Understanding traumatic events and how we can cope
Merriam Webster dictionary defines trauma as “a disordered psychic or behavior state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” According to the Better Health Channel says, “It is normal to have strong emotional or physical reactions following a distressing event. On most occasions though, these reactions subside as a part of the body’s natural healing and recovery process.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, “Traumatic events are marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.” Traumatic events affect survivors of sexual abuse, robbery, near-death experience or psychological torment, as well as rescue workers and the loved ones of victims who have been involved. They may also have an impact on people who have seen the event either firsthand or on television. In other words, when someone experiences a traumatic event, it’s unpleasant to the point where it can’t be forgotten. It stays with the individual forever.
Better Health Channel says common reactions to trauma are: feeling in a state of high alert, emotional numbness or feeling extremely fatigued and tired. Because you faced a life-and-death situation firsthand, your adrenaline is constantly pumping, which then exhausts you because there is no danger. But because your unpleasant past experience caught you off guard, now you are on the lookout for signs of danger. Trauma also makes you emotionally numb because it can make you feel worthless. When a person is repeatedly mistreated and terrified of speaking up against abuse, their mind will shut their emotions off to cope with the lack of support while being abused.
There are many different ways of coping with trauma. The CDC says that in order to cope with traumatic experiences, you should keep to your daily routine. Take the time to resolve day-to-day conflicts so they do not add to your stress. This means speak up when things are bothering you, if it’s safe to do so. Also, you should not shy away from situations, people and places that remind you of the trauma. You should never let anyone or anything stop your joy. Turn to family and friends or support. Check in on your peers, and talk to them about your problems. And last but not least, if you need a therapist, make an appointment, and express your problems.
If anyone is struggling with trauma, they can always seek help from the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Ithaca College. CAPS is an on-campus and now virtual mental health service. They assist students who are having relationship, behavioral or mental health issues. The services are very useful. If anyone needs someone to talk to, if friends and family can’t help, remember that CAPS is an option. Just remember that it is normal if you have problems and want help. After all, you are a human being, and you have feelings like everyone else.
Lytiek Gethers is a fourth-year politics major helping to break down the mental health stigma. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art by Rachael Geary.