Middle Aged Person Traumatized by Financial Losses…
Maybe you know this person, or maybe it’s you. When it comes right down to it … who DIDN’t lose a lot of money in the Fall of 2008?
However, the person we’re describing thought that everything was going great financially, and that they were in investments that were “safe as houses” — until last Fall. Then things suddenly and unexpectedly went south in the stock market, or in the housing market, and all of sudden there were losses — big time. Right out of the blue things began to feel really insecure and unpredictable. Hopes, dreams and plans that people had for themselves, or for their families suddenly began to seem threatened.
And the feeling overall was a feeling of being overwhelmed, and just plain helpless as things spiraled out of control. Perhaps things started to seem very fearful, and completely out of control. And the effect was so dramatic that our person was shaken shaken right to the core. And it may well be that he or she (or you or I) realize that things just haven’t felt the same since.
I’m seeing people in my practice who have been through just this kind of experience, and who are strongly feeling the need to find their footing again. And I’m convinced that there are a lot more people out there who have had just this kind of experience who really need to be talking to someone and getting this kind of help.
As you might be aware, usually, when professionals refer to people who have been through trauma, they think in terms of specifically life-threatening events. Things like life-threatening incidents in wars, or terrorist attacks, or very serious car accidents, or violent crimes, where the individual specifically feels that they are in actual, physical danger of losing their lives, or are subject to watching others lose their lives, or get maimed, or something of that sort. But this is too narrow: experiences of serious financial loss that are experienced as threatening the well-being or economic survival of an individual or of those close to that individual have a traumatic character.
If you have experienced any of the following, you should be seeking out help from a skilled, compassionate professional:
- Feelings of Being Overwhelmed – THis may be something you even experience physically, i.e., “limbs turn to jelly”;
- Flashbacks or Intrusive Recollections – A flashback is a memory that is so intrusive that it feels like the event is happening all over again; an intrusive recollection is less intense, but is a memory that can set off a whole chain of traumatic recollections;
- Sleep Disturbances – Do you wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, or sleep restlessly and cry out in your sleep?
- Nightmares – Do you have dreams that involve re-living the circumstances of your financial loss, or that have horrific content?
- Bad Temper and Lack of Concentration – Do you find yourself becoming negative, argumentative, or easily irritated in ways that you were not before the experience of financial loss?
- Intrusive Thoughts – Do you find that your thoughts about the financial loss will simply not leave you alone?
- Exaggerated Startle Response and/or Panic Attacks – Do you startle more easily now than you did before the loss? Does the reaction stay with you for a log time? Do you have panic attacks now, with sudden shortness of breath, severe chest pains or feelings of dizziness or faintness?
- Avoidance Behaviour, Emotional Numbness or Difficulty with Intimacy – Are you avoiding people, feeling “shut down” emotionally or finding intimacy difficult, emotionally or sexually?
- Increased Use of Alcohol, Drug Use or Comfort Eating – Are you using any of these things to block out painful reactions to what happened?
- Depression or Traumatic Grief – If you find yourself sleeping or wanting to just do nothing, or confronting feelings of unbearable sadness since the financial losses, you may be dealing with depression or grief.
- Guilt or Self-Blame – Do you blame yourself for the financial losses, or find yourself thinking “If only I had done things differently”?
- Decreased Self-Esteem and Loss of Confidence – If you are confronting feelings of lack of confidence in your abilities, or of hopelessness, then it may be that the financial losses have impacted your self-esteem.
If you are experiencing these reactions now, and you have recently sustained serious financial losses, it would be a very good idea to speak to a qualified professional, as your losses may have triggered a traumatic response. Please remember: the sooner you address the signs of trauma, the easier it is to deal with them. You do not have to live with these responses: there are concrete things that can be done.
All the best,
Brian Collinson, www.briancollinson.ca