Sequel to https://www.tquincy.com/2019/12/12/good-night-gone-bad/ – a non-fiction story about an event that left me traumatized.
The armed robbery event that I witnessed live, left me floating in the sea of trauma. Initially, I had no idea what to do about it. I was tempted to withdraw from social activities, friends and even loved ones.
I was scared of almost everything and anything. But gradually, I got to realize that, truly, comfort comes from feeling connected and involved with others you trust in times like this. I thought I was the only one that had been affected by the event until my sister (and by extension, kids from other apartments) reached out to me to share their experiences.
We always gathered together to discuss and it really helped a lot. We got to learn that the simple act of talking face to face with another human could trigger hormones that relieve traumatic stress. If you live alone, or your social network is limited, it is never too late to reach out to others and make new friends.
Survivors or witnesses of a traumatic event can regain a sense of control by watching media coverage of the event or by observing recovery efforts. Although, some may find the reminders further traumatizing. When the trauma began to set in, I would always stay away from home because I usually felt relieved whenever I was away from home. It always felt as though some sort of bad spirit had left me whenever I left home. And whenever I was back home, it always felt like it had come back.
I also felt terrible whenever I saw a disturbing footage related to the event. So I took a break from watching the news and surfing the social media, especially before bed. I seldom watched television. And even when I had to, I would watch videos or programmes with beautiful motivational messages.
If you feel that regaining a sense of control by watching media coverage of the event or by observing the recovery won’t work out for you, then avoid them until the traumatic stress symptoms ease up and you’re able to move on.
I was always reliving the traumatic event, but overtime I realized that repetitious thinking or viewing horrific images over and over again could overwhelm one’s nervous system, making it quite difficult to think straight. I always did things that kept me occupied in order not to dedicate all my energy and attention to the traumatic event.
Also, I always tried to ignore my feelings. Whenever I was in a cheerful mood, I always felt that underneath all that happiness was a certain sadness waiting to unfurl. It may seem better to avoid experiencing one’s emotions, but they (emotions) exist whether one is paying attention to them or not. I found out that even intense feelings would pass if one simply allows oneself to feel what one feels. To be sincere, along the line – it will be important to confront situations associated with the traumatic event, but do so gradually. There is comfort in the familiar.
After the event, getting back to my usual routine was quite a herculean task, but I tried as much as possible to get back to it because it really helped to minimize the traumatic stress. Even if your work or school is disrupted, you can structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with friends and loved ones.
In order to cope effectively with trauma, it needs to be understood. Give yourself time. Accept that it might take a bit of time to adjust. Know that the way you are feeling will not last (forever) and by gradually dealing with the fears and thoughts, you will be able to get on with life. Be kind to yourself.