How to squash morning depression

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12 things people don't realize they do because of past trauma 

Plus a Free checklist: 15 (surprisingly simple) tips to prevent trauma-driven burnout...

Stacey (not real name) was livid with me.

I had just diagnosed her with PTSD and she left the session furious... Thinking there was no way she had PTSD. 

She was so upset with my suggestion that she toyed with the idea of disengaging totally from therapy.

But one day, whilst attending a club meeting, she met up with a friend who was an ex-soldier in the war in Iraq.

She said to him...
"You know what... I'm so embarrassed. I've been given a diagnosis of PTSD. " 

He replied to her...

"Oh, I haven't got PTSD because I was in Iraq, I've got it because I had a horrible divorce and I've got flashbacks of the children and things."

Then he asked Stacey, do you do this.... do you do that.... and do you do this... Stacey answered yes to all the questions.

"Then, I'm pretty sure you've got PTSD." Satey's ex-soldier friend responded.

Since then, Stacey was shocked about how the content of each session was spot on. Describing her life experiences and emotional struggles to a T.

And the moral of this story is...

Trauma is like a seed that grows into a plant. And just like plants need sunlight and water to grow, so does trauma.

Now keep in mind that your trauma requires care and attention. The way you deal with past trauma will either fuel positive growth in life or sabotage it. This happens even if you don't know the trauma is there.

You must have noticed how most people spend their lives in emotional and physical pain which could have been avoided if they had just gotten early treatment for their PTSD. They did not realize how much they had fashioned their lives to function around their PTSD symptoms.

And sometimes behaviours which they had come to recognize as their personality traits could be linked back to some abuse they endured, 20, 30, 40 or 70 years ago... If they had known what I am about to reveal to you now, they could have lived a much more fulfilling life.

As you continue to read, this article will help you make necessary connections so you can fully know, once and for all if past traumas are at the root of your emotional problems.

Fair enough?

Let's go...

1. You personalize people's responses to their stress:

You are paranoid about certain reactions from people.

For example, if a work colleague is having a bad day and this is reflecting on their face and in their behaviour... This gets changed to "it's because I am not doing well enough."

"They are upset because I have failed at something...  I am rubbish at my Job, I shouldn't even be in this job."

How this is linked to past trauma:

This can be a result of having a parent who is way too heavy-handed in their approach to correction and discipline. For, example, your mum made you feel like total rubbish even when you did things right.

This created a fear that you would never be good enough and people will always judge you negatively. And sadly the pattern has generalized across multiple areas in your life. Making it possible for a simple criticism from someone to derail your whole week.

2. You Ignore or play down your negative emotions:

If you get annoyed. overwhelmed or feel down, you ignore, pretend, undermine or dismiss the fact that they are annoyed or upset so that you can push yourself to function and go to work.  

Sadly, you would ignore the pain until it spirals you to a point where you're forced to burst out in panic attacks or burst into tears.

This may lead to patterns where you regularly pre-empt not coping.  And can cause you to get stuck in a cycle of getting to work and feeling emotionally overwhelmed by experiences at work and having to go back home or not even getting to work at all because you have had a panic attack on the way in.

How this is linked to past trauma:

You got scolded, shouted at or laughed at for displaying emotions, perhaps after you have been punished or beaten.

Or you got bullied or taken advantage of.

This led you to conclude that you should hide your emotions and suppress them so you won't get hurt again.

But the problem with suppressing negative emotions is that it creates a vicious cycle where you feel more and more angry, frustrated, emotional and vulnerable.

3. You stop paying attention to the nicer details in your life:

You become so preoccupied with surviving your day that you stop seeing all the fun things, positive people and fun colours around you.

You get so caught up with trying to catch the next thing that might derail you that fail to notice the little things that make living life pleasurable and meaningful.

How this is linked to past trauma:

If you were regularly criticized, abused or neglected whilst growing up, You learn to protect yourself by pre-empting when a similar attack might occur next. But after doing this for so long, you stop paying attention to the nicer details in your life.

The details you see are not the ones that you appreciate but rather the ones that you know will lead to being in danger again.

You begin to see everything that happens to you as being related to some type of attack.

This way of living eventually becomes a habit, so that even when you are having a good day, you still see every little thing that comes your way as something bad. 

4. You regularly struggle to function at any level:

Occasionally, functioning at any level takes a humongous effort.

You experience long stretched-out moments where you struggle to do very little for yourself. You don't eat even if people put food in front of you.

If you have a supportive partner, They'd do all the washing, cooking, laundry, and cleaning.

