Today, in our ongoing series of sharing how survivors and professionals relate to, reclaim and manage traumatic PTSD dates and seasons, the final installment, which gives the last word to some awesome and proactive survivors. Bravo to all of you who sent in ideas, and to those of you who take action today, tomorrow and in all the weeks to come…
From my Twitter pal, IamEchad: One date for me is Sept 11. I was raped as the Pentagon burned nearby. My way to take back that day is to speak at women’s shelters & give hope.
Steffi Sutters: I am not an expert but a mum whose daughter suffered a traumatic injury many year ago and whose family were traumatised by the accident. I say let it be. The way to empower yourself is to own what has happened and to realise that survival is in itself am achievement in whatever form that takes. I used to give talks in the UK about ABI (acquired brain injury) and its affect on my family . We fell to bits and closed in as a unit but we came through to a different place step by small step. That is reality. Celebrities interviewed on such issues who say they continue with their ‘normal’ lives may or may not be sharing in a truthful way. For the rest of us it is one day at a time and that includes anniversaries. Go with the flow. Any pace is OK.
Cheryl Roshak: Memories are always with us, and what triggers an abreaction can occur on any day from any stimulus. In working through a healing process anniversaries of a death of a loved one, or a rape, a traumatic car crash or whatever caused the PTSD, one should always realize that he or she survived to tell the tale, and is still here in one piece, working through the event and living a life. He or she is a survivor. You can’t erase the past, but you can change your attitude to what happened and learn to accept it or forgive yourself. It’s all about learning to love yourself again….
Donna Allen of http://www.DonnaAllenLive.com: The way that I cope with my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder anniversary is to draw from the strength I built as an abused child. When I studied violin as a young teenager, I learned about the importance of focus, challenge, integrity, responsibility, confidence dedication, and determination. I worked very hard because I was determined to be in control of something in my life. I used those same virtues after I survived an airplane crash as a young adult. When ever I’d have a PTSD episode, I would draw from that strength from my childhood. This gives me personal strength where I am able to take the power back. My passion for my violin and classical music was key for my heeling. My music saved my life and it helped me to heel.
I feel that we all have tools to get us through situations and tragedies that we have in life. And we can use these tools. We may have dealt with traumas in life. But the important thing is that we have to find the inner strength to get ourselves through any situation. We all have frightening experiences in our lives. We all have things that we have to deal with. But at that point, we need to make a choice. We could choose to let it over power us or we can choose to move forward and beyond our personal struggles.
Jason Tune: I used to struggle with my late brothers death anniversary, as he committed suicide and I felt that I wasn’t there for him. However I now deal with this in a enlightening way. I know if he could pass me a message he would not want me to feel down or go to pieces, he would be proud of me for getting through my own mental health issues and helping others with a similar disposition.
Bridgette S.: It is so comforting to know that there are others dealing with the same things I am (unfortunately) It helps me to know that It is possible to survive. Although my abuse was multiple and ongoing I tend to focus on the day before Easter. This was the day I finally got the courage to tell a family member about the abuse. Unfortunately she blamed me for everything (I was 12) and took his side. As kids we are told “tell an adult” and everything will be ok. Well, this was the worse thing that could have happened. When the day grows closer I begin having anxiety attacks. I mourn the loss of the relationship I had with my grandparents. The physical violations I can process. The emotional abandonment is the most traumatic.”
Lanya Pogue: I try to find what other anniversaries and events happened on that day that I don’t associate with the trauma. On September 11, I always celebrate Ludacris’ birthday. I do not recommend any activity that focuses on the traumatic event or reveals it to other people. If you keep focusing on it, it becomes clearer and clearer and more and more of your time will be spent thinking about what happened or how much you lost. I also schedule some private time to cry or bitch about it to myself. | Andy Warhol said when something bad happens, you should get a tape recorder and describe the whole event. Now it’s not a tragedy, it’s a story. Now erase the tape recording.| I would definitely avoid any attempt to try to have fun with friends, because I’m likely to look depressed and get teased and asked why. Also, seeing other people laughing while I feel like I want to die was a feature of nearly every traumatic event that gives me flashbacks. Stay the hell away from therapists and support groups especially that day because they always try to return the focus to what you’re trying to overcome.
Laura Tuft: I usually forget a trauma anniversary until a couple of days later when I realize why I’ve been feeling eery or uncomfortable. Today whenever I remember an event, because there were many, I say to myself “that was then but this is today and the trauma isn’t happening now and I’m okay today.” I don’t mean to oversimplify – I went through trauma therapy in a DBT setting and having borderline pd this works great as a many BPD folks have childhood traumas of various kinds.
It’s not too late to register for tomorrow’s big event!