At some point or another, many of us will or have faced some type of trauma in our lives… We all have had to face fears or witness something we really wish we hadn’t… Things happen in our life and we really don’t know why – but we try to take them all as lessons or stepping stones to get across those deep rivers that we like to call – life…
Some individuals will get through the stress and anxiety of trauma within either days, weeks or maybe a month – but for some… it can last longer. It can depend on the severity of the trauma, the length of time the person was exposed -or number of many other factors. We all have our way in dealing with pain and how we heal…
But when the anxiety, stress and memories hang on for months – it can begin to interfere with parts of a person’s life… Which can often turn into PTSD or generalized anxiety… With the right type of coping skills and tools though, a person can begin to learn to deal with unwanted memories, intrusive thoughts and the emotions and stress that come with generalized anxiety and PTSD….There are some things you should know if you have a friend, family member or know someone who is healing from trauma and has been diagnosed….
- Don’t tell them to just “get over it.” Believe me – they are trying – more than anything, they want to get over it…but certain triggers – which can be either physical, emotional or even mental – will bring back memories, flashbacks or even emotions that the person may have been experiencing at that time. Telling them to “get over it,” will only make them more frustrated.
- Telling them, “it’s in past…” ..Well – obviously.… The person with generalized anxiety or PTSD wants the past to be over… It’s not the person not wanting to let go of the past – it’s the past not letting go of them.
- Allow them to talk about it – even if it’s over…and over again. Talking is great therapy and allows them to observe the situation now that they are in a safe place.
- They might be moody on occasion. Getting lost within your own mind and its thoughts-especially those you don’t want can get quite tiresome… And frustrating. A person with anxiety or PTSD will have intrusive thoughts and not being able to always to control those can be stressful… Eventually, with the right tools, intrusive thoughts can become less or be managed.
- They need plenty of downtime….self-care. Healing takes time and self care and having down-time is a great way to de-stress … Offer to go on a walk, watch a funny movie, plan a day trip – or something that they enjoy… Just being there with them is all they may need. Sometimes- they may want alone time – so giving them space is good sometimes too.
- Zoning out happens…sometimes. A person with PTSD can be triggered…and may zone out – they may feel as if they are reliving a stressful situation or even experiencing the emotions from an event – all over again… They might need help being brought back to “reality” -You can say their name, maybe lightly touch them or talk them through – to let them know that they are safe and in the present…Those who are experiencing emotions – may just need helped being grounded – while they may not be reliving the scene-their body is re-experiencing the feelings…
- Let them know you care. Just knowing that you care and are there for them to talk means the world… It is hard for someone to come to terms with their mental health…The world looks at mental health as taboo at times – they need to know that they are normal and human… and that they will too heal – at their own pace and time.