. This is normal and is the brains way of trying to protect you. However, what served you well at the time of the trauma may not be helping you in the best way now.
How I Can Provide Support and Help
I have spoken with many clients who believed that their ongoing debilitating relationship with Trauma was something they just had to put up with. Talking about the traumatic experience just made things worse and left them feeling trapped and helpless. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
My approach is Trauma Informed and based upon keeping you feeling safe. Trauma recovery must first and foremost improve your quality of life. We begin therapy by ensuring that you have the tools to stay grounded and concentrate on making your day to day life as tolerable as possible. We work to increase your self-knowledge around trauma to enable you to take greater control of your life. Only if you are ready would we then attempt to process the traumatic memories to help you see them in a different way and form a new relationship with them. We can often achieve this without you having to discuss and revisit the traumatic experiences in detail – you remain in control of what we do.
Sometimes the work involves incorporating a ‘visual-kinesthetic dissociation technique’ such as the ‘Rewind Technique’. It is another way of achieving a more helpful relationship with your trauma using guided visualisation which also doesn’t require you to relive and talk about your experience.
If you would like more information about Trauma, PTSD or Flashbacks and would like to explore the ways in which help and support is available to you, please contact me for an informal discussion.