Signs and Symptoms of PTSD and Trauma | part 3
Substance abuse includes drugs, drink, medication and various foods. These can provide temporary relief from the agony and suffering of PTSD and Developmental Trauma. It is thus a way of coping and an avoidance of being confronted with the internal turmoil of Post-Traumatic Stress. Even though substance abuse can be, and often becomes problematic in itself, in order to deal with it effectively, the underlying structures, the substratum of trauma must be addressed.
Addictions can be more varied than substance abuse but falls under the same category of dissociative or coping behaviour, and is likely to come at a certain price. A few examples of addictions are: shopping, gambling, porn and/or sexual activity, watching TV, food and drugs. Addictions are fueled by underlying Post-Traumatic Stress.
Socially Isolating Behavior
The effects of unresolved Trauma is fragmentary and it has an isolating effect in order to preserve the functioning of body-mind systems and to cope with/manage dysfunction within the organism. It comes as no surprise that Post-Traumatic Stress can lead to socially isolating behavior. To interact with and relate to people is for most of us self-confronting, and can be too overwhelming while suffering PTSD and/or Developmental issues. On the other side of the spectrum, people who are overtly extrovert and suffer Post-Traumatic Stress might seek constant social engagement in order to sublimate their own problems.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder compromises the natural resilience of the nervous system. It can leave the body-mind systems in a constant state of alertness, till the person’s energy is so depleted that it can be followed by a collapse and a severe, depressive state. This is the vicious cycle that trauma victims, through the nervous system, will suffer. A state of anxiety relates to a highly charged, hyper-vigilant nervous system as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress.
Inability to Relax
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder leaves levels of highly charged residual energy in the body-mind systems. Unless this is resolved the ability to relax deeply is unattainable.
Rage and Hostility
Acting out anger can be a healthy way of re-establishing lost boundaries that have been breached. When there is physically no possibility of outwardly expressing anger, as it would be in the case of young children in abusive families, anger becomes internalized and can develop into suppressed rage and hostility towards others and can entail becoming chronic and more extreme in nature. Sudden bursts of ‘acting out’ rage and hostility can show up when there is an additional stress/trigger.
To manage and maintain trauma identities, either consciously or unconsciously, takes up enormous amounts of energy. Unresolved trauma freezes high energy charge of the nervous system, collapses boundaries and containment of a healthy and resilient sense of self. This all adds up and contributes to the stagnation of energy flow in the body-mind systems and leads to a depressed state of mind.
Projection into Blame and Guilt
The effects of trauma are overwhelming. In order to deal with this overwhelming feeling, we seek understanding and explanation of why we feel the way we do. The interpretation we give ourselves, while suffering any form of Post-Traumatic Stress, of what happened, is most likely to invoke some form of blame, guilt or self-reproach. The narrative or interpretation of what happened seeks to override the stresses of the Post-Traumatic State. Unfortunately it also prevents resolution and strengthens the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The affects of PTSD and Developmental Trauma disconnects and dis-embodies us. When we don’t feel well in our body and disruptive body-mind states are internalized, it isn’t long before our psyche starts incorporating its way into our sense of self. Thus, not feeling well bodily will in time be interpreted as ‘I am not well’, ‘I am not good enough’ and can develop into self-loathing, self-hatred, and furthering finally into the feeling; ‘I am no good’.
Pretty much follows on from a state of self-loathing and hatred but in an expressed form. By self-mutilation one can seek release from internal turmoil and conflict. The act of self inflicted pain can therefore involve a sense of temporary pleasure and become addictive (think of excessive tattoos and piercings). It might also be an attempt to seek help and attention from the people that are close to us.
Sexual dysfunction and PTSD. Sexuality most often involves a sense of bonding with and connecting to another human being. While suffering PTSD or Developmental Trauma, to bond and connect can result in too much of that which is emotionally overwhelming, especially when Post-Traumatic Stress involves a negative body-image, sexual abuse and assault. Hence to maintain a disconnected state as a survival strategy can result in sexual dysfunction. On the other hand, loving sexuality can be an opening to resolving Post-Traumatic Stress, leading to profound healing.
Not being able to follow through on one’s actions and intentions. Self-sabotage is often related to a lack of trust, feeling incompetent and/or actions that bring about feelings of overwhelming helplessness. Self-sabotage can manifest as making excuses, forgetting, falling sick, getting into difficulties or even accidents prior to the arranged set of intentions or actions.