Trauma – the upcoming common cold of mental health

TRAUMA

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds” Laurell K Hamilton

“God wants you to be delivered from what you have done and from what has been done to you – both are equally important to Him” Joyce Meyer

It is good to begin with why there is so much evil in the world today. When you look at the news or read from the social media, you see a lot of things that makes you wonder what has gone wrong in the world.

There are four things I would like for us to consider before we talk about trauma:

  1. We live in a fallen world. If we read the account of creation from the beginning, we see that up till the end of Genesis chapter 2 all that God made was very good. Then chapter 3 opens with “the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts which the Lord God has made” this changed the events, the course, the narrative. By Adams disobedience the world came under the influence of Satan (1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
  2. We therefore have an active devil who is a spirit but works in the earth through the cooperation of humans submitted to him.
  3. For those in Christ Jesus, no matter what we go through, we are overcomers through Jesus Christ (1 John 5:4).
  4. We who are in Christ Jesus have an indomitable spirit that cannot be defeated despite the happenings in the flesh.

I will like us to understand that man is a tripartite being which is Spirit soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This means that all three affect each other. Ancient Greek philosophy spoke of the dichotomy between the soma (body) and the psyche (soul/mind) but with the advent of psychosomatic disorders that understanding changed and we see a continuous interaction between all three.

A man’s spirit in Christ Jesus is saved (2 Corinthians 5:17), but the mind needs to be constantly renewed (Romans 12:1-2) by the word of God which provides a score of 2/3. The last part left is the body which is then influenced by the spirit and the soul/mind.

Trauma would be said to be an emotional response to a terrible event such as:

  • An accident
  • Rape
  • Domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Early childhood trauma – traumatic experience suffered in children aged 0 – 6 years old and can be the result of intentional violence such as such as child physical or sexual abuse, or domestic violence—or the result of natural disaster, accidents, or war.
  • Complex trauma – can occur when an individual has been exposed over a period of time to persistent abuse, neglect, violence or abandonment, especially as a child. It is often worse when the perpetrator was close to the child.
  • Medical trauma – a set of psychological and physiological responses to pain, injury, serious illness, medical procedures and frightening treatment experiences. Some examples are:
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury.
  • Spine fractures.
  • Amputation – traumatic.
  • Facial trauma.
  • Acoustic trauma.
  • Crush injury.
  • Kidnapping
  • Physical abuse
  • Community violence
  • Natural disaster

Three major types of trauma:

  1. Acute trauma that results from a single incident.
  2. Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence or abuse.
  3. Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature.

When there is a traumatic event, a response in the soul after the event, in the short term, are a variety of thoughts that follow which lead on to:

  • Shock – the initial response is that the event is not happening so there is a numbness
  • Denial – this is followed by a response of un-realness
  • Anxiety – palpitations could be common, worry feeling of dread
  • Overwhelmed – tiredness, feeling a heavy weight/load
  • Irritability – regular lashing out, anger
  • Moody – constant moods, may be weepy/crying
  • Grief reactions

In the long term there will be unpredictable emotions such as:

  • Flashbacks
  • Strained relationships
  • Increased conflicts – frequent disagreement
  • Being withdrawn
  • Isolated
  • Disengaged from social activities
  • Some people have difficulty moving on with their lives

In the body you will have physical symptoms such as:

  • Headaches and nausea
  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Disruption in sleep and appetite
  • Poor decision making
  • Poor concentration

As long as the person continues in prayer (particularly in the spirit/tongues), study and confessing the word, their spirit which is preserved and the soul/mind being renewed can help the mind and the body heal.

Unattended trauma can be a limiting factor in the lives of those who have suffered it, it can prevent people from reaching their potentials.

COPING

  • Give yourself time to mourn the loss
  • Be patient with your emotional state
  • Find support from people who have also gone through trauma
  • Express your feelings – keep a diary, engage in creative activity (drawing, gardening etc)
  • Find a support group led by professionals
  • Eat well, get plenty of rest, use relaxation techniques while avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Establish/re-establish routines
  • Avoid making major life decisions – job, finance, relationships etc

Practicing mindfulness

Using mindfulness for trauma may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. However, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from other difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

People suffering from trauma may sometimes feel as though they have a hard time getting any distance from the constant present thoughts and memories. They may feel preoccupied with and distracted by these thoughts. As a result, many people with trauma find that they have a hard time focusing their attention on what matters most in their life, such as relationships with family and friends or other activities that they used to enjoy.

Mindfulness may help people get back in touch with the present moment, as well as reduce the extent with which they feel controlled by unpleasant thoughts and memories.

Skills of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is made up of a number of skills, all of which require practice. These skills are briefly described below:

Awareness

One skill of mindfulness is learning how to focus your attention on one thing at a time. This includes being aware of and able to recognize all the things that are going on around you (for example, sights and sounds), as well as all the things that are going on inside you (for example, thoughts and feelings).

Nonjudgmental/Non-evaluative Observation

This skill is focused on looking at your experiences in a nonjudgmental way. That is, simply looking at things in an objective way as opposed to labeling them as either “good” or “bad.” An important part of this skill is self-compassion.

Being in the Present Moment

Part of mindfulness is being in touch with the present moment as opposed to being caught up in thoughts about the past (also called rumination or the future (or worry). An aspect of this skill is being an active participant in experiences instead of just “going through the motions” or “being stuck on auto-pilot.”

Beginner’s Mind

This skill of mindfulness focuses on being open to new possibilities. It also refers to observing or looking at things as they truly are, as opposed to what we think they are or evaluate them to be. For example, going into a situation with a preconceived notion of how things will turn out can color your experience. This can prevent you from getting in touch with the true experience.

Mindfulness Exercise

So often in our lives, we are stuck in our heads, caught up in the anxiety and worries of daily life. This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness and may be helpful getting you “out of your head” and in touch with the present moment.

  1. Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
  4. Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand every time you breathe in. Feel your belly fall every time you breathe out.
  5. Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are “riding the waves” of your own breathing.
  6. Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment —your breathing.
  7. Continue as long as you would like!

Tips

  1. Before you try this exercise, it may be useful to first simply practice breathing. This may sound silly, but many people breathe too quickly and from the chest, rather than breathing deeply from the diaphragm.
  2. Make this a habit. Practice this exercise at least once a day.
  3. At first, it may be important to practice this exercise at times when you are not overly stressed-out or anxious. When you were first learning to drive a car, you likely didn’t start out on the highway during a thunderstorm. The same goes for mindfulness.
  4. Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander during this exercise. That’s what it does. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, at times like this, it may be useful to think of mindfulness in this way: If your mind wanders away from the breath a thousand times, mindfulness is about bringing your attention back to the present moment a thousand and one times.

Find below the link to the YouTube discussion on trauma

https://youtu.be/HeBfHSLaUP4

With persistence feelings of distress or hopelessness seek professional help.

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