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  • Maria Sullivan

Healing From Within: Understanding Trauma and PTSD

Welcome back to Meaningful Mental Health. Today, I want to dive deep into a topic that is both profound and sensitive: Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I believe that understanding these subjects is vital to our personal growth and collective healing.

As we navigate through this complex terrain, I'll be sharing insights from renowned mental health expert, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. Together, let's unravel the intricacies of trauma, its impact, and the path to recovery. Grab a warm cup of tea, find a comfy spot, and join me on this journey of understanding and healing.

Girl sitting on couch with hand on face sad looking out window

What is Trauma?

(Healing From Within: Understanding Trauma and PTSD)

Trauma is a word that we often hear, but what does it truly mean? To help us define it, let's turn to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a distinguished figure in the mental health field. He describes trauma as any distressing event that overwhelms an individual's ability to cope.

This can encompass a wide range of experiences, from natural disasters and accidents to emotional or physical abuse, combat, and even the loss of a loved one.

It's important to remember that trauma is subjective; what might be traumatic for one person may not be for another.

Understanding trauma involves recognizing its impact on our physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. When we experience trauma, our brains can become wired to react to perceived threats, even when we are safe. This can lead to a state of constant vigilance, hyperarousal, and anxiety.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a specific response to trauma that can persist long after the traumatic event has occurred. It's like a ghost from the past that continues to haunt us. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk reminds us that PTSD is not a sign of weakness; it's a natural response to an unnatural event.

Some common symptoms of PTSD include:

  1. Flashbacks and Intrusive Thoughts: Vivid, distressing memories of the traumatic event.

  2. Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the trauma, including places, people, or conversations.

  3. Negative Changes in Thoughts and Feelings: Feeling detached, negative, or emotionally numb.

  4. Hyperarousal: Being easily startled, irritable, and having difficulty sleeping.

It's essential to recognize these symptoms and seek help when needed, as untreated PTSD can severely impact one's quality of life.

two people's hands, holding one another

The Road to Healing

The journey towards healing from trauma and PTSD is unique for each of us. It's not a linear path, and it requires patience and self-compassion. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk emphasizes the importance of professional help in this process. Therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), can be highly effective in managing symptoms and promoting recovery. But healing isn't just about therapy.

It also involves:

  1. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care routines that nourish your body and mind. This might include exercise, meditation, journaling, or engaging in creative activities.

  2. Support System: Lean on your support network, whether it's friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your experiences with others who understand can be incredibly healing.

  3. Mindfulness: As discussed in our previous blog post, practicing mindfulness can help you stay grounded in the present moment and manage anxiety.

  4. Education: Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about trauma and PTSD, as understanding these conditions can reduce stigma and promote empathy, both for yourself and others.

Breaking the Stigma

One of the most significant barriers to seeking help for trauma and PTSD is the stigma surrounding mental health. I believe that by openly discussing these issues, we can reduce stigma and encourage those in need to seek help without shame.


Trauma can affect anyone and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Healing is possible, and it's a journey that involves self-care, support, and understanding.

Understanding trauma and PTSD is just the beginning, and your voice matters.


*Share your responses in the poll below*

What strategies do you use to manage stress and anxiety?

  • Moving my body (i.e. walk, dance, stretch, yoga, run, etc.)

  • Slowing down my breath (by focusing on my breathing)

  • Talking to someone I trust and/or Asking for help.

  • Journaling and/or Writing down my thoughts/feelings.

You can vote for more than one answer.


If you're wondering whether therapy may benefit you, feel free to contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation to see how I might be able to help you.

Stay tuned for more insightful blog posts found on my site & subscribe to the email list to unlock a wealth of valuable resources and exclusive updates from Meaningful Mental Health.

Maria Sullivan


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