Mental Health

How Survivors Can Deal With the Long Shadow of Trauma

There’s no escaping trauma. Sometimes it comes and goes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Other times, it stays with us. Even when we’re standing still. The sneaky thing is that trauma can settle into our shadow side without us even knowing it. It’s not always easy to spot by looking, but it may show up in various ways.

Longer the shadow of trauma, the darker, the more complex it is. In many cases, people who have been wounded by early childhood trauma lose their innocence too soon. Whether you’ve experienced trauma yourself or know someone who has — it can be hard to deal with. Many people forget how devastating and life-changing it can be.

In this article. I will discuss some things you can do for yourself to help deal with trauma and ways to ask for help if you’re struggling.

How Does Long Shadow of Trauma Affect a Person?

The long shadow of trauma is more than just a feeling. It’s an impact that can be experienced as a subtle, pervasive sense of foreboding and dread. The person may feel anxious and irritable, with a strong desire to avoid people or places that trigger uncomfortable feelings or memories. They may also experience numbness and emotional detachment.

They may feel shame about what happened to them and worry about how others will respond if they disclose their experiences. They may also have trouble trusting others or feeling safe in relationships. The person may have difficulty communicating their feelings and may be reluctant to seek help because they believe they will be blamed or judged. 

They may also avoid talking about their past experiences because they are afraid that others might not believe them or will think less of them if they tell the truth. People who have been traumatized often feel guilty, ashamed, angry, or afraid — sometimes all at once — which can lead to self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol abuse or self-harm (e.g., cutting). 

Not only that, but the long shadow of trauma can also affect family members. If you’re close to someone who has been traumatized, you may feel anxious or depressed due to their symptoms or behaviors. You might also feel like there’s nothing you can do to help them heal, which is frustrating for all involved.

People who have been traumatized often feel like they are still living in the past — unable to move forward with their lives because they are stuck in an endless loop of flashbacks and negative emotions about what happened to them or someone else close to them.

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, knowing how to help someone who has been through it can be difficult. The most important thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Every person recovers differently, and every situation will affect each person differently.

How to Cope With the Long Shadow of Trauma?

There are many ways to cope with the long shadow of trauma. This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes some of the most common strategies:

1) Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Try to spend time with friends and family and engage in fun activities that make you feel good about yourself.

2) Find a way to express yourself. It’s important that you find a way to express your feelings and emotions because this can help you heal. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, write down your thoughts or feelings in a journal or on paper. Expressing yourself through art can be another way of dealing with your emotions and feelings.

3) Be kind and gentle with yourself. You may not have chosen to go through this situation, but it was still traumatic nonetheless. Be kind and gentle towards yourself so you can move forward from this experience without feeling guilty or ashamed about what happened.

4) Make sure you have a safe place to go when needed. If you’re struggling with trauma or feeling anxious, it’s important to ensure that there is a safe place for you to go — physically or emotionally. 

This might be a friend’s house or an organization that provides crisis counseling. It could also be an online support group or community where members offer each other advice, comfort, and encouragement during hard times.

5) Get support from friends and family members who understand what you’re going through. You might want someone who has been through similar experiences before so that they could provide you with some advice on how they coped or helped them get through their own traumatic experience(s).

6) Practice mindfulness meditation. This involves focusing on your breathing to relieve stress and anxiety while building awareness of what is happening inside your mind. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increase chemicals that promote relaxation, such as serotonin.

7) Seek professional help if needed. There is no shame in seeking professional help when coping with trauma or any other issue in life (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.). People who have experienced trauma may have trouble sleeping or concentrating on daily tasks, leading to further isolation from family and friends who might otherwise be supportive during this difficult time in their life. 

It’s important for those who have experienced trauma to talk about their experience and seek support from others who have been through similar situations, so they don’t feel like they’re suffering alone.

How to Help Someone With the Long Shadow of Trauma?

It’s important to remember that there are many types of trauma, and what may be helpful for one person may not be helpful for another. If you’re struggling to figure out how to help someone with the long shadow of trauma, here are some strategies that might help:

1) Empathy is the first step in helping someone with a traumatic past. Try to understand their feelings and why they are acting or feeling a certain way. It can be difficult for those who have not experienced trauma themselves to understand how someone could be affected by it, so try to put yourself in their shoes before offering them advice or judgment.

2) Be patient with them. It can take time for someone who has suffered from severe trauma to open up about their experiences and feelings. Don’t push them into talking about it if they don’t want to, but try to be supportive when they decide to talk about it.

3) Listen without judgment or criticism. It can be difficult for someone who has suffered from trauma to talk about the bad things that happened because they may feel ashamed or guilty about what happened to them. Try not to judge or tell them how they should feel; just listen carefully and offer encouragement when appropriate (such as when they tell you how proud you are of their progress).

4) Be there for them when they need you most. If your loved one is experiencing flashbacks or nightmares, be prepared to spend time with them when these episodes occur. Support them through whatever emotions come up for them at those times — whether it’s crying, laughing, or feeling numb — so that they know they’re not alone during this difficult time in their life.

5) Avoid saying, “I know how you feel.” Even if you have experienced something similar yourself, it doesn’t mean that you truly understand what another person is going through. Avoid saying things like “I know exactly how you feel” or “My situation was worse than yours” because they imply that your experience is more valid or serious than someone else’s.

Also, help them seek professional support — If your loved one isn’t ready to seek help, encourage them to talk with a mental health professional when they are ready. 

In the meantime, don’t forget about yourself while helping someone else! You need to take care of yourself to provide support for others, so make sure you’re taking time off work or school so you can fully focus on your friend or family member’s needs without having another stressful situation on top of it all.

Related Read: How to Cope With Injustice Trauma?

Final Thoughts

One of the most important things you can do to fight trauma’s long shadow is to start talking. I know this can be hard, but finding someone, you can trust to listen to and share your story with, is one of the most critical steps to feeling better. You don’t need to talk about everything that happened; just being willing to acknowledge he or she is there for you can help make a big difference.

Finding that person may be difficult initially; it may take some time and a few bad experiences. But it’s worth it in the end because your life will only improve when you can finally start sharing your experiences with those around you.

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Hi, I am Happy. I'm a professional writer and psychology enthusiast. I love to read and write about human behaviors, the mind, mental health-related topics, and more.