Trauma is a result of being so deeply harmed that it’s like you’re in a pit covered in spikes. Moving around in the pit hurts and trying to get out of the pit hurts, so your mind and body make the decision to simply stay put among the spikes until your last dying day. You shouldn't live like that. No-one should. But there’s no easy way to overcome your trauma. It takes time, effort, patience, and the willingness to face the things that you fear the most in order to start healing. Those pit spikes are going hurt a hell of a lot, but once you’re out, you won’t have any spikes to deal with ever again.
Trauma is more than that one terrible event that shocked you to your core, and it’s more than your fear and helplessness crippling you. There’s the incredible anxiety and depression, the sudden bursts of anger and irritability, there’s being disconnected and withdrawing from everyone around you. There’s even feelings of guilt and you might even blame yourself for the events that traumatized you. You could even be prone to hallucinations, which can be vivid enough that you’ll relive the traumatic experience through them. And that’s just the psychological problems. On the physical side of things, you might be suffering from insomnia. And on those rare occasions you get some sleep, you get plagued by nightmares. You’re likely also tired and fatigued most of the time. You’re always on edge, and your muscles are constantly tense. Long story short: post-traumatic stress disorder does a serious number on you mentally and physically.
Your body is strained at a level beyond fight or flight, and both your mind and body can’t keep up.
Cortisol is the hormone your body creates for a wide variety of reasons, but when it comes to trauma, cortisol is the one hormone that deeply imprints the traumatic event into your memory. Though studies are mixed - some who suffer from ptsd show an overabundance, while others show a clear lack. The one thing that links them is that everyone who suffers a deeply traumatic event suffers from abnormal levels of cortisol. In other words, your mind is glitching out, and your body doesn’t know what do about it.
While it may be easy enough to get some pills to help chemically regulate your hormones, just know that it won’t ever be enough to help you deal with your trauma. There are lots of discussions on how to curtail traumatic symptoms, but sadly not enough on listening to the patient and understanding the root cause. Modern medicine, psychiatry included, has become about fixing symptoms rather than curing ailments, and that fixation becomes more and more evident as each day passes. Every year there are better and better drugs being made that treat things like depression or mood swings or hallucinations - which is great when you just want to get your day going. But they don’t treat the reason why you have depression or mood swings in the first place. We love to use this system of chemically complex bandaids, but absolutely neglect to repair and heal the wound underneath. The drugs help you cope with your nightmares, but if you ever have to stop taking the drugs, those nightmares are coming back no matter what. It’s even worse for trauma, because a whole cocktail of pills will help you deal with all of the symptoms that trauma presents, but none actually do the hard work of healing you fully. If you take off the bandaid, all you’re going to find is a festering wound. That doesn’t do you, or the people you love, any good.
So what’s the solution? You could get a prescription and at least lead a decently normal life. Except you’ll essentially be giving up control of your mind, body, and hard earned cash to some chemical concoction. That’s not really a solution. It’s kind of like laminated wood - chopped up wood inside, plastic fake wood outside. Besides, taking a multitude of pills on a daily basis until the end of time doesn’t sound very appealing. Or safe.
But this is why trauma therapy exists. Treating trauma takes a lot of hard work, and it’ll never be instant. You’ll take time to heal, perhaps a long time. But it won’t be forever. And you can still take the meds if you want, so that you can have a regular day to day life while you’re treating and healing yourself through therapy. You can ease off the chemicals once you’re strong enough to handle your traumatic memories. But for the most part, it’s all about working through your pain; remembering and processing your thoughts and emotions properly. And it’s a bit like going to the gym regularly - in order for your body to get stronger, you have to keep doing those reps. Same thing with treating trauma. The idea is to take therapy to cure what's troubling you, and potentially taking medicine to help. Sure, it’ll definitely take time. But healing a broken bone takes a long time to properly heal, so why would treating a psychological wound be any different? Sadly, nowadays, people skip the therapy, opting to instead simply take the medicine. Those won't ever cure you by themselves; they’ll only make you chemically dependent and add to your troubles.
Realizing the full extent of your trauma and coming to terms with what’s troubling you takes serious effort. And you can’t do it alone - you need guidance from a professional therapist along with all the love and affection that your family and friends can give. You have to be more aware of what’s going on with you as well. For example: ask yourself if what’s happening around you is triggering your trauma. It could be as simple as someone asking you to do something mundane, or it could be a loud, surprising sound. But paying attention to these things and responding appropriately slowly trains your mind and body to separate the non-traumatic things in your life with the really harmful stuff. Of course, it’s more than this. You should have regular talks with your therapist, and you should definitely surround yourself with people who love you. You see, therapy is all about acceptance of the pitfalls in life, and not some weird voodoo where your brain gets mysteriously rewired. It’s about truly mindful healing, and you should start today.