It was a regular day, like any other, when it abruptly ended with screeching tires and the frightening sound of metal on metal. For some it wasn’t just an image, it was an impactful event that changed their life’s trajectory.
Though luckily he ended up only with minor cuts and bruises, the more challenging was the aftermath of the accident. They had to confront the invisible ruthless companion of trauma, following him like a shadow on a long process of recovery.
He used to be strong. His life was stable, he used to work out regularly, ride his motorcycle, and take holidays with his family and kids, and he was on a steady path in his career. The accident shook his familiar world and changed everything in his life.
After the initial shock and physical recovery, more challenges started to come his way. It interrupted his career and put financial pressure on his family, causing arguments with his partner, and turning his home into a place of anxiety instead of comfort. He started to lose his confidence, stopped regular physical activities, and stayed away from meetings and gatherings. It felt like the person he used to be was gone, bringing unpleasant feelings of shame and guilt, and causing lots of worries about the future.
He felt alone. It seemed as if the world wasn’t truly hearing his struggles. Friends’ suggestions to ‘face the fears’ and comments like ‘Well at least you are alive’ didn’t help, so he pushed his pain even deeper and became a shadow of himself.
The haunting memories that troubled his nights started to creep into his days, a clear sign of what we call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that often develops after experiencing a traumatic event. Those events, especially when they are unexpected and intense, can leave lasting emotional and psychological scars.
PTSD shows up in various ways, the common symptoms include intrusive thoughts of the incident, nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety. These symptoms mean that our mind and body are struggling to process and cope with the past trauma. This is not just our memory of the trauma, for those who struggle with PTSD, it feels like it’s happening now, keeping the nervous system on alert and wearing them out emotionally.
Everything can trigger a painful memory, everyday activities like driving or hearing the noise of a street, a certain situation or a place, or someone’s tone of voice. All these can cause a response from the body that sometimes experiences the pain. This happens because the brain associates these usually normal daily events with the traumatic event, and it’s not easy to break that association, as it is part of our survival mechanism.
A car accident is one type of event that can leave us with psychological trauma. There are many other experiences that can lead to trauma and PTSD. Whether it’s a financial loss, loss of a loved one, illness, childhood abuse, or any other event that left you overwhelmed emotionally, the impact can be deep and lasting.
It doesn’t even have to be a single event. There could be several smaller events, that could cause the post-traumatic symptoms of distress. Any one of us who faces difficult memories from the past can benefit from healing. What’s important is to understand that those difficult experiences are part of the complexity of human life. They require compassion, understanding, and a unique approach to healing.
Each person’s story is unique and their journey through trauma and recovery can take many forms. We all face our own challenges and we find our own way to healing
As therapists, we recognize it’s completely okay to feel this way. We are aware of those mental processes that leave unseen scars. We know about those feelings inside that we don’t want others to see. We are aware of how a split-second event can leave your normal life shattered to pieces and alter one’s sense of safety and normalcy. Everyone deals with difficulties in their own ways, but we have a knowledge about how trauma affects our mind and we recognize the common challenges that we face after a traumatic event. Let us be your guide while you are on the path toward healing because we know how much courage you need to face the demons of PTSD.
If you are struggling with these feelings, remember, we are here to guide you through the process of psychological recovery.
Remember, living With PTSD Doesn’t Mean You’re Weak
Living with PTSD doesn’t mean you’re weak; it actually shows how strong and tough you are. PTSD doesn’t pick on certain people or mean they’re not strong enough. It happens when you go through difficult situations, and it’s a sign of your bravery in dealing with those difficult times.
Your limitations don’t define who you are.
Asking for help with PTSD is not a sign of being weak, it’s a brave choice that would help you to develop your strength and build strategies, so you can handle the impact of traumatic events. It’s important to understand that PTSD doesn’t always show up right after something bad happens. It can show up later, and making a decision to deal with it at any point is a big step toward feeling better.
When the symptoms show up it doesn’t make your past experiences less significant or seeking for help less meaningful. The effect of trauma is not defined by the size of an event but by how it hit you personally.
Everyone reacts to difficult situations in their own way, and the effects can be really strong no matter how big or small the trauma seems. Living with PTSD is a journey, and it’s a journey that shows how strong you are, facing life’s challenges with resilience.
1. Bringing yourself back to the present moment
When the past feels heavy, and the worries just pile up, we need to bring our focus back to the present. Take a few moments to breathe deeply, feel each breath, and let go of judgments. As Buddha wisely said, ‘The mind is everything. What you think you become.
You need to recover the picture in your mind that you are safe, you are ok. This practice will help you to bring calm and clarity into your life, which is important for your healing journey. They give you the comfort of feeling in control over your life.
