There’s a widely held belief, proven over time, that after a traumatic event we benefit from being able to talk about it. It is soothing and reassuring to speak with a sympathetic and understanding person about our fear and pain. It can help us heal.
Studies have found that suppressed trauma is harmful to our mental and physical health.
However, studies have also found that we can be re-traumatized when we re-visit traumatic experiences in our minds.
We need to tread lightly and carefully, neither suppressing nor over-stimulating shocking, fearful and traumatic memories.
Flashbacks of terrifying moments are spontaneous neurological reactions to extreme shock. They can be frightening but they can also gently fade away.
Reactions to past trauma can be triggered by our thoughts as well as our senses. When we are aware of how we feel, what we’re thinking and recognize what may have triggered a reaction, we can begin to help ourselves.
However, if our feelings are overwhelming, it may be time to find professional help.
Here are some things you can do to help yourself:
- Talk with a trusted, non-judgemental friend, and share your experiences, thoughts and feelings with them.
- Limit your trauma talk to perhaps 50-75 percent of your time with them. Use the remaining time to sit quietly, walk, laugh or do something positive that you both enjoy.
- Remember that you are vulnerable and sensitive following a traumatic event, so avoid sitting in on other people’s trauma talk sessions. This will prevent you from adding their trauma to your own!
- Write about your trauma; the event, how you felt and how you feel now.
- Draw or paint the trauma, either realistically or in abstract. Use lots of colour. Then draw or paint yourself recovered.
- Imagine and feel yourself recovered!
Wishing you well,