Reliving Trauma

On this, the eve of 9/11, there are many people who will remember tomorrow with sorrow and pain.   From our first responders to people who witnessed the events that changed our country (again), September 11th brings up many memories of the events that unfolded the day that planes were used to cause damage and death.  Thousands died that day, and families continue to struggle with the loss.  Children are growing up without parents, and parents had to bury their children.  So many things have changed for our generation, but that day will continue to change things for future generations to come.  Even with all the loss and trauma from that day, you can still get through the day, and take care of yourself.

For many years, I watched all the shows about 9/11.  I watched the timeline of the events as they occurred.  I watched the FAA take all the flights out of the air.  I watched first hand accounts from the people who were there, and I watched the towers fall, over and over.  I realized a couple years ago, it wasn’t helping me to watch them.  It didn’t help me feel safe, and at times kept me up at night.  The years after the events of that day, I flew on planes, although all the security changes weren’t as bad as the fear that seemed to be the focus at the airport.  Watching bags, and being suspicious of others made traveling hard, and at times, anxiety producing.  

Whatever the trauma you are working through, reliving the trauma is expected, but not recommended in a way that traps you in the event.  When I work with patients, we talk about the events that shape their lives, but we also work on acceptance and being able to move on.  Reliving trauma is so common, and the struggle to manage it is overwhelming at times.  In talking about trauma, we talk about being able to integrate the issues into who we become.  I provide education around the trauma event, including that you can’t forget it, and it’s okay that it becomes a part of you.

Everything that we go through, good and bad, shapes who be become.  From graduating from school, to getting married, to getting your dream job shapes your personality, just as much as getting bullied in school, the death of a parent, and watching or living through events like 9/11.  In working with Veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, I have learned that some people struggle with events for a lifetime.  My heart goes out to Veterans of years past, when my profession believed that if you just don’t talk about it, it will go away.  Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam were discharged with no support or transitional assistance and lived through the years thinking there was something wrong with them.  Trauma can’t be ignored, and you can’t get stuck in it, either.

Reliving trauma is expected, but struggling with it shouldn’t be.  There is help, and I can admit that my profession is getting better at helping you with recovery.  Don’t try to forget it, learn to manage it in a way that makes your future as bright as you want it to be.  It’s all part of being happy, for life.