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The significance of trauma

My posts often describe my trauma and how I deal with it. This is because my eating disorder was rooted in trauma. There seemed to be no other way at the time but to eat to cope.

Trauma is a deeply distressing or painful experience. Our society teaches us to push our pain down to a place where we think it will not hinder our life. However, trauma cannot be pushed away so easily. We are left with a dull ache which we desperately try to muffle. I used food to quieten my pain, but there are other ways we choose to do this. These include excessive drinking of alcohol, taking illicit drugs and smoking. While these methods seem to work at the time, the pain remains, and a dependency develops as seek to muffle it.

The pain caused by deeply distressing experiences can’t always be eliminated. Sometimes it remains with us for our lifetime, and we must learn to work with it rather than allowing it to freeze us. This is not easy to do. When our trauma is triggered, we can experience the full force of the old feelings and physical reactions and we can overreact to seemingly minor issues. Our body goes into flight or fight mode as it tries to deal with the impending danger.

How do we deal with our reactions to trauma? Over the years I have learned to quickly recognise the signs that I am reacting to a trigger. My body tenses, heart races and I become hyper vigilant. Instead of being hard on myself for this reaction, I acknowledge it, and recognise that my body is trying to keep me safe. With no impending danger surrounding me, I can see that perhaps my reaction is not related to the present and I am in a safe place. Nowadays I can usually work out what has triggered me and remind myself that I am not in the same situation in which the trauma occurred. As I slowly bring myself back to the present moment, my body gets the idea and the physical and psychological reactions calm.

To do this I had to learn to be a spectator to my actions. Instead of fully entering the feelings rushing through my body, I watch is as if I am outside of myself.

If you would like to talk about methods to calm yourself when you are triggered. Message me for a chat.

In love, Jenny

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