by: Eric M. Kussin

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16 March 2019

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The Effects Of Compound Trauma

If I knew how diff my answer to this question in the top pic was – to so many others out there, yrs back, I may have known to get help sooner, & there’s a chance I wouldn’t have ended up in the predicament I did a few yrs ago.

When I’ve asked this question in the past – the majority of the answers I’ve gotten sound this: a) speeding to the hospital, b) cutting thru traffic lights, c) rushing to save someone’s life, d) bright lights/sirens.

 

Here’s exactly what goes through my mind – even looking at this static image, on a pic taken a long time ago, in a city where no one I know is based: “Oh shit, where’s that heading, it must be rushing to go get someone in my fam who’s in critical condition.”

 

We use examples like this a lot in our #SameHere programs.  We show the SAME object, & ask ppl what they think of it, & it’s amazing that the same object elicits such diverse responses. Why? Our past experiences, our earliest experiences, what’s been engrained in our neural pathways!  I added the article on the Stoneman Douglas coach to this opening pic, bc it’s yet another example as to how pst trauma (even if it’s not from a young age), can affect us. For this coach, coming to school every day was a reminder of tragedy.

 

I guess looking back, for me, it makes sense.  Every time I heard bad news of something that’d happened to my brother, or that my friends had passed away tragically – it was immediate: coming via way of a chaotic phone call, where the world seemed to stop & it felt like anything that could go wrong, would.

 

Bc of this pattern, I remember 2 things vividly:  1) I’d be playing sports in the street & would see ambulances go by (no matter what direction), & I feared going home, that I may learn of some tragedy, & 2) once we got cell phones, from that point moving fwd, every time I saw a call from someone in my fam, I thought – oh no, what catastrophe just happened that I’m gonna be told abt?

 

Think abt how common seeing an ambulance is…how common getting a call from fam is (for that coach, how common going on school grounds is). Now, add up those negative fight/flight/freeze experience over ALL those times. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know this pattern had been engrained in my head, & by not working on it proactively, all that was happening was, my “negative thought tracks” were being laid deeper & deeper.

 

Think abt your past experiences. If they elicit a similar responses, for “common daily events,” this isn’t healthy. It’s time to work on them! Don’t do what I did & accept a new normal. When you feel yourself reacting in a way that doesn’t feel productive, it’s time to address it.


 

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