Victims of trauma may tend to blame themselves and thus may experience depression, anxiety or other mental illness which can be healed during recovery.
Many alcoholics and drug addicts blame their addiction on past trauma and use/drink as a way to cope. There are many other people who cope in other ways such as isolation, gambling, lack of trust, fear, etc. When individuals enter addiction treatment, especially trauma treatment, they often learn where their addiction stems from along with healthy coping skills to move into and stay in recovery.
If you have experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control, you may have been traumatized. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected and unable to trust others. When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, you can make healing changes and move on with your life.
All trauma survivors go through the 5 stages of grief. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These do not necessarily occur in any order and may re-surface at any point in time. You will find this easier if you turn to others for support and take care of yourself.
How to Deal with Trauma
- Get moving. Trauma disrupts your body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyper-arousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets stuck. As well as burning off adrenaline and releasing endorphins, exercise and movement can help your nervous system become unstuck.
- Don’t isolate. Isolation only makes things worse. Connecting to others face to face will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone. You don’t have to talk about the trauma, you should ask for support, participate in social activities, reconnect with old friends and consider joining a support group for trauma survivors. You many meet people in trauma treatment who have similar experiences and it can be helpful to connect with them.
- Self-regulate your nervous system. Through mindful breathing, sensory input, staying grounded and allowing yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it can help you change your arousal system and calm yourself. Not only will it help relieve your anxiety but it will also engender a greater sense of control.
- Take care of your health. Having a healthy body can increase your ability to cope with the stress of trauma. Get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs (stay in recovery) eat a well-balanced diet and reduce.
- Give yourself time to heal and to mourn any losses you have experienced.
- Don’t try to force the healing process.
- Be patient with the pace of recovery.
- Be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.
- Learn to reconnect to uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
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