Every once in a while I look up a summary of the search engine words that connected people to this blog. It’s interesting to me to see what people are looking for and what types of things they are searching for answers for. There are definite themes that can be picked out. Domestic violence runs a close race with sexual assault inquiries but right up there and not far behind are questions about elder abuse and what I would classify as healing questions. How long, how come, why does this happen, is this normal… People don’t just need information about what domestic violence or sexual assault or elder abuse is, they also need information about what to do about it and how long does this take and is this normal to feel this way or am I going to be like this forever?
Being traumatized by any event can help to create difficulties for folks on many levels. These difficulties can be short-lived or can last for a very long time. For some people they can come back during times of high stress and for others they move on and never have another difficulty. Some people might have flashbacks, others might have nightmares and yet other people, nothing at all. Some may stop eating, others may self-soothe through eating all the time. Some may sleep excessively and never move farther than the bedroom to the couch and back again, others may move excessively by taking up sports and related physical activities. Your skills, abilities, circumstances and environment all come into play to determine how you might move forward.
I happen to have a list of what others found helpful when trying to heal from difficult life circumstances. I really don’t know where the list came from so I’m not sure who to credit. I thought this list might be helpful for others as well so here are some of the points shared with me that I will pass along to you.
1. Finding someone who will listen to you, believe you and take you seriously when you say what you need. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, keep searching until you find them. It might be a family member, a friend or a counselor or support person. Whoever can provide that is less relevant than the need to have it.
2. Realizing the connections between trauma and behaviour. It’s very easy to get caught up in your and other people’s behaviour because sometimes it doesn’t always make sense. For many folks, having the opportunity to learn about trauma and what it can do to a person and how it can influence ongoing behaviour and choices after an event can be a very enlightening experience. It can help explain many things and alleviate the “am I crazy” thoughts that many people have.
3. Recognizing that sometimes things from long ago can come back and cause problems now and it is okay to bring them up to deal with them. Sometimes things can get “put away” in our heads and something else happens to open that door and it all comes flooding out. So maybe the piece that needs to be dealt with isn’t always what just happened but what happened 10 or 20 years ago.
4. When triggered by something, not having to relay all the details of what happened, just having someone help reflect what was happening to me right then at that moment in time. You don’t always have to tell people what happened, most of the time, you just need to tell people what you want to do about it. Having to tell the details of your story repeatedly can interfere with healing for many people.
5. Learning to understand how to read body cues in order to better manage stress and anxiety. Spending time learning how to recognize that various emotions or circumstances can make you feel in certain ways and what that actually feels like in your body can start the process for learning how to manage it successfully. For instance, if you find yourself irritated and short-tempered every time too many people are in the room talking at once, paying attention to those feelings of being irritated so that you can manage your environment and manage your irritation.
6. Learning how to self-talk. Learning how to tell myself what I need to hear and know so that I can continue on. There are many counselors that can teach you this skill. Along with this are grounding techniques. They can be very helpful in cases of flash backs where you need to be brought back to the ‘here and now’ and able to calm yourself back down.
7. Learning how to de-escalate. Again, this is a skill that can be taught and can often by taught by counselors. Finding someone who can teach you these things will allow you to start to manage your stress levels regardless of what is going on around you and that can help to create an atmosphere of healing.
8. Having my own space that you could use as a refuge away from everything else. Having a place that feels safe, that others won’t enter without your permission allows many folks the space they need to heal.
9. Having choices. Take the time to look into many different options and possibilities when trying to figure out how to heal. There are many non-traditional things out there (yoga, meditation, art, music, exercise and so on) that can help a person along their path to healing alongside with any possible counseling or treatment.
10. As a general rule, the better able you are to be kind to your body, your mind, your soul and your heart, the better able you are going to be at finding the time and space within yourself to heal. Healthy food, moderate exercise, creative and expressive activities to help you articulate what you need without having to always say it, finding ways to de-stress and focus on peace; all of these things will help you create an environment where healing is more likely to happen. It doesn’t happen quickly, it is not always easy but it is worth it. You’re worth it. Always remember that.