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Let's talk trauma. Trauma is so very complex. People tend to assume that PTSD is just for veterans. Although it is extremely prevalent with veterans, it comes in many other forms. Childhood trauma is also very prevalent, adult trauma, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, etc.

Have you ever found yourself reacting to instances that you might look back on and think "wow, that was overboard?" I certainly have. Because I believe in transparency and being radically genuine, my trauma surfaces as well. We are all a work in progress, but it is the acknowledgement and the desire for change that helps me through this process. As stated on my About Me page, your desire to want change has to be stronger than your desire to stay the same. I am driven.

You see, trauma rewires the brain. We have billions of neurons in our system that create networks. In our lifetime, experiences create these networks. These networks can be positive networks such as (if you are an animal lover) when you see a puppy, your network lights up. Let's say you had an incident with a dog in your past, a not so very positive experience, but not very traumatic. Because you have experienced more positive experiences with dogs, this negative experience is still in this network, however, the positive experiences are the leader of the reaction to dogs. This network of neurons would be considered adaptive. On the flip side, if we had nothing but negative experiences with dogs, such as being viciously attacked, this network would build a "wall" around it and would become nonadaptive. You would then react to dogs with fear and anxiety. The point being, trauma networks are, we will call it, "stuck." When these networks are "stuck," we tend to be in fight, flight or freeze mode. The amygdala in our brain fires up. This part of our brain is typically referred to as our smoke alarms. When something is a threat, it triggers this part of the brain. Trauma survivors have a very hard time trying to "put out the fire" in the amygdala and become stuck there, chronically.

People who have experienced trauma either tend to be very nonreactive or extremely reactive; one extreme or the other. Some have a very hard time setting boundaries with others. Some are in defense mode all of the time. It is a protective factor. Learning to set boundaries takes time and has to become habitual. Trauma survivors easily feel guilty when saying no to their loved ones or close relationships. This could be because you were called names as a child, which ultimately create a negative belief that you actually are what you have been called. Being called names repetitiously builds this trauma network. You become "stuck" in that belief. This also holds true with adults who experience trauma.

If you are a victim of a traumatic experience/s, it is okay to seek help and heal. It takes a hell of a lot of courage to ask for help, A HELL OF A LOT! It is not easy to spill your personal life onto a stranger (therapist), but know that we are here to help, not judge. We are here to support.

Be good to yourself.

Jennifer Kelley, LLMSW

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