We are only 7 months into the year but since 2016 began we have seen countless instances of violence and injustice. The moment we turn on our radio, t.v., smart phone or tablet within minutes there is a new ping or notification alerting us to the most recent murder, rape, brutal crime or latest government coup. It has gotten to the point that many of us go out of our way to avoid watching the news. Our society has become so saturated with violence we can’t tell the 7 o’clock news from the latest Tarantino or Spielberg movie. In the past 30 days we have seen criminals caught on camera or plain red handed and still be released with no form of punishment. It has become so uncommon to see justice that we begin to question our own sense of right and wrong. It is taking its toll on us emotionally to see the same crimes happening over and over with no justice. When the phone rings late at night, the doorbell rings and no one is expected, or when a flashing light comes just a little too close to us we now question will it be us, will it be my family next? Sadly, I know that even as a woman I am not exempt from the violence constantly threatening us daily. I know that my future children are not exempt from the threat that grows closer each moment nothing is done to change it. We are now living in a state of fear and the sad reality is that state will kill us long before the threat can even get to us if we don’t seek help.
When we hear the word trauma we instantly think of extreme situations. Our minds wander between the pain we associate with veterans and rape victims. Day to day we can’t imagine that we could possibly be living lives parallel to those in our wildest imaginations or nightmares. Many of us are experiencing trauma on a day to day basis and don’t even know it. A large percentage of the population grew up walking past yellow caution tape, skipping over bullets, tuning out racing ambulances, studying over the sounds of yelling and fighting so much that now we have become desensitized. We have become so used to the drama and violence of life that we can’t see that is not normal to be immersed in chaos all the time. Our lives and our children’s lives should not mimic that of individuals fighting in warzones. There are families in the United States whose lives look more comparable to a third world country than the “American Dream”. We need to educate ourselves on the effects that it’s having on us so that we can take the proper counter-measures to live healthier lives, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Trauma is defined as an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma has no respective person, it can affect the biggest to the smallest, the bravest to the weakest, the old to the young, rich or poor, no one is exempt. After we experience any type of trauma we can expect a rush of emotions such as shock, denial, sadness, anger, rage, shame, numbness, anxiety, fear or even guilt to follow. Even after the event has happened it is common for us to experience unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, and even physical symptoms. These physical symptoms can include: insomnia or nightmares, becoming easily startled, body aches/pains, unexplained fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feeling on edge and irritable. The truth is that many of us are not just experiencing trauma but we are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. We have all heard the term stress can kill but the reality is the PTSD symptoms many of us are experiencing are slowly killing us in the form of heart disease, liver disease, autoimmune disease, dementia, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome, and many other chronic pain conditions.
When a person allows themselves time to process these feelings the symptoms gradually reduce or end all together. The key piece to achieving that last statement is “time to process”. If we take the time to better understand that we are experiencing trauma. I believe more people would take the opportunity to heal. My hopes are that more people will learn the symptoms and recognize they don’t have to deal with trauma alone. While trauma comes in many forms and is subjective to the person we all deserve to feel safe physically and emotionally in this world. Many of us feel as though we have to sit in silence, but that silence is killing us literally and figuratively. It is easy to take on the stance that no one understands, things will never change, or it’s better to not say anything out of fear that you will upset others. A part of creating the solution is breaking down the stigma of mental health. If you, your loved one or someone you know is dealing with any form of trauma please seek help. There are professionals ready and willing to help you get through it. You do not have to go through this alone!