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Understanding Traumatic Stress and PTSD

You may find yourself believing in the many common myths and misconceptions about trauma and PTSD.

These myths often sounds like . . . 

  • My experiences were really not that bad. 

  • I was never raped, sexually assaulted, or physically abused, so you cannot have PTSD.

  • Other people have had it far worse than me, so my trauma is insignificant. 

  • Emotional abuse and/or neglect does not count as a traumatic experience. 

  • I cannot have PTSD if I had a decently normal childhood.

  • Only military personnel can get PTSD.

  • Developing PTSD indicates a personal weakness. 

  • If I allow enough time to pass, my symptoms will resolve on their own without treatment. 

  • If I work hard enough, I can force myself to move on and put this behind me. 

The truth?

  • A trauma is any experience that overwhelms our ability to cope. 

  • What may be traumatizing for one person might not necessarily be traumatizing for another.

  • 70% of adults in the United States have experienced some form of significant trauma in their lives. 

  • While not everyone who experiences a trauma will go on to develop PTSD, many will experience symptoms for weeks, months, or years to follow. 

  • Our brains do not function in a way that allows us to simply forget what happened and put it behind us. 

  • When we experience something horrific, our bodies go into a fight-flight-freeze-fawn response. 

  • The survival response is helpful in the moment but is not meant to be prolonged, which is what happens when we are unable to regain and sense of safety and security. 

We are here to tell you something different, to show you another way, to restore your hope in a better tomorrow. It’s okay to roll your eyes, to doubt our words, to be disbelieving, we will believe enough for the both of us, until you’re ready and able to hope again.

There is a reason why its difficult to talk ourselves into feeling safe, even if we know that to be true. If our bodies do not feel safe, and therefore communicate to our brains that we are not safe, no amount of revisiting the trauma or telling ourselves what we already know, but do not feel, is going to help us return to a state of safety and security. This is why talk therapy alone is often not enough. 

So then what? If we cannot talk ourselves into believing that we are safe and that the traumatic event has passed. And if we cannot tell our stories over and over again until they no longer bother us, what can we do? 

Fortunately, there is another way. Through our work together, you will move towards

self-compassion, clarity, and connection by:

  •  Learning to acknowledge, accept, and welcome all parts of you back to yourself through self-compassion and curiosity. 

Without the ability to reestablish a sense of safety and security, our bodies continue to respond as if we are in danger, long after the actual threat has passed, making it difficult to determine what is past versus what is present.

This may look like . . .

  • Feeling hopeless or overwhelmed by everyday life.

  • Feeling unsure of where to turn or what to do next.

  • Experiencing overwhelming emotions or mood swings seemingly out of nowhere.

  • Difficulty controlling your emotions.

  • Finding ways to keep yourself numb and disconnected, to keep the pain locked away deep inside.

  • Reliving painful experiences, feeling frozen in time, as if the bad things are happening all over again.

  • Feeling  jumpy, on edge, or restless.

  • Sleep may not come easy, and when it does, you may be plagued with nightmares, leaving you exhausted and irritable. 

  • Having difficulty connecting to others or feeling like you don’t belong.

  • Questioning your worth. Am I even worthy of love, worthy of belonging, worthy of happiness?

  • Having difficulty trusting others, as so many of those you trusted have hurt you before.

  • You may find yourself sacrificing your own needs and desires to please those around you.

  • You may take care of everyone else and neglect yourself entirely.

  • You may feel that this is the only way you feel worthy, have purpose, or value. 

  • You may feel afraid to hope, feeling safer in the familiarity of chaos and suffering.

  • You may desperately want to be different, feel something different. And still you end up repeating the same patterns over and over again.  

  • You may have experienced depression or anxiety for as long as you can remember.

  • You may feel like you have tried everything and nothing has helped.

  • You may feel like this is your fault, your own personal failure. 

  • Discovering new ways to release trauma stored in the body and calm your nervous system. 

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  • Processing traumatic memories in a way that gives them a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

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Click here to learn more about these specific types of therapy we offer.