My own experience of trauma is quite profound and it has taken me many years to be able to speak about it. The reason for my doing so now is that I became aware through my speaking, life coaching and philanthropic work that there were other trauma survivors who are in need of help and if my words and knowledge can possibly be of some comfort to them then I feel that it would be worth facing my fear of revealing a little of what happened to me.
Having survived massive surgery as part of my cancer treatment, which resulted in the loss of many organs and life-changing injuries, due to my physical vulnerability I was then physically assaulted and abused as a young woman. Though I survived, I underwent trauma and adjustment therapy of the type for those that have endured torture.
But I realised that I am not alone in my suffering. Throughout my adult life, I have cared for Combat Veterans who sadly suffer terribly from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the horrors of what they have experienced during their service. I have also encountered people who have been the victim of serious assault and other horrific incidents.
The extreme distress that such survivors feel is usually not apparent to others. It affects many areas of such a persons' life and they often feel that they cannot talk about this to anyone.
Fully healing from such experiences is difficult but there is much that can be done to make life more manageable and even to experience happiness and enjoyment in life again.
When coaching others, I am often asked how I have survived and recovered from my experiences without the use of any anti-depressants but my answer is that personally, in my opinion I do not believe in them. I am of the opinion that trauma should not be medicated. Instead, I advocate an approach of mindfulness, being around nature and peacefulness and being allowed time and space to nurture healing.
I also passionately believe that sport and exercise, such as Yoga and Tai'chi, are some of the best forms of medicine of all. Finding a sport or exercise that works for the individual personally to help manage their feelings of distress as a result of their trauma, without aggravating them, can be immensely helpful as a coping mechanism which has the added benefit of healing some of the physical effects of trauma and helps to aid better quality sleep (insomnia and disturbed sleep being one of the main difficulties that trauma survivors have).
Social media sites are flooded with an abundance of motivational quotes. Most range from the amusing to the ridiculous, while occasionally others are very inspiring. However, many people lack the life experience to fully comprehend what they mean.
Those of us who have survived extreme trauma have a more insightful view of the world. The only good things to come out of surviving such terrible experiences are that usually we find ourselves with wisdom and a fighting spirit.
There is not enough room here to write fully about my knowledge of trauma survival but I would like to say to anyone who is suffering from the effects of extreme trauma, to focus on the core values and strengths that enabled you to endure and survive your experience, as these will serve you well in life if you continue to utilise them. Also, seek comfort in nature and let it be your healer, in addition to exercise that suits you.
To those who know of an extreme trauma survivor, I would say to please be gentle, kind and patient with them, for if you get talking to them you will find that much wisdom often comes from experiencing extreme suffering and pain.