What happens when trauma is not treated? What are the risks?
Although you may feel strong enough to separate your daily life from trauma, it might eventually bubble up to the surface. Whether on a conscious or unconscious level, it can leak into every aspect of your life, causing disruption and additional symptoms.
Traumatic memories are not properly stored in the brain when you aren’t fully able to cope with the situation. You can then relive these “stuck” memories whenever you come across a trigger. The trauma can then grow, leading to more negative feelings surrounding the event or situation.
A common coping method is disassociating, or “numbing out.” Disassociating is often what helps a person survive the initial trauma. In a way, the ability to separate yourself from the traumatic situation, even temporarily, kept you safe. However, continuous disassociation does not address the issues at hand. As a result, you may feel a deep sense of disconnection with yourself, with the people around you or with the communities where you live and work. In other words, your emotional connections or your emotional growth may be stunted.
What can you do to address your trauma?
First, you need to acknowledge the events or situations that led to your trauma. Building a new, healthy relationship with feelings you find intolerable can help you regain control over your life and/or feel more at peace with yourself again.
The most important step in addressing your trauma is letting someone in. No matter what your trauma is, shouldering it alone is not healthy. A very important part of healing happens in relationship, in the “undoing” of aloneness. Reclaim what was lost through the trauma. This will enable you to begin a process of healing where you can feel safe and trust in the world again.
An experienced and compassionate counsellor can guide you through all these steps and put you on the path towards healing. This may involve several therapeutic techniques.
Surviving traumatic events
In the midst of traumatic events, the human mind and body works to protect you. It is the fight, flight or freeze response which takes over to help you survive. This is natural and necessary for your survival.
However, when you’re not able to process the trauma in a healthy manner, the brain will get triggered by something in the present and acts as though the traumatic event is happening now. That is, our brain acts with an automatic fight, flight or freeze response – every time that you’re triggered.
This served you well during the traumatic event. But now, it’s getting in the way of your healing. Having someone who is trained and caring help you, is a critical part of the healing process. They will help you
- process the feelings you could not process before when it was unbearable, and
- undo the aloneness you find yourself in.