Trauma Does Not Discriminate

By: Lana Ingram-Gore, Ukeru Learning Engineer

How many times do you catch yourself looking at someone and wondering, ‘What’s going on with them?’ Whether walking by someone in a store, seeing someone having a mental difficulty in public, passing a homeless person under a bridge or seeing a wealthy businessman walking into a large corporate building, this reflective question can be asked of any of them.

Everyone we come in contact with is living a life that no one else will ever understand or know about. We walk our own path, as do they. Sadly, the reality is a lot of those people you see, could be falling apart on the inside, stressing about a major problem or dealing with trauma that has affected their entire being. People are getting better at hiding their effects of trauma.  I believe this has to do with the appearance that they don’t want others to know or judge them. But with the rising statistics of PTSD in children and adults, the harsh reality is that anyone can go through something traumatic, and suffer silently.

Trauma does not discriminate, meaning it can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter the financial status, race, gender, specific beliefs, or who the person is. Yes, we may be able to physically see it in some people, but there is so much we don’t see,  because they hide it or try to pretend it didn’t happen. Trauma can look different in everyone. It is all about how they live with it; and we are not the ones to decide whether something should be traumatic for another person. We can only speak for ourselves.

The way something may affect me, might affect someone else in a completely different way. For example, if I see a car wreck happen in front of me, I may be able to get out and help render aid until EMS gets there, and then drive home perfectly fine. However, the person behind me that witnessed the same wreck, may not be able to help. They could shut down completely, be too scared to drive themselves home and may not drive again for a long time. For them, it was more traumatic to see the wreck than it was for me, and that is not something that we can tell the person to “get over” just because we experienced it differently.

Obviously, there are a lot of examples that could be given as to what is considered traumatic; but only the person living through it can decide how it affects them. Keep in mind that so many people you come in contact with, no matter how they appear, could have been through something traumatic — whether we can tell they have or not. It never hurts to just be kind to everyone and show compassion. It takes more effort to give a judgmental look at someone than it does to simply give them a compassionate smile.