13 thoughts on “9 Reasons Trauma Is So Hard To Understand

  • September 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Hey Tamara,
    I am a little confused with this one but maybe I misunderstand and need to re-read it?
    I find it validating when you wrote that trauma can leave “fingerprints” that can’t be erased. I found that reassuring because I have had a fair amount of therapy at different times over the years and yet there are still times when the emotional pain overwhelms me which takes me by surprise and makes me angry at myself for “not healing right or quickly enough.” I also worry about how this impacts a therapist? Do they feel angry or frustrated with the client secretly? Or do they feel inadequate? Like a failure or bored if the client needs to talk about something more than once or even a few times?
    Then on the other hand, it seems like you are saying that all trauma CAN be healed if the client does the work and has a good trauma informed and trained licensed therapist. Am I misunderstanding something?
    For me, I’ve obviously had trauma as I’ve shared here before… the move in the night from New Jersey to Maine might be considered trauma especially since I never saw my dad for 10 years and he initially didn’t know where I was at. Before my mom met the man who would become my stepfather, she had a boyfriend who hit her. They had a baby that died when only a few days old. After mom got rid of her abusive boyfriend and met the stepfather who moved us to Maine, the abuse began. Yet even now I tell myself “get over it, it wasn’t that bad.” If it were someone else though, I would NEVER think that.
    I know for me, believing in God and prayer has helped as well as writing, staying busy, therapy and helping others. I am CONSIDERING something I never thought I would and that is massage. Partially because I have a lot of body pain and was told I have fibromyalgia but also because despite fearing it, a part of me craves non-sexual comforting touch. Is that weird??? I have heard that people (not just infants) NEED touch. I have almost none in my life except a hug when my mom visits each week or every other week but that is brief and feels like it is to meet her needs not mine.

    Reply
    • September 23, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Hi Lori,
      Thank you for your comment 🙂
      I’m hoping the message of my article is clear which is that trauma is difficult to overcome and understand. Without appropriate knowledge about trauma and how it affects us neurologically, emotionally, psychologically, and even physiologically, we fail those who are suffering. We need a better understanding of trauma so that we can support and treat those who are traumatized. I’m a firm believer that we all, as a human race, have some kind of trauma (and if we don’t, we will).

      Even more, when you have physiological pain (migraines, body aches, back problems such as sciatica, fibromyalgia-like pain, etc.), massage therapy can be helpful because massage stimulates not only the muscles but the blood system. Psychologically, massage therapy makes the body feel relaxed. “Craving non-sexual touch” is not “weird” Lori. You are possibly looking for comfort, the comfort you perhaps did not get as a youth. Traumatic experience can also lead to a desire for non-sexual tough. I’m a touchy-feely person and tend to hug my kids 5-12 if they ask for hugs. I find that it comforts then and reassures them that they are love-able.

      Take good care!

      Reply
      • September 25, 2016 at 3:16 am

        Thanks for your response, Tamara. You clarified my confusion–I must have been distracted the other night when I first read it. Sorry about that!
        Thanks also for sharing about massage therapy. It’s helpful. I have also mentioned it to my therapist and she feels it could be beneficial for me. I do have body pain just about 24/7. My nurse practitioner tells me it “sounds like fibromyalgia” but for some reason I am not confident in that diagnosis. I think that is because to my knowledge, there are no conclusive medical tests for it. Also, this may sound “paranoid” but because I have been labeled “mentally ill” due to p.t.s.d resulting from abuse, I think sometimes doctors are more prone to thinking our pain is psychosomatic. I have experienced that before even though it takes a LOT for me to call my doctor. I’d actually like to run that by you sometime so that MAYBE, IF other survivors have gone through what I would like to tell you about, you might consider it worth doing an article on.
        Anyway, I think you have a good point regarding massage as not only pain relief but also for comfort and safe touch. Lately, I’ve been wishing my therapist were local so I could do the work face to face and also ask for a hug. I know she would offer a safe and caring but totally professional hug.

        Reply
    • October 3, 2016 at 12:31 am

      I only wish I could crave non sexual touch… I was sold to men for over 10 years through a “massage therapy” establishment. They owned me. I could care less if I were to EVER be touched again! I have been in therapy for awhile, hospitalized many times over. Just being able to really, actually talk about it helps me. I just want someone to listen and know what I went through day after day, and maybe feel emotionally feel the pain that I felt then, and still feel daily. When I see tears in my therapist eyes?? I feel like finally!!! Someone feels what I felt and still do. Like its OK to be “screwed up” because my therapist gets it. Good luck everyone.

      Reply
  • September 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    I am a survivor of all kinds of horrors at the hands of my biological family. The psychological scares last a lot longer then the physical ones. I am currently allowing my emotions to lead me to what is lost. I feel like my body as well as a higher power is helping guide me to those lost parts. The sad part is I can not handle the process of filtering out bad therapists because that adds to my plate which is already full and as you said not all professionals are qualified or well educated. I have no supports and my family still tries to contact me. My cousin just came over and we were on the couch talking and she knows I don’t like touch, so she slides next to me really close and says I know you don’t like touch and proceeded to touch me how the person did in her story she was telling. Small things like that make me violent and now I would like to go on a killing spree and take them all out so I can get some peace. It is exhausting! No one understands or cares.

    Reply
    • September 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Autumn, I am so sorry for all you have gone through. I am angry on your behalf that your cousin would deliberately violate your boundaries knowing you do not like to be touched. I feel that your cousin victimized you further by doing this!
      I can understand being angry and at the same time, I am hoping your thought of going on a killing spree is a fantasy that you will not act on –or, if you feel you can’t be sure you won’t, that you’ll immediately get some help to cope with the feelings. Following through on your thoughts would only hurt you and you don’t deserve that–you’ve already been hurt enough!

