Carolyn Spring’s Recovery from Trauma Training and Resources
Trauma impacts us. It’s supposed to.
The impact of chronic, childhood trauma is absolutely devastating. It can affect every aspect of our life.
But we need to understand the function and purpose of traumatic symptoms. We’re not mad. Our brains have not malfunctioned. We are not faulty, and damaged, and beyond hope.
Instead, trauma affects us because it’s in our nature for it to. We react to trauma – what we call being traumatised, or post traumatic stress disorder or even a dissociative disorder – because it’s part of our evolutionary neurobiology: our brains and bodies have adapted to trauma to help us survive it if it happens again. The symptoms of trauma are supposed to help us.
And, yes, our body and brain’s response might mean that we survived – perhaps by the skin of our teeth – but when we’re impacted by trauma, we rarely thrive. That’s because trauma adapts us to a life prepared for danger or threat, not a life of peace and calm and joyful, fulfilling relationships.
Understanding that the symptoms of trauma are our best attempt to survive, however, can help us to realise that, however awful and overwhelming they are, they’re there for a reason – and that reason is NOT a fault in our brain. And that gives me hope for healing. If our brains have adapted to danger, we can also get them re-adapted to safety – a process that we could call ‘recovery’.
I believe in recovery from trauma – not as wishful thinking, or a form of toxic positivity, but because it makes sense. The brain and body are wired to heal – it’s what they are doing all the time. It’s how we survive and manage to live so long. So in recovering from trauma, we’re not actually asking the brain and body to do anything other than what is literally in their DNA to do. We just need to know how to help the process rather than hindering it.
Recovering from trauma isn’t easy; it’s not a single event; and in one sense it’s never over. I prefer instead to talk about it in terms of ‘heading north’ – a general direction of travel rather than a specific destination. I am more recovered from trauma than I used to be. And every day, even if I’m crawling on hands and knees, I’m heading north.
There are many ways to facilitate this recovery journey. A principal one is psychotherapy, but everything that promotes safety and relationship and a calm body and mind also help. To be traumatised means that we live in a constant state of threat, even when that threat isn’t real. To recover from trauma means that we recalibrate our brains and bodies to experiencing safety. What we eat, when we sleep, who our friends are, our engagement with therapy, our protection from abusers, the practice of mindfulness, noticing joy in our surroundings … all of it is part of it.
Explore our resources to explore some of these ideas and to learn how to head north towards a safer, calmer life of post-traumatic peace.
recovery from trauma resources
for your bookshelf
What is it like to live with dissociative identity disorder? How does the brain respond to chronic, extreme trauma? Is recovery possible from such suffering? Carolyn Spring writes candidly from a number of perspectives about her experiences of living with trauma-related dissociation, and her journey of recovery over ten years.
Recovery from trauma is a journey, an orientation, a direction, not a specific location. Just head north – where you’re at is less important than which direction you’re headed in. In this podcast, Carolyn discusses why we can feel that recovery is impossible, how recovery perhaps doesn’t look as we imagine it to, and how society needs to help with ‘public transport’ to help us on our way.
If I said I could help you improve your life by 1% you might not be very interested. Especially if your life is filled with pain, suffering, dysfunction and struggle, you might think, “A 1% difference isn’t going to do any good! I need a 100% difference!” That’s how I thought for a long time…
Courage. It’s the stuff of heroes, right?
‘Courage’ isn’t necessarily a word we think is all that relevant to therapy, to recovering from trauma. But I think it’s literally at the heart of everything we do.