Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about something that keeps popping up: If that caused my PTSD why don’t I feel strongly about it? This is a good question to ask. As this can lead you down a complete false path and severely sabotage your healing journey.
This is one of the things I skipped over when handling trauma and I thought it was about time we address it. So let us talk about it.
There are 2 options why you are feeling nothing really regarding a traumatic event that might have caused your PTSD. The first option is that you are too overwhelmed with the trauma and therefor your brain turned off emotions to protect itself.
It is a VERY bad sign if you feel nothing regarding what happened. No matter what. That is usually the sign of suppressed emotions. What is ideal is feeling a sense of peace and calmness about it. But not NO emotions.
As soon you start opening that topic you will get your emotions slowly and more and more. Thought that is not the topic of today, that is the second option: You feel nothing, because the event isn’t really responsible for your symptoms.
There is this huge misconception that you have your traumatic event and then immediately you get PTSD symptoms. That depends on the trauma - the bigger the trauma structure the longer it takes for your brain to show symptoms.
While simple events get almost an immediate reaction. Part of the reason is likely that by suppressing it - the brain tries to protect itself and prevent being overwhelmed. What most understand under PTSD - is just PTSD being active and showing strong symptoms.
Be it because the brain decides to try to get rid of it or because it can’t hold it any longer. We are looking into two variants of a small trauma activating the big one and then some ways to find the hidden trauma.
Two variants of a trauma activating another
We start with the first variant, where a small trauma activates the big trauma. In this case the trauma is unrelated to the big one, but it brought an overworked system to its knee and it all breaks loose.
While the brain was so far successful in keeping the PTSD, in its hidden stage, under control - with the unexpected side trauma - it looses control and the old PTSD becomes active. These two can have absolute nothing to do with another.
Even worse, the trauma that set this off might not even result in a PTSD as it is to minor and the brain can handle it by itself. So you might end up with PTSD symptoms - maybe even quite severe ones - but the event that caused them is no big deal - to you at least.
Which of course leads you to search in the complete wrong place. Which is why therapist usually ask for anything in the past. Or it might be a less severe version of PTSD, which treatment will result in the old PTSD maybe getting hidden again.
Or you might end up having successfully treated that one PTSD, but somehow still have these weird symptoms. Either way, that is the time one should really start looking for that old PTSD - as it is only a matter of time before it gets active again.
In the second variant the case is similar, but this time the small trauma is in the same category as the old one. While this situation is extremely similar, it is so much harder to understand what is going on and to separate them.
This can also lead a trauma to evolve a PTSD that without the old trauma wouldn’t have. As the old one makes you incredible vulnerable to that. And now you end up with having basically 2 PTSD active with similar trigger, nightmares and the like.
Which now results in some treatments working somehow, some treatments work sometime and other mixed responses. But knowing you deal with multiple instead of one is already the key for success.
Looking for the hidden trauma
So now to the question, how do I look for the one that is hidden underneath? A solid option is always the good old “why”. Asking why - and focusing on feelings not facts - until you get a strong emotional reaction.
Sometimes that is crying or just a feeling of weights off your shoulder. As long as you keep getting emotional you are on the right way. Usually I find the best way to test that by speaking out loud. If your voice is clear and firm you are usually on the wrong path.
Problems to speak and barely getting it out - is a sign for a strong emotional reaction. Another option is letting your mind wander. Is there a memory or a thought that keeps popping up in your head? That could be because it is an unresolved issue for the brain.
Often it doesn’t seem like a big deal - but it is often just the tip of the iceberg. It is also worth remembering, that the body gets as much traumatized as the mind - an aspect that is often overlooked, but important to address.
Otherwise the most important thing is to keep on going - no matter how fast or slow.
That was it for todays episode, I hope you found it helpful. Hope you are safe and well. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/podcast/, information regarding therapy you can find under johannadraconis.com/therapy/ and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.