Tag Archives: disorders

What Is Trauma Blocking

Trauma blocking isn’t an overly common term but the phenomenon is surprisingly common.  Trauma blocking means a behavior designed to avoid thinking of certain painful & traumatic events.  This may not sound overly harmless but when done consistently, it can be.  It’s healthy to take breaks from facing pain sometimes of course, but it is also healthy to face pain head on.  There needs to be a balance.  When you feel strong, you need to face that pain, but if you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s wise to take a break & avoid thinking about it for a while.  Balance is the key to coping with trauma!

Back to trauma blocking behaviors.. following is a list of some of them.

A very common trauma blocking behavior is excess.  Anything done in excess that leaves little or no time to face pain is trauma blocking.  That excessive thing may be something people commonly consider such as drug abuse or binge drinking, but it also can be something that seems normal such as watching too much television, scrolling through social media or even socializing for excessively long hours.  All of these behaviors serve the same purpose – keeping a person’s mind occupied for so long they don’t have time in a day to think of anything else, like traumatic experiences.

Another trauma blocking behavior could be eating mindlessly.  Eating requires attention, so it is easy to focus on that over painful trauma.  That doesn’t make this a healthy coping skill however!  Eating disorders are far too easy to fall into & are so unhealthy.  Not only can they cause the obvious physical problems like diabetes or high cholesterol, but they can cause a person to avoid dealing with past trauma that needs their attention in order to heal.

On a related note, exercising constantly also is unhealthy.  Most people who exercise compulsively are never satisfied when they reach a goal, so they set another & another.  This compulsion is often referred to as body dysmorphia, & is frequently related to eating disorders.  It is dangerous to a person’s physical health as well as mental health.  How can anyone who is so focused on their body be able to spare time to deal with their emotional baggage?

Being busy all the time is yet one more trauma blocking behavior.  It seems as if society as a whole admires those who are busy constantly, but this behavior is far from healthy!  People need some time to relax & rest, & being busy constantly doesn’t allow that.  People who dare to take some down time are often looked down on for being lazy & unproductive, which truly makes no sense!  Being too busy is dangerous for your physical health but also your mental health.  It leaves no time for recovery & restoration let alone facing trauma. 

Shopping too much also can be a trauma blocking behavior.  Buying things can trigger the brain’s reward center.  It feels good to get something you want or even things you need.  Shopping for the sole purpose of triggering that reward center in the brain however isn’t a wise idea.  That can create an addiction as well as avoiding facing trauma.

Coming from a family with a healthy work ethic can be a good thing.  However, coming from a family who clearly believes that if you aren’t working you are useless is so unhealthy.  Yet sadly, this is a pretty common occurrence.  People who have survived this upbringing often hide in their job as a way to avoid trauma while simultaneously building their self worth. 

If you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors, please don’t beat yourself up over this!  Facing trauma is hard.  Wanting to avoid it is totally understandable!  While facing it is wise, I also think taking breaks sometimes is equally wise.  Don’t try to face an entire childhood or 15 year’s marriage worth of trauma at once.  Face things as they come up, & if you feel like it’s too much, take a little time off when necessary where you refuse to deal with the trauma.  If you’re afraid of taking too much time off, set a goal of allowing yourself a week or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then at the end of that set time, pick up where you stopped.  You will find yourself stronger & more equipped to face things after your break.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

About Scars

Most people are very uncomfortable around someone with obvious scars.  They stare at the person who has scars from surviving a house fire or they avoid even making simple eye contact with the person.  Some especially rude people ask this person what happened while wearing an expression of sheer disgust on their face.  Experiences like this make the person with the scars feel ashamed of how they look.  This sort of experience also can happen to someone who wears their scars inside as a result of surviving abuse.

So many people who live with ongoing mental health struggles such as Complex PTSD, PTSD, anxiety & depression as a result of being abused are shamed.  Some people mock these mental disorders while others deny their existence, which further contributes to the shame most abuse victims feel on some level for being abused.  This behavior is incredibly cruel but also foolish.

