This Is How You Heal Your Deepest Trauma And Finally Start To Live Your Life Again

When something happens that scares you, and then you do not ever get over that fear, you become traumatized.

Trauma is the experience of disconnecting with a fundamental source of safety. It happens most severely when our attachment is severed to our primary caretakers. But there is truly an infinite number of ways the world can traumatize you, and to varying degrees.

There are lots of theories about what trauma is, and where it comes from. Many believe that it is passed down physically through your DNA. Others argue that it is shared mentally and emotionally, through learned patterns and observations. Most commonly, trauma is believed to be an interpersonal experience we have in which we were challenged and then lacked the skills and coping mechanisms to rise to it. Instead, we fell.

No matter where it came from, if you have some kind of lingering trauma, you will know, because you will feel it. You will feel it physically in your body. You will feel anxiety, tension, fear, terror, sadness or guilt. It will be displaced. It will not have a clear, direct cause. You will overreact to certain things and even when a problem is solved, you will still panic. This is the mark of trauma.

Trauma is not in your head. It is in your body.

This is the first and most important thing you need to know in order to overcome it: trauma is a legitimate, physical issue. You store those emotions, energies and patterns at a cellular level.

Thankfully, we can use the ripples at the top of the water to trace back down to the problem at the bottom, so to say. You can begin to use your body to help you heal.

First, identify where the trauma is.

You do this by feeling into yourself, and noticing where you are tight, or tense. Our bodies harden in order to protect us. When we have a broken leg, our fascia tightens like a natural cast, so that we do not bend ourselves that way again. Similarly, when our hearts are broken, our emotions tighten, so that we do not let ourselves feel again.

Of course, eventually, we have to walk. We have to love. We have to experience life again. We have to slowly soften the pieces of us that are trying to protect us, so that we can move forward.

Healing trauma is not just a matter of psychoanalyzing it. It is a matter of literally working through it with your breath. The next time you feel yourself overreacting to some kind of stimuli, you will notice that your body is starting to tense up, and create a fight-or-flight response. To heal this, you have to force yourself to take deep, soothing breaths, until the part of your body that was once tense is relaxed again.

You will need to self-soothe in different ways. Meditating, breathing, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, using aromatherapy or sound therapy or whatever else works for you.

You absolutely must work to take your brain and body physically out of panic, survival mode.

Second, reinstate a sense of safety.

You are traumatized because something scared you and you are convinced that it is still “out to get you.” This is what happens when we don’t face or overcome something difficult, we assume the threat lingers indefinitely.

The psychological aspect of trauma healing is that you have to literally restore the connection that was severed, in the exact same way that it was broken.

If you are traumatized about relationships, you need to build healthy relationships. If you are traumatized about money, you need to get really good with money. If you are traumatized about traveling, you need to travel again.

We do not find the resolution in avoiding these things forever. In fact, just underneath the fear we often find that they are the things we really want more than anything else.

Third, stop taking thoughts and feelings at face value.

Last, to overcome trauma, you have to stop engaging in psychic thinking. You have to stop pretending you are able to predict what will happen, you know other people’s intentions, or that what you feel and think is absolute truth and reality.

This kind of thinking is what takes a triggering feeling and turns it into a defeating spiral. You take one scary thing and make it into a prediction for what the future will hold.

You are not an oracle. You do not know what’s next, though you are always capable of choosing what you do now. Almost always, the thing you are most panicked about is a thing you do not know is happening for sure. It is usually an assumption, a projection, a fear turned into a terrifying potential reality.

You might think that trauma is something that other, more damaged people have, but that is not true. Everyone is traumatized in one way or another, but it is how we respond to it, how we ultimately grow and develop self-mastery from it, that determines the course of our lives.

MODALITIES FOR HEALING EMOTIONAL TRAUMA

Emotional healing Techniques: We cannot Heal Physically without Healing Emotionally

Many of us go through life experiencing a whole host of traumatic things.  When we are young, there is an especially hard time dealing with any sort of trauma, whether it be abuse, the death of a loved one, constant bullying, or anything else that can impact our life.  Childhood trauma itself is linked to so many chronic illnesses (source), but in our society this never really gets addressed. Either the child goes through general therapy sessions that really don’t help the situation or they outright get ignored and told to just move on with their life.

