The Many Individual Ways We Cope with Trauma

Nobody comes out of a traumatic background unscathed unless they have fully done the difficult blood, sweat and tears work of recovery. Some of us (like myself) are really skilled at putting on a mask and blocking out  pain so convincingly that people think we are not suffering! Those who are extroverts, laugh a lot, or put on a confident strong-front or have a big cheerful smile all the time are often confused for being free of pain or even healed. This misunderstanding can make people who are experts at blocking out pain feel unseen, belittled and misunderstood. I want to end that today. The truth is that  we are all suffering, but we all suffer uniquely. We all cope with trauma and daily stress very very differently and we can have more than one ways to cope on this below list. Using less ways to cope compared to someone else does not mean your trauma is less painful in comparison to others. We can even use one way to survive one day and use other ways on other days or other time periods in our lives. We are complex humans.

If we all knew the different ways in which we cope with trauma or even daily stress, we might be a lot more understanding and compassionate with one another. We sometimes might think someone isn’t suffering when they are really just good at blocking emotions and memories. We think we are suffering alone. The truth is that we all suffer, but we deal with the symptoms of trauma and stress quite differently. Nobody is ever alone even if they feel alone.

The ways we cope…..

Depression
This includes atypical, and clinical depression, nihilism, suicide ideation, suicide, defeatist thinking, excessive sleeping, lack of motivation, numbness, or the inability to work or take on responsibility.

Addictions/Distractions
Addiction to drugs, alcohol, smoking, obsessions, compulsions, overworking, over-busyness, overeating, undereating, fanaticism, sex/porn addiction, or any self-defeating extremes that keep our memories and emotions repressed.

Dissociation
This includes multiple personalities, de-realization, de-personalization, checking out, maladaptive daydreaming, poor attention span, out of body experiences, freeze, detachment, denial, poor concentration abilities, or poor memory.

Physical illness
Since trauma is stored in the body, trauma causes certain parts of the body to become weak, so accidents, the environment, food and lifestyle choices can trigger those weak areas causing ailments, disease, aging, and death.

Stoicism
A shutting down or a muting of the senses and the emotions, a lack of sensitivity to the self and others, a high threshold for physical and emotional pain, unawareness, inability to feel compassion and connection to others, or frequent numbness.

Hypersensitivity
This includes not being able to handle one’s own emotions, everything is too much, the world and other people’s emotions are unbearable, hyperawareness, hypervigilance, always in red alert, anxiety, panic and panic attacks, paranoia, borderline personality disorder, inability to comprehend or think straight, inhibition of the higher mind or complex thinking, inability to think critically, stress hormones often or always active, tightness in stomach, nightmares, insomnia, or the inability to be still.

Repression
The body and soul remember everything, but some of us (unconsciously) choose to block from our conscious minds traumatic events (partially or fully) that are too painful to remember. Having said this, we cannot know our own childhood or the childhoods of others for repression is a common survival mechanism.

Fusion with the perpetrators (making new victims)
Sometimes we victimize others of the same or similar abuse we went through as a means to keeping the original wound blocked out of our minds.  “At present, few people in our society understand that the very abuse of children is a form of denial.Child abusers (who are themselves victims of child abuse) usually do not remember what happened to them. They repress the original abuse by means of a psychological escape called fusion. When a child is molested, the trauma is often so unbearable that instead of remaining the helpless, hurt victim, the child merges with the abuser and experiences his/her sexual thrills and delight in power. Child abusers continue to handle the pain of the original abuse in the same way. Whenever the pain begins to surface (and it always does), abusers pass on the pain to another child, turning the child into the victim they once were and themselves into the powerful abuser. (It is important to note that only a small percentage of people who were molested become child abusers; most victims handle their pain in other ways.)” ~John Backus, Sc.D., and Barbara Una Stannard, Ph.D

Sleeping Disorders

Personality Disorders

All Mental Illness

Unhealthy boundaries
(either weak boundaries or hyperboundaries)

Fawning
This is the people-pleasing response, the inability to ask for what we need in relationships, avoiding conflict and confrontation, disingenuous agree-ability, keeping the peace, authority worship, or the messiah complex.

Denial:
(manifests in many different ways)

Inability to handle genuine love, intimacy, connection, kindness and support

Self-mutilation
This could be anything from picking the skin around your fingers to cutting.

Suicide ideation and suicide itself

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