2013-03-08 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

When Trauma Lingers
by Dr. Nancy Gahles, D.C.

When trauma lingers past the time of the occurrence, symptoms will present themselves. These symptoms tell us that we have experienced the trauma at a deep level. They tell us where in our body, mind, emotion, spirit the trauma has affected us. Symptoms are the language our bodies use to tell us of the unspeakable pain we have suffered; a type of pain that we have not been able to make sense of.

When trauma lingers it means that we have not been able to integrate the traumatic experience rightly. Some parts of it don’t fit. Possibly, this one trauma was too overwhelming. Possibly, this one trauma reminds us of another trauma that we experienced that was difficult to deal with. One layer goes on top of the other until we feel the pain in whatever place or way in which our body, mind, emotion, spirit is able to express it.

When trauma lingers the physical expression can be pain. Wandering joint or muscular pains, headaches, lowered immunity that causes us to be susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections. Other body symptoms are exhaustion, fatigue and night sweats. Stomach issues and irritable bowels are common as well.

Mind symptoms manifest as confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, inability to focus, to read, word hunting, intrusive thoughts, replaying the images of the traumatic event over and over. Sleep difficulties can be due to these intrusive thoughts or the hyper vigilance and irritability that occurs with a system on overdrive.

Emotional symptoms of a lingering, unresolved trauma manifest as irritability, impatience, weeping, changeable moods, anger, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety and depression, numbness, avoidance and hyper-arousal.

When trauma lingers, the family dynamic is affected. We are all part of the whole and when one of us is injured, it affects the whole family.

I view the community as a macrocosm of the family unit. In the case of Rockaway, our whole family has been injured. Individuals have lost their homes, some their lives. They have been displaced, lost their jobs. Children have had to change schools, lose friends and we all have suffered the loss of our safe, cohesive community.

Businesses have been destroyed, some not able to rebuild. Residents have had no services, stores or access to the ease of accomplishing the activities of daily living.

I am reminded of a small town in Kosovo where 75 percent of the population was murdered. One person in the remaining destruction said, “Nobody here is normal anymore.”

Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History