You may decide to reach out to health care providers for assistance in relieving the effects of trauma. This is a good idea. The effects of trauma, even trauma that happened many years ago, can affect your health. You may have an illness that needs treatment. In addition, your health care provider may suggest that you take medications or certain food supplements to relieve your symptoms. Many people find that getting this kind of health care support gives them the relief and energy they need to work on other aspects of healing. To find health care providers in your community who have expertise in addressing issues related to trauma, contact your local mental health agency, hospital, or crisis service.
If you possibly can, work with a counselor or in a special program designed for people who have been traumatized. A counselor or people leading the program may refer you to a group. These groups can be very helpful. However, keep in mind that you need to decide for yourself what you are going to do, and how and when you are going to do it. You must be in charge of your recovery in every way.
Wherever you go for help, the program or treatment should include the following:
Empowerment – You must be in charge of your healing in every way to counteract the effects of the trauma where all control was taken away from you.
Validation – You need others to listen to you, to validate the importance of what happened to you, to bear witness, and to understand the role of this trauma in your life.
Connection – Trauma makes you feel very alone. As part of your healing, you need to reconnect with others. This connection may be part of your treatment.
If you feel the cause of your symptoms is related to trauma in your life, you will want to be careful about your treatment and in making decisions about other areas of your life. The following guidelines will help you decide how to help yourself feel better.
Have hope. It is important that you know that you can and will feel better. In the past you may have thought you would never feel better—that the horrible symptoms you experience would go on for the rest of your life. Many people who have experienced the same symptoms that you are experiencing are now feeling much better.
They have gone on to make their lives the way they want them to be and to do the things they want to do.
Take personal responsibility. When you have been traumatized, you lose control of your life. You may feel as though you still don't have any control over your life. You begin to take back that control by being in charge of every aspect of your life. Others, including your spouse, family members, friends, and health care profes sionals will try to tell you what to do. Before you do what they suggest, think about it carefully. Do you feel that it is the best thing for you to do right now? If not, do not do it. You can follow others advice, but be aware that you are choosing to do so. It is important that you make decisions about your own life. You are responsible for your own behavior. Being traumatized is not an acceptable excuse for behavior that hurts you or hurts others.
Talk to one or more people about what happened to you. Telling others about the trauma is an important part of healing the effects of trauma. Make sure the person or people you decide to tell are safe people, people who would not hurt you, and who understand that what happened to you is serious. They should know, or you could tell them, that describing what happened to you over and over is an important part of the healing process. Don't tell a person who responds with statements that invalidate your experience, like “That wasn't so bad.” “You should just forget about it,” “Forgive and forget,” or “You think that's bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” They don't understand. In connecting with others, avoid spending all your time talking about your traumatic experiences. Spend time listening to others and sharing positive life experiences, like going to mov ies or watching a ball game together. You will know when you have described your trauma enough, because you won't feel like doing it anymore.
Develop a close relationship with another person. You may not feel close to or trust anyone. This may be a result of your traumatic experiences. Part of healing means trusting people again. Think about the person in your life that you like best. Invite them to do something fun with you. If that feels good, make a plan to do something else together at another time—maybe the following week. Keep doing this until you feel close to this person. Then, without giving up on that person, start developing a close relationship with another person. Keep doing this until you have close relationships with at least five people. Support groups and peer support centers are good places to meet people.
Sourced in November 2013 from:
Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 15-99
Rockville, MD 20857