Trauma Denial: Helpful or Hurtful?

Our minds can attempt to protect us from harsh realities. Following a traumatic event, our mind may wrap the event up in denial as a defense mechanism. The event itself and our feelings get buried deep within our minds. We may not even be consciously aware of the traumatic event and have difficulty in recalling it. The defense of denial is mighty and potent. Like other mental health issues, trauma can display symptoms that can point to a troubled past–even if we are currently unable to recall the event.

Protecting Ourselves

We might not be ready for healing from our trauma. We might be in a state of shock or disbelief following the event. A feeling of being “disconnected” from our bodies can make us feel as if we were watching the traumatic events unfold upon ourselves from a third-person perspective. When we look back on the trauma, we may feel like we are recollecting a dream–or, more accurately, a nightmare. The feeling of being disconnected can strengthen our denial about the event itself. We might come to a breaking point where we know that something is wrong. We might begin looking for answers and are ready to heal.

Symptoms of Trauma

Trauma can present itself differently from person to person; however, you may share many symptoms with others. Trauma affects not only our mental health but our physical selves as well. The central nervous system is greatly affected by trauma and can influence our reactions, sleep, appetite, and other bodily functions. Some of the more common symptoms of trauma may include:

Physical Symptoms:
Racing heartbeat
Feeling tired or lethargic
Sleep disturbances
Panic Attacks
Feeling “jumpy” or “on-edge”

Mental and Cognitive Symptoms:
Poor concentration
Low tolerance to frustration
Negative thoughts or feelings about self and the world
Inability or difficulty feeling positive emotions
Experiencing flashbacks

Behavioral Symptoms:
Loss of interest in preferred activities or passions
Self-destructive behaviors

Social and Relationship Issues:
Difficulty connecting to others
Difficulty trusting others
Feeling alienated or lonely

Letting Go of Denial

Letting go of our denial can be difficult. We might resist to protect ourselves from feeling the pain caused by recalling the trauma in our pasts. Healing begins by working through our pain. We may need to talk about painful memories or uncomfortable feelings that we have been working hard at protecting ourselves from. Trauma denial is rooted in protection; however, we remain stuck in our past, even if we do not realize it, and may experience difficulty moving forward. We might need to break down barriers of our defense mechanisms to grow and change for the better.

Healing From Trauma

Healing from trauma can be challenging. We might feel that no one understands what we are going through and choose to live with our symptoms. We might feel helpless or hopeless if we have no one to relate to or share our experiences with. Choice House may help when we feel stuck or unsafe in opening up. When we are in a safe and supportive environment, we can begin to work on our trauma and recover. We might have been masking our pain through addiction or have a low quality of life due to our trauma. By staying in a supportive environment for a long-term stay, we can build the skills needed to cope with our past traumas.

We can view recovery as a three-phase process of arrive, dive, and thrive. “Arrive” in recovery means that we are entering a mindset of building connection, trust, safety, and rapport. When we “arrive” in recovery, we are landing and finding footing. We are laying a vital foundation for the next stage, where “deep work” begins by healing from our trauma. We might not “dive” into the deep trauma work of recovery without a solid foundation of trust, safety, and security.

Learning to Thrive

While staying in a long-term facility like Choice House, we can meet other men who have similar experiences as we do. We can build the necessary connections and obtain the support needed to heal in our recovery. Long-term treatment can provide us with a safe place required for our ability to thrive in recovery. We can benefit by gaining coping skills, building self-esteem, cultivating a healthy mindset, connecting with others, challenging ourselves with support, creating a sense of brotherhood in recovery, and learning essential life skills paramount to thriving beyond treatment.

Denial may be a protective barrier that we create to cope with trauma. We might be trying to get by on our own, without the help of others. Our new brotherhood in recovery can replace our protective barrier. We can find safety and security with the support of our peers healing from trauma and addiction.


Choice House can help those struggling to deal with their traumatic past. Denial can initially protect us from feeling pain. We may be “getting by;” however, we might be denying ourselves happiness and fulfillment. When we heal from trauma, we may need to move through the pain. We can no longer deny the pain that we feel. Instead, we must move past it by pushing through the pain to find relief on the other side. Safe and supportive environments can help us heal from our trauma. By going through the process of deep trauma work surrounded by other men with similar backgrounds, we can find the support needed to heal. If you or a loved one are dealing with trauma symptoms, Choice House might help you in recovery. Call us today at (720) 577-4422. Help is available, and hope is possible. You can thrive in your recovery and live your best life!

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