OPINION: Complex trauma should not be taboo

Julia Elbert  

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Editor’s note: This article contains discussion of PTSD and abuse. 

     When you walk into a room and you feel like everyone is staring and your air is being stripped away from your lungs with every glance, and your heart is beating with the pace of a hummingbird… close your eyes and breathe. 

     When the sweat is building up in the palm of your hand and you can’t get the nerve to speak up. The narrow stare you give to the corner of the wall and the gentle tear that falls from your eye, catching it on your sleeve before it hits the end of your nose. Everyone in the same room is experiencing a form of trauma response in one way, shape or form.  

     Some may be war veterans, that have seen combat and people dying, but most of us are just living a life that has handed us a bad deal of cards. We have chosen to play with that broken deck that is missing pieces, but we have also taken on the shards of glass stuck to them. Each piece is different than the other and some have created wounds too deep to measure.  

     According to the American Psychiatric Association, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is “… a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.” 

     A trauma response is our body’s natural way of responding to an action or situation that has left our mind in a constant state of confusion and worry. Just like snowflakes, each human brain is wired differently and responds to different situations in multiple manners. To think that only war veterans or people who have experienced extreme life altering situations can feel the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is ignorant, and to put it simply, just not the truth.  

     Mental manipulation will alter the way you view the world and how you view yourself in ways that many people do not understand. Abuse can come in many forms. Whether you experience it in a romantic relationship, friendship or family relation, your feelings are valid. What you are experiencing is okay, and PTSD is normal.  

     Once you can accept that what your brain is going through is purely a response tactic and you see that it is not taboo, you can look it dead in the eyes and face the issue head on.  

     Society has built an entire stigma against mental illness and PTSD, cornering it into a place where only people with extreme trauma or experiences can go; and I am here to say, that ends today.  

     You are valid, your emotions are valid and what you feel ringing inside of your brain every single day, that is not taboo. What happened to you was wrong, and our bodies are fragile, but our minds are stronger than we will ever know.  

     In order to understand and see the world of complex trauma, we must stop looking at PTSD as something that only a select few are able to experience. If you have had an experience that has left you feeling confused, lost and hollow, know that you’re allowed to feel and to process. It does not matter what that situation was.  

     Every person and situation are different, and you do not need to validate yourself or your emotions to anyone; you need to accept and heal with the help of a professional.  

     If you or a loved one has been experiencing anxiety, depression or PTSD, please seek help with a professional therapist from the UCCS Wellness Center or talk to someone you feel comfortable with. 

     The UCCS Wellness Center’s number is 719-255-7515.