We all go through different life experiences, some more traumatic than others which leave a lasting impact if left unresolved. The term PTSD is often associated with soldiers that have returned from war or a child that may have witnessed or suffered abuse. Unfortunately, most of us have experienced some form of trauma or another. The way in which a traumatic account is dealt with can make a world of difference iwith how a person moves forward and heals. In today’s Wellness Wednesday post, we discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW.
What is Trauma?
“Trauma” is the medical term for serious injury. Psychological trauma happens when a person witnesses or experiences a harmful or threatening event. This harm, or threat of harm, may be directed towards the sufferer or another individual. Some common traumas are: living as a civilian or soldier in a war zone, sexual and physical abuse, natural disaster, severe illness, accidents, acts of violence, and sexual assault.
People who have a history of trauma can feel sad, suicidal, anxious, angry, disoriented, have chronic pain, nightmares, and difficulty in relationships. Sometimes, they can have flashbacks, which is when a memory is triggered by a smell, sound, or event that brings the person back into a traumatic memory like they are experiencing it in real time.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is an emotional response to a person’s experience of trauma. In the recent past PTSD has been considered a weakness, but I often wonder what “normal” human being is unaffected by horror?
To add insult to stigma-injury PTSD is commonly misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms of PTSD may be similar to many other mental health disorders listed in the DSM manual. These include but are not limited to ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
People are often mistakenly assigned more than one of these labels, which, in my opinion, in no way helps their already low view of themselves.
The trauma problem:
Often people who have experienced trauma, experience a half memory of what happened–the memory of the horror. In other words, what happened to them. People feel helpless, vulnerable, worthless, stupid, and most disturbing–guilty for what happened. Trying to make sense of this, sufferers often conclude that it somehow must have been their fault.
The stories that they tell themselves about the trauma can unfortunately lead to negative identity conclusions: I am crazy. I deserve nothing. I am fat and ugly. I am unloveable. These identity conclusions have deep and lasting consequences. It is unfortunate that their response to the event gets lost in the remembering.
Treatment for Trauma:
In treatment, if a person’s response (i.e., how they survived) is uncovered (i.e., kept her values, protected someone, saved a sibling from getting hurt, worked hard in school), this can be highlighted and brought forth. The story of it can grow. And from there, it provides opportunity for new self view: I am thoughtful. I am a survivor. I stopped the legacy of abuse. I care. This makes the memory a whole memory.
It is helpful to keep in mind, that there is always a response. In every oppression, there is some kind of protest–no matter how small it is, it is always there. Unfortunately, this protest is often subjugated by the abuse itself, so is rendered invisible. A counselor helps bring it out. And this can be very powerful.
It is not necessarily “talking about the abuse” that heals, it is talking about the response to the abuse that re-stories the traumatic memories, releasing their painful grip on people’s lives. A person’s active response during or following trauma, always suggest what is given value by him or her. It tells what is precious in his or her life. It provides a place to stand–a place where the person is an agent in her life rather than a passive recipient of it. This is empowering to one who has, since the trauma, felt disempowered.
Gathering an audience for these uncovered skills and values is an integral part in creating the new identity and exponentially fast-forwards the healing process. Witnesses reflect back the goodness, giving the person a robust sense of self, where before she had felt empty and alone. Once actions and values are made visible and witnessed, the many symptoms of PTSD (depression, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia, low self esteem, OCD) are significantly decreased.
By Jodi Lobozzo Aman of Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
Jodi is hosting a Reclaiming Your Soul: Healing from Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Retreat April 12-14, 2013 in Ithaca NY.
Experience a structured program using movement, meditation, writing, and time with nature. Take back your life from the devastating effects of sexual abuse and assault. Re-story your life and minimize fear, doubt, and shame. Find peace of mind. Feel validated and less alone. Recover your spirituality. Empower your self. Embrace joy.
Cost $264 Program, vegetarian meals Saturday and Sunday, private rooms, and bedding are provided.
Download registration form in PDF and mail it in:
Jodi is a practicing therapist, author, and teacher. She works primarily with people who have lived through trauma. Her workshops and retreats jump start healing by inspiring self-love. With over two decades of experience helping children, families, and individuals eliminate suffering, she has dedicated her life to assist in healing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spirituality. Read Jodi’s bio.
Find Jodi on the web…
She blogs here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace,
and here: Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog,
shares here: Twitter@JodiAman,
inspires here: Facebook: Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace,
counsels here: www.heal-here.com.
Call for an appointment 585-544-5342.
Get her free E-book: What Is UP In Your DOWN? Being Grateful in 7 Easy Steps.
Wellness Wednesdays: will focus on various mental health issues, healthy ways to deal with stress, change and transitions and also where to seek help or advice if you suffer from a mental illness. If you would be interested in contributing or sharing your story, email rn (at) rhachellenicol (dot) com with your topic of interest.
- Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (everydayhealth.com)
- The Family Story of Trauma: Ways to Heal the Legacy (mwoods228.wordpress.com)
- Heal PTSD, Eating Disorders, & Rageaholism with Art Therapy (theanjananetwork.net)