What if you were experiencing excruciating trauma symptoms (like a break) to your leg, and it didn’t hold you up when you put weight on it? And what if your painful symptoms kept you from getting around in your daily life: sleeping through the night, getting dressed for work, or having a conversation with someone you cared about?
Then imagine you went to a doctor. She asked you about events leading up to the symptoms, took x-rays, and performed other evaluations. She announced that your leg was broken. You’d had no idea. You might have known that you’d had a fall that seemed to produce the injury, but you really hadn’t thought it could have been bad enough to create all that pain. It would be a relief to know you weren’t crazy.
There are Logical Reasons for Your Trauma Symptoms
As a trauma counselor, I often get to see my clients experience this type of relief. I’m not a medical doctor, and the relief isn’t related to broken bones. The symptoms people share are often things like:
– Chronic irritability,
– Being more startled by things than others are,
– A sense of narrowed vision or distant hearing during stress,
– Recurring nightmares,
– “Spacing out” in certain situations, and many other symptoms or experiences.
These symptoms can make a person feel like something’s wrong with them, but they don’t know what. Their doctor has ruled out physical illness (that’s an important step!).
Understanding How Your Brain Creates Trauma Symptoms is a Powerful First Step to Healing
Many clients tell me I must be a mind reader. I’m definitely not! But, many men and women have described the same types of symptoms. So, I’ve learned to ask about things that many people are too embarrassed to volunteer. They might feel that their experiences must be so weird that they’re afraid to find out what they might mean. Or, clients are so used to living with these experiences that they no longer think of them as important to tell me. They’re surprised when I ask about sensations, experiences, or symptoms that they’ve had in some cases for many years. They didn’t think anyone would get it. Many clients have asked me, “How did you know that?”
When a client says, “How did you know?” I almost always ask, “Is it okay if I take a few minutes and give you a little spiel?” Then, I give them some information about our incredible brains and nervous systems, including the vagus nerve (the longest cranial nerve). We discuss how events and circumstances impact both the childhood and adult brain to shape our responses to everyday life. Often, the person says, “No one ever explained it to me like that before,” or, “Nothing that bad has ever happened to me, so I just thought something was wrong with me.” The response is usually relief.
Knowing There’s a Logical Reason Can Make it Easier to Get Started with Healing
Now, in the case of that broken leg, knowing about the injury isn’t enough. You need to know what kind of break it is. You and your doctor need to choose the right treatment for your specific and unique circumstances. But, when you know the logical reason behind your pain, it frees you to get the treatment you need to heal, and it helps you realize you’re not actually crazy to be experiencing all those symptoms. That goes a long way toward doing something about them and getting your life back.
In future posts, we’ll talk more about specific parts of this process. Or, talk to me now to see if I’m a good fit to help you with this work.