Trauma can be defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. An experience in which the individual is impacted physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The all too common public atrocities such as the Manchester bombing of concert attendees, the murder of Jo Cox, the indiscriminate killings across the globe in the name of religion, politics or democracy are all designed to traumatize those who are exposed to these horrors.
The continuous 24/7 wall to wall coverage of the bombing in Manchester has done more harm than good. It has effectively traumatized the whole of the UK and all those who engaged in the mass coverage. The continuous and persistent playing of screaming children, blood covered victims and the all to imminent threats issued through the political mouth pieces do little to reduce the impact of the trauma.
Trauma impact us in a variety of ways, unless trauma is dealt with, it will inevitably affect your behaviour, your thought processes, your emotional state and most importantly, provide the seeds for disease and illness to take root. Trauma has been linked to cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and much more. Trauma alters our genetics, it contributes to epi-genetic changes.
How does one recover from trauma? For trauma patients, recovery becomes their primary goal, be they the victim, their families and care providers. Recovery does not always mean complete freedom from the effects of post-traumatic stress, but is the ability to live in the present without being overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings of the past.
It is important to recognise the stages of trauma and the recovery stages. The stages of trauma can be summarised as follows:-
Stages of Trauma:
Physical impact of trauma
Aches and pains like headaches, backaches, stomach aches
Sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations (fluttering)
Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex
Constipation or diarrhea
Nervous and easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
Increased use of alcohol or drugs and/or overeating
Emotional reactions to Trauma
Shock and disbelief
Fear and/or anxiety
Grief, disorientation, denial
Hyper-alertness or hyper vigilance
Irritability, restlessness, outbursts of anger or rage
Emotional swings — like crying and then laughing
Insomnia and/ or nightmares
Helplessness, panic, feeling out of control
Emotional numbing or restricted range of feelings
Self-blame and/or survivor guilt
Desire for revenge
Spiritual impact of trauma
Anger towards religion, “God”
Loss in belief system
Loss of compassion
Loss of self
Recovery process – Stage I – Safety and Stabilization
People affected by trauma tend to feel unsafe in their bodies and in their relationships with others. Regaining a sense of safety may take days to weeks with acutely traumatized individuals or months to years
Stage II – Remembrance and Mourning
This task shifts to processing the trauma, putting words and emotions to it and making meaning of it
Stage III – Re-connection and Integration
In this phase there must now be a creation a new sense of self and a new future. This final task involves redefining oneself in the context of meaningful relationships. Through this process, the trauma no longer is a defining and organizing principle is someone’s life. The trauma becomes integrated into their life story but is not the only story that defines them.
Self-compassion is the starting point for recovery, combined with guided mindfulness based therapy, physical activities such as yoga, chi kung, or tai chi can greatly assist in reducing trauma energy held within the physical body.
Mindfulness meditation can greatly assist in our recovery, please find your free guided meditation in the media section of this site.