Thriving after trauma

How do you live a different life, when you have lived life in response to trauma?

This is the question people ask most, after their initial recovery from trauma and overwhelm.   We are left with so many approaches to life which are moulded by our original (and crucial) response to trauma.  These responses may have been absolutely necessary at the time, but now we are over the events and circumstances that brought them about, we find that they are still there, and interfering with life.

The after-effects of trauma, prolonged stress, or overwhelm, can be far-reaching and significant.  They may include the following, which are entirely natural during and after a period of overwhelm, trauma, or prolonged and intense stress`:

  • Loss of sense of self, or connection with who we are
  • Self-doubt or second guessing
  • Self-sabotage
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Loss of intuition
  • Inner conflict
  • Anxiety, including morning anxiety, racing heart, shallow breathing
  • Depressive or low moods
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Negative thinking loops
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism (unable to do anything unless it is absolutely perfect, but usually not knowing what perfect is)
  • Catastrophising
  • Lack of boundaries, or inability to say “No” comfortably
  • Lack or loss of sense of direction
  • Lack of purpose
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Inability to carry out decisions
  • Fear of making the wrong decision
  • Brain fog, poor concentration, poor short-term memory

You may also identify with some of these statements:

  • I feel constantly overwhelmed
  • I don’t seem to be able to make decisions
  • I can’t think clearly
  • It all seems too much
  • I’m losing sight of where I’m going
  • I don’t have any energy
  • I feel stuck
  • I keep getting stuck in emotional loops
  • I don’t have any boundaries
  • I can’t connect with others

 

If you identify with any of these, it’s not your fault!

Our brains do what they can to keep us safe in dangerous, threatening, and overwhelming situations, and many of these symptoms are the outcome of your brain still trying to keep you safe.  Negative thinking, catastrophising and anxiety are unconscious reminders that things can go wrong, even if they are extremely unlikely to now.  Trauma and overwhelm also have a significant effect on our sense of self, and our connection with who we are, sometimes wiping it out completely, so we are left wondering who we really are.  We don’t feel like the person we once were, and we have no idea who we are now.  None of this is your fault.  But you CAN do something about it.

 

Putting you back together again

In her programmes, Anne takes all her training, experience and expertise in helping people regain a life after trauma, and puts it into a step by step, easily digestible form, which anyone can follow.  The programmes are designed to lead you through the steps of reconnecting with who you are, finding purpose, bringing unconscious (survival) brain and rational brain on to the same page, and stepping into your new life.  The aim is for you to do this:

  • Create a strong and resilient sense of self, which will allow you to connect with yourself and others
  • Eliminate inner conflict
  • Deal with doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism 
  • Bring about autonomic nervous system re-regulation – finding a healthy ‘normal’ response after overwhelm
  • Significantly reduce anxiety and know what to do when it does rear its head (sometimes it’s appropriate)
  • Stop catastrophic thinking and other negative thinking loops
  • Establish boundaries and manage relationships well
  • Discover purpose and direction for your life
  • Make decisions easily, knowing that they are right for you
  • Make plans and take action

 

Anne’s programmes range for the short (mostly free) programmes concerning morning anxiety, anxious thinking loops, how to avoid mistakes in making decisions, and how to say “No”, through low cost programmes such as Discovering your Sense of Self, and Calm, Confident Brain, to her in-depth programme, taking you through all the steps with group coaching and one-to-one support in Making Great Life Decisions.

For more information on the effects of trauma, please see below. 

“Now I’m back on full duty, having recovered 85% of my capability.”

FS, London

How trauma affects our body

At the Trauma Recovery clinic Anne gives clear, concise explanations of how our nervous system and physiology respond to our life experiences. These unconscious responses can affect our underlying emotions and physical well-being as well as our nervous system functioning.

Normal, healthy functioning under stress or even trauma:

Under normal circumstances our bodies are well equipped to deal with our everyday life experiences. Our nervous system is used to being activated to deal with what we perceive as a threat, and, in normal circumstances, returns to a healthy ‘relaxed normal’ within a fairly short period of time.

This activation or stress cycle involves unconscious nervous system responses taking us from a state of ‘relaxed awareness’ through the stages of ‘red alert’, ‘fight’, ‘escape’, and eventually, if the experience is overwhelming, ‘freeze’ and ‘shutting off’. With some support from friends or family, and with a reasonably robust nervous system, however, we return to ‘relaxed normal’ within a short period of time.

When it goes wrong

In cases of trauma and traumatic stress, the self-regulation capacity of our autonomic nervous system and physiology is disturbed, preventing us from regaining a ‘relaxed normal’ state.  When overwhelming circumstances or events happen one after the other or continuously, complex PTSD can develop, which means that the initial trauma has not been resolved before others occur.  They pile up on each other before our system can recover.  With PTSD or complex PTSD, otherwise benign events or triggers may have a disastrous effect on our nervous system whose distorted ‘normal’ settings are hypersensitive, unresponsive or erratic. Over time, after months or even several decades, this can result in symptoms such as the following:

These psychological and physiological symptoms are common:

• Racing heart, palpitations, breathing problems
• Anxiety, including chronic low level anxiety
• Being on ‘red alert’, or hypervigilant
• Panic attacks
• Fears and terrors
• Phobias, specific overwhelming fears, for instance of spiders
• Flash backs and intrusive memories or images
• Overwhelming emotional responses such as shame, anger, depression
• Extreme sensitivity to light, sound or touch
• Insomnia, nightmares, night terrors
• Physical, mental or emotional exhaustion
• Mental ‘blankness’ or spaced-out feelings

There may also be behavioural symptoms such as these:

• Attraction to dangerous situations or people
• Addictive behaviours
• Avoidance behaviour, avoiding places, activities, memories, situations or people

Physical symptoms and pain conditions often accompany traumatic stress:

• Psychosomatic illnesses, particularly some headaches, migraines, neck and back problems
• Muscle weakness, muscle pain
• Digestive problems, e.g. IBS
• Immune system problems
• Skin disorders
• Environmental sensitivities

Syndromes such as the following are often symptomatic of overwhelm or traumatic stress:

• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
• Fibromyalgia
• Myofascial pain syndrome
• Irritable bowel syndrome