Knowledge is Power
People who have suffered trauma, abuse and family dysfunction benefit from information and assistance. My intention is twofold. First, to share information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. And secondly, to engage you in awareness of self-talk, thought stopping, positive replacements and healing actions.
I’m a licensed substance abuse counselor, a ThetaHealer, a teacher and a speaker. My doctorate is in educational leadership. Plus I taught mildly disabled students for thirty years and spent fifteen years preparing students to become special education teachers for Northern Arizona University.
To begin with, let’s acknowledge that everyone has pain, loss, and regret to a greater or lesser extent. I acknowledge that you too may have experienced trauma. We may have abuse, neglect, trauma or family dysfunction in common.
Admittedly, my story may trigger you (upset you), please use self-comforting tools as needed:
- Use positive self-talk, such as, “I am in the present, my anguish is from the past. I am in the present.”
- Or my favorite, imagine what you would do if you won the lottery. Create a pleasant daydream and create the mood and feelings you do want.
At age two and a half when our house burned down. My father carried me outside. He went back into the house but was unable to rescue my two older sisters. The furnace which had exploded was between him and them. The girls died in the house. He died in the hospital soon afterward.
After that, I lived in the hospital as my burns healed. When I came home (to an apartment) my mom was different because drank more and was available to me less. When I was four, she married, and when I was seven, they had my baby sister. Five years later, my stepfather died in a logging accident.
She married an active alcoholic when I was ten. She said she drank so she wouldn’t sit alone at home. My sister and I spent a lot of time alone, unsupervised. Of course, I was ill-equipped to take care of my little sister or myself.
Others appeared to have escaped the negativity I lived in and had a better life. How did they do that? Attending multiple churches and accepting Jesus, I did not find answers. For this reason, I studied psychology beginning in ninth grade.
At age 17, I married in order to get out of my parent’s house because of the drinking and violence. In my search for answers, I became a Buddhist and studied philosophy. After high school, I divorced and started college. My sister graduated from high school the same summer I graduated from college.
March after our graduations, our parents bought a neighborhood tavern. By May, it was robbed, my mom was shot and killed, my stepdad wounded. At age twenty-five, the crazy, horrible, most shocking parts of my life ended.
Diagnosed with (PTSD) in my thirties, I felt I had an accurate term for what I lived with. Prior to that, I had been assessed as having depression. I agree I had been depressed since I could see it myself especially in my twenties. Although, PTSD symptoms best described me. It made sense.
Signs and Symptoms
Since I talked so much about physical and emotional trauma, let’s include all those who have experienced what some would consider milder trauma. I propose other types of abuse and neglect are different than physical or sexual abuse and at the same time, inflicts a profound effect, a profound hurt. Also, we know that multiple traumas cause harm similar to a catastrophic trauma.
Three signs showing you have experienced emotional trauma: You
- are a people pleaser – need to be liked, accepted and belong
- constantly doubt yourself – that means low self-esteem
- can be highly triggered – that is to overreact
To begin with, they are traits that you most likely are aware of and try to address. The tools I present in this blog are designed to help you reduce their impact on your life.
Today, 8 million people have been determined to have PTSD, a remarkable number! Of course, this number doesn’t include those undiagnosed because they’ve not seen a professional and yet are suffering symptoms and after a trauma/s. In particular, consider people in New York on 9/11 or people who witnessed or experienced disasters. Plus, we know our veterans have a high level of PTSD diagnoses. It is estimated 7-8% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
As an illustration, This video offers a short and excellent explanation: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/video/index.asp. The US Department of Veterans Administration website has many more videos that you might find helpful.
In addition, this chart of symptoms shows what PTDS looks like in a trauma survivors’ life. Maybe you or someone you know will benefit from seeing it.
Trauma doesn’t just go away. If you have been hurt or neglected,
this information can make a difference for you.
Unquestionably, anything is possible. Healing is possible.
To begin with, pay attention to your thoughts and even the little jokes you make at your own expense. Notice – do you talk to yourself in a way you’d never speak to another person out loud? People who carry unhealed emotional wounds frequently treat themselves poorly. The underlying cause is one’s beliefs that show up in their thoughts and self-talk. The limiting beliefs usually connect to worthiness and lack of unconditional love.
How do you talk to yourself in your head? Kind and supporting – like a teacher who cares about you? Or gruff and critical – like someone who has to put you in your place?
In any event, everyone has suffered, and many still suffer long after the trauma has passed because of what they say and do to themselves. The fact remains, having a father who raged or having a parent extremely ill causes harm and can be traumatic for a child. Whatever your experiences, don’t continue to heap the abuse on you now.
- Be aware of negative self-talk: “There you go again…” “You always…” I can’t believe you…” and “That was stupid.”
- Also watch for minimizing yourself with words like just, “I am just a teacher (secretary, mom, etc.).”
- Practice thought replacement and thought-stopping techniques.
- Use the visualization of a stop sign. Then repeat to self a more positive such as:
- Use affirmations: I do enough, I have enough, I am enough!
- I am doing the best I can and that is good enough.
- Post positive affirmations on your mirror, in your phone, use them, have a ThetaHealer download them for you.
To address PTSD and even milder responses to trauma and tragedy:
- See a therapist specially trained to help
- Try a therapist trained in EMDR
- Go to a support group for people who have had similar experiences
- Attend a twelve-step program like Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families
- See an energy healer who handles shock and trauma
- Check out a spiritual place, group, class or training
- Stay at it!
No matter what please do not continue to suffer alone. Baby steps count. One action a day towards healing counts. You matter! Your life can and will improve.
Lynne Cockrum-Murphy, Ed.D., LISAC