Traumatic experiences are not a taboo topic anymore. We’ve started to read more about them, talk about them, and to notice that they’re not as rare as we have initially thought they are. Actually, it seems like everyone has had at least one traumatic event during its lifetime, even if we talk about ordinary people or celebs who seem to have it all. But firstly, what is a traumatic experience?
According to APA, trauma is an emotional response to a terrible life event, such as an accident, rape, natural disasters, as well as physical and emotional forms of abuse. And, if we take into conssideration forms of abuse such as bullying, sexual harassment, the number of people affected by traumatic life events is nothing to be neglected.
This is also one of the main reasons why the public conversation about trauma and living with a traumatic history is rising and spreading sparkles on the Internet, as well as in the offline. Because is something relatable, a piece of shared history, a collective narrative that allows us to say that’s my story, as well!
But there’s also a dark side to this seemingly all-glitter-and-support narrative. We do talk about our triggers, about the depression, anxiety, panic attacks and mental health issues we encounter as parts of the post traumatic life. We exchange tips and tricks about how to manage the episodes in order to obtain a minimum level of damage. But we don’t talk that much about the recovery process, and this is one of the parts of the conversation regarding mental health that, in my opinion, goes wrong. It happens, even so, for some really understandable reasons.
Firstly, the recovery after a traumatic life experience is a really intimate topic. More intimate than the story of the trauma itself, because if the traumatic event is a fact, something that could have happened to literally anyone else, the recovery is not. The recovery is a personal decision, to take back your own life, while freeing yourself from the depression, anxiety and other issues that put your progress and well-being on hold, but it’s also how you deal with your traumatic history. A journey, a decision, and a way of reacting at something that has obviously changed you.
But that’s not the only reason. It happens often that mental health problems are treated with a suspicious attitude, involving social stigma. Those are not really problems, they say. Or the already famous there’re other people in the world who have it so much worse, that you’d better stop complaining.
And why would someone talk about a thing that he or she knows that’s gonna be belittled for? Not to feel more inadequate than it already feels like.
Yet, recovery talks remain one of the most unexplored parts of the mental health discussions. Talking about it, however, would bring on the table some real emotional support, created by sharing not only stories about facts that happened, but also strategies of coping with what’s left behind, tips on rebuilding yourself, or about how to recognize and avoid another experience with traumatic potential.
It can be, if you ask me, a really powerful tool, serving both the person who chooses to share the journey to recovery with the others, and the people who are interested in finding out more, as it has the power not only to inform the people about what this process really takes, but also to inspire, empower and create.
By sharing the recovery journey after a traumatic event, it means not only that it loses its power, as you begin to heal, but also that your bad experience helps other people. It helps by letting them know that, yes, there is life after the trauma. It empowers them, as they reach a deeper understanding of their life experiences and understand the fact that they are not the things that happened to them. It creates a real diversity, as allowing people to show themselves without the stigma, even if they feel like they’re at a low point in their life, that they are not good enough or simply unworthy.
It was only after having my share of traumatic life events, that all of this got at me, and I’ve understood that it is something worthy, needed to be talked about openly. That it could help others who happen to live the same things, and face the same feelings. That now is my time to give back, after receiving the support, advice and courage to move on.
And by writing about my own mental health, about everything my recovery taught me, I hope that I will help the ones who read the articles find their ways to well-being, and towards discovering new parts of themselves. Because, at the end of the day, the biggest, scariest, yet most beautiful goal of this whole talking about mental health is finding out about ourselves. About what brings us joy, about what makes us angry, sad, about what makes us overreact or become apathetic. About our bright and dark parts. About what make us to really be who we are, because the answer of this question is never what happened to me. We are far more than just the things that happened to us at certain points in our lives, but this is a truth that only together we can truly, completely understand, and this articles series wishes to help with that, as much as it is possible.