Opening up and talking about trauma is an important part of healing from it, but it’s common for women to resist talking about past trauma and what it’s done to them. For example, a woman may go years without seeking support or directly addressing the symptoms of trauma. Let’s look at how living with these recurring symptoms can determine when and how to talk about the past experiences that they’re connected to and how they’ve kept you in a state of suffering.
Women may resist talking about trauma for fear of judgment, to avoid feelings of embarrassment, or because they lack a sense of trust in others. Avoiding talk (and treatment) can lead to the development of substance use disorders from turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms. Starting treatment is recommended as a means to receive support, understanding, and empathy. Also, treatment can help a woman process her traumatic experience and see it as one aspect of her life, not something that defines her.
Common PTSD Symptoms in Women
PTSD symptoms can vary from woman to woman. The occurrence of some symptoms may be more frequent and more severe than others. The following list is divided into three parts, although your own symptoms may appear more or less regularly than what appears on this list.
May Experience Daily
- Continuous hypervigilance for cues indicating an additional danger
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to function with daily tasks
May Experience Nightly
- Nightmares or distressing dreams
May Experience Frequently
- Dissociative mental experiences
- Episodes of panic
- Exaggerated reaction to events
- Fluctuating moods
- Intrusive thoughts
- Negative changes in feelings and beliefs
- Unwarranted anger
- Withdrawal from social circles and loved ones
Six Reasons Trauma Talk Gets Avoided
1. Sharing trauma stories may feel embarrassing. Talking about a traumatic moment may make you feel self-conscious to the point of distress. You may have attempted to share in the past at an unsuitable time or with a person who didn’t provide support, or worse, minimized the harm done to you.
2. Talking about trauma may make you feel like you’re reliving it. Avoiding any conversation about traumatic experiences can be a way of controlling your feelings. Ignoring them provides some certainty, if only briefly, that you don’t have to revisit the painful memories.
3. You may feel like no one will understand the trauma you experienced. Others in your life may not have revealed their own trauma or may not have experienced any, leaving you feeling like no one else could understand what happened to you. You may react to this by isolating yourself from others. Unfortunately, this eliminates any opportunities to talk about your trauma and create a path for healing.
4. You may feel distrust in sharing intimate details about your trauma. Trauma can leave a person feeling a loss of trust in people in general. You may see sharing details about your trauma as opening you up to judgment, criticism, or ongoing advice about what to do to cope.
5. You may feel like your trauma makes you look weak to others. Traumatic experiences can make a person feel vulnerable to getting hurt again. You may see trauma talk as a way to set yourself to be hurt when others begin to see your past as a weakness.
6. You may want to hide the identity of the person whose choices or behavior left you traumatized. People still present in your life may be the cause of your trauma. You may want to avoid letting others know as you believe it would change how that person is seen now.
PTSD Symptoms in Women: Making Important Connections
Recognizing what has prevented you from taking steps to talk about your trauma is essential. From there, you can begin to see why connecting with others over your post-traumatic stress is vital. Making these connections provides much-needed support, understanding, and empathy from people who either work with trauma victims or have experienced trauma themselves or both.
Seeking help in dealing with PTSD symptoms provides other benefits, too. One goal of treatment is making sense of the traumatic experience. In some ways, it’s being able to put the pain into words for the first time. By doing so, you can begin to work on seeing trauma as one aspect of your life and not wholly defining you as a person.
Trauma talk helps a woman examine her beliefs about the traumatic experience. She may have told herself that the event or episodes were her fault. The reality check that comes from trauma talk can inform how she moves forward with a sense of empowerment over the experience and how she can make herself feel safe again.
How Healing Starts
Living with PTSD symptoms wreaks havoc on a woman’s mental health and can lead to developing a substance use disorder. Trauma-informed care is necessary for her to begin healing from the pain of past experiences and start a plan to sustain sobriety. In a safe and supportive environment with other women, a patient can learn how to better care for herself when symptoms return and practice healthy coping strategies to replace alcohol and drug use.
Hannah’s House offers treatment programs for women with PTSD and substance use disorders. Trauma-informed care comes in numerous forms of evidence-based therapy, including individual and group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and meditation training. Each patient receives a personalized treatment plan designed to help her heal from disturbing and traumatic childhood and adult experiences.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For more information about the stages of alcoholism in women or to learn about our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.