Is it possible to move past trauma?

Hi there - I’ve dealt with a lot of trauma in my life due to deaths of people I’ve really cared about and other traumas that I’ve somewhat repressed over the years due to bad situations I’ve been in. Is it possible to ever fully get out of a PTSD-type mindset?
Asked by Connie

Hi Connie,

That is a complicated answer.  If the goal is for the effects of the trauma to go away and the person to be healed to the point they were before the trauma took place then the answer is no, that will never happen.  If the goal is for the person to heal and grow from the trauma to the point where they are stronger than they were before and the voices of the trauma were in the background like white noise, then that is achievable.  

First, there are the memories of the trauma which like most memories will fade over time, but will still be in our recall.  What makes that even more true is because of the nature of trauma either our brain will block events out or they will be vividly seared into our conscience recall.  This is not all a negative because part of the healing process will be to reframe the events, however negative they may have been, into a powerful tool of strength which can motivate moving forward, and can help others.  From a memory standpoint, talking about the trauma can desensitize a person to the traumatic past memories much in the way if we put our hands in hot water after a while the water will be less warm and we will be less sensitive to it.

Second, there is the part of the trauma that impacts every other part of our being.  This is the part which causes a person to have a quickened startled response, hypervigilance, and sensitivity towards the sense which can make a person momentarily feel like they are back in the midst of the trauma.  The negative emotions from the event can be like a poison which settles into the subconscious and different portions of the body.  There are many tools which can help treat trauma on a subconscious somatic level such as EMDR, Brain Spotting, Nuerofeedback, and ACT.  When a person is suddenly triggered to have an emotional response that does not fit the context of the situation, it can often be due to the residue of trauma.  These strategies help process the negative emotions and residue in such a way that helps to unlock the trauma residue and allow the person to move forward.  The Body Keeps The Score by Bessal van der Kolk is a book I would highly recommend.  It has helped transform the treatment of trauma to explore the emotions and feelings of trauma and how to process them rather than just telling the story.

Those who go through the healing journey from trauma are heroes, because it is not an easy road.  When a person goes through the process of healing through trauma, they often feel worse before they feel better.  The transformation thought of trauma from a poison which causes hurt to a powerful healing tool, is worth the journey.