Do I have trauma? can be a difficult and confronting question.
It can be very challenging to realize that we may have suffered one or more traumatic events, and may have some traumatized and distressed inner children. I suggest keeping an open mind as you read on, and being as kind to yourself as possible if difficult feelings come up. If you start to feel overwhelmed, stop reading and come back at another time, or contact me for support and advice. It’s really important not to retraumatize yourself.
We may or may not remember traumatic events. Sometimes there have been such events in our lives, but we have lost touch with the distressing emotions, and think of the events as just another life experience. Sometimes the events themselves have been pushed into unconsciousness, so we have lost touch not only with the emotions but also the memories themselves. This is especially true of early traumas.
But whether or not we remember, we will likely experience a number of difficult emotions. We may feel depressed or hopeless. We may be self critical, feeling worthless and ashamed. We may be fearful, experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or being easily startled. We may be mistrustful and suspicious of life and of others. We may be easily angered or frustrated, and feel impulses to hurt ourselves or others. We may find it difficult to stay still, always jiggling or busy. We may feel detached, as though our life is unreal. We may find touch uncomfortable or aversive, and have problems with relationships. We may find it difficult to have appropriate boundaries, being either too accommodating or too rigid. We may have recurring dreams with a sense of doom or impending danger. We may notice that we have a pattern of reactions to everyday events, people or places which are much more distressing than seems warranted. We may have ongoing employment difficulties. We may have chronic illness, especially autoimmune conditions, or been told that we have symptoms of PTSD.
If we do remember a traumatic event, it may be in a recurring, distressing way. We may be unable to stop thinking about it, and have flashbacks where it seems to be happening all over again. We may feel distress when events similar to the event occur and we may actively avoid anything to do with that event, including people, places, activities, objects and situations.
There are of course many reasons other than traumatic events to experience some of these difficulties. But if you recognize in yourself many items on this list, then it’s possible that you have been traumatized at some point and could benefit from the healing of therapy.