When you hear the word trauma I’m pretty sure you think about a huge event that caused you or someone you care for a lot of pain and suffering. Most of us don’t really understand that trauma can happen in many different situations and events. It also has a lot to do with how we experience an event versus the event itself. In simple terms, think about any significant in your life and try to think of your sister/brother/Mom/dad/friend/colleague would have experienced it the same way you did. Most like some will and some won’t. We are all different, and therefore we cope with situations differently as well. When going through a moderate impact car accident, two people in one car can report the story of what happened completely differently. Some people would say it was not a big deal at all and go in with their day normally. Others, however, might be completely devastated and have trouble moving past it. They will have flashbacks of the memory and would take a long time before they’ll be able to get in a car again or even on the road in any way. More about your brain on trauma here.
The way our brain stores memories usually it’s just like an organized file cabinet. Every memory has a spot in the brain and is clarified into a particular order and area of the brain. However, during a traumatic event it’s like you had to stiff the file cabinet quickly without organizing it at all, to the point you won’t be able to close it at all. That is partially the reason why you get triggered by multiple different things. A traumatic event is any event that still holds an emotional grip on you. A memory that when you think about it, can cause you a sting emotional reaction. Traumas are normally divided into small t, and big T. Small t traumas (I.e. Loss of pet or a relationship breakup) we experience as traumatic on a personal level. Big T trauma are the ones that most people would classify as traumatic (i.e. Terrorist attack, plane crash, sudden death of a loved one).
Some of us are so resilient that we go through life without processing our emotions surrounding a big T. We don’t think about it much, or we just suppress our emotions about it. However, through time, and additional little t’s or sometimes another big T events we are triggered and we are all of a sudden significantly affected by a strong wave of emotions and we feel that our lives become unmanageable. All of a sudden that file cabinet just opened and files are thrown in every direction and we do not even know how to rearrange it. Most of the time, we will have to go back all the way to the initial triggering event to help us process how it affects us. We need to take the files out and organize them in a certain way. What is so great about trauma work, and particularity EMDR treatment is that you can actually do that in a fairly short time. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things can get better for you! Just reach out to a therapist like myself and ask about EMDR. You can find me on Facebook or here.