Category: Mental Health

Are You Coping with Trauma? Healing and Understanding the Effects

Do you find yourself having angry outbursts for no particular reason? Jumping at loud or unexpected sounds? Withdrawing from the world and the people around you? Sinking into sudden bouts of sadness and despair? You may be coping with the effects of a traumatic event you experienced.

I can remember driving toward a traffic light after a shopping trip. A young man ran out into the street in front of the car right in front of me and was launched into the sky before hitting the inner median. I still am not sure how witnessing this tragedy may have affected me. It was all so sudden.

Being constantly teased and bullied as a child can be traumatic for many—even when they have reached middle age!

Kids who have been subjected to school shootings often struggle with the after effects of these traumatic events. Adults have difficulty coping, so imagine what trauma does to a young, not-yet fully developed mind.

Women who experience divorce sometimes struggle with trauma and shock at having to adjust to life without their significant others.

And after the shock of experiencing the beginning of a global pandemic in the year 2020, it is difficult to find someone who isn’t dealing with some level or form of trauma. Families are struggling with grief due to the loss of loved ones, watching them slowly or suddenly pass away, friends losing friends, and nervousness about even being around others in public.

Media reporting doesn’t make things much better, constantly publishing fear stories that can cause anxiety to ripple through communities. Not to mention the recession that took root in 2020, causing many to lose their jobs and sense of stability.

Understanding Trauma

A trauma is a shock to the system that can affect the mind, body, and sometimes even a person’s spirit or set of beliefs. The American Psychological Association defines it as “an emotional response to a terrible event.”

There are numerous studies about how trauma can affect the body and the brain. One day you are cruising through life, with everything going as you think it should, and the next you are hit with a whammy. In major cases, you might eventually become completely confused as to why you’re even here on this planet called Earth. You may get caught up in your thoughts of the past, instead of living in the present and looking forward to the future. Trauma and anxiety are linked because it can cause a person to live in constant fear of experiencing that situation again.

Trauma can come in many different forms, from losing someone close to you, to going through some type of combat (PTSD), to witnessing an accident or tragedy (like 9/11). And sometimes you don’t even realize that your mind and your body have been affected by this trauma until there is some type of trigger.

Potential Effects and Symptoms of Trauma

How do you know you are struggling with the effects of trauma? These are some of the possible symptoms:

  • Physical reactions, like nervous gut, headaches, nausea, and/or insomnia.
  • Making rash decisions, or choices that aren’t beneficial.
  • Withdrawing from the world; pushing people away; social anxiety.
  • Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.
  • Angry outbursts or mood fluctuations.
  • Random flashbacks to the traumatic event.

Ways to Deal with Trauma

Finding a therapist who specializes in treating the effects of trauma, one that you feel comfortable with, is ideal. There are a few different trauma therapy options, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy. But what do you do to cope when you can’t find a therapist who can help you at the moment? Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Acknowledge that you are experiencing trauma, and recognize that it is not your fault.
  • Counteract a negative thought with a positive one. For instance, as soon as a negative remembrance or flashback comes to mind, attempt to picture yourself in your favorite place, somewhere peaceful, or remembering a fun time you had with friends.
  • It sounds cliché, but meditation can help. All it requires is shutting off outside influences for at least a few minutes and taking a moment to concentrate on you. It helps get you centered. Yoga and other forms of exercise can also help.
  • Stay busy with something that interests you, whether it’s a hobby or a business goal.
  • Talk to a professional about sleeping aids that will be right for you if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night. It is so important to get your proper rest.

Hopefully, if you’re coping with trauma, you’ll be able to find the help that you need to heal. Understand that you are not to blame, and that you’re not alone. Reject guilt and shame. Take care of yourself because you matter.

Love Lynn

* This information is partly based on personal experiences, and is not meant as a substitute for the advice and counseling of a professional.

What Are the (Small) Triggering Things or People You Deal with Daily?

If you analyze each day, you’ll probably notice a number of small things that happen throughout that can trigger you to anger, annoyance, or maybe just a bit of an upset that throws you off balance for a while. It might be helpful to take note of those things and recognize how they may be affecting how things go for you, in the short term and long term.

A hair that just won’t stay in place, no matter how many times you brush or comb it down. The zipper that gets stuck when you are in a rush to head out of the door. The cellphone keypad that keeps delivering the wrong letter.

When you are in a state of anxiety, frustration, or feeling overwhelmed, sometimes the smallest of triggers can set you off in a number of ways. A trigger can make you suddenly have a verbal outburst of anger, make you cry, or cause you to self-medicate. Here are a few triggers that could be affecting your anxiety levels and stealing your joy or productivity.

Buttons Repeatedly Pressed

Have you ever been watching a movie or television show and find yourself having to press the buttons multiple times before getting a response? How many times would you say you press a button each day, whether it’s a remote control, smartphone, tablet, or other piece of technology?

Sideways Comments from Others

If you’ve ever been around a group of people, there always seems to be at least one that has to make sideways comments and try to start drama with you or others. When struggling with anxiety, it can become more and more difficult to ignore those comments. Yet, when you pay them attention, you’re giving them what they want, and distracting yourself from what YOU want.

