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Loneliness and Trauma Recovery

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger

trauma, ptsd

Flashback Experience

I had a flashback over the weekend, and it knocked me out for a few days. I was so disoriented and kept feeling like the trauma was happening again, and it was hard to come back to the present. During this time, I wasn’t able to text my friends or reach out for support. It felt like I retreated into myself, just trying to survive it. On the day of the flashback, I had gone out to do something social with a friend. I was around people, and what we were doing was supposed to be fun. But PTSD ruined it for me. I was so anxious the whole time; I felt unsafe and like I was in danger, and I couldn’t enjoy myself. This is how I always feel when I leave the house or try to do something social. It didn’t used to be like this.

Before I started doing trauma work, I could be social and go out with friends, and it wouldn’t bother me at all. But doing trauma work opened Pandora’s box for me, and I could no longer be in denial or dissociated from the trauma. The memories started coming back up along with really intense emotions. They were the emotions that I repressed during the trauma that I feel in full now. There were so many things that I used to be able to do when I was dissociated from the trauma that I can’t do now during this trauma work and healing. And it makes it feel so lonely. I used to have a lot of friends that I would hang out with every week, but once I started working on healing from my trauma, those friendships faded.

The Challenges of Trauma Recovery

Trauma recovery takes so much energy and focus. It’s like you’re unraveling the walls and dissociation and who you had to become to survive it, and you’re now feeling the emotions and memories and relearning who you are and who you want to be. You’re doing things that other people got to do in their childhood. As trauma survivors, we became who we had to be to survive, and the real us was hidden away and never got to develop. Doing that now in adulthood can be so difficult. And friends we used to have fade away or don’t fit anymore.

Social Difficulties During Recovery

Since trauma recovery takes up so much energy and focus, it makes it hard to do anything social. We’re so focused on just getting through the day, and social outings can be so incredibly triggering. What trauma survivors need is care and support, but so many of us have lost friends when we decided to choose ourselves and recovery. It’s also so difficult to explain what we’re going through and what it’s like to experience trauma and how hard recovery can be. So even if we do have friends who stick around, we often don’t feel connected to them anymore or like we can express ourselves to them. It can feel like no one else understands what we’re going through or how hard it is to be flooded with trauma emotions and to feel like it’s happening again, every single day. I’m not sure why starting trauma work causes everything to come flooding up. I think it’s because when we finally turn to face it and accept what happened, the dissociation and denial fade. Sometimes I think I would rather be dissociated from it, but even though I was able to be more social, I was so disconnected from myself and my emotions. Trauma work is so hard, but I want to live a life where I can be connected to myself, know who I am, and not feel like I have to keep running from my past.

Finding Support and Community

If you’re in the middle of trauma work right now and are feeling lonely and like no one understands, I want you to know that there are other people who DO understand. Maybe no one that you know in person, but there are people on the WhiteFlag App who will understand as well as people on social media. There is a whole community of people there who have been through trauma and understand how hard and lonely it is to heal from it. If you’re looking for support or community, check out the app or search for hashtags on social media like #ptsdrecovery, #traumarecovery, #traumasurvivor, etc. There are other people who understand how you feel and other people who want to support you. You’re not alone in this.


Connect with someone who understands on WhiteFlag: a free, anonymous, peer support network. Now!

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