What does trauma feel like?

Sometimes clients come to see me because they know that they have been traumatised.  Something, or a repeat of things has occurred and they know that they have been hurt by it and that they continue to be affected by it.  Many other clients do not know that they are suffering the effects of trauma.  Trauma can happen from neglect, betrayal, abandonment, enmeshment or rejection during childhood.  It can happen within an abusive relationship.  It can happen from having a serious illness, a car accident (even minor ones) or invasive medical or dental procedures, child birth.  You may recall from our last post that Peter Levine’s definition of trauma is that “we are traumatisedwe become traumatised when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelmed”.

The list of trauma symptoms is long and varied.  Below are a few types of  symptoms.  This list  is not complete, nor is it to be used for diagnosis.  It is more to give a “feel” for how trauma symptoms present in the body.  More about this can be found in Peter Levine’s book “Healing Trauma”.

Hypervigilance, anxiety, panic attacks, intrusive flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, insomnia, reduced ability to cope, shame and lack of self worth, avoidance behaviour, spaced out feelings, addictive behaviours, exaggerated or diminished sexual activity, inability to love or bond with another, chronic fatigue, immune system problems, skin disorders, fibromyalgia, depression.  (Levine, 2005).

So even reading this list you may have noticed that something was activated in you.  Maybe yFirst-Step-of-a-Thousand-Mile-Journey-300x225our heart raced, maybe your fingers tingled, maybe you spaced out and stopped reading, maybe there is a couple of things on the list that you keep re-reading.  By noticing your response you are beginning to track yourself.  By beginning to track yourself you are taking the first step to healing trauma.

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