A Dripping Faucet

Drip, drop, drip, drop. Every time you enter the room you hear that constant sound inside of the silence. This can be a triggering thing for some people, especially when it’s happening on a daily basis. Sometimes the issue can easily be remedied by simply tightening something up.

A Loud Sudden Noise

This is particularly triggering for someone who struggles with PTSD. Out of nowhere, a loud noise that leaves you wondering, “what the *** was that?” This is an issue for some people during July 4th Independence day displays and other celebrations, which sometimes last for days.

Those Annoying “Bugs”

There are few things as irritating as when you have an outdoor picnic or barbecue and the bugs won’t leave you alone. When flys, gnats, ants, wasps, and other insects invade your space it can be triggering, causing you to lose your calmness and relaxation. Have you ever seen someone scream and slap around themselves trying to get a bug away? It can be humorous to see, but it can also trigger someone’s anxiety.

People can also “bug” you, constantly trying to disturb your peace.

Slow Internet

Some of us thought we’d be living like The Jetsons by now. But in the early 21st century it’s difficult to even get a steady, consistent, reasonably fast internet connection. Constantly waiting for things to load. I know that my thoughts and ideas come to me very quickly, and I like to get them down as soon as possible. But technology seems to hold me back from doing that sometimes.

Kibbles and Bits and Bits and Bits…

If you are a cat owner like me, you know how annoying it can be to have to clean up after your pets. They leave trails of litter from the litter box all around your house and often will drop food kibbles in the most random of places. You step on them when getting out of the shower. You see them in your kitchen and dining room. Seeing these small kibbles and bits can be triggering, if you allow it to become an annoying issue instead of just sweeping things up every week.

Tangled Cords

Have you ever found yourself fighting with cords? Trying to detangle a cellphone cord, computer cord, or the cord to your vacuum? The patience wears things after a while. Obviously, the solution is to take the time to wrap the cords properly after each use, but when you are overwhelmed it can be difficult to do the obvious.

Once you start to recognize these triggers, it may be easier to work through them. Take a few deep breaths, acknowledge the issue, and then either fix it or laugh it off. You are in control.

What are some of the triggers you deal with on a daily basis? And how you can manage them more productively?

Love Lynn

Do You Have a Toxic Person in Your Life? That Could Be Affecting Your Mental Wellness

A lot of people talk about mental illness as if it spontaneously occurs one day. Maybe they assume that the person was born with the issue, or it is simply a chemical imbalance. That there is something inherently or biologically wrong with the person who has depression, anxiety or similar issues. And that may be true for certain advanced disorders.

Yet as someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety in the past, I don’t believe that it is all about biology. I believe many mental issues are deeply rooted in circumstance.

I don’t really like calling them “illnesses.” I think that many mental health issues are symptoms of things that are going on in that person’s life.

From my experience, a lot of people who struggle with their mental health have those issues due to the toxic people in their lives. Toxic people are those who may or may not be aware of their negativity and choose to spread it around any chance they get. They feed off of making other people feel sad, angry, frustrated, or defeated.

It could be that “friend” who makes you feel less than, as if you are lucky to be in their presence. Constantly launching veiled insults. Insecurity and depression.

The parent who either ignores you, mistreats you, or treats you like you don’t really matter. And when you say something in your defense, they tell you to stop being a crybaby because that’s how they were raised (who knows why someone would want to raise another generation that way when they’re miserable!). I think this begins to breed low self-esteem and depression in very young people.

That one sibling who constantly puts you down instead of bringing you up as they should. Depression, low self-esteem, and imposter syndrome.

That bully who bothered you every day you went to school, because he or she was miserable and probably being bullied at home. Anxiety and depression.

Watching a loved one be abused or treated badly for a long period of time. Anxiety.

Many people who struggle with substance abuse problems are affected by the toxic people in their lives who don’t understand them or don’t even care to understand.

Many people who struggle with depression feel abandoned and judged by the people who they would expect to support them.

Guilt and Shame

I have said before in my books and blog posts that guilt and shame are two of the most useless emotions. If you are feeling guilt and shame around your mental wellness, you shouldn’t. These two emotions are used to make people feel low and like they cannot rebound from whatever challenges they are experiencing.

Push the guilt and shame aside, and look forward to the future. What’s in the past is in the past—leave it there. Believe that there are better things on the horizon. Many people give up on life because they fall victim to guilt and shame and do not recover.

Limit Your Contact with Toxic People

It isn’t always possible to completely remove yourself from the presence of toxic people, whether they are friends or family members. But if you can, at the very least limit your contact with them. And when they start to affect you in a negative way, whether with actions or words, leave the situation as soon as possible. 

Do not allow yourself to mix in with their misery soup.

Understand that if you are dealing with mental health issues, it is not necessarily you or your biology that is the main problem. It could be overexposure to toxic people who you are forced to be around whether due to familial ties, work, or people who want you to believe they are friends. See how things go if you stay away from toxic folks for two weeks or more and spend more time with yourself, in peace.

Speaking from experience,

Love Lynn