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What is Trauma

Hey everyone Smiley Happy

I have a question - how do I know if something I've experienced is trauma? Are there pre-requisites (like it has to be a sudden event, it has to cause physical or psychological harm etc) or is it something that I just define for myself.

I've been having really vivid dreams involving people who caused me a lot of stress and anxiety when I was really sick about three years ago, and I know that dreams like this can be caused by traumatic events.

I would quite like to NOT have these dreams, as they make me feel extremely uncomfortable. I'm not really sure how to go about stopping them though. (It's not every night, maybe once or twice a week). To some degree I feel like I'm being a bit dramatic and that I'm obviously not traumatised and it's normal to have recurring unpleasant dreams and I'm fine. I'm open to the possibility that I have to work through some stuff and unpack my subconscious in order to solve this problem.

Not sure.

Hope you're all well, thanks for reading <3


Re: What is Trauma

Hm this is a good question @roseisnotaplant, I don't think there is a very strict definition of trauma, the lines are quite blurry. It depends on an individual's experience of an event, how they process the event, their own interpretation of things? Like two people might experience the same distressing thing and one person could be completely traumatised and the other might not have been as badly affected. It just depends. So I think it's just something you define for yourself.


These dreams sound really distressing for you, I'm sorry you're going through this Smiley Sad Perhaps reaching out to someone might be able to help- like a doctor or counsellor or something? What do you think?


Here's a RO article on trauma you might find helpful and one from kids helpline on types of trauma


Personally, if I keep having nightmares or worry I will I tell myself before going to sleep that I won't have a nightmare and I'm not afraid of having a nightmare? And for some reason that sometimes works? Sometimes making up a different ending to your dream in waking can help too? Sleep hygiene stuff might help too. But sometimes you need to talk things through with a professional and process things that are really difficult. What do you think?


Re: What is Trauma

@roseisnotaplant  I'm sorry that you're going through some bad dreams. Smiley Sad
As someone who has experienced trauma and nightmares, I have learned that something that one person considers to be traumatic may be different for another person. I heard a quote recently that said something like, 'The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg.' I think it's true about trauma too. Different people react to unpleasant events in different ways. With my sister as well, some online sources of information about her medical conditions suggest that people have to experience a big trauma to develop those symptoms, but my sister had no psychological traumas, just a lot of stress and some physical medical conditions and another doctor said that a third of people with her condition do not have any history of stressful physical or psychological events beforehand.
Have you heard of imagery rehearsal or nightmare rescripting? Those kinds of techniques helped me when I was experiencing a lot of nightmares and eventually they stopped.


Re: What is Trauma

@roseisnotaplant  thanks for posting and opening up to us; sometimes getting things out in the open can make them seem less challenging. When you said: "I'm open to the possibility that I have to work through some stuff and unpack my subconscious in order to solve this problem" I just wanted to let you know that I relate to that, and it's a really mature and self-aware realisation to have. Many people go through this kind of growth! We are with you at each step and ready to listen to your progress if you ever want to share more of it Smiley Happy