Learning That Small ‘t’ Trauma Is A Thing
So some months ago I learnt that trauma is subjective ( see previous post) and this was a a profound revelation for me. A relief. After all this time, I hadn’t been over reacting. I hadn’t been ridiculous. Or pathetic. Or a drama queen. I had legitimately found the situation traumatising. With this knowledge came a a new kind of acceptance of myself. I stopped berating and punishing myself for my severe emotional and psychological response to my experiences. With this knowledge came a new ability to address the issue more effectively. To acknowledge it. Face it. Be honest with it. And deal with it.
Today I have discovered that Small ‘t’ Trauma is an actual Thing. And with that has come an an additional sense of relief and comfort. There is a legitimate recognised psychological term for what I went through!! Thank Fuck, It’s not just me!!! I wasn’t imagining the whole thing!!! Or exaggerating!!! Or victimising myself!!!
The main differences between Small ‘t’ Trauma ( AKA complex trauma) and its counterpart Big “T” Trauma (basically what people traditionally think of when they think of trauma) is that “t” centres around events that are more common than “T” and are subsequently not considered typically traumatic as such by society as a whole (such as infidelity or divorce).
Small “t” Traumas take place over prolonged periods of time – months or years. A person isn’t likely to have a severe response to a one off incident, the trauma occurs when the situation is ongoing and continuous.
The defining characteristics of Small “t” Trauma describe my traumatic experiences to… well, a “t”!
Small “t” Trauma can often lead to what is known as C-PTSD, or Complex PTSD. I wondered some time ago if what I’ve been struggling with all these years might in fact be a “mild” (for want if a better word) form of PTSD.
PTSD was something I always dismissed in myself largely for never experiencing intrusive visions, flashbacks or nightmares. Turns out, as with most mental health and neurological conditions, PTSD is on a bit of a spectrum and you don’t necessarily have to experience the stereotypical visions in order to be in that scale. The more I have learnt about mental health, trauma, my experience and myself the more I have wondered about PTSD.
Complex PTSD – from what I’ve learnt of it- seems to fit a bit more with my own experience, response to that experience and struggles since said experience. C-PTSD results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event involving sustained abuse (physical, sexual, emotional,) or abandonment from an interpersonal relationship or other situations that cause a prolonged feeling of helplessness or fear.
Maybe it is maybe it isn’t. I’m not a hypochondriac. This is all speculation based on new facts and insights. I try to remain cautious of self-diagnosis and psychological profiling. Humans are complex and pigeon holing is counter productive. It’s an easy thing to fall into. Still, compartmentalising can help us organise and address the overwhelming, as long as we are wise enough to never forget things are almost never black and white.
Having said that, as a friend put it once “If the glove fits”….The definitive characteristics seem to fit; it requires further looking into by a professional and I fully intend to seek one out
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Words are proving the most powerful tool in pulling myself-finally- out of this ten year hole. Writing, speaking, reading….accumulating broader ranges of knowledge and understanding.
During my trauma knowledge was my armour, an armour that Protected me from further trauma. Now, knowledge is the hand and foot holds in the metaphorical cliff face that I’m climbing, hauling myself out of this pit
And I will reach the top, some day. And I’ll keep on climbing until I do