“Uh, it was really stressful!”
How many times have you responded this way to the same question? And, perhaps, other common questions as well.
Stress. Anxiety. These are some common terms in today’s busy world. Our lives are now extremely busy, and we have normalized these terms to an incredibly large extent. Normalization of these terms has caused people ignore the impact of continuous stress and anxiety in people’s lives. As much as I dislike the normalization of all of this; it is considered to be normal anyways.
However, sometimes in our life we may experience some rough turns, where we find ourselves in situations that cause an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety. When the impact of such experiences is minimized, it gets inexorably amplified in the case of an overwhelming amount of these feelings. And this, eventually, takes the shape and form of trauma; that modestly settles in.
It gets onto your nerves, it crawls into your mind, and it creeps your life; before you even sense it. More than often, it’s just too consuming, exhausting, and causes relentless extents of uneasiness. It can lead to quite a vast range of diseases, disorders, and conditions – mental and / or physical.
One of these conditions is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder that causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep.
Twenty years ago, I had lost my father to heart problems and had a subsequent early pregnancy loss. Several years later, I developed the condition, Obstructive Sleep Apnea along with hormonal imbalance and unintentional emotional outbursts. I was drastically starved of night sleep hours; and was everlastingly drowsy and worn out. This was causing me to erratically doze off during the day. The condition gradually and progressively deteriorated.
Eventually, there came a point in time when I would be scared to simply drive. The reason?
The not-so-soothing hum of the car engine revving continuously would just put me to sleep. I consulted a lot of people – friends, family members, doctors, and, of course, the internet. I was already doing everything that was recommended. I was on a very healthy diet, doing day-to-day exercise, regularly meditating, and I was definitely not overweight in any way possible.
I struggled, and then, I consulted the doctors again. The only solution offered to me, medically, was to use a mouth piece to prevent sleep apnea. And should the condition worsen consider a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine or have corrective surgery.
Already practicing in the field of healing and therapy, I was open to the possibility of exploring and experimenting the vast range of various tools and techniques available in order to get an awareness of and understand the root cause of all these symptoms that I had been facing since a long, long time. My body was exhibiting symptoms of extreme stress and anxiety, and I simply wanted to know the reason.
As I started working on myself, I began to unlock the stress that my body had eternally been storing in the form of unresolved emotions, that were all connected to the past negative events of my life. I explored a handful of things down this journey – my own fear of death and fear of possibly dying young, the reality of losing a loved one, the helplessness, and the numbness and shock of the events. As I started clearing the deeper root memories and balancing the emotions associated with the events, things changed. My Obstructive Sleep Apnea gradually corrected, hormonal imbalance and mood swings came to a definite end.
Through the journey I had been on, I was able to understand the impact trauma can have on the body, the mind and one’s life; and the different ways one can start off their journey on the road towards healing. This was the core encouraging reason for me to launch my own signature program, ‘Heal from Within’. This program offers a combination of therapies and healing processes to support other people who have or are experiencing trauma.
The paradox of trauma is that it has both – the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.
-Peter A. Levine
So, let’s understand what trauma exactly is.
According to psychology, trauma is an emotional response to an event that an individual finds extremely stressful and disturbing. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are common symptoms. It can also lead to a state of vulnerability, diminish one’s sense of self and the ability to feel a whole range of emotions and experiences. Long term symptoms might include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, lack of sleep, and so on.
In simple words, trauma is a wound or a past negative event that caused stress, pain, grief and has left its mark on your life. It might affect a person’s ability to respond to situations and unaddressed trauma affects emotions and behavior.
It is nothing to be embarrassed of. Don’t let yourself feel that what you experienced wasn’t that big even if people around you invalidate your emotions. There are no specific criteria to evaluate which events will cause trauma and which won’t. What might not seem traumatic to the world can be traumatic for you; and what might not seem traumatic to you can be traumatic to someone else. Hence, it is important to take post-trauma symptoms very seriously if noticed in you or someone around you.
Often times, the presence of trauma can be inferred by emotional signs such as sadness, anger, denial, fear or shame; which, in turn, may lead to nightmares, insomnia, difficulty with relationships, trust issues and unintentional emotional outbursts.
Trauma can also result in physical symptoms, some of which are nausea, dizziness, altered sleep patterns, sudden changes in appetite, inevitable headaches, and gastrointestinal problems.
If not paid adequate and timely attention to, trauma can be disastrous. It might lead to a wide range of physical diseases arising from the symptoms stated above; or, even worse, it might cause serious mental disorders such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, depression, acute or chronic anxiety, dissociative disorders, and a number of unidentified psychological / mental disorders.
The good news here is that trauma is not something that cannot be healed. Individuals who have or are experiencing trauma can heal by working with therapies or therapists that are trauma-focused or trauma-informed.
Some of the therapies that help in healing or working with trauma are:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people to work on their thought patterns and change them in order to shift their behaviors and emotions.
Eye Movement Desensitization or Reprocessing (EMDR)
During EMDR, individuals briefly relive specific traumatic experiences while the therapist focuses on their eye movements and works on the trauma. EMDR aims to help people process, face, and amalgamate traumatic memories.
Some therapists use somatic or body-based techniques to help the mind and the body process and accept trauma. These therapies include somatic experiencing, sensorimotor psychotherapy, acupoint stimulation, and touch therapies like Reiki and Emotional Freedom Techniques (or EFT Tapping), Inner Child Healing.
As a result of my personal experience and consequent healing, I offer a program to heal trauma. Through my program, I aim to listen and understand what the person has gone through, and help them through a combination of the various therapies that can help heal trauma. This will create a safe space for comfort and exploration. The person can be themselves and feel whatever comes up without being bound to the flow of any one method of healing.
Here’s what Ms Pooja has to say about her experience:
“With gratitude in my heart I wanted to thank you for giving me such a beautiful soul healing experience.
I appreciate that I was able to share inner feelings, emotions and experiences with you. It is something that is not easy for me, but your innate understanding took me a long way in opening up.
There were somethings I had a hard time understanding and sessions with you really helped me take away my pain and becoming more at peace and accepting of things around me. My anxiety levels and have gone down considerably.
May you always be gifted and blessed to help the world!!”
Not only her, but another client of mine also says:
“Sunandha worked with me till I was able to overcome feelings of self-blame, unworthiness, severe loss of self-confidence and prolonged depression that I had after walking out of my emotionally and physically abusive marriage.
I did not know the insidious depths to which the trauma had impacted me. This healing journey had unexpected benefits on my physical health. It has improved my health and resulted in pain reduction of 70%, reduction of adenomyosis and there is now no requirement for surgical removal of my uterus.”
My vision for the program is to spread awareness about the effects of trauma on mind, body, and health. And as a trauma-informed coach and healer, I aspire to support people through their healing journey; and truly be present to life in this moment, free from the baggage of the past and confidently step into the future.
The Universe Aligns with your deepest intention to heal.
– Sunandha Karthik