Episode 3 - Trauma

Intro
Hello, my name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode I will get into the heart of it all - the TRAUMA. It’s was causes the PTSD and all its wonderful symptoms.


What is a trauma?
Since we made out what the problem is, lets go right into the heart of the issue.

There is no true consent what a trauma truly means or how its to be tackled, but as its the core of PTSD its also the core of the problem.
First off, a trauma is a significant traumatic experience, that does not happen on an everyday life.
The trauma can be tiny or enormous, and pretty much everything in between. Examples are: the loss of a pet, friend, family member, etc. Or witnessing a strong crime, violence etc.
Now how come some of those turn into trauma and some not?
I think the key is; IF we managed to take care of them properly. Did our brain manage to deconstruct the trauma and put its pieces into its place?
A child brain is challenged by this even by small traumas, which is why those usually remain buried, put to side or so, until we can solve them one day.
And naturally they are often forgotten or just get avoided, but that is beside the point.

A trauma can usually only occur in 3 circumstances: Something is happening to you, you see something and you did something.
And the way the trauma happens plays a very important role in how strong the trauma is. I will list 4 categories and several factors, which all influence it.
To make it simple: The more you say yes to them, the bigger the trauma. Those factors might also help you find aspects of the trauma, you were not yet aware of.

We go into the circumstances one after another.


The first category is:
The importance is the way it happened - what HAPPENED to you.
To explain what I mean, let me use being hit in the face for example. I would separate in 4 categories on how painful and bad it is received.
The first category is no one, it was a branch or anything, that just happen to hit you there. You could see it as the neutral pain, as nothing is added to it. Except maybe embarrassment, that it happened.
The second category is us ourselves, we unintentionally hit ourselves, either when we try hit something else or we pushed something down and we loose grip and swing at out face. Embarrassing for sure.
The third category is someone else, but unintentionally. Someone spoke with gestures to wide or something like that, and the hand ends in your face. Person is very apologetic. Now its’ level is depending how sure we are it was accidental…. And how generous we feel about being forgiving in that moment.
The fourth category is someone else, but intentionally. This will be perceived as the most painful and threatening. As it doesn’t just physical harm us, but also bears the threat of further harm to us. And the person harming us, doesn’t have to do it themselves. They can also achieve that through different means.

The fourth category is what we are usually really interested in. The extremity of the trauma is then further determined by following factors and I hope I didn’t overlook some.
Also please take your time answering these questions, as it can become easily too much:
Frequency: How often did it happen apart from each other?
Consistency: How much could you expect it to happen and/or a specific time?
Length: How long was the attack?
Time Span: How long did you suffer under the attacks? (Be it days, months or years)
Force: How strong was the attack?
Cause: Was there a reason for the attack?
Cruelty: How much did happen just to make you suffer?
Life threat: Was there a threat for you life?
Silence: Were you threatened to remain silent?
Psychological: Was the attack psychological?
Person of Power: Was the attacker a person that had power over you? (Boss, Mother, Family member, etc.)
Person of Trust: Was the attacker a person you trusted or needed to trust? (Parents, Doctor, etc.)
Social environment: How much seemed your social environment be supportive of what is happening?
Environment: How stable was your everyday life?
Help: Did you receive any help? Could someone have helped?
Forced Action: Were you forced to do something you don’t want to?
Forced Life: Were you forced to live in a way you didn’t want to?
Personality: Did the attacker try to change your personality?
Entertaining: How much was the attacker entertained by your suffering?
Mercy: Did the attacker respond to your signs of pain?
Regret: Did the attacker show regret and/or remorse of what he did?
Blame: Where you blamed for what happened?
Torture: Was is Torture?

Before you answer the last question, I want to make you aware, that torture doesn’t mean it needs to be a torture chamber and a professional torturer.
Torture is defined as “the act of causing great physical or mental pain in order to persuade someone to do something or to give information, or to be cruel to a person or animal”. I want to add “to just enjoy the suffering of the other person.” You see that the definition is way more open than that. Especially someone who suffered regularly abuse should take another look at it. I will talk about torture and PTS in the next episode.
I of course will not go into details if I can avoid it.


The second category is:
The importance the way it happened - what you WITNESSED.
We have basically the same 4 categories as before, just for witnessing it. Little changes in that regard.

Additionally the factors pretty much remain the same. Of course this time from the witness perspective.
Accomplice: Where you forced to be an accomplice?
Helpless: How much were you able to help?
Victim: How close were you to the victim?
Attacker: How close were you to the attacker?
Guilt: Did you feel guilty about what happened?
Movement: Where you able to move?
Choice: Did you made a wrong choice?
Hurt: Were you also hurt?


The third category is:
The importance the way it happened - what you DID
And the same goes here: The 4 categories stay the same, just switched. As in, you attacked something, but it was nothing. You accidentally attacked, etc.
Now the factors do vary a bit from the other versions.
Purpose: Did you aim for what happened?
Accident: Was it an accident?
Avoidable: How avoidable was what happened?
Escalate: Did a situation escalate into something you couldn’t control?
Neglect: Did it happened because you neglected something?
Guilt: Did you feel guilty about what happened?
Accomplice: Did you forced someone to be an accomplice?
Victim: How close were you to the victim?
Trust: Did the victim trust you?
Regret: Do you regret what you did?
Cause: Did you caused what happened?
Misjudge: Did you handle on wrong judgment?
Choice: Did you made a wrong choice?
Hurt: Were you also hurt?

