The Stigma of Trauma
Updated: Jul 30
Sometimes, when I tell a client their diagnosis of trauma, they balk and reply, “But I don’t hold on to my past. I’m not a snowflake. I’m not a victim.” Despite attempts to explain complex trauma, these individuals typically walk out of my office and are never seen again.
Because is some circles, trauma is what happens to people who are stuck in their past, who can’t “let go.” Individuals are sure they are “fine.” They just struggle with a little depression. Or perhaps it is anxiety. Or maybe they find it hard to concentrate. Or sleep eludes them. Must be something else….life, you know.
Recently a client told me they never realized how much emotional turmoil they had until they did EMDR and experienced peace and calm for the first time. “I didn’t even realize how much of a roller-coaster life had become.”
That’s because trauma is a physiological event, not a psychological one. If it were as easy as “letting go” the majority of my clients wouldn’t need me. Instead, our tendency is to deny, ignore, and numb ourselves, telling ourselves that all is fine. It is, until we crash.
“I don’t understand,” I hear. “I was doing fine.”
No, you weren’t fine. You were so used to the emotional rollercoaster you thought it normal.
“But I had 5, 10, even 20 years of talk therapy.”
I know. But as Bessel van der Kolk insists, talk therapy doesn’t touch trauma. Trauma needs to be processed through trauma therapy. The two are not the same.
The sad thing is that you can live in the heightened state of alert that comes with trauma and be ignorant of these symptoms. They include the following:
Society is good at shaming trauma sufferers. Don't let them. Remember, this happened TO you. Now is the time to seek help. Search trauma therapy. It will change your life.