Trauma is more than Flashbacks

Everyone is familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder these days. It went from being a little-known thing about veterans, to being a well-known problem. Many people define PTSD solely based on traumas like combat. However, trauma can be caused by many things.

When I was just starting out in the dating world, I was with guys who really fed on the drama. I became someone who did as well. I used to refer the anger as a “license to kill,” meaning that they were allowed to say anything—no matter how hurtful it was. 

When you live through these things, you don’t realize that they are traumatic. One of my counselors once told me that there are different levels of trauma. Sure, there is the combat trauma when a soldier has flashbacks—especially from triggers like fireworks. There is also the trauma of being physical hurt, or even yelled at. 

But, what about the more subtle forms of trauma?

I have Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s a complicated disorder that includes issues such as fear of abandonment, black and white thinking, and unstable interpersonal relationships. Borderlines get a bad rap for generally being difficult to treat and difficult to live with. But the truth is, this illness is the result of trauma.

Sure, some of us have the obvious traumas of abuse or neglect. But, then there’s the experiences. Many of these fears that this illness includes involve actual experiences. In other words, we are afraid of being abandoned because we have been abandoned.

This can often cause us to be clingy. For people with sensory issues, it could be caused from years of being yelled at a lot. But these issues are often hard to explain, because it isn’t how the general public defines trauma. 

Trauma is literally defined as “a deeply upsetting or disturbing experience.” To me, that makes the subject a whole lot more general than many people realize. 

In conclusion, I will also add that no one’s trauma is more important than the next. People with mental illness often suffer because they are made to feel like their issues aren’t as important, or that they are something they should be able to conquer easily. However, if we learn to define these experiences as the harmful experiences they are, we can open up a world of compassion for those who suffer.


Jessica is a writer, blogger, and teacher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University and manages the blog The Science of Genesis. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, a good book or movie, and good conversation. Still battling her own mental illness, she spends much of her time learning how to help herself and others. Jessica has an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder. She has also experienced trauma, including domestic violence. She seeks to live a happy, healthy life through treatment and striving every day.

You can follow Jessica on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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