At the time of this post, it’s October. October 3, 2017, I got the call that my father was on a ventilator without much time left to live. He died twenty days later.
During that time, as I’ve shared before, I was subjected to cruel attacks, multiple times a day, from my family because I didn’t break no contact to say goodbye to my father. My home & cell phones rang constantly, & often when they rang, they would ring for five to ten minutes straight. I got tons of text messages & social media messages. I dodged all calls & messages as best I could, but there was no escaping reading the first part of some messages due to how texts, emails & social media messages are designed. The hatred & venom coming from even that little bit I read was simply astounding! And, one of the social media messages was from the account of my aunt who had been dead for three years at that point! I’d blocked her daughter some time before & she used her mother’s account to try to bully me. Ain’t family grand?
As a result of that horrid time, every October, I struggle. It’s like a month long emotional flashback. I can count on depression, anxiety & nightmares plaguing me even more than usual on top of the natural sadness connected to my father’s death. The fact this happens during my favorite time of year makes this even more frustrating. I just want to enjoy the beautiful leaves changing & cooler temperatures in October!
The reason I’m sharing this is in the hopes of helping anyone reading this who experiences something similar.
Sometimes we go through things that are so traumatizing, that even well after the trauma is done, we can’t help but suffer effects. Even if we try not to think about it, it’s still lodged in the back of the mind, not going anywhere. We might get anxious or depressed around the anniversary of the event without even realizing the date. Or, we experience the same emotions we did at the time of the trauma. This is known as an emotional flashback.
The body remembers too, & as a result, we may feel ill, have some unusual aches or other odd symptoms without medical cause suddenly appear for a brief time. If you were physically injured at the time of the trauma, you also may feel the pain of that injury again. This is what is known as a somatic flashback.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand to wave & make these symptoms stop. If only it was that easy! Instead, if you want to survive this with some semblance of sanity, you are going to have to do some work. Not all of it will be bad, but some will be pretty unpleasant.
You are going to need to face your feelings about what happened & feel those emotions. You can’t ignore feelings or they will manifest in some pretty unhealthy ways such as in the form of addictions, self harm or self destructive tendencies. My best friend says, “you have to feel your feels” & it’s true. To do this, you need to find healthy outlets that help you. For me, that means prayer & writing in a journal. For you, it could be speaking to a counselor, pastor or trusted friend. Whatever works is what matters.
“Feeling your feels” is hard work, & you will need to take breaks when you start feeling that it’s just too much. What helps you to relax? Creative outlets are wonderful for relaxing & healing your soul. If you don’t have one, it might be time to find one. If you are out of ideas, notice what your friends are doing. One of their hobbies might appeal to you. Or, consider what you enjoyed doing as a child & start doing that again. Get some finger paints, doodle, or buy a coloring book & crayons.
Take care of your physical needs as well. Make sure to allow extra time for you to rest since emotional work requires a lot of energy. If you like exercising, go for walks, swim, ride a horse… whatever you enjoy that helps you to feel good physically.
Most of all, don’t forget to lean on God. He will show you what you need to do, & help you to get through this trying time. All you have to do is ask for His help.