Trauma & PTSD
Trauma can be "simple" (distinct emotionally-charged events that left you feeling dysregulated), or it can be "complex," (years, even decades, of continuous abuse, neglect, shame, manipulation, head games, and/or other forms of mistreatment). Trauma rewires your neural circuitry in ways that leave you wondering why you do the things you do, and if you will ever feel whole again.
Anxiety is the over-estimation of threat. It springs from our natural fight-or-flight response and our tendency to worry about things that could potentially go wrong. We evolved these functions to keep us safe. In anxiety disorders, these natural responses are exaggerated until they are self-defeating. Anxiety can be experienced as dread, procrastination, avoidance, an obsessive need for certainty, social paralysis, and full-blown panic.
Narcissistic abuse often overlaps with complex trauma, but it deserves its own mention because it is often so subtle that we don't recognize it. When someone central to our lives is pathologically self-absorbed - whether they are grandiose, or needy and self-victimizing - the effect can be that our sense of self and of reality become distorted. The narcissist may have "trained us" to serve their emotional needs while ignoring our own, and we may carry this habit forward into other relationships.
Depression is more than just feeling down. Depression robs of us our motivation and our hope that things can get better. Activities and relationships that used to bring us joy become flat and unfulfilling. We may sleep too little or too much. We may begin isolating from other people and avoiding the activities that once filled our lives with meaning. The people around us may notice, but sometimes they don't seem to understand that we can't just "cheer up" and "think positively."
Many people who struggle with addiction say that their substance use began as an attempt to self-medicate, to cope with stress, to blot out trauma, or to escape painful emotions. For others, the roots of addiction are more elusive. What we do know is that at some point we lost control, if we ever had it.
Clinical Trauma Professional
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