Trauma Survivors – Recovery is Possible Kaanchan S Farkiya Miss WorldClass Ms. USA 2021
Trauma Survivors – Recovery is Possible
Name: Kaanchan S Farkiya
Title: Miss WorldClass Ms. USA 2021
Platform: Mental Health Awareness
Trauma is a common part of our lexicon. Presently, the word trauma is so often used that its meaning has become obscure and even controversial. The trauma is used to indicate both the event, as well as the deeply, distressing, or disturbing experience. DSM-5 Diagnostic and statistical manual of disorders define trauma as exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. and psychological disturbance.
According to CDC Trauma is an event or a series of incidents, that causes moderate to severe stress reactions, and are characterized by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury. Traumatic events affect not only survivors but surrounding people and or relatives of victims who have been directly involved. . For some trauma looks like depression, for some it could be anger and violence and for some trauma looks like isolation, each of those is a performance of the experience of trauma. Some people may not be showing their trauma as they have overwhelmed due to traumatic circumstances.
I learned various discourses the way we speak when I read and research trauma related information. Genealogy of theories helped me understand and identify epistemologies of trauma and effects. In the beginning, I was very nuanced in understanding various kinds of trauma. I have seen a few kinds of trauma in movies, videos on social media. Other than that, I never imagine other traumas that are unseen and unheard. After getting some knowledge from reading books, listening to some educational podcasts, I felt the depth of distress and pain of trauma survivors. It shifted my thinking and perspectives on how I think for others. I try to critically examine the epistemology of trauma and I am still practicing it in everyday life. All these factors matter to explore more about trauma and how I apply it in my counseling practice.
I acknowledge everything I learned from my life experience, I saw that everyone has a different perspective and outlook for a certain thing. Few years back, I was kind of superficial in focusing on other people thinking in any nonemergency situation. However, the empathy that I had since my childhood is real and deep. Now, I understood that different traumas have different shades and people usually ignore their own family members and never understood the situations. I am desperate to grasp all knowledge, recognize new keywords, and information that I can apply in my life experiences. I would like to use my imagination. I start to see reality in new ways after listening to others life stories, their sufferings, and their painful experiences. Potentially liberating process.
Dealing with mental health issues in my community it really makes me wonder how the homeless people who live on the streets and sleep in the park, deal with their own trauma without any support. I learned that as an educator I would explore what it means to my students’ perspective of trauma without making assumptions based on my own perceptions of various beliefs or traditions. Now, I started thinking deeper to find the causes of people's reactions and responses as well.
This trauma manifests itself primarily as; Increased stress levels, Carb loading for the feel-good response, Fatigue, Lack of physical self-care, decreased social connection, Somatic pains, Dietary changes, Disrupted, irregular sleep, etc. people around the world differ in their reactions to trauma. I am glad that, I got a chance to educate myself about trauma, mental health, theories, practices, policies, history, and situations in a global context. Moreover, as a culture-loving person, I am always curious to learn more and to recognize my students’ social and cultural identities and I refrain from the mindset of only focusing on visible manifestations of those identities. Trauma and Ethnicity
The effect of trauma can be anywhere regardless of nationality. For instance, the impact of mental health challenges for a particular community could be serious and at high risk. Children and youth who witness violence have aggregated chances of dealing with mental health issues such as PTSD. Sometimes the adolescents are more prone to commit suicide. As a result, an uncountable number of families, individuals, or communities have been experiencing negative and unmotivated thoughts. That’s why it is crucial to recognize their thoughts and try to understand and eliminate any form of discrimination against a specific community. I would also like to mention classism that I relate to gender and ethnicity. It's is something I have experience in my life. Whether it’s in school, peer groups, doing shopping outside, or in any social event in my culture. In the same way, when I read about any specific community that they have not been treated equally and face discrimination due to their color of skin. One of the reasons for them is their ongoing struggles and challenges they have. Whether it's their mental health or physical well-being. In addition, healthcare is not reachable to many people, especially in a specific community. Significant barriers in not getting adequate mental health care are the lack of community support and resources. I think, inadequate treatment and lack of cultural competence have been causing mistrust and disheartened their belief in access to medical facilities. As a result, it prevents many of them from seeking or staying in the process of treatments they require. I would not be surprised that a certain group has been facing many challenges. In many places a lack of trust in the medical system is real. It’s due to the treatment a specific community gets is unfair and not based on cultural competence.
