Recently I completed a certificate in trauma informed care. I learned about re-traumatisation. Something I know I have felt compelled to do to myself as a way to connect with my trauma.
Re-traumatisation – this occurs when a person re-experiences a previous traumatic event, either consciously or unconsciously. This can be caused by any stressor that could be similar to the environment or circumstance of the original trauma, such as smell, physical space, lighting, image, memory, relationships or words.
On the other hand, vicarious trauma refers to changes and stress reactions that can occur in a worker or person working with trauma over time, when repeatedly exposed to disclosures about trauma or traumatic material.
Both re-traumatisation and vicarious trauma affect people’s emotional life, relationships and overall view of the world. People can begin to feel the world is unsafe or bad and that people are bad. I recognise that the operation on Monday re-traumatised me. My post last night reflected the thinking that can be activated – I’m going to go to prison, I’m bad, I’m worthless, the world is unsafe.
In both retraumatisation and vicarious trauma states, it can make it difficult to trust others, make it hard to manage strong feelings, lead to feelings of having no control over life or feelings of disillusionment. It can also lead to a loss of energy and enthusiasm for life. Hence why I wanted to die last night.
I talked about this tonight in my doco group check in and I think saying it out loud has helped me to recognise this is what has happened. It’s what numerous bloggers also shared (thank you Janet), and it’s nice to have it extra validated by the research.
Three examples of managing retraumatisation and vicarious trauma include:
- Being aware of needs, limits and emotions
- Practicing stress management
- Taking time out for self care.
Today I woke and did some yoga stretches and spent time reading the bible and praying. Tonight I took time out for self care and had a bath. I became aware of my emotions and expressed them a little bit. So I guess I just need to keep repeating this stuff. This is the work. The daily practice.