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Healing from Trauma

, by San Francisco AIDS Foundation

At some point in our lives, we all experience frightening, painful events that can profoundly affect how we see the world around us (and how safe we feel in it). Experiencing or witnessing violence, being bullied as a child, and receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness—including HIV—are examples of traumatic events.

As Gaetano Vaccaro and Joni Lavick explain in this article from the BETA archive, how we cope with traumatic events shapes the way these experiences affect our lives. Read the article to learn more about trauma, how it can affect our mental and physical health, and healthy ways to cope and heal.

Trauma: Frozen Moments, Frozen Lives

“I can’t remember anything after the first few words she said: ‘I’m sorry to tell you that your test results came back positive.’ After that, it was all just a blur of sounds and images—the traffic outside, my heart beating, the look on her face. Everything was moving in slow motion. I just kept hearing those five words echoing in my head: ‘Your test came back positive….’”

Throughout our lives, we all experience significant events that impact our perceptions of the world and determine how we interpret and respond to future experiences. These events elicit powerful thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that can become imprinted upon the mind. They are moments frozen in time.

When these moments represent painful experiences so severe that they overwhelm our ability to cope with the rush of thoughts and feelings they elicit—as in the HIV diagnosis described above—they are referred to as “trauma.”

Everyone experiences traumatic events; it is not the presence of trauma but how an individual deals with a traumatic event that determines the impact it will have on his or her life….

Click here to read the full article.

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