Experiencing Trauma and How to Move Forward
In light of the winter storm we experienced in Texas, we wanted to take some space to talk about trauma and traumatic experiences and how we can help our bodies to recover and move forward. Trauma is on a spectrum and ranges from small “little T” traumas to large “big T” traumas. Depending each person’s trauma history and personal circumstances related to the winter storm, our community has experienced a range of traumas. Many lost access to basic needs like shelter, water, food, and safety. For others who may not have lost these needs, this event was likely still traumatic as many were waiting to potentially lose power or water and were emotionally distressed about others suffering around them.
Symptoms of Trauma
Just like any other mental health issue, trauma can look differently in different people. Generally, immediate impacts of trauma include exhaustion, sadness, confusion, agitation, and feeling physically activated. These are all normal reactions to extreme stress and most people can work through these feelings and conditions. However, for some, things like panic, inability to rest, or having long periods of dissociation (feelings of being out of body, or forgetting who/where one is) may be signs of a deeper impact. It’s important to check in with yourself as well as with those around you who may be experiencing these symptoms.
Delayed reactions to trauma are common as well. Once our bodies realize that we are safe, some of the protective walls may come down and we can feel fatigued, experience flashbacks or nightmares, depression, and avoidance of emotions that feel difficult (see our blog on emotional regulation).
When to Get Help
Most people who experience trauma are able to recover over time as humans are incredibly resilient! Many factors contribute to our ability to recover and some may struggle to move through the difficult emotions and physical impacts. Signs that someone is struggling to move through trauma can include high caliber emotions, feeling out of control or “going crazy”, complete numbness to emotion, ongoing sleep issues, gastrointestinal issues, severe muscle tension, as well as depression and suicidal thoughts.
Again, trauma looks differently in everyone so if you feel like you are struggling to function in your daily life or you know someone who is, there is hope and help. There are many ways to work through traumatic experiences depending on what you are experiencing. Georgetown Counseling & Wellness has mental health clinicians ready to help you. Please give us a call for a free consultation and let us know how we can help you work through this difficult time for all of us Texans.