The aftermath of traumatic events may include flashbacks, changes in personality, addictions, and not being able to function in daily life. There is help. A multiple approach works best – psychological support, telling your story, engaging in creativity, making music, writing, exercise, laughing, and using your spirituality.
Psychological Support. The guidance of a psychologist or social worker specializing in treating post trauma is essential. Your specialist may suggest you take medication to reduce anxiety attacks and depression. You may be invited to join a support group.
Telling Your Story. Repeating your story seems to make a difference. The psychologist will facilitate your story telling. This approach is used by mental health workers after disasters. This works well with children also, especially when they draw pictures or scribble at the same time.
Engaging in Creativity. What creative outlets do you have? If none, then this is a good time to develop one. To name a few possibilities – Painting or drawing, molding clay, photography. What sparks your imagination?
Music. Making music is a powerful outlet for inner pain. Perhaps you would like to join a community chorus or religious choir. Perhaps you would like to jam with others. Do you play an instrument? Play, join in.
Writing. Write in your journal. Write poetry. Write fiction or nonfiction. Write a play. Join a writers group. War veterans find writing to be effective in dealing with past trauma. So do children.
Exercise. Physical movement in the form of exercise releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins reduce anxiety and depression. What do you enjoy? Basketball? swimming? Running or walking? Working out? Explore what works best for you, meaning, what is doable and pleasurable?
Laughing. Like exercise, laughing releases endorphins in the brain which reduce anxiety and depression. Get together with others to watch what makes you laugh – movies, DVDs. Perhaps you prefer audiotapes or books. Have a laughing party, where everyone starts out by faking laughing. The surprise is that fake laughter generates real laughter.
Spirituality. Meditate on sacred texts. Pray. Journal your meditations, thoughts, and prayers. Meet with others to worship or meditate. Perhaps you would like to meet with a religious leader or a spiritual director.
All these approaches work well with adults and children. The traumatic events could involve war, natural or civil disasters, accidents, witnessing horrific violence, or agricultural accidents. Seek assistance from the mental health community.
You are a dearly loved child of God. Seek hope and peace. Amen.