By Melvin Hayden
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Emotional and psychological trauma are common among men. It’s just one of the things we never feel free to talk about. It’s a tricky thing because it happens as one-time events, like accident, injury or a violent attack.
Childhood carries a lot of weight and knowing exactly how to throw the trash out can take years; ongoing stress, such as neighborhood crime, a life-threatening illness or constant traumatic events that occur repeatedly or overtime with the same results. Respectfully things such as surgery, sudden death, break-ups and one that we never admit to is the disappointing experience of a relationship we were completely into.
It’s the kind of relationship that creates the vortex of never opening up again because we never believe we truly hurt until it hurts, especially if the relationship ends deliberately cruel. In fact, it is highly unlikely any of us would ever be the victims of direct violence.
However, no one seems to relate the current as trauma and although it’s not violent, it poses its own threat. Mentally viewing these images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system and create traumatic stress. Whatever the cause of your trauma, and whether it happened years ago or yesterday, you can make healing changes and move on with your life. Some common reactions to trauma and ways to help us men deal with them include:
Relapse. Many men need to return to an earlier stage where they felt safer. Younger men may revert to teenage behavior while older men may fear being alone. It’s important to know what you understand about yourself and how you handle it.
Taking blame. Men younger than 28 tend to think that if something goes wrong, it must be their fault. Be sure you understand that you are not the cause of the event.
Dreaming. Some men have trouble sleeping. If waking frequently or having troubling dreams, try spending extra time doing quiet activities or reading. Be patient. It may take a while before you can sleep through the night again.
Men, keep in mind that we are all afraid of something. It’s natural for things to be scary or dangerous. Anytime you’re in danger, your body responds with a rush of chemicals that make you more alert. The fight or flight response helps us survive life-threatening events. However, our brain’s responses can also lead to chronic problems. It’s important that we are honest with the things that startled us, make us anxious or jumpy because having flashbacks or avoiding things that remind you of the event will keep your brain on replay.
Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Emotional and Psychological Trauma. Help Guide. February 2020.