Trauma Can Isolate People – Reach Out

August Bleiweiss, Opinion

Venice High School is a diverse school with students coming from clouded backgrounds. It’s hard for anyone to know if someone has grown up with a family filled with violence or substance abuse, or if they lost someone in their family at a young age. Trauma hides in many people, so you should be careful of what you say to others. 

“Roughly one-fifth of children have experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), according to the most recent federal survey,”  stated the article “Some FAQs for Educators on Children’s Trauma,” by Education Week. “These experiences, which can include: abuse, parental divorce, or living with a drug-addicted adult, are linked to long-term problems in health or education or with social relationships.” 

Venice High School students should be more aware of the differences in each other’s lives. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be people who gossip or use what you’ve told them against you. Unfortunately that happens too often, but that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out to a friend.

 As a school, Venice students should feel comfortable around each other because feeling like you’re alone is miserable. It’s also scary to go through negative experiences by yourself. It’s hard to tell someone that you have been going through any traumatic experiences. 

“Working through trauma can be scary, painful, and potentially re-traumatizing, so this healing work is best undertaken with the help of an experienced trauma specialist,” according to an article by Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. on “….In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, you’ll need to resolve the unpleasant feelings and memories you’ve long avoided, discharge pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy, learn to regulate strong emotions, and rebuild your ability to trust other people.”

It’s nerve-wracking because you have to get uncomfortable in order to be comfortable again. That takes bravery. Venice students need to understand the importance of when someone is telling you something personal, because out of everyone at this school, they picked you. And you should respect them for trusting you enough to tell you what they’ve gone through. There are many ways that you can help your friends when they are going through really tough situations.

“I try to comfort my friends and show as much empathy as I can,” said freshman Connor Lemus. “I try not to pity them because I don’t think people want to feel pity. I have helped my friends by trying to cheer them up with jokes or asking them how I can help. I try by giving them advice if they’re in trouble or if they don’t know what to do, or helping them with their homework when they have no motivation. I try to be as respectful as I can and not ask many questions so I don’t make them more sad.”

Vulnerability has been a characteristic that a lot of people see as weak or fragile, but in order to accept, realize, and tell someone that you have gone through a traumatic experience, you need a huge amount of strength. You should pick carefully who you share with. Not everyone is capable of being a sympathetic listener.

There’s nothing wrong with you, you are not broken, and you don’t need to be fixed. You just need time to heal and it doesn’t matter how long ago it was from now–whether it was years or a few days ago. Be easy on yourself.  

You are not weak for telling people what you’ve gone through. You deserve the life you had before the trauma. You can still be happy despite what you’ve gone through.

“So, trauma. I don’t like saying it was trauma cause people may think otherwise. But my mom would get very upset with me or my siblings constantly for nothing,” said an anonymous student. “She brought awful boyfriends into our lives and struggled with addiction in front of us. It made me feel worthless. And my dad isn’t much different. Advice I’d give to others is to find a good outlet for your pain. I have a sibling that has an awful outlet. Don’t start taking drugs and alcohol, find someone to talk to. Get help. Find a community that will encourage you and help you through it. See, right now I’m a pretty awful helper when it comes to problems cause I’m in the thick of it myself. I’m not much help when I don’t know how to help myself yet. I try to calm others with trauma by saying words of encouragement, but it’s not always what they want to hear.”

 Surrounding yourself with people who are understanding and compassionate is key to helping yourself get back on your feet, because chances are that you aren’t the nicest to yourself, so having others help you see your own worth will cause you to see it too. You may have outbursts and get triggered by things that you hadn’t realized could trigger you, and in these moments you need someone who can understand that what you’re going through doesn’t include them.

 “Triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk,” according to a page on How To Deal WIth Trauma on the website

Most times outbursts are just periods of being overwhelmed with your emotions and normally they aren’t personal.

Trauma speaks in different ways: outbursts, self harm, isolation, and, but not limited to, the inability to sleep. These emotional roller coasters are going to feel uncomfortable and bad, but let yourself feel them, dive into your emotions and get them out.

 “Give yourself time,”  according to the article on “Know that the way you are feeling will not last, and by dealing with the fears and thoughts, you will be able to get on with life. Be kind to yourself. When things get out of control and you can no longer just depend on a friend, then it’s time to go to an adult.”

Margaret’s Place is a safe room on campus where students can go for free counselling sessions that can be individual or in a group setting.  It is in room 210A and 210B in the East Building. (See the article on Margaret’s Place for more information)

Their schedule is:

Monday: Closed during first period but are open during 2nd period, nutrition and lunch.

Tuesday: Closed during first period, but are opened 2nd and nutrition and they have a Peer Leadership club during lunch and after school.

Wednesday: Open during Lunch.

Thursday: Open during Lunch and 6th period.

Friday: Open all periods, nutrition and lunch, excluding 1st.

To set an appointment, go to Margaret’s Place and talk to Brittany Calhoun when she is available.