Recovering from Trauma and/or Stressful Negative Experiences
‘I was an only- child and spent a lot of time alone and scared. My Mom left my Dad when I was young because he was abusive to both of us. So, my mom was a single working mom with two jobs to make ends meet. She did the best she could and I don’t blame her, but it was really tough. I was bullied at school and I didn’t tell my Mom cause she was already so stressed. I was trying to be a ‘brave boy’. I told one teacher who said I should be tough. So, I turned to drugs and alcohol, got tough, and became a ‘bad- ass kid’. Years later, I am now clean and sober, and have gone back to school and have a good part time job as an IT guy. The trouble is that I get really anxious in social situations at work and at school. I often freeze up in class and can’t concentrate. I avoid my-coworkers and stick to myself. I am afraid they’ll see what a loser I am and I’ll be bullied again. My girlfriend always tells me what a great guy I am and is my biggest support, but I still feel that something is really wrong with me. It was so many years ago, but still feels like yesterday.’
‘I don’t quite get it. I am successful, have two great kids, a loving partner and a good support network. I know I am safe now and that my abusive step-father died many years ago, but whenever my partner approaches me sexually, I feel myself starting to detach and go numb . I don’t know why it keeps on happening because I know he loves me and would never do anything to hurt me. I feel so ashamed and am afraid that I am ruining our sex life.
‘Since the car accident, I haven’t been able to drive. For the longest time I couldn’t even be in a car as a passenger. I’d like to drive again, but I am just too scared. I have recurring nightmares of the accident, I don’t sleep very well, I hardly go out alone anymore, and I’m irritable a lot of the time. I just can’t get over it.’
‘My parents were what you’d call happy drunks. Well, actually they weren’t so happy after a certain point. They got obnoxious and mean and my siblings and I were often terrified. We would make ourselves scarce, wait until they passed out, put them to bed, tidy up after them and fend for ourselves. My older brother started calling them on it which made things worse for him, my oldest sister disappeared into books and school, and I learned to be very good and accommodating and I would get praise for that. So I became a super responsible caretaker and that got me through until I was old enough to leave. I vowed I would never be like that when I grew up, and I’m not, I just keep falling for people who are like one or both of them , don’t get treated very well but keep on taking care of them anyway. I know better, but can’t do better”
These are a few examples of traumatic or stressful negative experiences that people have gone through and some of how it’s affected them. Trauma and stress do impact our functioning in many negative ways. You may already know that you’ve been through something that has had a huge impact but haven’t been ready to deal with it yet, or you find yourself stuck in patterns or behaviours that don’t quite make sense, or you find that the past is intruding on the present in different ways such as flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression or withdrawal. Whatever your particular circumstances are, your symptoms are pointing you towards better health and functioning by calling your attention to them. Healing can look different for each person. I work closely with you to determine what that would look like for you.