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What is Trauma?


Hey, how are you today? Today we're talking about trauma. So, trauma has, you know, the definition in the DSM. 5 TR, which is the diagnostic statistical manual that we use to diagnose different mental health illnesses and disorders. And it has very specific things that it needs to be and it's considered to be PTSD, which is post-traumatic stress disorder. But trauma can be other things beyond what's laid out in the in the DSM 5. So, traumatic things can just be those things that happen to us in our lives happen in our lives that are just so big and overwhelming that our brains can't quite process it.


We can't quite process it and we do all sorts of creative things to be able to cope with it. But since we can't process it, it's like the memory doesn't become a memory. It remains something that's bad, that we in a way are experiencing it as still happening. It's like leaving a tab open on your computer and then if you have lots and lots of tabs open your CPU doesn't run very well, it kind of slows down and gets glitchy. So similar things happen with our brains when we have like multiple traumatic experiences. We have all these tabs open and we're kind of living in multiple points of time at once. And so that kind of living with that memory being not processed into the past, but in the present means it like when something reminds us of it, then we have things like flashbacks or, you know, feeling like you know, responding to what's happening in this moment as if you're in that other moment. Like for me, I was in a car accident where a car came and hit my truck actually hit my passenger side. And sometimes when I see trucks still to this day, that was many years ago. But still to this day sometimes I see trucks coming from that direction towards, you know, towards the road, like this. Now when I see a truck coming fast from the side. I have that feeling that I'm back in the accident. The experience is not the same but it's just like a similar experiences bringing up those feelings.


And so why does this happen? Why this is is our brains are really, really cool creative things.

What happens is that like in an experience happens and it's just overwhelming and like like someone close to us dies or you know abuse or war or violence or natural disasters or some sort of accident. And it's just like overwhelming and so our brains are like, oh, this is too much. And so our brains are like, oh, this is too much, what can I do? And so it does all sorts of cool creative things. One thing is to put it behind a wall to keep us from thinking about it or remembering it. Or our brains will sometimes will blank our memories. Our brains do all these things to help us survive in a moment. Sometimes it like turns off the emotions and everything and slows down time when those things are happening if you had that experience. I certainly did with that car accident, I remember time really slowed down and I saw that it was gonna happen and I you know, had time to think about what I was going to do in that accident.


Our brain is doing it because our brains want us to survive. They're actually really fantastic parts of our of our being like they they their number one thing is to help us to survive and so they do all these creative things to help us survive in these impossible situations, these absolutely overwhelming situations. And, and it works in the moment. It helps us. We survive. We make it through.


And then What happens is over time that those things that our brains did to help us to survive kinda don't work in the situation that we're in now. Now that we're not in this life or death situation, it's not working as well. And so then we start having what is called symptoms of trauma. Or PTSD, you know, like flashbacks or de-personalization, the you don't feel quite connected, kinda numb or just all those different symptoms.

That's because that memory is, even though we put it behind a wall and sealed it up and everything. It's still there and we're still feeling it.


You know the best way to move beyond a trauma is to help to take that memory and put it into the past. And that is what trauma-informed care does. And that is one thing that I do at Main Street Music Therapy. Tune in next time and I'll talk more about that.


Alright, have a good day.


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