Everyone has scars to some degree.  Those scars shouldn’t be a source of shame.  Scars tell a story of things you have experienced.

Some scars show a woman has birthed healthy children.

Some scars show what happened to a soldier who bravely threw himself in harm’s way to protect his fellow soldiers.

Some scars show that a fireman was injured while rescuing someone from a burning building on the verge of collapse.

Some scars show the vet assistant’s job involves a lot more physical pain than most people think because scared animals scratch & bite.

Some scars even show that a person was abused by someone they thought they could trust, someone they thought loved them & would be good to them.

The one thing all scars have in common is that they tell a story of something that could have destroyed a person yet they didn’t.  They tell a story of survival, strength & bravery. 

If you have survived abuse & feel your story isn’t somehow good or worthy like the people in the examples I provided, I want you to know that you are wrong.  Having a mental disorder or even disorders doesn’t mean you are weak, stupid, or a failure.  Far from it!  It means you survived something that could have destroyed you.  Narcissists do their level best to destroy their victims in every possible way, yet you survived that!  Of course you have some issues as a result of the abuse, because that is only normal.  Rather than be ashamed of those issues, why not be proud of the fact you survived what many people don’t?  Then, as if surviving isn’t enough, here you are, not only coping with those issues but learning, growing, healing & helping others who have experienced what you have.  You should be so proud of yourself for how far you have come!! 

Rather than be ashamed of your scars & try to hide them, I would like to suggest that you to accept them without judgment as reminders of your strength & courage!  Hold your head high & be proud of the person you are!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

Lesser Known Signs Of Trauma

When you have experienced trauma in your lifetime, in particular repeated trauma, it’s going to affect you.  Some expected signs of trauma in a person are things like depression & anxiety.  There are a host of other, lesser known signs that can be extremely disruptive to a person’s life.

Hyper-vigilance may be the most common sign of trauma in a person’s life.  It happens often in a person who has lived with their abuser, such as the child or spouse of the abuser.  Living with an abusive person means you must be on your guard at all times, so you don’t do anything that upsets the abuser.  That hyper-vigilant behavior often stays with a person long after they have ended the relationship with their abuser.  It also leads to a host of other problems.

Physical pain in victims of abuse is often a sign not of an injury or illness, but of having experienced trauma.  In particular, this pain often manifests in the neck & back.  This is due to living in a hyper-vigilant state for an extended period of time.   Hyper-vigilance causes your body to be in a state of not only emotional but physical stress, & that can cause physical pain in spite of there being no injury.

An extreme startle response is also caused by having to be in a state of hyper-vigilance.  It manifests as being drastically more startled than you would expect to be in a specific situation.  This startle response often cause anger or even tears in the startled person.

Sleep disturbances is another common sign of trauma in a person’s life.  Nightmares that either relive the trauma or trigger emotions similar to those experienced during traumatic episodes happen often.  Waking up often during the night or struggling to fall asleep in spite of doing things to help even including taking sleep aids are also common.  Some people can wake up throwing punches, because they are so accustomed to protecting themselves.  This happens with those suffering from PTSD who have served in the military or those in law enforcement.

Being too busy is a trauma response that many people employ.  These people will keep themselves as busy as possible during their waking hours.  They work long shifts, participate in many activities & rarely take time to just rest, even when they’re sick.  They do this as a way to avoid facing their pain.  If they don’t have time to think, they also don’t have time to think about their pain.

Similar to being too busy is losing yourself in activities.  Staring at social media or watching tv for hours is another way to escape facing pain by focusing attention elsewhere.  While neither is bad, doing so for hours on end is unhealthy, especially if the one doing so is unable to stop.

Eating disorders can be another sign of unresolved trauma.  It is a way to regain some control when a person feels like they have no control otherwise.

Avoiding places & people that remind a victim of past trauma are more trauma responses.  No one wants to face reminders of pain, of course, but those who have been through extreme trauma will go to great lengths to avoid it.

