Many of us will experience some kind of traumatic event in our lives, but there are many variables that affects how you’re impacted.
Sometimes internal resilience and supports is enough for some people to heal following trauma. It was hard, but you survived and recovered and remain pretty much the same person you were before the trauma.
This happens more for single incident trauma where there’s enough resources and support.
But trauma that is interpersonal and repeated can lead to more server forms of trauma—that are harder to recover from. In situations like this, the trauma overwhelms your ability to deal with it. This can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder or complex PTDS.
There isn’t enough internal resilience to bounce back because your repeatedly overwhelmed. There’s too much threat and your nervous system gets stuck in the fight-flight-freeze mode.
This leads to symptoms of anxiety including panic attacks, signs of depression, social anxiety, low self-esteem, relationship problems and other mental health issues.
Complex PTSD shakes the foundation of who you thought you were and what you believed in. Later, when you’re older and away from the abuse, you’re forced to put the pieces of yourself back together.
People are rarely the same as they were before the trauma. But some people discover through their healing they’ve become stronger than they were before the trauma. How can that be?
I remember when my home got broken. Electronics and other valuables were stolen and the place was a mess. The next day I told co-workers what had happened and a friend replied with shock, “you must feel violated.”
No, I didn’t feel that at all.
I remember thinking, “I was robbed, but this was nothing compared the violation I felt from the abuse when I was younger.”
As a therapist I understand why I was able to handle to home break-in with such resilience. It was related to growth I experience following my own healing and recovery from child abuse.
While post-traumatic stress occurs, so can post-traumatic growth. “Compared to what I’ve been through–this is nothing,” is a strength some people discover as they heal from ptsd.
If you’re a survivor of trauma, are you able to see growth in yourself? Can you think of specific examples of personal growth–that sense of feeling stronger inside?
Recognizing and acknowledging the ways you’ve become stronger–without ignoring the trauma symptoms you’re still dealing with–not only helps you overcome the trauma, recognizing personal growth improves the overall quality of your life.
Here’s a few questions to help identify your areas of growth:
Based on what you’ve been through:
- is there something that’s now easier for you to deal with or handle than it was before?
- are there some things that bother you less—that you’re somehow tougher in handling?
- can you face certain things you couldn’t before?
- are there things you can talk about now that were harder before?
- are there some things that you can do now that you couldn’t before?
Without ignoring the impact of ptsd, is there anything else that you can think of that is evidence of your personal growth after the trauma?
Complex trauma is a lot to deal with and it’s common for survivors of past abuse to seek help from therapists who specialize in trauma. And there’s a lot to be gained from healing.
I can help you make sense of and move past what you went through. And I can help you identify your strengths, where you’ve grown and what to focus on strengthening.
If you have experienced trauma or ptsd and are interested in exploring treatment that looks not only reducing symptoms, but at increasing areas of growth contact me today. If you’re not sure if therapy is right for you, we offer a free 15 minute consulting to see if counselling is right for you.
Contact My Winnipeg at 204-504-6976 or see the Contact Page for more information.
In my following blog post I’ll discuss another key area of Post-Traumatic Growth, Seeing Greater Possibilities for Yourself.