Over the past decade, we have made waves in the world of mental health. Not only understanding what constitutes and supports improved mental health, but also about the traumas and other underlying issues that can cause problems in our lives.
And while it may sound crazy to say, a lot of people have traumatic beginnings and don’t even realize how much they have been traumatized early in life. Because our upbringing is normal, a lot of times we grow to accept certain events or dynamics that would otherwise be considered unhealthy. In other cases, when we are traumatized early on, our parents may cover it up to save face or because they feel unequipped to help. Regardless, trauma can be immensely damaging.
While most people think of trauma as some major event, trauma doesn’t have to be anything in particular. Put simply, a traumatic event is so emotionally overwhelming that it is jarring, making it feel impossible to rationalize or even deal with. Some examples are sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessing domestic violence, extreme bullying, community violence, a death in the family, neglect, or a serious illness.
If you feel like you likely were traumatized early in life, here are some signs.
1. You feel unable to trust.
Those who have been traumatized will find it hard to trust others. The reason it is hard to trust when you’ve been traumatized is that you have learned that people are capable of doing untrustworthy and extremely harmful things. This can put you in a state of hypervigilance that is hard to escape.
2. You don’t know how to handle your emotions.
A difficult aspect of trauma is that it can destroy your emotional stability. Because trauma works on our body in a very physical way (despite trauma being mainly associated with our emotional state) it can wreak havoc on the parts of the brain that help us to regulate emotion. It’s because of this that many trauma survivors end up with emotional regulation problems.
3. You have low self-esteem.
Early trauma can destroy your self-esteem. When we are younger, we tend to internalize what happens to us, and when a major trauma takes place, it’s oftentimes that we feel we must have done something to deserve it. Of course, that is not the case. But, it can truly feel that way.
4. You have flashbacks.
A major sign of trauma is flashbacks and nightmares. When trauma happens early in life, we oftentimes repress it. But, it will continue to live in our subconscious, coming through as flashbacks (moments in which you relive the trauma) or nightmares.
5. You lose time.
Trauma survivors oftentimes will disassociate as a means of coping. Put simply, disassociation is when we mentally separate ourselves from our present moment. It is almost as though you go on autopilot and your mind distances itself from your body. Unfortunately, this can cause even more stress in the long run and can cause a loss of time and even memory (even during good moments.)
6. You are always anxious.
Trauma can leave you in a constant state of anxiety. It can cause you to fear every person, every moment, and to constantly stay on guard and in fear of others. And for those who have been traumatized, it can take time to find themselves again.