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Unpacking PTSD: Managing Trauma and Understanding its Impact

In recent years, terms like trauma and PTSD have become more commonly used in society. But what do these words even mean? Together, we will dive into these concepts' depths and unravel their deeper meanings. In honor of PTSD awareness month, stay informed, as you never know when you will have to use this information.

Trauma does not happen from dropping your ice cream cone on the ground. Instead, it proves to be an experience that dismantles one's being, which can leave emotional scars that go much deeper than surface level. In broad terms, trauma is an experience that may be too strong to cope with in healthy ways, it may cause an array of big emotions, and it might even shatter your very being (figuratively, of course). Trauma can occur from a natural disaster, sudden loss of a loved one, domestic violence, sexual assault, and many other antecedents. 


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the possible outcomes of trauma that can occur, however, not in every circumstance. Even after the traumatic event is over, PTSD symptoms can occur, leaving the individual feeling helpless and lost. Some symptoms of PTSD could include intrusive memories of traumatic events, flashbacks, nightmares, extreme anxiety, heightened awareness, avoidance of trauma-related reminders, and many more. When these symptoms are experienced, it can feel like you are stuck in a never-ending loop of trauma, and it grabs your sense of self, slowly deteriorating your self-esteem and goals and even affecting your future self. 


One who tries to understand trauma and PTSD understands that this is a complex concept. Trauma looks different for each person- what could be traumatic for one person may not be for another person. The way that someone perceives their experiences plays a massive role in the levels of trauma experienced. For example, one person may view the death of a loved one as expected and accept the event when it happens. Someone more prone to experience trauma from the loss of a loved one may be more likely to experience the stages of grief for years. 


Trauma does not discriminate and can affect anyone at any age. It is a natural human experience, but those who may not have the appropriate outlets may take the trauma more seriously than someone who has appropriate methods for managing complex events in their lives. Carrying trauma around can feel so heavy on your shoulders, and it can be challenging to know what the best things to do are when you are experiencing something traumatic.


For starters, there is hope. Being able to heal trauma is possible, and it may not be a direct journey, but using available tools and resources can aid in beginning to heal. Let's look at some standard outlets that can be utilized if you experience trauma or are someone living with PTSD.


Look at these ten tips on what to do when you experience trauma. They may not be done in this order, and some may overlap, but you'll get the idea.


1.      Be patient and kind to yourself. Always remember that there is no one way to heal or one way to handle traumatic events. Healing is a process, and it takes time; it can take weeks, months, or even years to heal significantly from trauma.

2.      Build a robust support system. A solid support system can give you the love and care you need on your healing journey. Leaning on your supports can help take some weight off your shoulders. Quite often, we find that just speaking up and sharing your trauma with someone else can feel like an enormous weight being removed. Find people that you can trust and lean on during these difficult times. Frequently, utilizing social media such as Facebook, you can find support groups for various types of traumatic events to meet others who have gone through something similar. You never know; something small that one person could say could change your life, and vice versa.

3.      Get yourself into therapy. I'm sure you have experienced the stigma surrounding therapy, but it is just that, stigma. Don't let the fear of others keep you from being able to utilize tools to be the best version of yourself. Getting yourself a therapist can help you to process the trauma that you go through, specifically trauma therapy. There are many kinds of treatment; to find the one that best fits your needs, talk to your local mental health facility or professional. To find one covered by your insurance, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask them for local places that take your specific insurance carrier. Even if you don't have insurance, you have options.

4.      Talk to a psychiatrist about medication options. Once you can locate a mental health facility, track down a psychiatrist to get an evaluation to see if any medications may be utilized to help you feel your best. There is not a single pill that fixes everyone's issues (wouldn't that be nice), but medication can help to take away the rough edges so you are more easily able to manage your experiences. Don't like to take prescription pills? Check out a more holistic approach to trauma. It is your journey; do what you must do to survive.

5.      Practice self-care. Going off the idea of being patient and kind to yourself, learn to make yourself truly happy and relaxed. Staying in fight or flight mode, which often happens from trauma, can make it more difficult to get the happy chemicals that your brain needs. Start an exercise routine, get your nails done, practice your religion/spirituality, and much more. Do something that helps you to feel more like you. This can help you begin your healing journey to finding yourself again after the traumatic event.

6.      Learn breathing techniques and meditation. Many kinds of breathing techniques and meditation styles can be utilized to help you begin to heal from your trauma. Learning these techniques can help you keep your body responses calmer and even clear your head to allow you to think more effectively about your situation.

7.      Consider reporting the traumatic event. Depending on the traumatic event that you experienced, you may want to report this to the authorities. Nobody deserves any abuse (if that is where your trauma stems from), and nobody should get off free from being an abuser. Reporting your trauma can be a daunting task, but sometimes it can be the closure that you need. Abusive situations can range anywhere from physical or sexual abuse to emotional or mental abuse.

8.      Start a journal, blog, video diary, or whatever fits your personality to process the event. Although these activities can also be classified as self-care, I wanted to separate this topic because we all need an outlet to process our trauma. Many can do this by writing poetry, journaling, or video diaries. Whatever the outlet, pour your trauma into something productive you can be proud of. Use that to regain your power and share your experiences, even for yourself. It is important to remember where you came from when evaluating how far you have come.

9.      Learn about healthy coping skills to manage your trauma. Practicing self-care involves knowing healthy coping skills. Some healthy coping skills that can aid your mental health during your healing process are listening to music, walking, practicing gratitude, cleaning, art projects, and many more.

10. Practice gratitude and positive affirmations. One great habit to get into is to make a daily gratitude list. Take a few minutes to jot down 3-4 things you are grateful for today. You'd be surprised at the answers you can come up with. This activity can help to set the tone for your day. It is the same with positive affirmations. Doing these has statistically shown an improvement in one's self-image. Creating a positive self-image is another building block to healing from your trauma and even minimizes any PTSD symptoms that you may or may not be experiencing. 


As we humans strive to create a more empathetic and inclusive society, it is vital to educate ourselves on trauma and PTSD. We are all bound to experience a traumatic event, and it would be life-changing to know the basis of what to do in this situation and what to expect. By fostering this kind of understanding, we can create a safer and more supportive environment for anyone suffering from PTSD or something traumatic. Be a part of your own or someone else's path to healing and recovery.


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Jessica, author of Howtolivewhiledying. I am a passionate advocate for those navigating the complexities of chronic health issues, overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, and the profound impact these experiences have on mental health. I invite you to join me on a journey of resilience, growth, and empowerment. Let's foster a supportive community where vulnerability is celebrated, and healing is not just a destination, but a continuous, courageous journey. Subscribe to my blog for more!

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