Trauma Exposure: It Can Make You Crazy

Thursday I had the privilege of attending a workshop facilitated by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky. Laura is the author of the book, Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others. 

trauma stewardship

At first I settled down to enjoy an informative and engaging speaker, but I didn’t think what she had to say was relevant to me.

After only five minutes, I realized how wrong I was.

We discussed some of the responses to trauma exposure.

Diminished Creativity-Yes, that’s me. I just don’t have the drive to blog that I once did.

A Sense On Can Never Do Enough– That’s me too. There’s always more to be done, both at work and in animal welfare.

Grandiosity– Well, I don’t like admitting that, but it’s true. I’ve found that I do have an inflated sense of importance, kinda like hiding behind a badge.

Cynicism– I try to hide it, but I think we all know how cynical I am.

Deliberate Avoidance– Guess who hasn’t been visiting your blogs lately?

After that workshop, I felt much lighter. I think I’ve been shut down for a while.

So now that i know that I do suffer from Secondary Trauma Exposure, what am I doing to do about it?

First of all, I’m going to read Laura’s book, Trauma Stewardship. I was given a copy at the workshop.

I’m going to eat well and exercise daily as a part of taking care of myself.

I’m also going to focus on what Laura calls your Plan B, or what I will do when I just can’t do this anymore? Truth is I’ve been working with people in trauma for years. And while it’s noble work, maybe it’s time to stop focusing on everybody else and focus on me and what I want and need.

But that isn’t as easy as it sounds when I’ve built my image of who I am as a helper, or even a rescuer, of others.

So I’ll keep you posted on what happens. And I’ll ask you to force me to check in, just to keep me on track.


21 thoughts on “Trauma Exposure: It Can Make You Crazy

  1. Glad you went to the workshop Jen! It is hard to take a step back and see from the outside sometimes. I had my own version of the same a few years back and couldn’t believe how much better I felt once I learned to ‘disengage’ from others problems. Being in health care I still catch myself doing it but not on such a major scale as before. MY mental health is much better since I have learned what is and isn’t my burden to carry. I think I will grab this book too. Thanks for sharing!
    Marty’s Mom

  2. I so hope you get a lot from the book and give yourself a break..overloading on the burdens of the world will break your back but never stop the problems sadly..bighugs Fozziemum xx

  3. WOW! That sure speaks to me – more directly than I want to admit. I sure look forward to hearing more about your experiences and your thoughts on the book.

    1. I’ll review the book after I’ve finished it. In the meantime, Laura’s website is filled with helpful information.

  4. There’s no such thing as coincidences, right? We just had an in-house workshop at my job focused on “Compassion Fatigue.” It also got me thinking about some of the same points you mentioned. The presenters opened up the discussion showing us some pictures of search and rescue dogs working the sight at Ground Zero and telling us about how, after some time, the dogs began to disengage, stopped showing any interest in things that had previously given them joy and showed other signs of depression. One of the responses from their human partners were to hide other (healthy) people in the rubble so that dogs could have some successes and begin to feel better about what they were doing.
    I will check out the website you mentioned, thanks!

  5. Jen, think of what makes you giddily happy. When I realised the best times I have at work are when I get to pet dogs that visit – it got me dreaming. I want to love dogs all day long, so when the time comes, I’ll start with mobile dog washing, get skills, clients, training & eventually move into doggy massage & rehab. A workable plan for your dream is there too!!!

    1. What makes me giddily happy is to write. The problem is getting over that mental barrier that says I MUST help others because it’s what makes me a worthwhile human being. See, I told ya that image I made of myself is hard to break.

  6. A good post many of us need to read. Jan cried so much for so long over everyone’s sick, dying pet, she burned out on reading blogs and still has a hard time. Compassion Fatigue is a good name for it. (Saw it in your comments.) Not sure if Trauma Stewardship is the same thing.

  7. Many years ago, I undertook a counseling course, for my own self rather than to practice, and learned many things I kept with me over the years, the first of which was take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Of course, it slips from time to time and I wear a little thin but the knowledge is always there.
    Thank you for sharing the details of this book, I have a friend who works in social services who is going through a hard time. Her faith amazes me but she may find Trauma Stewardship useful.
    The good thing is even if you haven’t visited other blogs much you’ve kept Rumpy’s going. I’m glad you reached out and shared this, keep us posted from time to time.

  8. I can only imagine how hard your work must be and I am so glad you went to the that talk and found it so helpful. It’s always good to take a step back and look at things.

    I really look forward to hearing what you think of the book.

    ~ Amy

  9. Sounds like a fascinating and relevant workshop. Not a moment too soon. Good for you making a plan. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is usually more complicated that just pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Good luck.

  10. We all need variations in our schedules…so it’s ok if you’ve not checked other blogs in a while. We all do that. But on your next romp, Rumpydog, do stop over 🙂

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