Be Gentle

By: Lauren Smith

Trauma tends to be overlooked. I know that is a rather straightforward statement but allow me to clarify. I have a close friend who was in a bad car accident, and whenever she’s driving, I can tell that she becomes slightly more anxious. We’ve talked about it and she’ll admit that she has lingering trauma from the accident. My other friend has emotional trauma from his upbringing. He’s shared that when it comes to forming friendships it’s a battle because he has to work past his trauma. Even though I’m glad to live in a society where we are making room to understand and share about our mental health, trauma has a different story. What I’ve noticed is that people are aware of trauma but they’re in disbelief of how it can be the sole factor of someone’s mental health.

I can think of a handful of examples of how trauma works. Trauma can be that amazing blanket you had as a child, the one that would travel with you from room to room. Trauma can also be a roller coaster ride; never fully knowing how the day is going to turn out emotionally.

A couple of years ago, I went through my own traumatic experience. I remember, at first, telling myself that I needed to be logical about what was going on. I did my research just like any scholar would do. I took my time to evaluate every angle before coming to a final realization. I thought I was being responsible and practical. I prided myself on not over reacting or jumping the gun. A few weeks later, I was burying myself in what consisted of my life. For that season it included being a youth leader, barista and college student. Remaining busy and feeling important gave me such a thrill and I kept pushing myself to be busier and busier. Then one day, I got out of bed and felt such a blanket of sadness over me. At first, I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. I thought maybe I was being too sensitive over something that I read or saw. Over the following days and through the impossible task of being able to push through, I realized that my trauma had set in. Trauma came in like a rain cloud and I wasn’t sure how long it would be present.

Reflecting back on that season, I honestly didn’t know how long it would last. I wasn’t sure if it would be a few weeks or months. What I do know is, more than anything, how important it is to be gentle with yourself. With trauma, there are going to be hard days. There may even be days where getting out of bed seems like a lofty goal. But, on those days as well as any day, be proud of how far you’ve come. Be proud of where you are and prouder of where you’re going.

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