Stress, tension and traumatic experience is common and natural, it cannot be avoided. Most people know when they feel stressed and tense, they will recognize the symptoms and have a found some more-or-less effective ways to help themselves. But what about trauma? What is the difference between Stress and Trauma ? How do you know if what you experienced was traumatic? Is that not just an individual interpretation?
Trauma is defined as a state of high arousal – being overwhelmed by sense perceptions and often combined with intense fear.
Many people grew up learning and believing that trauma resulting from an accident and physical injury is of a different ‘nature’ than the trauma of emotional abuse. If we broke our arm we go to a Surgeon – a broken heart we may take to a Psychiatrist. Looking back at the circumstances surrounding the accident may reveal that our emotional state was the cause and an in-depth reflection on our broken heart may reveal that we are neglecting our body and rejecting his needs.
Separation between MIND and BODY is an illusion ! In reality it is THE CONNECTION between mind and body, that makes us who we are.
The connection is facilitated by our EMOTIONS. Emotions are physical sensations. Only with the learning of language and reasoning they become mental ‘states’ that are categorized, judged, wished for or suppressed. EMOTIONS are the language of our body and the mind learns to ‘translates’ and ‘understand’ this language. How we react to the sense perceptions called emotions is highly individual, our capacity to memorize and reason opens a myriad of possibilities.
If EMOTIONS are the CONNECTION between MIND and BODY – where is the line between normal emotions and trauma ?
Survival responses are generated through an energy – overload in our nervous system in connection with the automatic release of chemicals (hormones). Three distinct reactions are known but it is possible to experience one, two or all of them by drifting from one state into another.
Freezing – ranging from a sensation of ‘stiffness’, ‘being unable to move’ to feeling ‘invisible’ and/or ‘immovable’. Flooding – ranging from crying and sobbing to shouting, hitting and blind rage. Dissociating – ranging from consciously rejecting/ignoring the emotions to literally disconnecting from the body as if in a trance.
It is of paramount importance to understand that these reactions are life-saving, unconscious and uncontrollable. They are not wished for but they serve a purpose. They are NORMAL reactions to EXTRAORDINARY and overwhelming circumstances.
We have the mental and emotional capacity and the physical resources to experience and survive trauma.
How long this takes and how difficult it is varies greatly. TRE® can help along the way to recovery. Continue reading here: Life after Trauma and What is TRE ?