What comes to your mind when you hear the word “trauma”? You might imagine an ER room situation where doctors and nurses rush to treat victims of violence or vehicular accidents – anyone in critical conditions. Of course, these are just some of the forms of traumatic events that we know of, but what about trauma related to mental health issues?
You do not have to have gone to an ER to have been traumatized. When it comes to mental health, trauma is any overwhelming event that overcomes our capacity to cope and leaves us struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that would not go away. It is often the result of – or our response to – an overwhelming amount of stress that we experience from a situation or event that exceeds what we can deal with.
How serious is trauma in the context of mental health? Gravely serious! Trauma affects our concept of safety and well-being. It creates significant and lasting damage to our mental, emotional, and physical health. Traumatic experiences can change the way we view others, our surroundings, and ourselves.
Feeling safe is crucial
Most of us have experienced moments when we do not feel safe emotionally or physically. We may be overanalyzing what someone meant by the comments they made. We may be constantly ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. We may have invasive thoughts about what people will think of us if we do or say anything. We may have difficulties focusing. We feel impatient when things do not go our way. We may be fearful of trusting others and building new relationships. We may be constantly afraid, worried, and nervous.
Whenever a traumatic event occurs, it can take a while for us to get over the pain and feel safe again. To live healthy lives, we must be able to work through our traumatic experiences to feel safe and protected with the comfort of being present.