Trauma affects us all. It happens when we have been exposed to something deeply disturbing – or when we feel our safety, or the safety of a loved one, is threatened. It can be the result of physical or sexual assault or abuse, the death of a child or loved one, a devastating accident, natural disaster, divorce or miscarriage. It can also be caused by ongoing stress like losing a job, feeling financially insecure, or facing a serious or incurable illness. Childhood trauma like violence, abuse or neglect can have a lasting impact on us as adults.
We all react differently, but trauma but can impact us mentally, physically and emotionally. Research shows that when we feel threatened or under pressure our body releases a “stress hormone” called cortisol, which can result in anxiety, depression and headaches. It can lead to a weakened immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive issues, nerve problems and chronic disease.
Trauma can also leave us feeling overwhelmed. It can make it difficult to cope with day-to-day life and make us feel worthless, helpless, and alone. And that can cause us to harm ourselves or others through alcohol or drug abuse, over- or under eating, high-risk behaviors, or unhealthy and abusive relationships. This impacts our community through our families, our schools and our workplaces.
But there is good news. We all have the ability to heal and move forward with care, concern and compassion for ourselves and from those around us. Then, we can support others in their healing journey. This is what builds a resilient community.
Resilience is understanding that grief, sadness and anger are natural and normal after tragedy, adversity and loss. By working through our emotions and understanding the effect that stress and painful events have had on our lives, we can gain better coping and management skills.
Developing resiliency is an ongoing process that requires time, effort and support. It means understanding ourselves and knowing how to ask for what we need. Learning to trust others and talk about what is going on in our lives. Adopting healthy ways to move through adversity. Developing effective coping skills instead of “getting stuck” in the pain and anger.
With the right kind of support, we can begin to feel more in control to manage our emotions and to find positive meaning in our lives despite the traumatic events we have experienced. As we recover, we begin to thrive rather than simply surviving.
As a community, we all play a role in this process by recognizing that others have experienced trauma and offering support and understanding rather than judgment. In in doing so, we can all heal.
When we #RecognizeTrauma we can truly #RiseTogether.