I’ve often read that children lack the ability to even emotionally heal from the traumas they deal with as kids. I really believe this because I have personally gone through many traumas as a child, and I remember never truly understanding why things were happening to me or what to do about them. We are just not mature enough to process the emotions that we go through. Because of this, our health can suffer because most will start to repress these emotions. And we can actually STORE these emotions in the body! Generational trauma is also something else to continue- pain can travel through generations until someone is ready to deal with it.

But when it comes to health, we are all individuals. Because of this biochemical individuality, not everyone will do well with the same form of healing. Here is a big list of healing modalities – do what speaks to YOU!

Some great ways to help HEAL trauma

Mineral Balancing

It wasn’t until I learned about minerals that I started learning about how events in our childhood could influence our health. In HTMA and mineral balancing science, it is well known that traumatic situations (especially long term and unresolved) can wreak havoc on the body.  We start to get into that cycle of fight-or-flight that we cannot break out of and we burn through sodium, potassium, and many other minerals like crazy.  Eventually, these minerals start to tank and we are left in physical burnout that can lead to illnesses such as fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, autoimmune illnesses, and more. The trauma creates a stressful situation in the body and uses up our nutrients, which leads to a state of illness. This can be something that happens directly after an incident or something that takes decades to build up. (source).  Also, many of these minerals that we can become deficient in can lead to addictions as well, which further messes with our health and mineral balance.

Addressing your mineral imbalances can help to physically strengthen the body, which in turn will help you when you are ready to heal emotional trauma. Many people with severe adrenal exhaustion have reported that they attempted emotional healing techniques when they were still very physically weak and it ended up making them crash further. Depending on where you are in your health journey, you could be one that needs to work on building up physical strength first or you might need to start addressing the emotional before the physical side will even budge. 

There are many HTMA patterns that are common with those with prolonged trauma.  The most common thing we see is a calcium shell, where calcium can start to build up to extremely high levels (usually as it approaches 200 and above- normal levels are between 40-50). This can create a sort of defense mechanism, so the person dealing with chronic stress will be in an almost numb, apathetic state to help protect them from feeling all of the things they should be feeling during stress.  Those with calcium shells eventually feel this shell crack when they begin to heal, and they might have bouts of time where they experience the emotions that they used to hold in.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is energy medicine and works deep to heal the whole body at once.  This means physical AND emotional issues can get healed. 

EMDR

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  This is a “psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. ” (source)

EFT

Emotional Freedom technique is not new, but it has been garnering a lot of attention over the last few years in the natural health field. This method uses meridian tapping to harness your body’s energy to heal itself.  Many people swear by this method.  Doing EFT on your own can help too, but some only notice the benefit if they speak with a practitioner. YouTube has plenty of how-to videos too!

Retraining your mindset

For some people, it really is “mind over matter”.  Creating a healing mantra can help immensely. Something easy you can remember and repeat to yourself several times a day or just when things are getting rough is good.  Mine used to be, “I am happy, healthy, and whole.”  When we are constantly thinking about our pain or stress, it really can KEEP us in that physical state of illness.  In order to heal, we have to start thinking positive about everything: our situations, our bodies, the people in our life, and how we think (even if we don’t share our thoughts).  Sometimes we are the ones responsible for breaking the chain of negative thinking!

Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.

Check out more here.

Other Ideas:

  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Talk therapy
  • Just making friends can be a helper, especially if you have become a bit withdrawn because of chronic illness
  • Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Brain Detox
  • Breathing methods like Buteyko
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Write a letter to your abusers, even if you never send it. Some even write something up and then destroy it!
  • Flower Essences
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Reiki
  • Acupuncture
  • Books like “Your Body Speaks your Mind“, “The Healing Codes

Just know that you are not alone in your healing.  There are plenty of people in your life that will help if you give them the chance (hopefully!).

Whatever method you choose to heal, I hope that you all find your peace <3

What’s the Link Between Trauma and Dissociation?

Dissociation is one of the ways your brain protects you. It doesn’t want you to relive a traumatic experience, so it takes steps to conceal what happened.

