If you have been through a traumatic incident in your life I think you will know what I'm talking about. You'll just be going about your day as usual, happy and oblivious, and then out of nowhere, BAM something punches you in the (emotional) gut and you suddenly can't breathe and are thrown out of orbit and back into the past.
Here's the part where I put a disclaimer, obviously I'm just some lady on the internet and am only speaking from my own experience. Everybody is different and if you have mental health issues it's probably best to speak to a professional, not take advice from blog posts written by strangers.
A few days ago, when I was at work, a totally benign conversation about cataracts took an innocent turn and in one sentence, where somebody casually mentioned that they take eye parts from dead teenagers I was thrown from having a cheerful happy day into a melancholy and horrified state. Just from hearing that one sentence.
I was reminded of ... well I won't get into it but let's just say my family had to endure some less-than-subtle requests from a doctor to take body parts from my still breathing, still alive brother in a hospital bed. While he was in the room. While he could potentially hear us talking. Fuck that guy. Seriously fuck you doctor. You can't fucking ... ugh. UGHHHHHSDKLFHIWUEHToho:ewh:oiwjef;KEH
I was able to get myself back. It took some time and effort and the help of a good listener but I didn't let the horror overtake me as it has so many times before. (Although writing that last paragraph has my heart racing and my thoughts "going bad", fuck.)
Okay so ... this is what I've been trying to work on for myself, and I thought it might help some of you out there.
1. I guess the first thing to do is recognize your "triggers". (I hate that word but can't think of a better descriptor.) Everybody is different, and if you've been through any type of ... well, bad ... incident, you will always have things that remind you of very specific horror or sorrow. And you can't help but find yourself instantly thrown back into that mental state of anguish. There are songs, scenes on tv shows and topics of conversation I can still not deal with.When you know something like that is coming up, maybe remove yourself from the situation, or let the other people in the room know what's going on.
2. Remember that nobody, not even your closest friends and family, can know or remember everything about you at all times. Sometimes a conversation will go in a direction that includes something you can't handle. Don't blame the people around you, they can't always monitor everything they do around you forever. Once again, just remove yourself.
3. Recognize the negative thoughts for what they are. You can change your thought patterns but you have to be able to see what your brain is doing. I realize that "running away" from things is not an answer that I can allow myself forever. Avoidance is not the answer. BUT it is when you're at work or in public and you don't have a safe space to deal with the feelings.
4. Tell yourself to STOP. Certain things are connected to other things in your neural pathways
that bring you right back to that dark place, and the only way to stop
the cycle is to tell yourself to stop it. Sometimes I say it out loud
which might make me seem ... well, like a crazy person I guess, but for
some reason in the shower and when I wake up in the morning sometimes I
start on the path to dark thoughts and I say outloud "Don't go there" or
"Stop it". I try and think of something else. Sometimes it helps if I
physically move myself to another location and do a different activity. Break the cycle if you can.
5. Get someone to help you. If you feel yourself spiraling towards the negative thoughts, sadness or horror, talk to somebody. I hope that each and every one of you has a friend who knows what you've been through. Call them up when you start feeling that way and just tell them you need to talk for a minute. It will help if you acknowledge it out loud. After I removed myself from the cataract conversation I called Ryan and we talked for a couple minutes, I told him what happened and he listened. Even just that helped me a lot.
6. Don't be hard on yourself. It's not your fault. You can get through this.
I have some online friends who email me about their current mental states and I like to think that our open conversations about what is happening in our lives, our setbacks and solutions, help us. If you want to talk to me about anything you might not have someone in real life to talk about, please email me.
It'll stay between us, whatever you want to say.