According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (2016), local knowledge of understanding developed by any community or area that affects the everyday life of people within that community is indigenous knowledge. The complexity of culture, nationality, and classification based on education also affects the understanding of society. It’s always better that we accept and analyze an individual’s environment and condition where they live and what kind of people they are surrounded by. If you surround yourself with positive people then you are lucky. Unfortunately, not everyone has supported people in their life, and/or you never know what and how many times that particular person faced trauma in their life. With our modern ability to experience recorded events vicariously in real-time, we have created the opportunity for many who would otherwise be untouched by them to experience indirect trauma. Some experts say that racism, injustice, and brutality experienced indirectly can have a lasting and debilitating effect on our mental health and this must be recognized before we can begin to experience healing.
Trauma and Health
When we talk about trauma, immediately I think of both the mental health as well as physical health of the trauma survivors. A study shows that when we are dealing with stress our bodies release cortisol a survival reflex preparing us to run or fight. Increased cortisol can cause weight gain, slowed healing and muscular weakness, increased heart rate, and symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance. Toxic stress may heighten your fear, anxiety, and impulse responses, but can produce burnout with underactive brain function, impaired reasoning, and prevents us from returning to a peaceful state. According to the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health higher levels of psychological distress and depressive symptoms were associated with higher cortisol concentrations and associated with increased psychological distress.
The human body’s reaction to trauma may not be the same everywhere. All symptoms that make up PTSD, which include intrusive thoughts and dreams, could be triggered when the victim is reminded of the event. I also read somewhere that research has found an epigenetic alteration in the gene expression that is passed down through generations exposed on a day-to-day basis to racial trauma. This means that racism, injustice, and brutality experienced indirectly can have a lasting and debilitating effect on our mental health and this must be recognized before we can begin to experience healing. This trauma manifests itself primarily as: disrupted and irregular sleep eating disorder, fatigue Increased stress levels, somatic pains, dietary changes and lack of physical self-care, etc.
If I think of self-care, I think of body, mind, and spirit care due to my yoga background. Apart from radical social change, practice meditation has a role and is one that we can all choose to embrace. It provides a direct downregulation via the Vagus nerve, reduces the toxic cortisol released, and is instantly available to help us return to a calmer state. Additionally, it does not take any longer than you choose to spend on it. However, learning to live a Mindful life offer a paradigm and process through which educators may become more practiced and astute observers of their own thoughts, feelings. Choosing a calming practice, such as meditation which actively focuses on breathing, releasing body tension, can help them manage their anxiety and social obligations while someone is still experiencing trauma. When I feel that I am living under any stress and that cannot be avoided, I take time doing some meditation practice and that offers a moment of calm.
