Understanding and Validating Your Trauma
Trauma is something that most people will experience at some point during their life. It is defined by Psychology Today as “a person’s emotional response to a distressing experience.” Usually, people think of trauma as something massive like living through a natural disaster, a life-threatening injury, or death. These types of events are all things that are usually beyond our control and unexpected. However, while those things are traumatic, so are a myriad of other - potentially smaller - experiences.
If you have gone through something traumatic, it’s important to validate that and anything you deal with as a result of it.
How do you recognize signs of trauma?
Trauma impacts everyone differently, which is why it’s so important to pay attention to both your body and mind. The more awareness you have about how your body reacts to varying levels of stress, the more likely you are to notice if something is awry. Often, symptoms of trauma can look like other mental health conditions anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and more.
When you get stressed, the cortisol levels in your body will rise. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by your adrenal glands and also affects your sleep, metabolism, inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Whether you have short-term or long-term stress or experience trauma, exposure to high cortisol levels for too long can cause a significant impact on the body.
Here are some more things that can happen if you have been affected by trauma:
You are fatigued, tired, or drowsy.
You experience mood swings, anxiety, or panic attacks.
You have trouble remembering events or concentrating on things.
You may feel hyper-aware of situations.
You have complaints of aches and pains.
What does it mean to validate your trauma?
It’s natural to want to seem “strong” as you’re healing from trauma. For many people, being in a vulnerable place is out of their comfort zone. Even if you’re not showing emotions to others, being open with yourself about a traumatic event can be scary.
One of the most crucial parts of working through the aftereffects of trauma is to validate your feelings. Know that regardless of what your traumatic experience was, it is within your right to be upset or have a reaction to it. Validation comes from acknowledging what happened and realizing that it may change the way things currently are in your life.
Although the emotions may be hard to deal with, it’s important to listen to your body and mind – giving them the attention they need. When you start listening to these signals and processing what you’ve experienced, you will begin to feel deeply and have a better understanding of where you need to go to heal. You cannot heal by ignoring or pushing aside what happened or how you are reacting to it.
Do not deny yourself the chance to heal.
While validating your own trauma and giving yourself that grace is important, so is being supported by other people. Further validation from others, especially your loved ones and those involved in treatment, can be even better for your mental health.
The mental health professionals at Kentucky Services recognize the importance of validating your trauma. With a bit of time and the help of one of our trauma-informed clinicians, you can begin the process of working through your trauma – no matter what has happened. Schedule an appointment with us today to start your healing journey.
If you have experienced trauma and are looking for help, here are some resources you can use:
National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline - 1-800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline - Online chat options available, or call 1-800-799-7233
Crisis Text Line - Text “START” to 741741
Mental Health Emergency Number - 988