People often associate Trauma with a large, dramatic, or catastrophic situation like abuse, war, death or rape.
Immediately after a traumatic incident, emotions like shock and denial are common. Long term reactions might include unpredictable flashbacks, mood swings, and even uncontrollable stress. Some may be familiar with the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, which is a mental health condition strongly associated with trauma.
Trauma can also manifest itself in other ways.
Psychotherapist Antonieta Contreras defines trauma as a kind of reaction that occurs as a response to a trigger. When we feel strong pressures in life — the fear of “not making it” — such as when one is unable to maintain one’s health, social position, family, jobs, assets, freedom, autonomy, stability, etc., our system can become traumatized.
When any one of these factors are threatened by events both in and out of our control, our emotions can quickly become overwhelmed. This surge of intense emotions, if sustained over a long period of time, can lead to trauma.
For individuals who have experienced trauma, it can have a lasting effect. Such effects can overlap into various areas of life, affecting areas like our work, health, and relationships. Nevertheless, trauma is something that can be worked with.
Kintsugi (金継ぎ) is the Japanese art form of restoring broken pottery with a lacquer made of gold. As a philosophy, it reminds us that with anything in life, breakage and repair can be part of the object, and not something to hide or throw away.
Together with trained psychologists and a proper counselling plan, counsellors can help individuals that have faced trauma to find constructive ways of managing their emotions.
BlankSlate Counselling is here to help anyone experiencing mental health issues. We believe that with care and trusted support, we can build a thriving population that supports mental health in Singapore.