      Reply
    • September 23, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi Autumn,
      I’m so sorry you feel this way. I encourage you, if you have a therapist, to share this with them. It is difficult to find a therapist who is educated, cares, and is certified in trauma. It appears your dislike of touch is related to your trauma and until you process/discuss/work through this trauma, you will continue to feel this way. To say “small things like that make me violent” seems to highlight just how much trauma you have been through and how little control you feel you have. A good trauma therapist could work through this with you because such statements are homicidal and you certainly don’t want to misplace your pain/anger/internalized emotions.

      If you’d like suggestions on trauma therapists, feel free to email me through my website with your state and city and I can offer suggestions.

      Take care

      Reply
  • September 23, 2016 at 12:35 am

    As always thoughtful and informative…I ran the whole gamut of errors and terrors before and after I released I had PTSD with complications..
    Thanks for confirming the suspicion I had that PTSD alters the brain structure..Apparently I came out of the experience which caused it having lost my speech, later it returned with a stammer which slowly faded..though it can kick off under extreme duress..However, in retrospect i now realise the way I learned and learn was/ is somewhat different to other people. Whether this is a trauma by pass circuit, or damage caused by being left in a state of shock for a while, after an NDE, I don’t know, but Norman Doidge’s book The Brain that Changes itself helped me to understand how clever our body’s healing system is so I’m Ok with the deal , and besides fared reasonably well in life considering the mayhem caused by a couple of bloody idiots…If your both watching from the etheric of the next stream of consciousness, you daft pillocks, I could do with some lottery numbers, and a flash girlfriend ..lol

    Reply
    • September 23, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hi Little Drummer Boy,
      Hahahah. Very funny last sentence. 🙂
      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad it was a useful article.
      Your experience is certainly characteristic of PTSD and possibly even severe anxiety. The brain is extremely sensitive to trauma, especially for youths who have underdeveloped brains. A young brain is not fully developed until around age 24 or 26 and until then, any trauma can derail brain development.

      It is very sad how the brain is so sensitive to what happens to us in our lives.

      Reply
  • September 26, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I appreciate getting crucial info circulated more than you know. However, the very first one is off putting. If you are going to tell people right off the bat that “therapy isn’t for everyone” it would be important to follow up with what other options they have! As a trauma therapist myself i completely understand the importance of finding a truly trauma competent therapist as i have seen the damage that can occur from those not really qualified. Which is more likely to happen when seeking “alternatives” to quality therapy, since very few in society understand trauma, let alone how to help a person struggling with its ongoing symptoms.

    But again it seems like you’re saying in number one, it’s ok to give up hope in the therapy process. I also see how it could be delivering the possible message that no therapy is needed to heal, sure i may be biased, but i very much disagree. How can one heal themselves when trapt in the very mind that needs healing? How do you alter distorted beliefs when you don’t know they arent true? How do you gain the insight, awareness and education needed to facilitate healing when hyperarousal, avoidance and reexperiencing runs rampant and you don’t even know what that means!? Learning is impossible without first establishing safety, relaxation and other healthy,effective coping skills.

    There are many types of trauma therapy methods that are options, but none if those are listed. This is why i am trained and certified in multiple modalities… finding what works for each individual, isnt just important its necessary. And just because one method doesn’t give the expected results, doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. Narrative, TFCBT, EMDR, somatic experiencing, etc…

    I almost stopped reading after number one because it really didn’t sound like it was going to follow with anything better.
    All that said, agree with just about everything else you state.

    Reply
    • September 27, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Hi Tiff,
      I understand your perspective.
      As a therapist with years experience in various parts of the field, I would love to say that I am 100% satisfied with how the field of psychology/behavioral health/health care, etc. works with clients, but I would be lying if I did. I am a BIG proponent of talking things through and emotionally processing what one has experienced. But does this mean that therapy is the right vehicle to deliver this useful act? No. We both know that most studies on talk therapy suggest that the most important component of therapy is the relationship and the building of rapport with clients. Without that, we fail!

      For many inexperienced or unskilled therapists, the focus is always symptom reduction, not building the relationship. That’s the point of my first point which is that therapy is not always sufficient for everyone and that is okay. A person should never feel “burdened by,” “forced,” or “coerced” into doing therapy or seeing therapy in a positive light. Lets face it Tiff, a good therapist is hard to find and if a person is feeling therapy is not enough, they need to know it is okay to feel this way, especially if you have experienced trauma and struggle with trust.

      The take away: we should lean toward authenticity with readers/clients and help them see that the ways they feel about therapy, primarily the negative experiences, are okay. I don’t aim to be politically correct as much as I do being relateable.

      Reply
  • September 27, 2016 at 12:12 am

    No one understands all that I have been through… People cringe when I speak of my traumas. Even my therapist does.

    Reply
  • September 21, 2018 at 6:25 am

    i got depression by holding anger may be from a bit mental ill parent and trauma from shouting of relative, worsen overtime…fortune teller seem know my condition from ”god?” that i dont hv any friend or girlfrend and seemingly worse scenario, the fortune teller shock( which i purposely done becuz worry interfere life of other and myself badly)….anyway at 31,through deep relax, stop thinking, naps, breath slow, exercise and some hard struggle with emotion and persistent thoughts for 2 month…constant moving painful stress or headache of brain from right to left to allow rest of brain to heal faster? ….with some weird repair sequence step by step (may be clear unresolved emotion from adult to child just similar to enlightenment description, i guess ppl will exp a bit different depend on their baby to adult life )….there still some unknown stress left may be from 1-7 yrs old. not sure how it go

    Reply
 

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