Let’s Talk Trauma.

What is trauma?

Trauma can be defined as an emotional response to a terrible , predictable or unpredictable event, events or variety of events that can cause long term reactions like unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, fear, etc. This can result to mental health issues like post traumatic stress disorder and depression, strained relationships, avoidance, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse. These emotions affect how we process information and how we go about our day to day life, ie, limiting our behavior. Our biological make up (DNA and hormones) influence how likely one is to responding to stressing situations, which in turn influences the way we form our world views, thus projecting it in the way we behave when triggered by traumatic events.

We tend to think that we are okay and that certain things don’t trigger us into the traumas we thought we had dealt with. Especially those we carry from our childhood. We tend to say, I was a child then, now I’m an adult it should be fine. Forgetting that that isn’t the way to address trauma. Some of these experiences leave permanent emotional and psychological scars on us. Leaving us with no option of completely moving away from these traumas, but having to deal with them for eternity. And quite frankly, I think that’s the way it is. Traumas leave us damaged unless we get brain washed it’s almost impossible to act like nothing happened. Since it’s impossible to completely move away from them, we owe it to ourselves to learn on how to cope with, learn how to navigate through them without projecting them on those around us. By so doing we turn these traumatic experiences to post- traumatic wisdom that positively impacts our lives and of those around us.

Some strategies I’ve used and some I would recommend to anyone dealing with trauma include;

1. Signing up for therapy.

I understand therapy is a foreign concept in our African society. Most people I know personally will not consider going for therapy simply because they don’t see the need to spend money just to talk to someone. Fair enough. What they forget to mention is that therapy isn’t just about talking to someone but talking to a trained professional who can help one debunk on how they feel after going through a traumatic experience, give professional advice and treatment if needed. Some of these traumatic experiences leave an imprint on our minds which ultimately affects the physical body. It’s for this reason one should consider therapy as a tool to dealing with trauma. A step towards working to heal ourselves which ultimately heals those around us.

2. Dosing.

I’m a big fan of this method as a strategy to dealing with trauma. A fan because I understand that different people understand things using different points of views. Dosing as a strategy involves sharing with friends about our experiences partly. Where you only share what you feel comfortable sharing with what friend. Makes sense right? I’m a believer of different friends feed different parts of me. There is one I’ll talk to about my big dreams of success, one I’ll talk to with ease about my childhood traumas one I’ll talk to about what lit events to attend. It’s for this reason I love this strategy. I tell one friend what they are capable of handling or what I’m comfortable with them knowing about a traumatic experience I had.

3. Talking about our traumas.

There is always something about talking about how we truly feel that seems to set us free. I understand this is not a cup of tea for everyone and that traumatic experiences can weigh a little too much on oneself to even put the feelings into words and coherent sentences in a way that will make sense to others. But that’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to have a full paragraph narrating your traumas. It can be a word, slowly as you learn to deal, you can start a sentence and before you know it, you are advocating for people to be more vocal about their traumas. The thing is to start stuttering and gain boldness and strength to eloquently speak to inspire hope in others.

4. Exercise.

Yeah it’s been said that working out generates feel good hormones that are good for ones mental health. The next time you feel over whelmed try going for a walk in the park, go to the gym, skip a rope any form of physical exercise will do. The cherry on top is you get to burn fats while at it.

5. Writing.

I strongly vouch for this strategy. Writing to me has been therapeutic, still is. I’m not one to talk about feelings so I prefer to write. The traditional pen and paper works best but with technology today a diary app on your phone or laptop can serve the purpose. I love writing because it allows one to go in depth with themselves and don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks. You get to write about your biggest fears, how you feel when the anxiety kicks in, what your worries are , your darkest thoughts and perceptions about the things that cause you pain. By channeling the not so pleasant emotions you have as a result of the trauma through writing in a way let’s them out, releasing the tension.

6. Art as a mode of expression.

They say pain is the muse for the best art work. From paintings, songs, to poems and pottery. The goal with dealing with trauma using art is to let the feelings out through expression. By channeling the anger to making or creating something positive, by not projecting it on others. Art can be a good way to express pain, grief, loss, hurt, fear, uncertainty, whatever feeling it is you wish to share with those experiencing the piece of art you create.

Surviving an armed robbery may not seem as big of a traumatic experience to surviving continuous acts of violence. What we tend to forget is that no one trauma should be downplayed as less of a traumatic experience to another person’s trauma. The truth is trauma is trauma.

For us to find healing, we must acknowledge the traumas and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our feelings about the traumatic experiences, as healing only starts when we reveal the truths of ourselves.


#journey through redefinition.

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