How Do I Know If I Have Trauma
When you think about trauma, do you think about accidents and child abuse? Trauma may be the biggest health issue that isn’t recognized. It touches our lives in so many ways. Traumatic events vary as do people’s responses to events that we deem scary. How do I know if I have trauma is a common question I get from patients.
To start, we need to define what trauma is. Trauma is any event that occurs where the nervous system gets activated but doesn’t reset. I explain the details in another post. But the basics are this. Something happens that causes us to be on alert. Our sympathetic nervous amps up, causing our heart to race, pupils to dilate, and glucose gets mobilized so we can fight or flee. (This is the fight/flight response.) When the danger passes, ideally, your system calms down. Say you have a near miss accident while driving. In milliseconds, you respond to the threat so you can react to the situation. At the last minute, you swerve to avoid the wreck. Some people pull over after this type of experience to calm themselves. They may shake, scream, or somehow discharge the pent up energy. But what if you don’t do that? Sometimes, that event leads to what I’m calling trauma. The energy gets stuck. And that energy can affect mind, body, and spirit.
Examples of Trauma
What are some examples of trauma? Surgeries, poorly performed procedures, accidents, and adverse childhood experiences such as bullying at school or verbal or physical abuse are examples of trauma. But many times, the event is one we never considered traumatic because we rationalized it away. For example, many patients never considered a surgery traumatic because the procedure went well. But the body responds as though there is a threat. People remember little from the time they were preverbal (around 2 years of age). If anything happened, your body might remember it, but you would have no recall of the event. Finally, there is evidence that some trauma is epigenetic. This means that we may experience situations as traumatic because one of our ancestors passed that to us. You can read more about this in my report.You can read more about this in my report.
How trauma affects mind, body, and spirt?
Before I answer that question, we need to discuss shame and trauma. Shame is a form of developmental trauma. It leads to a similar type of avoidance. If your arm hurts, you don’t move it around. If you have a psychological wound, you don’t poke at it. Regardless if you are aware of trauma, it affects your mind, body, and spirit. How? Below is a list of typical reactions people have both right away or ones that are delayed.
Effects of Trauma on Mind, body, Spirit
Immediate Emotional Reactions
Delayed Emotional Reactions
Immediate Physical Reactions
Delayed Physical Reactions
Immediate Cognitive Reactions
Delayed Cognitive Reactions
Immediate Behavioral Reactions
Delayed Behavioral Reactions
Immediate Existential Reactions
Delayed Existential Reactions
Adapted from Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014
While many diagnoses fit these symptoms, the similarity to pyrrole disorder and/or autoimmune conditions jumped out at me. For a long time, we have suspected that pyroluria is a physiologic response to trauma. It may or may not be but in another post I will discuss how trauma directly affects the body.
Trauma clearly affects many aspects of our lives. Because it is an energy block, trauma can block our creative force, particularly if you don’t remember the trauma. It could limit your life in ways that you don’t understand. If you freeze when trying to do some forms of work, such as writing an article about trauma, you may not get a promotion. Or if you are afraid to fly, you won’t be able to go to business meetings, or a family reunion in Hawaii.
What to Do About Trauma?
What do you do about trauma if you realize that it exists in your life? For the moment, working with a therapist (or me) is the best option. Working with me is a great option if you have pyrrole disorder or other health issues happening. While taking vitamins won’t take the trauma away, it often makes the process easier. I am working on an online course. Join this new mailing list to learn more.