It’s not pleasant to talk about and even less pleasant to witness (and feel helpless), but we all experience some form of trauma in our lives. There is a quote floating around that I try to remember during the tough times:
This is a hard pill to swallow as social media these days expects us to display all rainbows and butterflies, with the raw, real issues hiding in the background.
Our family, as with most others going through a similar journey, have experienced a fair amount of trauma navigating through our new normal since Eva’s vision loss at the age of 1. Sometimes it feels like we are reliving our initial trauma whenever we hit new obstacles, from her vision loss, to being rejected by schools, to new medical conditions being diagnosed – as a parent of an additional needs kid, you do feel like you can’t catch a break, right?
Several years ago, I decided to look into trauma in much more detail to help me deal a little better. A Counsellor I was seeing talked me through the following diagram and this has helped me immensely.
I want to point out that I am not a Counsellor or Medical Professional, I have just found this diagram helpful in helping me understand my initial trauma and how it affects me as I navigate daily life. Please speak to a professional if you feel you need to address your trauma.
In a perfect world, we would all be at the Window of Tolerance, the place where we are at our best to roll with the punches: we are alert, we are focused, we are calm. Situations that cause stress and trauma can move us out of our window into cognitive states where we are unable to focus on the solution that will bring us back to our calm state.
For those of us that have experienced trauma, we have been thrown off balance and display signs of hyperarousal or hypoarousal. And you can shift between the two. I am one of those people who shifts: I will go from feeling off, forgetting to do things, to then geting very anxious about any little situation to the point where I will start to make up scenarios in my head about future conversations I will have with allied health, educators and specialists. At that point, I know I need to take a step back because my brain is working overtime! Being able to identify this has been a huge step for me; knowing that I am no longer in my window and that I am beginning to spiral has helped me implement tools to bring me back. I will go outside for fresh air, cuddle our dog, or find some music to listen to. Of course, sometimes none of it works and I am a mess before pulling myself together.
Personally, my initial trauma has been the catalyst to push me out of my window as I have recognised that most of my stressful situations have arised from this. Understanding this and knowing when to reign myself is the fine line between losing my focus to staying sharp.
I hope you have found this helpful, and again, please do speak to a professional when discussing your trauma to help you find a way to work through your own situation.