Lessons I have learned about trauma

I haven’t spoken extensively about it, but my life has been one of extensive trauma. Not necessarily one consistently traumatic experience (although I’ve had my share), no, I have been- as most would put it- very unlucky. I have rolled from one traumatic experience to another.

These traumas set the stage for my mental health problems and addiction issues. As one psychologist put it “it was inevitable that you would experience psychosis and addiction”. I often wonder what life would have been like had I learned to process my trauma from an early age.

That leads nicely into my first lesson. You can not spend your life wondering about the “what if?” of your past. No amount of bargaining will make traumatic events unhappen. We must accept our pasts and learn to grow and move forward.

Another lesson I have learned is that trauma leaves you with psychological wounds. If left to fester, those wounds will form obvious scars that may appear in increasingly unsettled behaviour. For the sake of not perpetuating our trauma, we must allow ourselves the time, space, and resources to heal. Perhaps the hardest lesson we learn is that we are worthy of the time it takes to heal.

A difficult, but necessary lesson that I have learned, is that we don’t have the right to act out the effects of our trauma on other people. There was a time when I took my suffering out on others. Once again, this perpetuates trauma, leading to generation upon generation experiencing increased suffering.

It was necessary for me to take time away from the world, and look into the darkest recesses of my own being. I had to root out my triggers, and learn to coexist with them, slowly desensitising. This has been an imperfect, and at times messy, process. I am still coming to terms with a lot of the trauma I have been through. It’s okay to admit that you are working on stuff.

The greatest lesson that I have learned, however, was to be kind to people. Altruism feeds the proverbial soul, and whilst kindness costs very little (in general), the rewards are extensive. I could not have reached the place of strength that I am at in my recovery without learning to be kind.

Love yourself, love your scars. Love every part of you that survived the traumas you have faced. We are all worthy of healing, and we all have the capacity to make a difference in our own lives. Our individual experiences give rise to the great beauty of our diversity, and I believe that is something to be celebrated.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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