On Secondary Traumas: beware of them

Life becomes too hard to endure sometimes. We not only suffer, but also see our loved ones suffering. And it hurts; it hurts so much. We know, that our loved ones are hurt too, much more than we are, and this slowly kills us inside.

At those moments, we take responsibilities we can’t take. We assign ourselves missions, trying to pull out the people we love from the pit of despair they are in. With utmost sincerity, we try to help people we care about.

But we unfortunately miss a point: our own wellbeing. We lose the track of borders. While trying to be empathic, understand what they are going through and be there for them, we become sympathetic. We mirror the emotions our loved ones are going through; we feel their sadness, their regret, their despair.

This case, known as secondary traumatic stress, mimics the symptoms of the first hand trauma victim. And even though we don’t take it seriously, it may result in consequences much more severe than we think. Sometimes, we come to the point where we drown in our problems, so that we can’t even take care of the people we love anymore.

I know. It’s so great that we are trying to help; It’s so nice that we are touching others’ lives. But if we want to help someone, we have to help ourselves first. If we want to be there for someone, we have to be there for ourselves first. We should never forget: we are living for ourselves, not for anyone else.



7 Replies to “On Secondary Traumas: beware of them”

  1. I liked this post. I’m not sure how many people are aware there was a term, “secondary traumas”, for such a phenomenon. I certainly wasn’t. As someone who has had a lot of trauma in his life, I can relate to this. We need to take care of ourselves first, you are correct. Just remember that doesn’t necessarily mean others aren’t worth caring for.

    Some constructive criticism: The crying babies were a bit of a turn-off for me, especially with the “getty-images” trademark. I don’t think you necessarily need an image with this post. Also, that Freud quote is incredibly dour for something that has a somewhat uplifting stance on self-care. Just some food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great information. It’s important that whenever we are trying to support someone, we are aware of our own emotions and needs. Two people in a hole can empathize with one another about how much the hole sucks, but at the end of the day…there are still two people in a hole. It takes objectivity to really help someone out of the hole.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully written. I had no idea that this sort of circumstance we can find ourselves in while caring too much for someone had a name! I find that I am in deep fear of being stuck in such a situation, so I set boundaries. However, I always feel guilty afterward, as if I’m leaving my friend behind. In fact, I am in this very situation right now, and I can’t help but question my decision of limiting communication with my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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