When we think about PTSD we often think about military veterans and the impact that combat/service has on their mental health. And it does, because they estimate that 20% -30% of deployed and non-deployed soldiers will develop PTSD.
But there are also broader definitions. You can have PTSD from going through a one-time traumatic event and you can also have PTSD from a series of smaller traumatic experiences. CPTSD (Complex PTSD) develops as a response to ongoing trauma over the course of months or, more often, years. This can include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Living in a domestic violence situation or being a survivor of human trafficking.
PTSD is a response to trauma.
And it’s normal. Let me say it again – normal. Our brains are not meant to handle the stress of traumatic situations. PTSD doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you crazy and it doesn’t mean that you’re broken.
If a car runs over your foot it breaks because it wasn’t designed to handle that weight/pressure. It doesn’t mean your foot is weak. Our brains are exactly the same.
Anyone can suffer from PTSD, and it is important to understand that each and every one of us will react to potentially traumatic situations differently. Whilst some people can process events quickly and find ways to cope (usually because they already have healthy coping skills), others find recovery much more difficult.
If you don’t know where to start – here are some ways to start healing from trauma.
Therapy. Therapy. And Therapy.
Unraveling trauma is not a one-person job. It’s heavy and it’s okay to ask for help in carrying it. Therapy is an awesome tool and not only does it give you a safe space to talk, but it also provides you with those healthy coping skills you might not have.
Find Your Support System
You do not have to talk about your trauma but it’s so important that you have people in your life that would listen if you *want* to talk about it. Trauma can be an isolating experience. We worry that people won’t understand. We worry that our trauma will be a burden to other people.
Work against those impulses that say that you’re alone with all of it. You aren’t.
Find Healthy Coping Skills
We all have ways we cope with trauma. Some people ignore it. Others try to drown it out with alcohol and substances. How you cope with what you feel matters. There are so many healthy coping skills. Some of them are physical, some of them are mental, but they all help you process your feelings in a positive way that allows you to express/acknowledge your feelings in a way that doesn’t cause you harm.
Physically exercise is a great coping skill. It can help you feel safe in your body, it can help you feel powerful inside of your body, and it has the bonus of releasing endorphins. There are endless possibilities, from running to trampolining. Think outside of the box!
If you don’t feel like exercising in public, there are plenty of at-home workouts you can participate in.
Ask for Help
Each year, around 8 million adults are dealing with the effects of PTSD, so it is important to remember that you are not alone and there is always someone willing to listen. Whether you join a support group or attend a therapy session, there are thousands of resources online designed to support you in your recovery.
Furthermore, it is important to consider every option. Although you may not feel overly positive about the idea of trying medication, medication can be a key player in recovery. I’m all about ending the stigma around medication. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t but if it works for you and helps you feel better, that’s all that matters.
You may also wish to consider alternatives such as vitamins, supplements, or even medical marijuana (whatever works for you!).
Try this tutorial to find out how to gain access to the medical marijuana registry. Once signed up, you will easily be able to access the resources you need to start feeling like yourself again.
Have a Self-Care Routine
You knew I was going to slide this one in here, didn’t you?
Make self-care part of your daily routine. Learn how to feel good in your skin and in your life. Pamper your body. Pamper your mind. You are so important – treat yourself like you are.
Healing From Trauma is a Complicated Process
I can’t tell you how to do it in one blog post. It’s not a straightforward formula of doing xyz. But if I can give you suggestions on that first step? Well that’s the one that matters the most.
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