Ask yourself the following series of questions:
If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, then you have experienced a form of trauma. Yes, I am fully aware that I said that "if you are black" then you've experienced trauma! I doubt that there is a black person in the US that hasn't at some point or another thought about the possibilities of police harassment/brutality or have clinched the steering wheel for dear life when they saw police lights flashing in the rear view mirror. Some of you have probably experienced several of the listed cases and therefore have experienced serial trauma.
Have you had the opportunity to vent and to formally resolve the emotions and feelings that were a direct result of each of your traumatic experiences? If yes, then you are a model of what we should all strive for; if no, then you should schedule an appointment immediately.
The impact of unresolved trauma can be more detrimental to your mental health than the trauma itself. You are probably saying to yourself, “Dr. G I’m tough and I’ve been doing fine thus far…” but many times we unknowingly carry the baggage of unresolved trauma and it manifests in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways.
If you ever find yourself randomly feeling anxious, angry, sad, depressed, or unsettled then these may be signs of unresolved traumatic stress. By not openly acknowledging the feelings and emotions associated with your traumatic experience, you are normalizing the traumatic experience. You are basically telling your brain, “These types of "messed-up" experiences are normal and good for me, so get used to it!” As a result, your brain agrees and adjust your chemical signals to not react as shocked the next time the experience occurs.
Alone, that mental adaptation is not so bad…in theory, you are better prepared than most to deal with trauma; however, the problem arises when you need to interact with other people.
A significant part of the human experience is our ability to communicate and to share emotional experiences with each other. By normalizing trauma, you are significantly impairing your ability to emotionally develop and to build meaningful relationships with others, which can be traumatic in itself and can lead to an even greater downward spiral of events.
Whether you like it or not, you are a human being and it is best if you treat yourself like a human being. As human beings we need to share our emotions and we also need to vent tough situations to other people that we trust. If you ever experience a trauma, then be human and talk it through with your closest friend(s) or a community of other people who have experienced the same trauma. Trust me, you will notice the payoff immediately.
Below I have a few tips to deal with trauma that you have experienced and a few resources that may also help.
Tips for Dealing with Trauma
I am not a professional mental health expert so here are a few professional resources.
Help Guide to Mental and Emotional Health
Dr. Gabriel Burks is dedicated to increasing higher education awareness and showing aspiring scholars the power of science.