Do You Really Understand Trauma?
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Politics and Activism

Do You Really Understand Trauma?

Normalizing what it means to live as a survivor and creating an understanding relationship with your body and mind.

Do You Really Understand Trauma?
Miami University

Our culture glamorizes and romanticizes trauma while simultaneously ignoring the people who live with it on a daily basis. Our society needs to move into normalizing the real reactions and experiences of people living with trauma. It is easy to share memes on social media stating your support or casually saying you relate to depression because you get sad. It is easy to say that you will support your friends suffering from trauma, but what happens when it gets too unbearable? When understanding your friends means understanding why they are unable to get out of bed, why they are having an outburst and why even though they are suffering, they really are doing everything they can to be better.

I live every day with the residual effects of my trauma. Although I am safe from abuse, homelessness and drugs, the numbness, fear and memories of my abuse remain with me every day. When something triggers me, like someone being aggressive while arguing, I can be set me off into a panic attack for hours - unable to move or catch my breath. As a poor Latina woman, I have been taught to ignore and hide what happens to me. I have been taught that because my situation is better now, I have to be happy. As if I am supposed to take years of trauma off of me like clothes and throw them in the back of my closet. My trauma is the scars on my skin, the visual disruption of myself that I see and feel every day.

Living everyday with extensive trauma is flinching every time someone moves too fast towards me. My reality is spending multiple nights a month shaking, hysterical, with nothing anyone can do to help me. My reality is being aggressive when the people closest to me try to help but can’t because our society hasn't taught us how to properly assist trauma and mental illness or how to cope with it. Romanticizing trauma to images of beautiful girls having panic attacks and their partners holding them is detrimental to viewing the reality of living with trauma. Your partner cannot make the trauma go away, work cannot make the trauma go away, exercise cannot make the trauma go away. Understand it is there, alive and breathing.

Although trauma cannot go away, we can learn to normalize people's experiences and fight to find the best possible ways to discuss our trauma, find what we need to help heal, and ask those suffering what kind of assistance they need. The first steps in changing the way we view mental illness, specifically people going through trauma is creating an open conversation that normalizes people's experiences and not molding the conversation into how to get rid of it. My trauma does not make me less of a person, it is not something that can be removed. It is a relationship that I can grow to control and find balance with. My trauma is the fire that inspires me to understand what others say they go through, it is the part of me that I will always have, and it has shaped me into who I am.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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