Health — July 16, 2021 at 10:30 am

Dealing with Trauma

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The word trauma elicits visions of graphic ER injuries and wounds, but there’s another, quieter and less visible side to it filled with emotions, triggers, and responses that we’re finally hearing more about.

Psychological trauma, as it’s known, comes in many forms, and seeking help from a professional who has successfully come through it is always the best treatment, especially if you’re experiencing illnesses like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Trauma is tricky because no two responses to it are the same, but there are different categories to help identify different types:

Acute Trauma – a single, extreme event where emotional or physical safety is threatened, leaving a lasting impression that can change thought patterns or behaviors if left unchecked.

Chronic Trauma – long-term exposure to several, or prolonged troubling events over time where symptoms may take years to appear.

Complex Trauma – several, varied traumatic events or experiences generally involving interpersonal relationships whereby one feels a sense of being trapped.

As of late, researchers are discussing another category called collective trauma, and how entire communities or societies deal with distress, as opposed to the aforementioned classifications that deal with an individual or the few. According to a Psychology Today article, and as many of us are currently witnessing, this type of trauma has the ability to alter societal functions and governmental processes.

Try, fail, adjust is the quintessential rhythm to how we evolve, but to truly learn from the past and not repeat it, many today are left wondering where we go from here? History shows, and mental health practitioners agree, acknowledging traumatic events is the first step to recovery. Gathering to mourn losses, paying tribute to valor, and honoring resiliency have been hallmarks of how humans try to move forward post-trauma. Following this is commemoration, for without it there can be no recollection or future education. We live on a continent full of memorial sites, cenotaphs, and statues representing the history made before us, yet it’s evident there are some things we would still rather leave forgotten.

Only a mere few small mentions exist to commemorate the Spanish Flu of 1918, the last pandemic the world has seen, even though it plagued civilization for years and claimed some 50 million lives across the globe. It has also been dubbed the “forgotten flu” because it came on the heels of WWI.

We’re clearly seeing how trauma can compound intergenerationally now, and new studies are ongoing about how it changes our very DNA. But just as post-war and pandemic survivors were more than happy to celebrate these victories and move on, a similar and almost desperate “get back to normal” attitude echoes in our world today when we’re just starting to wake up to current news and the extent by which so many have been affected by recent and historical trauma.

Many believe the way through will come by way of our intrinsic need for social interaction, which is linked to our very mental health and wellbeing, as is habitual routine. Instead of us all racing back to what we knew as normal and getting distracted by the notion of what comes next though, what if we paused to live in this moment, to listen to the hard stories, to acknowledge the trauma head on, and to create space for commemoration, collective healing, and future learning for generations to come. Because remember, a mistake is only ever truly a mistake if we don’t learn from it.

If you are suffering mentally from current or past trauma, you are not alone. Please reach out to the resources listed at these links, both in Canada and the U.S.

By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer and Graphic Designer

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