Re-empowerment after experiencing trauma…
1 in 3 adults in England have experienced some form of traumatic event. So how do we make sense of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder?
My approach considers an individual’s subjective experience alongside our mental health system that aims to recognise and treat these from an objective perspective. These two perspectives don’t always mix, creating more confusion and distress for trauma survivors.
I’m careful that any diagnostic criteria describes what a person is going through so that it informs what support is needed. This can counter the weight of a medical diagnosis that you may feel pathologises normal human reactions to extreme stress.
Getting a diagnosis from a professional means that there have been a number of symptoms affecting you for some time. These can include: re-living the traumatic event via nightmares/flashbacks and finding it hard to manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviour.
Not having a diagnosis doesn’t mean you haven’t been through something traumatic. There are different ways to recognise, understand, and process what you’ve lived through – and continue to live with long after it has happened.
One way is to use your subjective experience and language. This can be influenced a few different things including:
How much your lived experience has affected and shaped you, what words make sense to you, avoiding the use of words that are re-triggering, your culture, faith, and ethnicity, and legal definitions (for example if you’ve been the victim of a crime).
What you think is what counts in getting back in control of your mental health and wider life, which can re-shape your personal narrative on your terms. Using your freedom of speech and autonomy can help to feel empowered after traumatic experiences, creating a base to live life again on your own terms.