Tag Archives: experiences

Nostalgia After Trauma

The definition of nostalgia is a longing for the past, in particular a time that is associated with good memories.  People who have experienced trauma may have a predilection for having an appreciation for nostalgia more than the average person.

When a person experiences trauma, such as growing up with abusive parents, often times as adults, they long for certain things that take them back to a happy time in their life, in particular in their childhood.  I admit to being one of these people.  I have a small collection of toys from my childhood that I love, & I regularly listen to music from my teen years in the 80’s.  These things bring me a lot of joy. 

Eventually though I thought this was strange behavior on my part.  My childhood wasn’t exactly the best time of my life, so why would I want reminders of it?  Finally I realized why.  The answer is simple.  Security.

Whatever trauma you have experienced, it changed you & your perception of life.  That is how trauma works.  It can make you feel very insecure & skeptical, even cynical.  A natural coping skill after trauma is to want to find some sense of security wherever you can.  Sometimes finding that security manifests as mentally revisiting a time when you felt comfortable & in control. 

Consider this.  When growing up with narcissistic parents, you have very little control, especially if your narcissistic parents were the engulfing type who had to control every aspect of your life.  Those few rare moments of having control over your life felt empowering.  For me, my most empowering times of my younger days involved music.  Either listening to the radio while alone in my room as a teen or when I drove my first car while listening to any music I wanted to.  Now that I’m an adult, music still gives me that feeling of empowerment.  I frequently still listen to similar music as I did in my younger days.  I also have added more music to my repertoire that makes me feel that same feeling of empowerment.  And you know something?  There is nothing wrong with that!

There is also a comfort in knowing that not every single thing in your past was terrible, that there were some good times too.  Thinking that there was no good in your life is a dreadful feeling!  It can feel as if your life had no purpose.  Reminding yourself of the good times, even if they were few, is very comforting. 

Not to mention, only thinking of the bad times is simply depressing!  Reminding yourself of good times is much less depressing & conducive to a better mood. 

If you find yourself longing for certain things from your past, please know there is nothing wrong with you.  Even if your past was full of terrible & traumatic events, there is nothing bad about waxing nostalgic for the few good times.  Just enjoy the nostalgia when you can.  Listen to those old songs & remember your first slow dance or sharing songs with your childhood best friend.  If you see a toy at a flea market that you used to enjoy playing with as a child, why not buy it?  When you see it, it might just make you smile, & that is a lovely gift to give yourself.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

About Brain Fog After Traumatic Experiences

When a person dies, their surviving loved ones often go through something called “grief brain.”  Grief brain is that brain fog that happens after losing someone you love.  It happens because the grief is fresh & new so you haven’t had time to adapt to it.  It also happens because you’re trying to figure out how to adapt to this “new normal” of life without your deceased loved one.

The brain likes certainty so it can predict what is going to happen.  Going through your daily routine is comfortable.  You know what is going to happen.  Little surprises can create a bit of anxiety but seldom anything terrible.  Bigger surprises such as the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one, creates a great deal more anxiety.  Suddenly the brain has to work much harder to figure out what is happening.  It focuses on what is wrong & how to fix this situation.  With resources focused on the situation, the brain has much less resources available to focus on other things.

This brain fog, or grief brain, after someone dies is a perfectly normal part of the grief process.  Not that it feels normal at the time, but it is.  It also doesn’t last forever, thankfully!

Losing someone you love isn’t the only situation that can cause such a brain fog.  Trauma can cause it.  Repeated trauma definitely causes it.

Trauma damages the brain, it’s a well known fact.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorders are in fact less mental illness & more brain injuries due to traumatic experiences.  Brain damage from trauma as well as the brain trying to adapt to life after trauma definitely create a brain fog.  That fog can be one of the most frustrating parts of having C-PTSD or PTSD. 

I’ve had symptoms of C-PTSD ever since I can remember, but they developed fully in 2012.  One of the last symptoms to develop is this brain fog.  And, it got worse after suffering brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning.  I’ve spend a lot of time frustrated with it, but I have learned some ways to cope.

Naturally prayer is a constant.  I ask God to help me however I need, & He listens when I get frustrated about forgetting something or can’t focus.  He is so helpful!  Even simply offering comfort is a huge help sometimes.

I also try to accept it for what it is.  I wouldn’t get mad at my body if I had cancer & became disabled because of it.  How can I get mad at my brain for not working right after all it’s been through?

I firmly believe in hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.  I hope & pray things improve, but if they don’t, I have ways to cope.  Brain injury of any sort is very unpredictable & also very unique to each person.  You just don’t know what the brain will do.  Cope with your symptoms as best you can while hoping & praying they improve. 

Use technology.  I love Google Keep for notes & to do lists.  I also love Google Calendar for helping me keep track of appointments & dates bills are due. 

Writing is very useful tool, too.  I don’t mean necessarily writing books.  I mean writing in general.  Keeping a journal is helpful for documenting your life as well as coping with your emotions.  Writing to do lists can be helpful because the act of writing things down can help the brain to remember them easier.

Spending time being creative is helpful, too.  Draw, paint, work with clay, cross stitch, take up woodworking.. whatever you decide to do isn’t important.  Making something with your own two hands is all that matters.  It helps exercise the brain by making you think of how to make whatever you’re trying to make & is incredibly rewarding when you see the fruits of your labor.

You can cope with brain fog!  xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health