The idea that people from different cultures might have fundamentally different psychological reactions to a traumatic event is hard for everyone to grasp. Our racial identification even has an impact on our ability to recognize racism. In order to grow intellectually and emotionally, I have to become more informed about how society is organized and expand our knowledge of the world beyond our immediate horizon. I need to be more mindful of an awareness of my bias and the implicit messages with which sometimes I inculcated. For example, a dominant discourse in our society is that people of color are more hypersensitive and susceptible to racism as compare to white people. A survey of the white and people of color and found that the non-white population is emotionally affected by the negative reactions from the public. However, white people don’t notice and were unconcerned. This example demonstrates people’s perception and effect of multiracial connection and its influence. According to The Journal of Educational Thought, in early models of professional development, personal development was an antecedent to professional development but hardly provided specific maps for educators to follow in this quest of authenticity through self-observation. The author focused on encompassing a quietening, non-critical awareness of the world in which we exist and how paying attention with self-observing to navigate our world, grow in health, transform, and gain. Sometimes, immigrants are also more vulnerable to trauma exposure once they arrive in the United States because of their frequently marginal and unprotected status in society. However, today's immigrants do not face the degree of pressure as compared to the earlier generations encountered. Yet migrants find it more difficult to receive psychological assistance when exposed to trauma. In some situations, such as war or partition in an area, when thousands of people forcibly move and left with no choice of their own decision then they face and live with deep-seated traumas. In the Gardner Murphy book, they mentioned an example of an old man who was thinking about he was calling out to his mother and saying has she crossed the border safely. Subsequently, he suffered from Alzheimer’s and he would actually go to bed with their shoes on and they had a shirt and a pants lying under his pillow to get ready to leave the place. It was all his effect of the trauma he suffered. We need to do initiatives and lead towards equity, anti-racism, and social justice in our community and country.
Children and Trauma
A newborn child has a rich and healthy brain. Anatomy of brain changes due to different kinds of abuse. When a child exposed to this kind of environment, the brain actually does change anatomically and chemically. Adversary situation affects the immune system, hormonal system, DNA structure, and brain functions. This releases stress hormones and fails to protect the brain and nervous system.
Many areas of the brain affected by these sorts of adverse effects. According to Dr. Vince Felitti at Kaiser and DR. Bob Kanda's experience of 1700,500 adults about their ACES score.
They found that ACES are common. The higher you have an ACES score there would be higher the chance of would be a health risk. These people are more susceptible to other diseases such as heart attack, lung cancer, etc. Childhood trauma affects brain functions such as the medulla and prefrontal cortex. It generates other neurological disorders. The brain and its response system also get affected and release stress hormones. If a child experiences these kinds of stress hormones every day, their body's DNA also changes by dealing with stress and traumatic experiences. Trauma can change physiology. These could be neglect, child abuse, or growing with a parent who struggles with mental illness. If It’s a history of exposure it is known as ACES. Those include physical, emotional sexual abuse, child neglect, substance abuse, incarceration, domestic abuse, parental separation or divorce, etc. They correlate with that health outcome when they score with aces. They found that aces are common and dose-response relationships. Person of aces score of 4 or higher, they are more prominent to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Depression, suicide, lung cancer, ischemic heart disease the number one causes of death in the USA. On MRI scans there was a measurable difference in the size of the amygdala which is responsible for the fear control center. There is a neurologic reason. People exposed to a high dose of adverse conditions or trauma are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior.
People who suffer from trauma. They may develop weak self-esteem. That happens a lot with sexual abuse, physical abuse trauma survivors, and children that are trapped with abusive caregivers at home. The younger generation is easily influenced by negativity in our society from the age of 15 to 17 years and we must be careful for those who surround us. There are many stories of children has mentioned in the “Cultural Competence in Trauma Therapy” book and I found that many children who were a victim of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by their own family members and it were a devastating feeling for me. Internet is full of many types of viral videos where anyone clearly sees how children have been suffering from physical abuse.
Trauma and Self-Care
According to Racial Informed Trauma Clinical Model – They mentioned that self-care is important for the recovery of trauma. My elementary school teacher used to teach Yoga as a physical education class and since then I adopted that habit which has been very helpful in my mental health. The reason being these activities is to make compose in action, and leave all the stress behind before you start studies. Even with so many diverse belief systems in India, these practices bring people together and that helps people to live a harmonious social life. That's why people who live in supportive communities are less likely to expose to trauma. But when facing trauma, our brains may pull past experiences into the present, activating a flow of emotions from past and present as we search for resolutions.
