Accepting Your Trauma Brain

I haven’t been writing for quite some time. It’s the perfectionist in me that declines the effort to try. I tell myself that I can’t write effectively if I’m low, preoccupied, stressed. I can’t write with trauma brain.

It’s true. I don’t produce my best work when I’m in the midst of a crapstorm. I feel as though I should be in perfect balance, zenning out under a tree in the height of summer, surrounded by natural inspiration and drinking some kind of super-green smoothie. That’s what the perfect stories are made of, right? Perfect people?

Let me tell you, in case you’re even slightly under the same illusion as me – that there’s no such thing as the perfect person or the perfect writer. It dawned on me this morning that my writing should in fact be the opposite of the demands I put upon myself. I should write with trauma brain. I have the most beautiful stories to share, with myself or with anyone who made it down to paragraph three without flicking onto Facebook to watch ‘amazing goats, volume 5’ instead.

Today, I decided to write a short post about the benefits of living with trauma. Because you already know it’s horrible, don’t you? The disconnection, the flashbacks, the depression, and that godawful cognitive dissonance that strives to kill off any ambiguity in the fight to taper off the overwhelming confusion brought about by… oh, please, stop already. No.

Our brains are wonderful things. They don’t often get the credit they deserve, because the system is sometimes illogical (or so we think) and archaic, in that we don’t always react in ways that are reflective of modern day life. But modern society as we know it has been around for a very, very short amount of time. The human brain has been evolving for millions of years. Your brain is so totally like, cooler than you think.

I like to imagine that our brains protect us in a parental sort of way. If you had a child that ran out into the road and almost collided with a car, you’d grip their hand tighter next time you had to cross that road, or any road for that matter. Until your child eventually grows and matures up to a point where they naturally develop roadsense.

When I have a flashback, I thank my brain for looking out for me and making sure I don’t fall into the same danger again. Even when the trigger itself doesn’t make sense to me. I see it rather like a hug. “I’ll protect you.” “Why, thanks.”

Living with trauma also teaches us a lot about our own strength. It becomes clear to all of us eventually, that as people we bend, not break. We have an endless capacity to endure. Yet still, we live in fear of the break.

In the vast majority of cases, we heal. Our minds heal. And in the midst of that healing, we become an even better version than we were before. We gain:

Resilience

Knowledge

Empathy

Intuition

Sensitivity

Gratitude

Appreciation

… to name a few. We stop taking things for granted.  We notice who our true friends are. We start to think about all of the reasons we are on this Earth, how precious and short life is, and how we want to spend the time we have. We do things in new ways, refine ourselves, create an alternative and more fulfilling narrative.

I don’t want to go back to the old version of me. If I had a time machine I’d want to prevent all the pain and bad memories- but would I take away my learnings? No. It’s made me who I am.

Make no mistake, I’m not saying that trauma is a good thing. We live in a traumatised world, and look where that has got us. But what I am saying is that trauma does happen, it will happen, and aside from preventing it in the first place, the only thing we can do is make peace with the new person in the mirror. The strong one.

I owe it to myself to accept me as I am. Even if my blog posts are really, really terrible.

1 thought on “Accepting Your Trauma Brain”

  1. Firstly, let me say, I love your trauma brain writing. Write on!
    Secondly, I LOVE this post. I completely agree with the becoming of a better of version of self and the qualities you describe, as a result of trauma (let me be clear in saying this that it has taken a long time & a lot of work for me to get to this place so am definitely claiming the kudos for myself rather than the event of the trauma for these outcomes!). For me, I also feel so much positivity now (PTSD symptoms aside), which is in stark contrast to the whinings and negativity I was often previously guilty of dumping about with much abandon. This is definitely borne out of, as you say, gratitude.
    I’m also now much more present and mindful. I’ve realised that previously my lazy negativity was very rarely based on reality and fact. Now that I’ve faced real terror, survived, and come out the other side, I’m definitely loving the gift of ‘what is’ with gratitude and acceptance, over the ‘what ifs’ based on fear that used to keep me somewhat removed from reality and mostly feeling negative.
    Thirdly, the idea of perfection is in itself a crapstorm! This concept has much to answer for!!
    Lastly, look forward to reading more of your work 😊 Maggie

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