5 Lies You're Being Told About Your Trauma
I recently posted a reel about this and people seem to really like it so I figured I would write a blog post talking a bit more about some of the most common trauma myths. If you want to check out the reel, check out my Instagram.
1. You can't treat PTSD
Often when clients come to me they've spent years trying to heal their symptoms. They've tried CBT and challenging the thoughts that they are "unloveable" or "bad" and despite knowing logically these feelings are irrational, they feel unable to shake them and they wonder why. Alternatively, you may be struggling with feelings of anxiety and fear that you can't overcome. You find yourself looking over your shoulder constantly and waiting for the other shoe to drop. This can create a feeling that you are doomed to feel this way forever. I'm happy to say though, this is not the case! PTSD is ABSOLUTELY treatable, its just a matter of finding the right treatment. Many scientifically founded therapies exist for PTSD including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic Experiencing, Internal Family Systems, and Sensorimotor Therapy. All of these methods work WITH your brain to access the trauma by connecting to primitive parts of the brain where the trauma is stored. If you wanted to learn more about this, check out this article I wrote on it.
2. It Was Your Fault
Ooof I have to be completely honest, this makes me so angry and sad as a therapist and just as a PERSON to hear how many people are told this. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DID YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR TRAUMA. Think of it this way, if someone was robbed, we wouldn't sit around saying, "it's their fault." So why is this any different? Furthermore, when we experience trauma it isn't something we decide or choose. Our brain and our body go into survival mode and our focus is simply doing WHATEVER we need to do to survive. This looks differently for different people and in different situations. Trauma responses can be attempting to fight or flee or IF OUR BRAIN DETERMINES we can't do that, we will freeze or fawn (people-please). Blaming the survivor often comes from a place of wanting to distance yourself from the crime. If we believe the person could have done something differently, it gives us a false sense of security that the same thing wouldn't happen to us. This can also come from perpetrators looking to minimize their role in the dynamic. Either way, its complete BS.
3. PTSD Always Happens Right After the Event
This is a big one. If we look at the technical definition of PTSD it requires that we experience symptoms for 6 months or more. If its been less than 30 days were likely to be diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder. So by definition, PTSD dosn't happen right after the event. It's also common for someone to experience something and later begin to show symptoms.
4. PTSD Will Just Go Away Over Time
Circling back to the earlier point, PTSD can be healed. However, PTSD happens because our nervous system is unable to process the event(s) we experienced. Every day we experience events, stressful and otherwise. The majority of these we're able to process through talking, dreaming and the passage of time. For example,you're driving and someone cuts you off on the freeway. Maybe you get mad, feel your heart rate increase and have some choice words. Later, you get home and vent to a friend about it get some sleep and by the next day you're over it. It's different though with trauma, we're unable process the event because of how overwhelming it is, and so we're left with all the feelings both physically and emotionally that we had during the event.
In a way, it's sort of like the "wound" becomes infected, and we're unable to heal until we go in and clean that wound out to help the healing process along.
5. You Just Need to Push Through to Heal from Trauma
Woof! This is a tough one. As I touched on before, trauma is very often misunderstood. Because of this, many people with a lot of good intentions can encourage us to "suck it up" and keep moving. I can tell you though, from the research and my own experience, this just doesn't work. One of the MOST important things in the healing process is to respect our edge. When we push through and don't listen to our edge we can actually make things worse. Now don't get me wrong, this does not mean that healing should always be comfortable, but we want to stay in our window of tolerance. If you want to learn more about the Window of Tolerance and what it means, check out this article I wrote.
So those are some of the most common lies you're being told about your trauma. What are your thoughts? Comment below what you would add to this list and how you can start applying this to your healing journey.
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