Being traumatized can make you think of nothing but what you experienced. You may try to move on but the memories prevent you from staying in the present. It is important to use healthy methods to be able to live your live and letting your traumatic memories stay in the past.
Traumatic memories can come from a number of things like one-time events like if you have been through an accident, been injured, or suffered a violent attack. It can also be living in a dangerous area where you always feel like your life is threatened or have been bullied or suffered domestic violence. You can also be traumatized from the sudden death of someone close to you, have dealt with an unexpected breakup, or suffered a humiliating experience. It is normally when the trauma is most unexpected that it is harder to get over the shock.
The symptoms of trauma can follow having nightmares that make it hard to fall back asleep, shock, guilt, isolation, depression, and disconnect. Trauma can last from a fews days to months. Triggers can follow when it is the anniversary or if there is an object or place that brings these horrific memories back. If the trauma is even more intense, you could be developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when your nervous system becomes stuck and you are in a constant state of shock where you are not able to sense or process anything except fear.
Trauma is not a permanent state of being if you get treatment. For example, if you have moments where you freeze in fear, you should exercise as it will help repair your nervous system and you will constantly be in motion. When you exercise for half an hour or three ten minute exercises, try to be aware of everything happening with your body like the rate of your breathing, your feet hitting the pavement, your arms moving back and forth, etc. It will help you stay in the present and provide a good distraction to traumatic memories.
Trauma can also turn your away from your family and friends as you feel they will not understand what you are going through and that they cannot help you. The truth is that the people who love you can make a big difference in your mental health in providing you security and shelter. By connecting with those close to you or meeting new people, you will feel engaged and accepted. Isolation will only keep you closer to those traumatic memories so your friends can be a great source of comfort and a good distraction from those memories. Do normal things with your friends like grab a coffee or see a movie or anything that will make you feel fun and carefree.
It may also help to find a support group near you so that you can be around others who have been through what you have been through and can offer advice and hear from others what to do. Volunteering can also provide another good distraction in that instead of getting caught up in your own thoughts, you can use your time to help others. This will give you a sense of power and control being able to help someone who truly needs it and be able to discover a strength in yourself that you did not know you had. If you feel disoriented, confused, or upset, breathe in deep, shallow breaths and focus. By focusing only on your breath, you will be brought back to the present. If those memories come back, pick a sight, smell, sound or taste as a tool to make you calm. It can be a picture of when you were happy with your friends, the smell of your favorite scent, your favorite sound, or taste your favorite flavor.
No matter how intense your trauma is, never use drugs or alcohol as a way of getting rid of these memories as these abusive substances can make your trauma worse. You can get worsened depression, anxiety, and further isolation. Even if drugs and alcohol provide a short relief, it will never be permanent and you will experience cravings to use more and more which can lead to another problem that will be hard to fix. Make sure to eat three meals a day and not skip as you will feel more energized and minimize your mood swings by eating more foods with omega-3s like salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds.
If you feel like your trauma has worsened further, see a therapist trained in handling trauma so he/she can make a personalized plan for you. There is also cognitive behavioral therapy to help process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings. Your nightmares may keep you awake at night and make you dread going to sleep. Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every morning and every night. It is important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep. You can write your dreams down and send them to your therapist or you can put them in a shoebox and keep them in a safe place to get them off your chest. You can also change your room around like the decor, furniture, or listening to calming music while you sleep. By speaking to someone about your trauma and doing more things to feel alive will lessen the intensity of your memories.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 888 570 7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.