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    Hi there.

    I have sort of an interesting question. Well, interesting for me. I would like to hear what you guys have to say about it.

    A little over a year ago I was in a building that was on fire and had to escape. It was an electrical fire, so it all happened from one second to the next. It happened at night and I was woken up to the sound of a fire alarm. Thank G-D everybody in the building was able to exit the building safely and on time,  and nobody got hurt. Some people involved had all their belongings destroyed.

    From all the people involved i had the most long lasting physical affects. I have been having a lot of trouble with my lungs ever since that night, from smoke inhalation. It has been over a year and yet I am still struggling with my lungs.

    Today I was having a conversation with an adult that I know and I mentioned to her that I was in a big fire, and ever since am having trouble with my lungs.

    She mentioned something interesting and I want to know what others think.  She told me that sometimes when somebody goes through a trauma they hold onto the trauma in their body. And until I process it I will have trouble with my lungs.

    I told her that I do not feel traumatized. I have no problem telling people that I experienced a fire. I told her that when others at that time were freaking out from every blackout we had (since before the electrical box exploded the lights in the building shut off) I was not freaking out. Later on another small fire happened on a light bulb on top of my bed, and while everyone else were all hyped up and freaking out I only got nervous from their stress. I couldn’t stand their nervousness.

    She said that it can all be subconsciously, and that while everyone else was freaking out I had to hold myself together and remain calm. And now is my time to process it. And only after processing it, and speaking about it will my lungs truly heal.

    Is this a thing? I really would not describe myself as a traumatized being because of that. What are your thoughts?

    Hi. This is a good question.

    I will respond based on your description, but of course a formal assessment may reveal information that would change the recommended response.

    Whenever a client presents with a physical condition, a responsible therapist will want to know if the problem was assessed by a medical doctor. You did not state what your medical provider has opined regarding your lung condition. Assuming however that you have a legitimate medical explanation for your symptoms, there would be no need to seek mental health treatment. It would only be advisable to do so, if you or your doctor suspect that there may be an underlying mental or emotional factor contributing to the medical condition.

    While it is true that the body can retain trauma, it is usually in conjunction with the person’s awareness and emotional response of having experienced a trauma.  Trauma, is not an objective experience but rather a subjective experience. It is not the nature of the incident, but rather the individual’s psychological and emotional response to it. Since you can comfortably recall the fire incident in your mind and discuss it with others without any troubling emotional response, then it wasn’t traumatic for you.

    In summary, it doesn’t sound like you need trauma treatment. Of course, if your medical provider has no satisfactory explanation for your symptoms, than you should consider getting an assessment from a mental health professional.


    Hope this was helpful and wishing you a full recovery.


    Mordechai Weiss, LCSW

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    Thank you for your response and for clarifying things.

    Its good to know this, because I have no problem getting help from a therapist if I need, but I also do not want to be thought of as somebody who is struggling because of trauma when i am not,, because as you say I would be aware if I was traumatized.


    Thank you!

    Hi okidoki,

    I think if you really wanted to know if you have a trauma label/diagnosis, you’d need to be formally assessed by a therapist trained in trauma treatment.

    That being said, my two cents is that trauma is overly used by people who don’t always know how to properly diagnose its symptoms.  And, when it comes to trauma, context is everything.  So one person may be unfazed by a fire like you while another person may be complete traumatized.  By the same token, you may be traumatized by a life experience you’ve had and another person may not have been.  We are all different people with different personalities and experiences, and these things hit us all differently.

    I’d first recommend getting anything medical ruled out before seeking trauma therapy.

    Hi @okidoki

    It certainly sounds like your body is holding onto some of the trauma, besides the physical affects of the fire. You mentioned some mental heath struggles in your family as well, that is an emotional fire that is still raging and has yet to be put out.

    I highly recommend the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by van Der Kolk; he explains how the body stores traumatic memories and how those are often manifest with physical symptoms.

    Your insight & awareness to what you’ve been through sound remarkable and will go a long way in helping you work through whatever it is your still holding on to!

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