How Trauma Affects Your Ability to Concentrate

Do you find it difficult to concentrate as if your mind were like a butterfly flitting from one thing to another? Do you drift off into your own world or feel ‘spaced out’ and distant as if you are sometimes floating outside your own body? Is your head fuzzy? Do you feel like everything is unreal or like in a film? Are you are cut off from friends and family and can’t explain what is happening?

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If this is your experience then it is possible you are responding to a traumatic event and coping using a natural defence mechanism called ‘dissociation’. This means when something overwhelming happens, such as a physical attack, an accident, invasive medical treatment or surgery or sudden loss of a loved one, we cut out like a short circuit in an electrical appliance.

Everyone has these moments, daydreaming while driving or switching off and missing part of a conversation, for example. Usually these moments of ‘not being with it’ pass very quickly and we reconnect with ourselves, with those around us, and with our environment.

If this sounds like you, it could be that you are naturally a creative, imaginative and artistic person. This may be the state you want to be in to do your best work. It could also be that you are unfolding your spiritual gifts and exploring the etheric realms and out-of-body experiences.

However, dissociation does become a problem when it disrupts everyday life, work, and personal relationships. The feeling of being disconnected from yourself and from the world around you can be extremely distressing. In the case of a dissociative disorder you may experience a range of upsetting symptoms such as;

  • loss of memory
  • feeling your body or the world around you is unreal
  • uncertain who you are
  • feeling you have different identities

This may be the result of traumatic events in the past such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse in childhood or as a result of more recent exposure to war, terrorist attacks, kidnapping, and trafficking.

The understanding of the effects of trauma, the way people cope, the range of illness that may occur, and treatment options available has greatly increased over the last two decades. As human beings, we are inevitably exposed to trauma throughout our lives. Usually, it is short-lived and does not require any professional help to recover. There is a lot you can do to help yourself, for example, learning simple grounding techniques.

How to ground yourself and recover from distress

To bring yourself back to the present moment and ease symptoms of dissociation take a deep breath and ask yourself 5 simple questions;

  • Where am I, right now?
  • What day is it?
  • What year is it?
  • How old am I?
  • What’s my address?

If professional help is needed, though, talking therapy combined with body work and energy healing can be especially helpful to regulate the nervous system and allow time and space for the trauma to be processed and released.

Trauma is treatable. It is possible to stop hurting and heal. There are people who care and will listen and help you find the right tools for your recovery. Take time to find the therapist who is right for you and ask questions about their experience and professional qualifications.

In an acutely dissociated episode if you are feeling suicidal;

  • Go to any hospital A&E department
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you can’t get to A&E
  • Ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately

Call the Samaritans, free at any time from any phone in the UK – Call: 116 123

You don’t have to be suicidal to call.

Go to the profile of Lindsay Percival Holistic Psychotherapist & Reiki Master/Teacher

Lindsay Percival Holistic Psychotherapist & Reiki Master/Teacher

As a BBC journalist I witnessed many traumas. But there came a moment after the birth of my three children when writing about peoples’ pain did not seem enough. As a therapist I am able to go further in responding to trauma and offer hope that the anxiety, depression and stress surrounding it can be treated. It can also open up a pathway to profound personal transformation. I work face-to-face and via Skype.

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