Most people in life experience loss and heartbreak. However, not everyone understands what it means to experience trauma.

When you’ve lived through a traumatic experience, everything you once knew can be turned upside down. Trauma can shake you to the core and disconnect you from reality.

Trauma can make you doubt your worth and question your identity. It can also destroy your spiritual beliefs and faith in humanity.

This emotional and physical state of shock alerts the brain to leap into action. But if trauma-related dissociation is meant to help you, when does it become something that needs treatment?

What is dissociation?

Dissociation is an escape. It’s an involuntary detachment from reality, often experienced as a disconnect from your sense of self, thoughts, and memory.

Dissociation usually occurs due to trauma, such as:

  • abuse
  • sexual assault
  • a natural disaster
  • an accident
  • military combat

The link between trauma and dissociation

Trauma is, by definition, an overwhelming emotional response to a horrific event. Dissociation can be a critical part of your survival instinct during trauma. When a horrific event happens, your nervous system kicks in to protect you from mental and physical pain.

“Dissociation is part of the fight-or-flight response, which is an involuntary survival network that helps protect us from threats or danger,” says Sabina Mauro, PsyD, who specializes in treating patients living with trauma in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

“During traumatic experiences, the fight-or-flight is activated in order to protect the individual.” “If fight-or-flight is not a viable option or if fight-or-flight becomes inactive due to the body feeling overwhelmed, the freeze response is activated.”

According to Mauro, it’s during the “freeze response” that you can experience disconnect. Because there aren’t any other options available, you essentially sever contact between your brain and body in order to survive the experience. This is a similar survival response to a mouse “playing dead” when caught by a cat to increase its chances of getting out of there alive.

While dissociation is a helpful strategy at the time, it can also arise long after the trauma is over, causing problems in your daily life. Dissociation might occur when you encounter a situation or object that reminds your nervous system — consciously or subconsciously — of the trauma.

Trauma can actually change the structure and function of the brain, so it’s no wonder that we feel strong mental and physical sensations related to it.

When you dissociate, you may feel disconnected from yourself and from the world around you. You might feel like you are separate from your body, or you might feel like the world around you isn’t real.

Signs and symptoms that you are dissociating include:

  • feeling disconnected from your body, like an “out-of-body experience”
  • feeling separate from the world around you
  • feeling numb or experiencing emotional detachment
  • lacking a sense of identity, or a sense of who you are
  • forgetting certain events or personal information
  • feeling little physical pain
  • having clear, different identities, as in dissociative identity disorder

Importantly, everyone’s experience of dissociation is different. The key is to find out what it feels like for you so that you can notice it when it arises.

It’s often helpful to do this with a mental health professional. Parts of your brain “shut down” during dissociation, so it can be difficult to notice when it’s happening. A therapist can help you recognize the signs that you’re dissociating or that an episode is coming on, so that you can take steps to keep yourself safe.

Two forms of dissociation are:

  • Depersonalization. This feels as if you’re watching yourself as an actor in a movie. You may feel as though you’re having an out-of-body experience, floating around your actual body.
  • Derealization. This feels like the people and things around you are unreal — almost as if you’re in a dream. Sounds may be distorted, or the world may look “unnatural” in some way.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 75% of people experience an episode of depersonalization or derealization at least once in their lives, and only 2% experience chronic episodes linked to dissociative disorders.

While many people may experience dissociation, often related to past trauma, the symptoms don’t always meet the criteria for a mental health disorder.

Episodes of dissociation vary in length; they might last a few hours or days, or they could last much longer, into weeks or months. If you learned to dissociate from a young age, dissociation may be a common experience as an adult, and it might be the main way that you cope with stress. This may signal a dissociative disorder.

As dissociation is the body’s response to extreme stress, research from 2014 suggests it can be present, in some form, in almost all psychiatric disorders. This includes anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and depression.

Below, we look at some mental health conditions that commonly involve dissociation.

