When you're struggling with unresolved trauma, the last thing you may want to do is talk about what happened to you. Many people who've experienced a trauma-who've been sexually or physically abused or assaulted-try to avoid even thinking about what happened, much less talking about it. So it's understandable that asking for help or signing up for trauma therapy is not an easy thing to do.
It's hard to stop replaying the events in your mind, over and over again. Nightmares make it seem impossible to get a good night's sleep. Your body reacts to reminders of the trauma, causing you to feel out of control. Even reading or watching a movie feels risky, because it just doesn't take much to bring back a disturbing memory, to feel like the trauma is happening all over again.
Where To Start
When you're struggling with the effects of trauma or PTSD, it might not take much to throw you off balance. The smallest thing can set off a chain reaction in your mind and body, and overwhelm your ability to function in the most basic ways. If you have trouble at work, or find it difficult to take care of yourself and your family, the first step is to build on ways to improve your daily life. Before delving into painful or frightening memories it's important to have developed ways to calm and care for yourself when you're in distress. Having the tools and resources to manage your emotions and distressing thoughts connected to trauma will allow you to think more clearly and make decisions more easily--- so that you can heal what's hurting.
Finding What Works For You
In order to heal from trauma, you will need to discover what is best for you. Learning to listen to your own emotional and physical signals, and setting your own pace in your trauma recovery are important skills to learn. Babette Rothschild writes “Trauma recovery involves much more than remembering and processing traumatizing incidents. For some of you, focusing on the past will not be necessary, or desirable. Trauma must, first and foremost, improve your quality of life. Anything that furthers that goal is good for you; anything which compromises that goal is not” (8 Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery, 2010). Very often in therapy, what can help to move you in the right direction in healing trauma and PTSD is to understand how you've been impacted by your experiences, not only what happened to you. It's up to you to decide when to talk about your trauma and in how much detail.
Breaking Your Silence
Trauma and PTSD interfere with your life and change how you feel about yourself and others; and the effects of trauma can show up years after the event is over. Bessel Van Der Kolk writes “As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself. Hiding your core feelings takes an enormous amount of energy, it saps your motivation to pursue worthwhile goals, and it leaves you feeling bored and shut down....Only after you identify the source of these responses can you start using your feelings as signals of problems that require your urgent attention” (The Body Keeps The Score, 2014).