It picks its victims who are anyone, at any moment, anywhere.
It is trauma.
Trauma does not discriminate when it comes to who it affects. Trauma is not something that is always easily overcome.
The causes of trauma can be from physical, emotional or sexual abuse. It could also be from neglect, war experiences, outbursts of temper and rage, or alcoholism (your own or in your family). Things like physical illnesses, surgeries and disabilities, sickness in your family, loss of close family members and friends, natural disasters, accidents, etc. might also cause trauma, according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Traumatic experience can take a serious toll on our livelihood and our outlook. The impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and complex trauma can really change our mindsets and frankly have us feeling unsafe. Our beliefs can be completely altered within seconds, notes Christy Matta, MA. Life, as we had known it before, completely shatters.
We can understand and learn more about how trauma can affect us through personal stories and sharing our own with others. In a video interview with Therapy Threads, Valerie Jennings-Ancona, shared her story as a rape survivor. Valerie is a successful business owner, mom, wife, daughter, sister and survivor of trauma. As Valerie explained, “Trauma can come up at any point in our lives. We can live an amazing life, and all of a sudden, we get hit with something totally unexpected.”
Most people respond to traumatic events feeling anxious, sad or angry. They may have trouble concentrating or sleeping or continually think about what happened. These responses can last up to several weeks or months, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
For people trying to heal and cope with trauma, it might be an everyday battle. Valerie explained, “For me, I had my family, my spirituality and just my commitment to getting through a really tough time in my life. I think anytime people go through some sort of traumatic event, it’s a lifelong commitment to working on that issue, whatever it may be.”
Valerie elaborated on what resources she utilized to get through her trauma. “Meditation is really good. It is something that is super powerful. It has really been a positive force in my life.” In regards to mediation, there is research pointing to changes in the brain’s structure and function that might account for a reduction of post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the organization, Mindful, “Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.”
Valerie added that “being around really positive people was beneficial.” She explained that in the situation of dealing with trauma, “People don’t have to understand what you went through. Just being around people who are really supportive and understanding, they can just kind of be there to lend an ear to help. But you have to be willing to open up and reach out to people like that.”
Valerie touched on her commitment to her spirituality and God. “Things happen in our lives that we may or may not be excited to handle, but going through those experiences helps us be there for other people who may be encountering other challenges.”