In my culture, not all people have access to mental health counselors so their belief system in spirituality helps them to connect deeply and make a relationship with their own soul. These kinds of spiritual practices have been helpful to my family in recovery from most mental health issues and trauma. In times of uncertainty, letting go of being in control is not something we find easy. When we face chaos, some do feel disempowered, and look away, turning a blind eye as if unable to manage yet one more trauma. Each person has some belief system and we should respect that. It fosters an understanding and assists in better the relationship in any profession. When someone knows that their belief system is respected and finds that they are free to share their faith or background as a part of life experiences gives a boost in their self-esteem; which is very important to develop trust between individuals. In terms of self-care, try to minimize negative intake of information, and focus on your overall health in order to enhance personal wellbeing. According to the Alumni Advisory Group, holistic healing gives hope and gives internal strength to fight trauma and negative interactions.
Self-care is possible when we try to stimulate our brain, create joy, and deactivate the trauma response while experiencing healthy self-care to combat stress, anxiety, and burnout, and stay on track. Engaging in these kinds of activities is helpful as they may facilitate a release of negative thoughts and feelings.
Trauma and Prevention
There are many organizations around the world and they work for people who have been suffering from trauma-related issues. For example, The Traumatic Injury Prevention Program (TIP) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aims to reduce and prevent work-related injury and death, across all industries, due to acute trauma or violence. Their research enables them to address the human and economic burden imposed by the leading causes of work related traumatic injuries, especially among high-risk jobs and vulnerable worker groups. It’s possible that your loved one may become angry, withdrawn, or irritable. So, it’s important to remember that this is a result of the trauma and all emotional waves may not have anything to do with you or your relationship. Once my professor said that in the case of children’s recovery, it’s important to communicate openly with them and be careful with cues on how they may respond to trauma, so let them see you dealing with your symptoms in a positive way. A trauma specialist may use a variety of different therapy approaches and some of those are as follows:
Somatic experiencing – It focuses on bodily sensations by concentrating on what’s happening in your body. They help reduce trauma-related energy through different forms of physical release.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy- It helps you process and evaluates your thoughts and feelings about a trauma. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing which is commonly known as EMDR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, stimulation that can melt down traumatic memories. Some other types of therapies are Hypnotherapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Group Therapy, etc.
A psychiatrist or psychologist or a mental health expert doctors can diagnose PTSD. The best way to get help is by your doctor, counselor, psychologist, and local community health center. Your support can play a crucial role in their recovery people or those who are your near and dear who have suffered trauma. We can help our loved ones to socialize and relax. Life will continue to throw us challenges, so the key is to decide how to face this distress and make choices in how we manage our suffering from any trauma.
Some Resources for help and information:
American Red Cross focuses on meeting people’s immediate emergency needs after a disaster, providing shelter, food, and physical and mental health services.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) informs the public, healthcare professionals, and legislators that anxiety disorders are real, serious, and treatable.
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD) is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health. NIMH is responsible for research on mental health and mental disorders.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Alliance is comprised of professional and advocacy organizations that provide educational resources to individuals diagnosed with PTSD and their loved ones; those at risk for developing PTSD.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) is the lead mental health services agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA helps assess mental health needs and mental health training for disaster workers.
The Trauma Survivors Network (TSN) was developed by the American Trauma Society (ATS) to help trauma centers provide support and services to patients and their families. The recovery process and the psychology of injury and disability strongly suggest that we can improve post-trauma outcomes by providing peer support programs to patients and their families, helping them connect with one another, and teaching them the skills to self-manage the day to day challenges of recovery. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments about the Trauma Survivors Network, please feel free to contact our national administrator. TSN National Administrator
c/o American Trauma Society
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Kaanchan S Farkiya, Miss WorldClass Ms USA 2021, World Class Beauty Queens Magazine,
Interview by Derek Tokarzewski Owner/Editor in Chief Mr United Nations 2018 Platform: Women Empowerment Ambassador to International Foundation for Orphans iffocares.org
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