Last week I wrote about the trauma that Andy Murray had experienced and ways in which tennis has helped him channel his energy into a positive activity. Anyone who has been through trauma knows that there is no one standard response to a deeply distressing experience. Some are impacted immediately, others months later, and some years after the event. It often depends on the degree of intensity and loss, the person’s coping skills, and other stressful events that may be impacting their lives. The American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) offers insights and strategies for managing traumatic stress.
Have you ever experienced trauma in your life? What impact did it have on you and how did you cope? Some individuals respond initially with shock and/or denial. Trauma can produce intense and unpredictable feelings, strain relationships, cause changes in thoughts and behavior patterns, produce physical symptoms, and trigger flashbacks or vivid memories. Dealing with extreme stress can be overwhelming and takes time to work through especially if you’ve compartmentalized the emotions over years. Relying on your support system (family/friends) can be helpful, but the most important aspect of healing is communicating about your experience. Some people are better with writing about it than sharing it verbally, but getting it out in any form can be empowering and liberating. Getting back to your routine, positive self-care, getting involved in a support group, avoiding making major decisions shortly after trauma, and considering professional help will be beneficial.
Trauma can be debilitating, consuming, overwhelming, and numbing, but there is hope for healing and strategies to effectively work through the pain. Courage, perseverance, and commitment are required for recovery. The rewards are significant and include improved relationships, increased coping skills, greater ability in expressing emotion and being vulnerable, and trusting again. Empowerment occurs when we confront emotional pain and successfully let it go. Never give up on yourself or the process of healing. Let go of the past and create a new future.