Recovering From Trauma
When setting out on your road to trauma recovery, it’s important to know that each journey is unique. No one can tell you exactly how you will respond to trauma or how your recovery process will unfold, but there are few things you may experience:
Trauma can be so overwhelming that your mind, emotions, and body shut down. You may feel tired, unable to make decisions or focus, and feel emotionally numb. Much like a power surge during an electrical storm, your system can become overwhelmed and forced to temporarily shut down (or slow down) due to a traumatic event. Each individual will experience this going numb stage differently, but it’s important that you don’t rush things and that you take it easy.
Once you’ve completed the ‘going numb’ stage, you may experience a reawakening of your emotions. You may feel anger, sadness, fear or any number of feelings. It’s important to note how you experience your emotional reawakening. Your feelings will differ from others. Some people experience a slow trickle of emotions while others feel emotions so powerfully that they think they may explode. Sights, sounds and even smells may trigger the memory of your traumatic event and bring up powerful emotions. It’s important that you don’t bottle up those feelings. Instead of being afraid of your emotions coming back, you should make sure you express them. Below are a few ways different personality types handle the reawakening of their emotions after a traumatic event:
- Journaling (writing down) your feelings.
- Speaking with a counselor.
- Speaking to others who’ve experienced trauma.
- Talking with a friend or family member.
There is no one right way to handle the reawakening of your emotions after a traumatic event, but it is important that you control those feelings. And it’s critical that you do it in a way that is safe and does not re-traumatize you.
One of the most dangerous parts of trauma is that it can make the person experiencing it feel powerless. That’s why recovering from trauma always includes a stage where you take back your power with constructive action. For example, someone who was raped might lobby to get tougher sentences for rapists or they might volunteer at a rape trauma center. No matter how big or small this constructive action is it works to help you on the road to trauma recovery.
As you begin your journey to recovery, remember that there is no ‘one-size’ fits all. Depending on your personality, coping skills, and current life experience, your trauma recovery will be unique to you.