When you have experienced an emotional experience, that absolutely changed your whole perspective, and made you beyond scared to experience that emotion again ……….we could be talking about emotional trauma.
So what exactly is emotional trauma, or the trauma experienced by an emotional situation, that deeply impacts you?
Emotional trauma is a clinically distressing experience that lasts longer than the experience itself. It’s the experience you may have had, that while physical or environmental harm isn’t done, the scars of this situation have changed you. I mean, this really is a deep and profound change.
The definition of a trauma (or a traumatic experience) can vary according to each person, but the effects of the trauma are the same. And we, mental health professionals can see these effects showing up as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty trusting others, or low self-esteem. When one decides to cope with emotional trauma ….it is a complex process that requires time, support, and understanding.
So PTSD is different …the symptoms are interrupting your life and influencing your decisions……..and yes……………. it's possible that you may be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But not everyone who experiences something traumatic develops this disorder.
PTSD is a condition where the you experience symptoms of distress, because of you being exposed to a traumatic experience, for a period of time, and it affects how you freely live.
One thing though, emotional trauma is really a natural, human, expected response to an overwhelming experience - one in which you weren’t supposed to be hurt that hard, and that immensely. It shakes you, it changes you, it seeps into every part of your life.
Maybe there’s some kinds of recurring nightmares/dreams or “I’ve been here before” feeling, intense fear, or sleeping is hard. Folks could also feel emotionally “numb” or distant from their folks. People will avoid situations that remind of the traumatic event (cause who wants to experience it again). Other common symptoms include anxiety, sadness, or difficulty concentrating or making decisions, physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue - being tired or feeling exhausted……
……I mean I could go on………..but the key is, when you look at how you are dealing with things, after some really strong emotional distress, there’s a lot to unpack ………..
Moving forward from the emotional trauma: Build a support system for your recovery
Why? Why is this the first thing I speak on about moving forward from emotional trauma?
Yes, I know, and you do too, that support give you a safe space where thoughts, emotions, and experiences can be said, without judgment.
Find a therapist who specializes in trauma
Join a support group for trauma survivors who have experienced similar challenges
Seek out your trusted friends and family members
Journal/Write down/record yourself to process your thoughts and experiences in a structured manner
There really are regular activities you can do, or get done, that really can help you cope and heal —— and you know this. The reason folks are talking about self-care and prioritizing your well-being is because this is a fundamental need for humans —- and especially necessary for those who have emotional trauma.
So get present and connect to the present moment - it’s easy (and unwanted) to get overwhelmed by past traumas, so find coping strategies that work best for you. Experiment with different ones and see what resonates with you personally.
Life throws all the curveballs our way, and it's not always easy to bounce back after experiencing emotional trauma. But we humans are inherently resilient beings — and each one of us is capable of incredible strength!
After going through a traumatic experience, find healthy ways to cope and heal. From mindfulness practices to journaling or seeking support from loved ones, there are ways you can overcome that which was meant to break you. Moving forward after emotional trauma requires a shift in mindset - one that focuses on growth and positivity.
Are you connected with someone who has experienced trauma? Need support for yourself? Join the Trauma Support Squad
Dealing with anxious thoughts? Feeling that you can't control your mind? Join The Anxious Mind therapy group