Continuing the theme of what trauma is, and what trauma is not…
I think it’s a critical differentiation as we go into this new year – new hopes, new dreams, new promises.
In order to live our most meaningful and fulfilled lives, it is essential to know the difference between a trauma and an adverse life experience.
Instead of saying ‘I’m down’ or ‘I had a bad day,’ people will say, ‘I’m depressed.’ And when scary or difficult things occur, people can often say, ‘I was traumatized.’”
Most adverse life experiences are similar to a mosquito bite. Mosquito bites are really annoying and for a few moments draw our attention, and we itch them a lot. Anyone who has been bitten by a mosquito can also tell you that they go away.
A bee sting could be an example of a much bigger kind of adverse life experience. It seems to be the most important thing in the world—it hurts a lot and there is often a stinger that has to be removed. Bee stings take a bit longer to get over, but they eventually fade from memory.
However, if a person is allergic to bees and gets stung, depending on how bad the reaction is and whether epinephrine is on hand, this may indeed be quite traumatic, and in this case, not so easily forgotten.
Still, the average child stung by a bee can go to school, has friends, and gets along well at home—this is not PTSD.
Only when the post-traumatic symptoms interfere with these areas of life do we end up with trauma.
Ninety percent of people who develop post-traumatic symptoms have complete remission within eight months. And remember, we’re talking about 90 percent of the 10 percent who have significant symptoms…
Going into this new year, it is important to keep in mind that facing adversity is hard, but it is not all bad!