Friday, January 21, 2011

Recovering from Trauma

I was looking up some information and came across this article.  I thought it was pretty good so I put this bit here.  There is a link at the bottom and I have placed the author's name there as well.  I hope someone will get some understanding of where they are at from this.

It is okay to hurt. As a survivor, you need to go through the process of mourning which takes about two years if your mother dies of old age in her bed at home and you were expecting it. Traumatic losses take longer.

Mourning has five stages:

**Denial: is screaming "No! No!' at the time of the trauma. It is also "Never Happened!" and "Didn't affect me!" People can get stuck in denial for years. 

**Rage: People get stuck in the rage stage, too, screaming and lashing out at everyone around them, or coldly angry and unable to change. 

**Bargaining: Stuck bargaining includes veterans who will only get well if the VA gets perfect or if Nixon or Fonda goes to jail, the child abuse survivor who will only get well when patriarchy is gone, or the survivor who will only get better when he or she finds a perfect therapist. 

**Sadness: The sadness stage is very difficult for most survivors because of our feelgood culture. Being sad is practically illegal. Sadness refused leads me to deep depression, but today if I start to feel depressed, I ask myself what do I need to feel sad about. If I can identify and feel it, I don't get depressed. Sadness needs to be felt. What happened to you was sad, painful, grevious. The only way out is through. Those feelings won't kill you. It is okay to grieve. Grief is part of life. 

**Acceptance: The final stage. Yes this did happen. It was bad and it has affected me. I have a scar, but I survived. In time, I may be able to use my experiences to help other survivors. 

Recovery takes persistence and patience. "Progress not perfection" is a good motto. Recovery is not a smooth swift rise out of the depths of pain or numbness. It is a rough climb with many slips and lots of hanging on at new rough places in the climb.

"We recycle" is a slogan that will help you laugh when you slip. Acceptance of the slowness of the process is hard but it's reality. Since PTSD symptoms can come back with new stress, knowing that it is normal to recycle can help you continue to recover.

It takes what it takes and it takes as long as it takes. Human beings hardly ever change quickly except under extreme stress, so be easy on yourself. In response to the idea, I should be over this, remember this slogan (made up by yours truly) "Everything after the word should is bullsh*t."

H.O.W.? Honesty, openness, and willingness are characteristics that will help anyone recover. These things did happen and do affect us (honest). We can find help if we look (open). We try suggestions from others who have recovered or have worked with others who have recovered (willing). This is not to say that every idea or suggestion will work for you. Some won't. Some will be very uncomfortable, but will have a healing effect on your life, like getting sober

Yet. If those ideas scare you, the most healing word in the English language is yet, as in I can't do that yet... Someday you will when you are ready.

Willing to vs Wanting to: There is also a great deal of difference between the words "want" and "willing." Spelled differently. Mean different things. Willingness may mean I do things I don't want to do! If I wait till I want to do the things that will help me recover, I may never recover.

We heal by degrees. You don't have to heal perfectly or on someone else's schedule. People do this work in stages and have to take breaks from it.

Feelings are facts: you feel what you feel. It doesn't have to be reasonable, justified, or what other people feel. Feelings do not have brains. They are not logical! Part of recovery is learning what you do feel so you can take care of yourself. Trying to take care of yourself without knowing what you feel is like trying to budget without knowing your income.

Feelings are not facts: Emotional reasoning is a distorted way of thinking common in our society: I feel it therefore it is true. I feel hurt therefore he/ she meant to hurt me. I feel guilty therefore I am guilty. Many of us tend to feel hurt by or guilty about everything. It comes with our culture, but we don't have to believe it.

It is ok to feel more than one contradictory emotion at the same time.

Respect your emotions but don't necessarily believe them and don't act on them in old ways. People can change by acting in new ways until new feelings come. Waiting till they feel like changing is a dead end for most people!

Don't compare: Compassion is something that develops in recovery. You will see that what each person has lived through is the worst thing he or she has been through. Remembering how you felt after the first firefight, the first beating, the first time someone in your neighborhood was gunned down, before you got so numb, will give you empathy for others.

Recovery leads to autonomy, the feeling of being whole, the ability to change when necessary and the ability to regulate yourself. These are important concepts to people who may feel they have lost great parts of themselves. You may not get all of yourself back, but you can get some of it back. For people who have been stuck in survivor skills, being able to change is freedom, and for people who could be blowing up one minute and numb as a stump the next, the ability to regulate these reactions is pure joy.

Recovery will bring back joy into your life. It will be mixed with pain because this is real life, but learning to feel the pain lets it pass and the periods between the pain will get longer and longer and better and better.

One final word, no matter what you did to survive, you do deserve to recover. Many survivors feel guilty for surviving or for not doing enough or for overreacting. During the recovery process, your feelings about this may change. If you find that some of your guilt has a realistic basis, you can make amends for your actions.

--Patience Mason

Here is another link.  Remember that I am not saying that these are perfect resources but I liked this resource a lot because it talks about self-help, which honestly is what most of us use, and when to ditch self-help and get some professional help.

Dr. Valerie Tarico has written this excellent article.  There are more articles by Dr. Tarico at, as well. I really like what she says in this particular article that I think helps people move forwards with their lives after being affected by religion.

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