If you work, then you most likely get home and went to bed. On your day's off, you'd be sitting in the same place where your partner left you in the morning. 

How this is linked to past trauma:

This can be linked to a lack of self-value which was created as a result of multiple experience of neglect from parents or significant others.

You felt like you were not important to anyone and concluded that it must mean that you have no value.

This lack of self-value then leads to a conclusion that you are not worthy of self-care measures and sadly the less you look after yourself, the more you struggle to function at any level.

And that's why this next point is so crucial...

Trauma Driven Burnout... It's Not Just A Myth!

You see before Stacey came to me for therapy, she really thought she could do it...

She thought she could just live a normal life like everybody else.

That she could just forget the feeling of being helplessly overwhelmed, hopeless, depressed and anxious. Suck it up and move on.

Go to therapy for a couple of months and things will get better.

She thought she could forget the 100 times she's been at that point before and move on, like a good, functional member of society.

But, now Stacey felt she could not deal with this anymore. She was done.

For years Stacey had scraped together all the energy, all the attention and all concentration she had left, every day... because she believed things would get better after the next big hurdle.

She just had to be strong, just push through. Ignore the pain, the headache, the tiredness, the stress, the pounding heart, the anxiety and Just push through. 

Just one last thing then it's going to get better. Then she could rest.

But it never got better. She could never rest.

She could not tell you the last time when she actually felt rested and relaxed.

She found herself at exactly this place every time, with everything she did.

She always ends up in an environment that sucks all the energy out of her. She always ends up in situations where she is dissociating at work meetings, hiding in the bathroom and crying instead of working.

Nodding and smiling at her narcissistic boss trying her hardest not to flashback because he is so horribly similar to her abusive father. completely overwhelmed... Feeling hopeless, thinking this will never change.

If you can relate...

I feel you so hard. You have to admit, it's easy to drag around all of these mental issues that started in childhood, anger issues, health anxiety, OCD, potential autism, social phobia, crippling depression, panic attacks, general anxiety, chronic fatigue, low self-esteem, self-hatred etc.

It is easy to drag all that around for so many years that you actually get burned out.

It's no wonder people eventually fall apart after so many years of carrying all this weight alone.

You've got to agree that trauma-driven burnout will make anyone feel incapable... Trauma-driven burnout makes it hard to process new information without having a breakdown...  Trauma-driven burnout makes it hard to do even basic stuff like at least being decent at a very very basic job.

And that's why you've got to download this checklist of 15 Trauma-Survivor Mistakes That Hijack Your Brain and Drain Your Life Force. As you read through the free download you will start to recognise the early warning signs of burnout and feel increasingly able to protect yourself from it before it takes over your life.

Moving on...

5. You always punish yourself for having a bad day:

Where most people give themselves a treat or reward for surviving a difficult day to help pick themselves up,  you are more prone to punishing yourself, so you wouldn't eat. You'd be hungry but you'd feel sick thinking about eating.  In your mind, you believe that eating would be a reward for struggling. And this might somehow make you complacent.

How this is linked to past trauma:

If you were physically or emotionally abused or neglected for long enough, It is quite common to sometimes start believing that you deserved whatever you got.

As a result, you feel like you are entitled to be treated badly.

This then leads to your negative emotions being used against yourself.

When you do something that isn't what you expected, you feel like you deserve to be punished.

Sadly this pattern can become so habitual that it becomes a normal response to deal with your negative emotions and negative experiences.

 6. You avoid praising yourself for anything:

You believe praising yourself for any achievement means you are arrogant.

You even feel ashamed and uncomfortable when you receive praise so you ignore or discount it. You get so used to being ignored that when you do get praised, you don't know how to react or you feel guilty about it.

How this is linked to past trauma:

This behaviour is possibly linked to having a parent who was self-absorbed. Everything was made to be about them.

When you tried to talk to them about something you went through, they always found a way to make about them.

 This parent liked to sing their own praises so much that you always felt embarrassed. This lead to you making a habit of hiding any successes you have because you in no way want to be like this parent.

7. You rely solely on others for praise and acknowledgement:

You depend so much on others to validate your existence that you often forget about the fact that there are positive events happening in your life.

Your life becomes so focused on what others think and say about you that you miss the small achievements that actually matter.

You tend to put too much stock in what other people think, and ignore the good things that happen to you. And because people don't naturally praise you all the time in life this means you constantly feel like you are doing really badly.