I just want to remind you, that for a child, even the first category can be traumatizing, depending on age and circumstances.


How to get rid of the trauma
Now since we made clear, what the trauma is, let’s see what we can do about it.

So, how do we do it?
You see, a trauma is like a pomegranate or simplified like an orange. You can’t swallow it in a whole, you have to open it up and take it on piece by piece. And its messy, tedious work.
Seriously, pomegranate is for MANY reasons a perfect example.
This pomegranate metaphor may sound simple but was my first and major breakthrough. My mountain of problems was in truth just many, many small pebbles… or more or less small pebbles.

So now, how do we to open the trauma?
You need to know what happened. The bundle what the trauma is, consist out of everything that made the event traumatic. Take it on one by one. Its like a cluster, as they are also found in the fruit.
Similar to a spiders web, everything that is connected to the trauma will get entangled there and be stuck to it. Making the trauma grow bigger and bigger.
This includes things that will happen years after the core trauma. And you can’t just take the core trauma out and everything will just disappear. No. Like the fruit or a pile, you have to remove every piece.

What are the pieces?
Emotions usually. Facts are irrelevant for the trauma and your feelings. They do not matter and if they matter, then only to demonstrate how severe something was.
But also memories. Memories buried deep into our brain. Maybe we don’t even know WHY we remember them, but we do.

As for a simple example, lets use the death of a pet. The emotions surrounding might be
- guilt, for not taking better care of the pet,
- loss, as a dear friend is missed,
- anger, because a dear friend was taken from you,
- sorrow, for you now have to move on alone
- fear, for/of loosing more as easily as you just did
- confusion, how could this happen?
- and so on and so forth.

And the Memories might be
- about moments we hesitated to say something regarding the pet
- Moments when we feel we didn’t responded correctly or enough
- Moments when we shoved it aside
- Moments when we realize the pet isn’t there anymore
- Moments when we really could have used the support of the pet
- Moments when we saw a pet looking similar to the pet
- and so on and so forth.

Each emotions source must be discovered, inspected and resolved. Each and every one of them. Some things are faster resolved than others. Some things just take time. Same goes for the memories.
But this is the core of the treatment of PTSD, similar to the Pomegranate or Orange, we take it bit by bit. Piece by piece, until nothing is left.
Depending on length and severity of the trauma, the pieces form a pile or up to a mountain. It doesn’t matter, it only takes more time.
With small but steady steps, we move forward. Big leaps might get you farther, but they are unreliable and more often then not you fall and are further behind then you were by quite a bit.

We are climbing a hill or up to a mountain, this is not a race, this is a long climb. As tempting as it may be to rush it, to be over with, its a trap.
Similar to climbing a mounting, rushing it make you just more likely to make mistakes and in the worst case, loose grip and fall all the way down, maybe even deeper than before.
Just never loose focus where you want to go and go steady. Sometimes you get farther, sometimes not at all. This is OK.
As long as we keep on going, everything is okay. There are circumstances where we can travel faster, but about those we talk in a later Episode.

It is possible. The biggest lie PTSD tells you is; that its a pointless fight and you never win, how could you? So its better to give up and not waste your energy.
Its a lie. You just can’t take it at one piece.

I also used the 5 steps of grieving as a guide. Denial, Anger, Bargain, Depression/Sadness and Acceptance.
Denial, that its there, so you have to find it.
Anger, you have been hurt and you want to hurt back. Or fight the person or whatever it was that hurt you.
Bargain, you try to accommodate for it. Make excuses or downplay it, etc.
Depression/Sadness, you realize there is nothing you can do.
Acceptance, we are not gods. We can’t control or change everything. Sometimes things happen. All we can do is accept them, learn from them and then move on.

It’s hard to accept defeat, I know that. But defeat doesn’t mean you give up, you just accept that a battle is lost, but there are more to come. You fight so many battles in your life.
And it’s better to call it, then fight endlessly, loose all your energy to it and nothing will change. Better focus on bettering yourself, as on the people that wronged you in the past.

And regarding the many factors, don’t worry about remembering them at once or being able to answer them immediately.
There will be a link for the transcript or just go on johannadraconis.com/podcast and you can read all the transcripts and download them there.


Outro
That was it for todays episode, sorry if I sound a bit tired, but sleep has been pretty hard to come by with these temperatures. This week will have up to 41° C, which are almost 109°F.
Hope it will be better for our next episode.
Thank you all for listening and I hope I see you next week, when we tackle the topic torture and PTS. 
Hope you liked this episode and leave me some feedback, also you can visit me on johannadraconis.com for more information. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.

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The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD ~ Episode 3 - Trauma
We talk about trauma and how to get rid of it.
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