trauma (with a little t)

When most people think about trauma, they think of Trauma with a capital T. It’s the kind of events that people consider when they think of the T in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It’s the big, obvious stuff. Front line services, military personnel, survivors of serious abuse or tragic accidents.

There is support out there for those who have been through these things, we could argue about its suitability and how easy it is to access, but it’s there. If you are struggling with the aftermath of big life changing events, please do reach out for support.

But today I want to look at something a little different.

There’s another category of trauma – little t trauma. It’s not as obvious, which makes it tricky. Little t trauma can sneak up on you. It adds up over time until you feel terrible pain, anxiety, stress without an obvious activating event to point to. It can be worrying and confusing. After all, nothing majorly bad has happened to you, so why do you feel so desperate?

It’s like a thousand pin pricks, it’s still going to leave a scar.

These pin pricks are sometimes inflicted on us by other people, often from a very young age. Times you felt unsafe or separated as a child. Times you had to take on responsibility beyond your years. Harsh words here, a quick slap there. Bullying, rejection, a feeling of not fitting in. I’m sure you can think of many of your own examples now.  It can all lead to a sense of shame about who we are, why we’re not good enough. (Go back and read about guilt and shame here.) Then we pick up the pin and continue inflicting the pain on ourselves, often believing that it’s exactly what we deserve or not knowing that pricking ourselves is actually optional.

This kind of trauma is often overlooked. And people who feel it don’t often reach out for support because they don’t know it’s there or they feel guilty asking because they haven’t suffered a big T Trauma. The belief is that the big T traumas are more deserving of support. But suffering is not a competition. Someone else having been through something “worse” doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve support too.

Yes, someone out there has probably had it worse than you. But that’s the same for all but one person on the planet. Someone out there has got it better than you as well, but that (hopefully) doesn’t stop you being happy when things are going well for you.

Stop comparing your trauma to others and ask for support if you need it. You DO deserve to heal.

If you’re looking for support dealing with a trauma, please reach out to me.

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