How this is linked to past trauma:

If your parents or significant others were over-critical, dismissive, cold or abusive, You learned that people's opinion of you matters more than your actual self-worth.

You started to believe that your worth could only be measured by how well you did in the sight of others or how much other people liked you.

And you never really learned how to measure your own self-worth. So you began to take everything that other people say or think about you as a reflection of how you truly are. This way of thinking is also linked to feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem and shame.


 8. You always avoid asking people for help:

You feel guilty or ashamed of needing help and have convinced yourself that you have everything under control.

So you keep pushing yourself to do more and more and more. You get so used to ignoring the signs of stress and pain that you end up in a situation where you develop a lot of physical health care problems

How this is linked to past trauma:

This may have happened because you were often left alone to fend for yourself and this meant you were forced to figure out how to survive on your own.

As such, You developed a way of thinking and behaving that led you to think that you were strong enough to handle any challenge that came your way. 

9. You don't have many true friends:

Since you struggle to trust people easily, you don't build trusting relationships very quickly. You don't try to create a close bond with new people because you have a fear that they might betray you.

This makes you become isolated from others, and you also find it hard to communicate with them because you can never tell if they are going to be supportive or not.

How this is linked to past trauma:

If the people who brought you into this world betrayed your trust heavily, It is only natural that you will be afraid of people's intentions.

You would grow up with a distrusting personality.

This in turn causes you to be more cautious of other people and more sceptical of what they say. As a result, you get more and more isolated because you are afraid of not knowing who you can depend on.


10. You struggle to stick to commitments:

Many things make you feel like running away.

If something started to go a bit wrong, you experience the fight or flight feelings. Sometimes this is due to fear of not being perfect at things which could then invite criticism.

Sometimes you would run because you don't want to fight and create a scene. because you could not run, anger would take over. So you tend to just abandon commitments. 

How this is linked to past trauma:

Growing up in an environment where you are constantly criticized even when you do something well produces a tendency to want to prove to everyone that you're a reliable person.

If you feel that you need to be perfect and if you feel that you aren't, you feel insecure. And you may feel that you need to stay away from certain things to prevent further criticism. You may feel a sense of shame that you are unable to stick to commitments.

You may feel a sense of powerlessness when things don't go well which results in you feeling like you don't have a choice.


11. You get irrationally angry at unfair criticism:

Being criticized unfairly blows your mind. Especially if you have not done what you are being accused of. You feel betrayed and become enraged.

You feel totally livid if the criticism has been posted on social media is personal to you and names you. You want to find them and hurt them. You want to give the critic a piece of your mind and tell them how wrong they are.

How this is linked to past trauma:

This tendency can develop if you had a parent who played favourites all the time.

 A parent who tended to blame you for everything even when you know your brother or sister were the culprits. the constant unfair blaming leads to becoming defensive at the smallest sign of criticism.

You become irrational and extremely angry when you are criticised and lash out at people in ways that make you feel ashamed afterwards.


12. You crave praise from others:

You feel addicted to praise from others. You just need praise. You need to be seen as the best. You always want people to say well done that's brilliant.

And if someone says well done. You'll get really really grateful and excited. But then that just want to be even better. So if you have done 10 out of 10, now you want to do 11 out of 10 to get even more praise.

How this is linked to past trauma:

If you have an over critical mother or father who never praised you for anything, you could learn that the only thing that matters in this world is your performance.

You'd spend your entire existence trying to get them to see you and see you excel.

You'd put everything into achieving the best, and you'd spend most of your time obsessing over what you could do to improve so that you be acknowledged by them.

Sadly if your efforts to be appreciated by your parents fail, this creates an unmet need for praise. As a result, you developed a craving for praise that you cannot control.

And this craving leads you to always strive to be the best and to constantly look for ways to be better.


How to influence your past so you can create a positive future 

We are all products of our experiences.

Every decision we make is influenced in some way by our past experiences.

Is it helpful or harmful to know what drives the behaviours you don't like to see in yourself?

Failure to look back at a past experience may end up reinforcing negative outcomes in your life. Being fully aware of how your past trauma influences you, gives you the best opportunity to get a grip on your present life so you can create a positive future.

Learn to use the power of hindsight to your advantage. You are in a better position to change the influences of what has happened to you. You are in a better position to shape your future now.


Click the links below to learn more about the concepts in this article

Things People Don't Realize they do Because of Trauma (This article)

How Maintaining Peace Can Unintentionally Harm Your Mental Health

Why you always desperately need validation from others ( And what you can do about it)

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


How to deal with a difficult family member

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