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Trauma & PTSD

“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.”
                                                         -Michelle Rosenthal


The word ‘trauma’ is often misunderstood

Many people believe that someone must have gone through an extremely scary or life-threatening situation in order for it to have been traumatic. However, as we learn more about ourselves and how our brains work we have realized that this is not the case.  Many things that happen in life can be traumatic.  Let’s take a look at the actual definitions of the word ‘trauma’:

  • “An emotional upset.”(Merriam-Webster)

  • “Profound disappointment, betrayal, abuse.” (Google Dictionary)

  • “An experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” (

  • “A deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” (Oxford Dictionaries)

  • “Experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” (SAMHSA)

  • “Psychological or emotional injury caused by a disturbing experience.”


These definitions are all getting at the concept that...


if something happens in your life that affects you in an emotionally big way then that could be considered a traumatic experience.  Such experiences can range from your dad telling you that you can’t do anything right, to being fired from a job, to witnessing an accident, to being raped. 
The take away is... 


that things happen throughout all of our lives and we have all experienced traumas.  If those experiences seem to still affect you today then you are not alone and are one of many others who are going through something similar and wishing that it would go away. 

Cactus to convey the prickliness of- What is and Do I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)


PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

It's a term used to describe a set of symptoms that can come from having gone through a trauma.  
Now, let’s think about this term… 

                                                       ‘Post’ = after
                                                       ‘Traumatic’ = something distressing or upsetting
                                                       ‘Stress’ = need I explain that one?
                                                       ‘Disorder’ = a disturbance in mental health functions
This is describing the stress that disrupts your life after you’ve experienced something particularly upsetting. It has been most commonly referenced relating to war veterans, however, it can result from a plethora of experiences that one does not have to endured war to understand.  
If you have ever wondered why things from your past are still affecting you then please know that there are neurological reasons for this, it’s not just you, and it’s fixable. 
When we go through a distressing situation our brain catapults us into a ‘fight-flight-or-freeze’ response in attempt to keep us safe. Once the danger (emotional or physical) is gone our brain typically readjusts to the current moment, lets its guard down and allows us to continue our daily lives. However, sometimes, our brains malfunction causing these events to get stuck in our brains continuing to affect us even after the danger has passed.  We may feel the same as we did in that traumatic moment long after the event passes, keeping us feeling ‘trapped’ or ‘locked’ in that memory.  Many people have heard of flashbacks but not many realize that they can come in the form of emotions and body sensations not just images. We can hear, see, smell, or experience something that taps into those ‘trapped’ memories and we suddenly feel the emotions from the past right here in the present moment. This often comes out in what may seem like an exaggerated response to others while feeling intense to us. 

small plant to convey- Growth from Trauma big and small from online ptsd therapy

Common symptoms

After going through something traumatic, people may experience the following:


Please note that this list is long and can be overwhelming,

but remember, these do not have to permanent, that’s where I come in. 


Heightened Emotions 



New fears/worries

Frustration with ongoing symptoms

Emotional Overwhelm

Depression or sadness

Shame & Worthlessness

Helplessness or powerless

Feelings of guilt for having not suffered as much as others  

Emotional numbness (like being ‘in a daze’ or having a ‘it doesn’t matter’ attitude)

Panic Attacks

Recurrent anxiety over your safety or the safety of a loved one

Increased stress/anxiety in general

Increased fear related to situations similar to the event 

Change in How You View Yourself 

Feeling like a ‘bad’ person

Unrelenting self-criticism for things done or not done during the event

Feeling different now, to yourself and to society

Feeling especially ‘alone’

(thinking ‘they weren’t there,  they can’t understand’)

Embarrassment of having symptoms

(wondering how others get through this or why you can’t seem to ‘just get over it’)

Loss of sense of self 

Confusion about why you feel the way you do

Low self-esteem 


Acting Differently

Self-Destructive Behaviors



Being 'on edge' in non-threatening situations

Loss of Interest

Being easily startled

Avoiding & feeling anxious about things that remind you of the event

Using drugs, alcohol, or food in attempt to soothe/numb feelings

Excessive Shopping or gambling- also in attempt to soothe/avoid the feelings

Decreased Concentration 

Dissociating/disconnecting from reality

Staying very busy to distract from emotional pain


Sleep & Pain Intrusions

Insomnia/ Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep


Flashbacks/Intrusive Memories

(replaying the memory or images of it in your mind)

(hearing sounds, or even feeling emotions or physical sensations from when it happened)

Chronic Pain/Headaches

Chronic Illnesses (fibromyalgia, IBS, heart disease, etc.)


Relationship Issues

Difficulty in feeling intimate in your relationship


Defensiveness around the topic of your trauma (even indirectly)

Increased overall frustration

Anger- Outbursts, sometimes without apparent reason

Family or work conflicts that didn’t typically happen before the trauma 


If you relate to these symptoms

then you’ve probably noticed how they can impact your relationships with the people you love, the people you want to love, and even the people you have yet to meet.


Getting the past off your chest, cleaning out the attic, so to speak, can make your day-to-day life more enjoyable for you and the people spend your time around.  

tree trunk circles to convey the layers of PTSD therapy phoenix
cactus in pot to convey the prickly symptoms of PTSD and trauma
Plant in basket to convey calmness as you read about the symptoms of trauma

Ok, I’ve been through a trauma, can I really be helped?

Yes. Believe it or not, healing from this is very possible.


There are various types of therapy out there to treat PTSD and symptoms of trauma, personally, I lean towards ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy) &  EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) because of how effective they are.  Through research and through experiences that both myself and my clients have gone through, I know that it can reduce the symptoms and potentially completely eliminate the PTSD symptoms. 


I’ve had clients describe their response to treatment as, “I couldn’t even think about it before, but now it’s just a memory with no reaction to it”, and, “It’s there but it’s not controlling me anymore, it has no strength.” 


‘Stuff’ from days, years or even decades ago can impact your day to day more than you might think, the freedom that comes from clearing out those memories is invaluable. I would love to be able to walk you through the process of healing the past.


Interested in lightening the emotional load that you carry feel?  


Want to learn more about this process? you will likely find answers below: 

small cactus to convey virtual PSTD Therapy can help

Now What?

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