I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, ‘there are so many other people who have it worse than me, I shouldn’t be feeling so bad’. Thinking this way is unfair, because the most important thing to take into consideration is that whatever you are feeling is your reality! Reality sometimes means we feel guilty, anxious, depressed, ashamed, etc. However, these feelings don’t mean you are ungrateful. You can have a strong emotion AND still be grateful for your blessings. For those with depression and/or anxiety, what it comes down to is that you can have many wonderful things in your life, like a great job, great family, etc, but still have depression and anxiety! Too many times people avoid therapy and treatment because they don’t feel like they are ‘worthy’ of this type of self-care. Sometimes they know or have heard of someone who ‘has it worse’. What I can tell you is that mental illnesses can be tricky and manipulative, making you think your worries and feelings aren’t valid. This simply is not true. Everyone is worthy of being heard and validated and if you aren’t feeling like yourself, don’t be afraid to seek help.
In the same line of thinking, I’ve worked with many people who are taken aback when I use the word ‘trauma’ to explain a situation they have been through. Many feel trauma is too harsh of a word and should be reserved for sexual/physical abuse or veterans of war. While abuse and war are definitely traumas, many other experiences are too. In fact, a quick google search of the word ‘trauma’ will pull up the definition ‘a deeply distressing or disturbing experience’. With this definition, it’s not an exaggeration to state that almost all of us have experienced a trauma in our lives! Breaking it down, let me explain what a ‘distressing or disturbing event’ might be. First of all, abuse can definitely be defined this way, but so can being the parent of someone who has been abused. Caregivers often naturally feel very intense emotions when someone they love has been hurt, causing them to experience what is called ‘secondary trauma’ or ‘secondhand trauma’. This form of trauma is powerful and is often shrouded in feelings of guilt and thoughts of ‘if only I had known/been there/done something’. Treatment is 100% appropriate and encouraged for those of you experiencing secondary trauma. It will help you feel in control of your feelings and thoughts again, as well as be a positive example that mental wellness is everyone in the family’s responsibility for your child or loved one.
Physical injury, chronic pain, losing your job, and car accidents can all also be traumatic experiences. So can losing a loved one, having a terminal illness, and going through a divorce. The list really is endless. The point is simple, if you feel deeply distressed by something you went through, you probably experienced a trauma. Unfortunately, even with a clear definition, there is a nasty stigma surrounding trauma and mental illness that often leads people to feel that their story isn’t important in the broad scheme of things. It absolutely is and I am here to help you tell it. No matter big or small, if you feel held back by an experience you’ve had or feel anxiety and depression without knowing exactly why, let me help you on your way to mental wellness. Call today.
Brooke Bartak, LMHP
1001 S. 70th St.
Lincoln, NE 68510
(402) 325-0117 x6