Post-traumatic stress disorder can come with difficult symptoms, many of them physical. Some people with a history of trauma have a constant heaviness in the chest, some have muscle tension or pain. Others experience continuous feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or flashbacks. Most have some difficulty regulating their emotions and may suffer from distorted body image or difficulties in personal relationships. Still others numb emotions with substances , rely on distractions like high-risk behaviors or use self injury to ward off the internal pain with an external distraction (read more on the symptoms of trauma in The Evolution of PTSD).
But some feel far less due to self protection in the form of dissociation or disconnection, some detaching so cleanly that they may have to look at their arm to know it’s moving at all. But this disconnection from body and emotion is usually imperfect, with individuals experiencing breakthrough symptoms at unexpected times, suddenly panicking at a particular noise or freezing mid conversation. Childhood trauma in particular often hides until a later date when the individual is more able to handle the discomfort, leading some to wonder, “I didn’t feel this bad then! Why is this happening now?”
Congratulations, you’re healing. It feels shitty but it means your brain and your body are finally dealing with what happened. You are no longer fully disconnected. And you now have a chance to take back your body.... continue reading