Dissociative disorders

If you’re experiencing chronic episodes of dissociation, you may meet the criteria of diagnosis for one of the three types of dissociative disorders:

  • Depersonalization/derealization disorder (DPDR). With DPDR you frequently feel as though you’re watching your actions and thoughts from an outside perspective.
  • Dissociative identity disorder (DID). If you have DID, you may feel as though you have different selves or that you don’t always have control over your different parts. You may wonder which persona inside you is the “real” you.
  • Dissociative amnesia. Dissociate amnesia often involves memory loss around a traumatic event. You may completely forget the trauma, or you may block out things that remind you of the trauma during a regular day. You might forget things like chores, work deadlines, or to pick your dog up from the vet.

If trauma-related dissociation is holding you back in your daily life, help is available. Treatment options exist for all forms of dissociative disorders.

Borderline personality disorder

Dissociation is often a component of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Many people with BPD have a history of early life trauma.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and its newer counterpart complex PTSD, both commonly involve dissociation.

Since PTSD is a fear-based diagnosis, dissociation can occur during trauma-related triggers as a way to cope with the physical sensations that occurred at the time of the trauma.

Healing from trauma

When you’re living with trauma-related dissociation, you may not know how to start the healing process. The first step is to acknowledge and accept that dissociation is happening.

“Accepting and recognizing when we dissociate is the first step, but it can be challenging,” Privitera says. “Notice what you are feeling that you may be wanting to avoid, consciously and unconsciously.”

Trauma-focused therapy can be especially helpful. This means working with a therapist who understands trauma and the way it affects your body and mind. Therapy will help you develop coping skills that will aid you in exploring emotions and memories related to trauma while preventing retraumatization.

Various therapies can help you deal with the mental and physical effects of trauma, including:

  • psychodynamic therapy
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), especially cognitive processing therapy
  • dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • support groups
  • somatic therapy

How to cope with dissociation

After you and your mental health professional decide on a treatment plan that suits your needs, there are additional strategies that may help you manage symptoms of dissociation.

Grounding techniques

Privitera says that when you notice you’re dissociating in the moment, you can then begin to
utilize grounding techniques.

Grounding involves connecting with your surroundings. You can do this by putting your hands under running water and noticing the sensations that arise, or touching a familiar object and describing its properties. Is it cold or warm? Smooth or rough?

“For most individuals, simply noticing your feet on the floor or your breath won’t be that helpful, regardless of what Instagram alleges,” she cautions. “I suggest to clients that they practice something less abstract and a bit more challenging.”

She recommends that, for some people, a mental-based approach can help. “Math is an excellent tool for coping with dissociation. Practice your times tables; start at 100 and count backward by 7s or 4s or 5s.”

She also suggests seeing how many countries you can name or finding four blue objects and two round objects in your current space.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is becoming a valuable resource for mental well-being.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. While there are many ways to train this ability, one straightforward method involves focusing on your breath coming in and going out.

“Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can be used to cope with dissociation,” Mauro notes. “In traumatized survivors, the body is unable to recognize that the trauma no longer exists. As such, the body is constantly in stress mode.”

Because the body isn’t capable of understanding time during dissociation (e.g., differentiating past from present), mindfulness can teach your body to be present in the moment.

By teaching your body to be present in the moment, the body recognizes the trauma is not currently happening, and it doesn’t need to be in ongoing survival mode.

Breathing routines

While mindfulness can keep you in the moment, breathing routines can help deescalate severe moments of dissociation that result in anxiety or stress. There are a variety of methods to try.

Mauro explains, “Deep breathing strategies can also teach the body to calm down the fight-or-flight response.”

She adds, by calming down your survival network, dissociation is less likely to occur as you’re able to learn to tolerate any physical sensations, negative emotions, and painful memories associated with the trauma.

Trauma-related dissociation may spare you some memories from past events, but it can severely impact your daily life.

Help exists in the form of treatments such as trauma-focused therapy and grounding techniques. You can start healing from trauma while developing skills to manage symptoms of dissociation.

Trauma is treatable and support is available. You can use the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator to find a therapist who is familiar with trauma. You can also look up support groups near you.

If you’d like to learn more about how trauma affects the mind and body, including dissociation and dissociative disorders, the following books are a good place to start:

Remember, you’re never alone. Many other people have experienced trauma. They understand how trauma-related dissociation can take control over your life, and they are there to help.

Suicide prevention

If you’re considering self-harm or suicide, you’re not alone. Help is available right now: