The way that you see yourself, other people and the world can change after a trauma:
- You may find it hard to trust people. Relationships with others can become tense and it becomes difficult to be intimate with people as your trust decreases.
- You may think that the world is a dangerous place. Most people think that the world is generally a safe place, but a traumatic experience can change all of that and make the world seem very dangerous. These negative thoughts often make people feel that they’ve changed and are not the same person that they were before the trauma. Over time, however, your beliefs can shift back towards the middle, where you can see that the world can be dangerous at times and safe at other times.
- You might blame yourself and feel that the traumatic event was your fault. You might feel guilty and say to yourself:
- “If only I’d left earlier”
- “I should have known better”
- “Why wasn’t I more careful”
- You might think of yourself as weak or inadequate. It’s common following a traumatic event to see yourself as ‘less than’ in some way, or to think that you’re ‘weak’ because you ‘let this happen’. Looking back at things related to the trauma, people are often much more critical of themselves than they need to be.
- You may judge or criticise yourself for your reactions to the trauma. You may feel upset about being upset, or feel annoyed about feeling angry. The reality is that people deal with things in their own way, at their own pace. So can you.
This is a series of articles covering trauma reactions including: re-experiencing of the trauma; avoiding things relating to or reminding you of the trauma; emotional reactions; being on edge and high alert, and increased use of alcohol or other substances.