Trauma can affect us as we navigate throughout our lives. While growing up if we experience trauma in our interpersonal relationships through neglect, abuse, financial poverty or more and complex trauma can be the result. We also can experience trauma that occurs from events which are shocking to our system such as a car accident, diagnosis of severe health condition, being in a tornado or announcement our spouse filed for divorce. The effect of this trauma can cause emotional flashbacks during the holidays. With individual counseling with Terri Dichiser at Take Charge, Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas, you can learn how to deal with the effects of trauma and live your best life.
Whether you witnessed or experienced violence as a child or your caretakers emotionally or physically neglected you, or you experienced a traumatizing life event as an adult you are likely to still shows of the trauma if left untreated.
Children make meaning out of the events they witness and the things that happen to them, and they create an internal map of how the world is. This meaning-making helps them cope. But if children don’t create a new internal map as they grow up, their old way of interpreting the world can damage their ability to function as adults.
Early trauma can impact brain development:
• A healthy stress system turns on when we need it and turns off when we don’t — this is essential to ensure our survival. Relationships buffer the young child from stress and promote resiliency.
• Chronic stress affects the brain — including memory, selective attention, self-control and the ability to turn off the stress response. Being chronically ‘wired’ in this state of ‘high alert’ interferes with children’s ability to explore and learn from their environment and socialize with others. States become traits over time as the brain is developing.
• Neural circuits for dealing with stress are especially ‘plastic’ during the fetal and early childhood period — frequent or prolonged activation of stress hormonal systems can alter functioning of neural systems including the parts of the brain essential for learning and memory.
• Toxic stress during childhood can affect developing brain circuits and hormonal systems in a way that leads to poorly controlled stress-responsive systems that will be overly reactive or slow to shut down when faced with threats throughout the lifespan.
As an adult, a flashback can feel as though you are actually being drawn back into the traumatic experience, like it is still happening or happening all over again. We might not have visual images of the trauma, yet it can bring up uninvited sensations and emotions of the original event. This can be overwhelming to one’s sense of reality, that many who suffer from them believe they are reliving or re-experiencing their trauma. A flashback is able to mimic the real thing because it provokes a similar level of stress in the body. The same hormones course through your veins as did at the time of the actual trauma, setting your heart pounding and preparing your muscles and other body systems to react as they did at the time.
It can be helpful to explore the patterns of flashbacks as well as dissociation. Identifying your experience of a flashback can provide helpful information:
1) How a flashback happens (triggers)
2) The internal experience (thoughts, feelings, sensations)
3) External reactions (coping)
Individual counseling at Take Charge, Inc. can lead to beginning to understand healthier ways to manage this intense experience.
Popular culture romanticizes the holidays as a time when all seems right with the world, but for many people, the reality is different. The months of November and December can be emotionally and financially stressful. Accept that the holidays might never feel the same to you as they did before your trauma, and don’t expect them to make your stress, sadness, and negative memories go away. With individual counseling, Terri provides a safe, comfortable environment that allows you to put your thoughts and feeling into words, without fear of criticism or judgment. She will guide you into a better understanding and possibly a different perspective on your life’s circumstances.
For more information about trauma and individual counseling, call Take Charge, Inc. at (913) 239-8255.