Trauma: Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Allow Your Loved Ones to Lift You UP
Have you been through something traumatic …? Maybe you’re a combat veteran, a first responder, or a victim of severe domestic abuse. It might have been a car wreck, or the unexpected sudden loss of someone you love. Fixed beliefs you form about that traumatic experience can insulate you from working through the scars you feel. If you tell yourself you “shouldn’t” be reacting to the incident, it keeps sitting deep inside you…haunting…but not healing.
Truth be told, you were traumatized. By rape. Infidelity. Fire. Hurricane.
What matters is that it traumatized you.
No one but you knows what has shaken you to your core. And continues to keep you shaken. But no one needs to. This was your experience. And YOU need to heal.
People are individuals and don’t react the same to the same stimulus. One combat veteran finishes his tour and goes back home, gets a job, and proceeds to build his “after-combat life.”
It’s not that he’s not shaken. But his reaction to all that happened may not have shattered him like the next guy. People go through divorce. One ex-wife gets thoroughly angry and surges forward like a steam engine to overcome the heartbreak she feels about her husband’s infidelity. But another one may be so shattered, so disillusioned she can’t work, can’t function, and trembles or vomits when she sees her errant ex-husband or drives by their favorite restaurant.
Sometimes It’s Appropriate to Let Yourself Feel Loss
But then, there’s another reaction. This is you if you’re the abandoned spouse who’s so empathic toward others and their pain that when you’re in pain you just try to ignore your sorrow when you see others who seem to be suffering more.
Sadly, you validate the pain and sorrow of others, and dismiss your own. The result is that you can’t validate your own grief like you would for someone else to help them heal. Sound familiar…?
Hey, Loss is Traumatic: It’s Not a Competition
If a woman loses her husband in a car wreck, and watched him die, she has reason to be heartbroken and deeply shaken. The fact that another woman lost her infant child in a sweeping illness does not trump the widow’s pain.
Both woman have lost a treasured loved one through horrifying circumstances. Both women felt helpless. There is no measuring stick to compare the loss of a husband with loss of a child. Both losses are terrible, and life-altering. In both cases, the women hurt terribly. Both were traumatic.
And both women need support, kindness, a listening ear, and patience. Both may certainly need counseling at some point to help them restore their desire to live and go forward. They’re not in any sort of contest with each other.
In fact, they’re each faced with shock and grief. And people do have to find their way through these very difficult times of life. Often they come through such times as a natural process. Other times it requires treatment.
But either way, the loss is devastating. And each person who suffers terrible loss is justified to feel traumatized…to grieve. To be supported. And to recover.
Let’s look at another perspective.
When a Traumatized Person Who’s Evaluated For PTSD, Is Not Given that Diagnosis…
Does it mean he or she wasn’t traumatized…? Or that the shock or pain of it wasn’t that serious?
There are certain criteria required for a PTSD diagnosis. Every person is different and responds to painful or traumatic experiences individually. Your pain, loss, grief, and trauma are real and valid.
Don’t let a label or diagnosis invalidate what you’re going through.
Some people, after a deeply traumatic experience, are actually diagnosed with PTSD. Most aren’t. What’s more, there can be other diagnoses after you endure something like this. If it’s not PTSD, it may be depression, or it might be panic disorder, or substance abuse, or an eating disorder.
Or…it might be that you’re sorting through all the complicated effects of grief, shock, and pain that can accompany a traumatic event or experience. To achieve true recovery from trauma requires that you be honest with yourself, as well as patient.
Let’s set labels aside.
If you’re suffering, that’s all anyone needs to know. And your suffering is valid. As time goes by, after a few years, if you’re still suffering the same symptoms you suffered immediately after the event…or even during the event …. then it might be time to see a psychiatrist to find out how to help you move forward.
Because a life-altering event isn’t something you just get over. It’s a part of who you become…every major life event is. But if the way you feel about it is preventing you from living your life and productively contributing to your job or hobbies you enjoy, it may be that an intervention can help you get your life back.
True Recovery From Trauma
Mental and emotional health isn’t defined by a lack of difficulty or upheaval, but by the skills you learn as you live to cope and recover from those challenges and difficulties that happen.
Resilience … takes time to develop.
And…even if your ability to cope needs a little nudge or a leg-up, you’re still learning and building your life skills. And you’ll continue.
The Secret of the Phoenix
There will be fires and wars in life. Betrayals and shocks. But if your goal is to learn to rise from the ashes, you’ll likely gain strength and resilience through the processes you endure, and the storms you weather.
Even so, if you find that the results of trauma in your life have interfered dramatically in your ability to move forward — whether you have PTSD, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, severe depression, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, and especially if you have suicidal thoughts — call us.
At Innovative Psychiatry we specialize in helping people who haven’t gotten better with other treatments.
And the most powerful tool we’ve found among the novel, advanced treatments we offer is ketamine treatment. Sometimes in the process of grief, or in processing trauma, you can get sort of stuck, unable to progress forward into a healthier place. Ketamine treatment has proven over 50 years its safety with adults and children.
The extraordinary actions of ketamine treatment can rebuild the structures in your brain that stress and trauma break down. It’s like it restores your tool box so you can rebuild your life. And it can be a huge help in your true recovery from trauma.
Learn about how to choose the best ketamine clinic, or best psychiatrist who offers ketamine treatment, and be your own best advocate. You deserve to live well and enjoy a restored life.
To the restoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, MD