As you might have already discovered, the side effects of abuse linger for much longer than the abuse itself. Whether you want to be called one or not, you are a survivor. Rebuilding your life after abuse-related trauma is challenging but not impossible. Here is essential information about traumatic stress, the associated psychological disorders, and steps to overcome abuse trauma.
The Effects of Trauma
Especially amid an abuse cycle, it’s challenging to recognize the effects of abuse and trauma you’re experiencing. Common symptoms include difficulty sleeping, panic attacks, flashbacks to violence or abuse, self-hate or low self-esteem, and fearing people and relationships. These symptoms can contribute to eating disorders, substance use, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts as ways to cope and feel in control. If you or a loved one is exhibiting warning signs of mental health problems or self-harm, seek emergency professional help immediately.
Traumatic Stress, ASD, and PTSD
No one makes it through a traumatic, abusive experience unscathed. If you experience distress but have appropriate coping mechanisms and a support system, it may not lead to a psychological disorder. But if you aren’t managing your stress well within the first month of the abuse and your symptoms persist for more than three days, you could have acute stress disorder (ASD). Everyone’s experience will be different, but symptoms can vary. Flashbacks, nightmares, derealization or detachment from reality, numbness, or depersonalization, such as distancing yourself from your experiences, are just a few of the issues you can experience.
Although presentation and symptoms vary slightly, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop months or years after the original abuse. It can follow directly after ASD or occur by itself as it is a late-stage symptom of distress and a result of your difficulty coping with the aftermath of trauma. If you are experiencing symptoms, TMS therapy for PTSD can help. While it doesn’t guarantee that ASD or PTSD won’t develop, dealing with your traumatic stress proactively can help prevent the trauma from overtaking your life. Follow these steps to overcome the stress:
In abusive situations, your body’s fight, flight or freeze response kicks in to protect yourself. When you have ruminating thoughts or flashbacks, your stress response can be triggered again, resulting in anxiety or panic attacks. Mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation can help calm our bodies and minds, manage our emotions, and approach our painful triggers in a non-judgmental way. Focusing on your breath can rewire your brain to stop maladaptive responses to memories or triggering situations.
2. Embrace Positive Affirmations
Physical, emotional, and psychological abuse can reprogram your subconscious mind. It can hold you back through self-sabotage to keep you from rebuilding your life. You must take active steps to undo this negative reprogramming. Positive affirmations can disrupt the pattern of toxic thoughts, harsh inner critics, and insecurities. If your abuser told you enough that you are worthless, you may start to believe it. The same goes for the reverse, which is most potent in your voice. Find sayings that counteract your self-doubts, such as “I am capable. I am worthy. I am strong.” Repeat them aloud when you wake, before bed, and when your doubts creep up during the day to recondition your brain.
3. Heal Your Mind and Body with Movement
Both your body and mind remember the abuse and trauma you endured. Finding a physical outlet to process your emotions and pain can help combat your trauma response. If you are experiencing lingering fear and rage, kickboxing or high-intensity classes may help you work through those feelings. A yoga class can be beneficial if you are struggling with racing thoughts or anxiety. There are special trauma yoga classes, as many positions can promote trauma release. No matter what, find an exercise you enjoy doing so you’re not forcing your body to do something for the sake of it. Moving your body should be self-care, rebuilding yourself positively, not tearing yourself down.
4. Master the Trauma
In the aftermath of trauma, your brain breaks your experience into easier-to-digest pieces. You can suffer derealization, depersonalization, and even memory blocks your brain put in place to protect your conscious mind. Even if your brain doesn’t remember, your body does, and it can trigger your symptoms. Art therapy or creative expression through arts and crafts, drawing, painting, music, dance, or writing can help connect the pieces of our experience to help mast or release the trauma.
5. Getting Help is for the Brave
Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of agency and power. Abuse can often lead to toxic self-blame and shame spirals, preventing us from seeking or accepting help. Be gentle and compassionate toward yourself. Find a support group of survivors that can help you understand what you are going through. You can also look for mental health professionals specializing in treating your kind of trauma from abuse. They can make practical treatment recommendations like getting TMS treatment for PTSD, anxiety, or depression.
Whether you have a formal diagnosis or are struggling to adapt after experiencing abuse, taking steps to accept and move past your trauma can only help you. Suppose you are suppressing your feelings and experience. While protective initially, it will come back to haunt you, typically in the form of PTSD or other mental health crises. If you are already experiencing symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, or depression, speak to your doctor about talk therapy and TMS solutions today.