2. Don’t Reject Social Support
Imagine you’re walking through a dark forest, and suddenly, you find yourself lost and scared. Now, picture a friend appearing beside you, offering a comforting hand and a reassuring smile. That’s a bit like how social support can help with PTSD. When you’re dealing with the overwhelming challenges of PTSD, having caring friends and family, or a supportive community is like a guiding light in the darkness.
They might not have all the answers, or know how to support you, but don’t reject the help of those who are ready to listen without judgment or pressure. The warmth of understanding and encouragement can make your journey through PTSD feel less lonely and daunting. Knowing that there are people who care provides you with a sense of safety and helps rebuild trust, creating a healing environment that complements professional treatment.
3. Use Distraction Techniques
Dealing with PTSD involves using different ways to take your mind off things and feel better.
- Doing things you enjoy, like hobbies, can help distract you from traumatic thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation are like techniques to keep you focused on the present, making anxious thoughts less heavy.
- Moving your body in whatever form is a strong tool to release stress and make you feel better. If you have moving limitations, adapt your exercises to your abilities. Your therapists might help you with those adaptations. Breathing exercises calm your nerves, especially when you feel on edge.
- Creative exercises like drawing or writing are a good way to reduce your overwhelming feelings. Taking breaks from the screen and staying away from news channels will help you avoid triggers that might cause you to feel worse.
- Going outside and spending time in nature is a simple way to relax.
- Talking to supportive friends can be a great distraction from difficult thoughts.
- Doing things that comfort you, like having special routines, helps you feel safe and calm. Being in a more positive mood will change how you feel, making challenging memories not as strong.
All these techniques and strategies will help you get through tough times if you’re dealing with PTSD.
4. Self Soothing Strategies
Create your own comfort kit with things that bring you peace and calmness. Maybe it’s a soft blanket, your favorite smell from a candle, or music that makes you happy. You can also include a journal to write down your feelings. Journalling can help you express your feelings and organize your thoughts.
When you are overwhelmed, use your personalized comfort kit. It’s like a helpful friend, always there to bring you comfort and stability when you need it.
5. Spend More Time With Pets
If possible try fostering a pet. Remember the words of Josh Billings who once said: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” The love and support from a pet will make your home a happier place. They’re like loyal friends who comfort you and reduce your worries. Taking care of a pet also gives you a routine, making your days more steady and purposeful. Whether it’s a dog that loves to play or a gentle cat, they bring lots of happiness and healing, making it a good part of your journey in dealing with PTSD.
6. Professional Therapy Techniques
At Counselling Vancouver, we’re here to support you through your journey with PTSD, offering effective techniques to support your well-being. One is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for processing difficult memories by using eye movements. Another is Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT), which helps you understand and control your emotions better.
We also use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and The Gottman Model to strengthen relationships by giving couples tools to communicate and connect better. These techniques are part of our promise at Modern Therapy to give you different and helpful ways to feel better.
Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, and seeking support is a courageous step. If you find that these techniques resonate with you, or if you’re curious about exploring different ways to feel better, you can book a free counselling session with us.
7. Personal Empowerment and Self-Care
Your way of recovery is unique, there is no timeline, and it’s ok if you are not feeling like yourself right now. It’s important to focus on yourself, and do things that make you stronger. Be kind to yourself and know that getting better takes effort and focus. You might not be yourself now and that’s okay. You are recovering and it takes time.
Doing things for yourself can really help. Make a daily plan that includes things that make you feel good, like reading, listening to music, or being outside. Sleep is super important too, so try to get enough rest. To relax and lower stress, practice mindfulness and take deep breaths. Talking to friends who understand or joining a group can make you feel supported and encouraged.
Remember, taking care of yourself is different for everyone, so try out different things to see what feels best for you. By putting yourself first and doing things that make you strong, you’re taking important steps to feel better from the challenges of PTSD.
Any challenging event can be a reminder of our fragility. However, being physically delicate we also have tremendous resiliency and strength. We just need to tap into our mental, emotional, and community resources, which always helped us as humans to put ourselves and our lives back together. The story of this man and other stories is not about who we are but about how we tap into our inner strengths and rebuild what we have lost. It’s a testament to the unbelievable human spirit’s capacity to rise from the ashes of despair.
If what you’ve read here resonates with you and you’re feeling ready for your healing journey, we’d say go for it. Whether it’s a chat or a full session, reaching out for support is a big step that can really help you start feeling better. Deciding to focus on your mental health is pretty brave, and by reaching out, you’re taking charge of your own healing.
In these last words, we just want to remind you that understanding and support are always here. Healing takes time, and every little step you take matters. You’re not alone, and there’s hope for better days ahead. Be kind to yourself, give yourself credit for the progress you make, and grab onto the support that’s out there.
Take the first step – reach out to Vancouver Counselling and explore the diverse therapeutic approaches that can make a positive difference in your life.