When we have experienced trauma it often keeps impacting on us a long time after the event is over. Many people contact me about Psychological therapy because they have been unable to just get over it. It’s a struggle to get past your past. If this sounds familiar read on to develop more of an understanding of why this might be.
It’s only after the trauma is over that we can completely heal from it.
For many people the trauma can be ongoing, we could have been abused as children. We could be in domestic abuse relationships where the abuse keeps on occurring. When we are experiencing this, our main goal is simply to survive. Our body and mind is often in fight, flight or freeze response. We do what we can to get through it. This can feel like the hardest time.
Many people believe that when the trauma is over that’s it. It’s done and dusted. It’s over but sadly what we know about trauma is that this is not the case. It can often be a long road to healing. Psychologically it can still feel like we are experiencing the trauma. Healing is a journey. It’s never black and white. Never it’s over and done with and let’s carry on regardless. Our brains don’t allow us to do that. We may have survived the challenge physically. Now we need to work with the psychological element of what we have been through. Follow me on instagram to find out more
You can’t get past your past because it isn’t in the past yet, it is still ongoing as it’s stuck in your brain.
Trauma memories are stored somewhere different in the brain.
Because our main goal is to survive, our bodies and brains work differently when we are living through trauma. We are on high alert much of the time. If we feel under threat we will go into flight, fight, freeze response. This could mean that the thinking past of our brain stops functioning as well and our senses are on hyper alert to help us survive the threat. Due to this, the information connected to the trauma is stored somewhere different in the brain.
It has no sense of time, space and is often locked there. It is stored with heightened sensory awareness, you might recall things you could see, hear or smell. Because the trauma experience is not filed away in your memory networks it is close to the surface and can be easily triggered. Hearing a similar noise, smelling something similar to the trauma, can all pull you back to thinking about the trauma.
You might become anxious in a car as it reminds you of an accident years ago. You may be overwhelmed at the smell of alcohol as it reminds you of a violent attack. It might feel impossible to see TV shows about having babies as it pulls you back to your difficult child birth.
You are trying to get on with your life but because the trauma memory is stored in this unprocessed place in your brain, you keep being pulled back to it.
We need to feel to heal
Our logical brain tells us to push these thoughts and feelings that are connected to the trauma away, it can feel like it’s too much, that you can’t cope with it and you try and push it to the back of your mind. For many this can help and the memory can stay there for a while but for others this might not be the case and you might find that the memory keeps on popping into your mind, again you can try and ignore it but it doesn’t completely go away. Download my free PDF for help on finding ways to unhook from those overwhelming emotions. https://www.subscribepage.com/drhannahbryan-4-ways-to-help-overwhelm
The hardest thing in my opinion is allowing yourself to feel the emotions connected to your traumatic memories. This is where a trauma focused treatment such as EMDR can help many people who have been traumatised to get past your past. Have a look at my website to find out more about the treatments I offer Click here. Or contact your local NHS service to see what treatment is available for you Click here for more details