Avoiding conflict is very common in those with traumatic pasts.  When abuse happens during conflict instead of dialog designed to work things out, it instills fear in a person about conflict with anyone, not only the abuser.

If you recognize yourself in some or even all of these symptoms, hope is not lost!   The more you deal with the trauma in your life, the more these unhealthy patterns will break.  Not overnight, but they will happen.  Keep working on your healing however works for you.  Pray, write in a journal, talk to a supportive friend or therapist… whatever you do that helps you, keep on doing it even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress.  Healing isn’t a simple thing.  Sometimes it looks like nothing is improving, then suddenly you make big progress.  Other times, you’ll slip back into old, dysfunctional habits.  It’s ok!  It’s just a part of the healing journey.  Don’t give up!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

My Print Books Are 15% Off For A Limited Time

My publisher is having another sale on all of my print books. Use code SELL15 at checkout & get 15% off until April 23 , 2021

Books are available at the link below:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Animals, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism, Writing

Living With A Spirit Of Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 in the Amplified Bible says, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”  It can be so hard to remember that God has given us a healthy mind sometimes!  Having lived with many symptoms of C-PTSD for as far back as I can remember then almost all since 2012, there have been more times than not that I have doubted that very Scripture.  Clearly I’m not proud of that but it’s true.  Waking up during panic & anxiety attacks, the way sometimes anxiety runs roughshod over logic & the crippling agoraphobia I lived with for well over 20 years can make that happen.

If you can relate, then you too may be controlled by a spirit of fear as I have been.  There are ways you can identify if this is indeed the problem or not.

Do you have the urge to hide from everyone, even God?  Fear can become a self made prison, creating the urge to avoid everyone.  Most introverts are fine with plenty of alone time but even so, fear can make even the most die hard introvert spend too much time away from other people & become lonely.  It also can make even the most devoted Christian pray less & less.

Is your faith becoming weak?  If so, you may be living with a spirit of fear.  Fear can create a hindrance for believing in what God has to say.  It can make you think irrational thoughts such as all of those promises in the Bible aren’t for you, that God meant them for other people.  It can make you doubt the call on your life to the point of not following through with it.  It also can make you forget what you know the Bible says or what God has spoken to you.

Fear can consume your thoughts.  When fear takes over, all you can think about is the issue that makes you afraid.  You neglect relationships, doing a good job at work, caring for children & pets & more. 

Fear can skew your judgment.  Because fear is so tormenting & miserable, you can become desperate for a way out.  This means you may listen to people you normally wouldn’t listen to for advice. You may consider or actually do things you know you shouldn’t do.

If you can relate to these, then you may be operating under the control of a spirit of fear.  Don’t lose hope though!  You don’t have to live this way any longer!

To start, refocus on God.  Read your Bible more often.  Subscribe to a daily devotional or Bible in a year email.  Listen to Christian music that makes you feel close to God & do it often.  Ask Him for help whenever you feel fear.  And when you don’t, thank Him & ask Him to help you to live with this type of peace more often.

Consider your situation logically.  Ask yourself why this situation makes you so afraid.  Is there a valid reason to feel fear?  Can harm come to you or someone else?  Doing this can help you refocus & accept that there is no real reason to be scared.

Force yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes.  It really will help you to have more self confidence which will in turn reduce the amount of fear you feel.  When my mother died & I learned I was her personal representative, I didn’t think I could do it.  I had no choice though.  I legally couldn’t pawn the duties off on anyone else.  I literally had to force myself to do things that were miles out of my comfort zone.  I did them though.  I tried to reward myself almost every time I did something, too.  It didn’t have to be anything big.  I like driving while listening to good music so I would take a long route home & just enjoy the music.  Sometimes I picked up dinner rather than cook.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone helped me to gain more & more confidence, & the rewards helped to cement good feelings in my mind.  Try to do the same!  Start small & do bigger, scarier things as you feel able, & don’t forget to reward yourself after for a job well done!

In time, you can stop living with that spirit of fear & start living with the sound mind that God has given you!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health