Community

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Community is important. The effects of having community is so important when you are going through. How do you respond with support when your friends have things that are going on in their lives? Or, do you respond at all? Is your responding more of staying away so that their situation doesn’t become contagious?

This poem “Community” reflects just that. It makes you contemplate responding in support to our dear friends, as well as brothers and sisters in Christ during their time of need.

Community

How do you become his hands and his feet,

When others are crying and grieving knee-deep.

Do you give them a call, a prayer, a word?

Or tell them “hold on” like they never have heard?

Do you bring them a meal, some flowers, a hug?

Or give them more burdens and trauma to lug?

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Photo by Nicole De Khors

Just hold fast to God’s unchanging hand.

When we’re bearing those burdens.

Give safe places to land.

Other poetry

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The Holiday Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Christmas, holiday, Thanksgiving, emotional health, mental health, anxiety, holiday aspect, living with and healing from trauma, blogger, podcaster, speaker, writer, blog

Background on The Holiday Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

About a month ago, I discussed The Flashback/Images/Nightmare Aspect of Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  You can find that post here.  Today, I will discuss The Holiday Aspect of Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.

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The Holiday Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

 

Holiday time can be tough in general.  Let alone, if the holiday time is when you experienced a series of events that led to PTSD/trauma.  When the holidays come around, it can feel like you are reliving these events.  This is because the energy from them are still residing in our bodies.

The holiday season of 2012 is when a great majority of the trauma that my kids and I experienced in the last six years took place.  It started a little before Thanksgiving, and reached its peak right after New Year’s Day.  Almost daily, emotionally draining activities and sabotage were done to myself and the kids in order for me to put him out, so that he wouldn’t have to be the “bad guy” who left us.

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The peak was a fake-suicide stunt with my ex-husband starting up the car with the garage door down, and the engine running.  It was a last attempt to pull me back in emotionally, and to get me back to being the person that was a doormat/enabler, with low self-worth.

God had already begun to work a miracle in my life six months prior to this event, and so this “doormat” person was not there anymore.  It was God’s grace that I went downstairs to check the garage, or this fake suicide stunt could have killed all of us.  The kids were sleeping upstairs at the time.

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Ever since then, the holiday time has been painful, and a time that I struggle.  It has gotten better in some areas, and worse in others.

The first holiday season (2013) after my ex-husband left, was very difficult because I wasn’t able to tolerate any Christmas music or movies.  A friend of mine dropped me off at the grocery store, and she waited outside for me.  I had to pick up a few items.  I remember Christmas music playing on the radio, and literally feeling trapped.  The reaction to the music surprised me.  Before I knew it, I was caught up in the “Overwhelmed Aspect”.  An explanation of that aspect can be found here.

I quickly found the items that I needed, and got out of the store as fast as I could.  This continued being my normal for the first year.  A few weeks after that, the church that I was attending for Divorce Care offered a session for dealing with grief during the holidays.  I gladly signed up for the class.  We discussed all the practical unexpected things that could happen during the holidays, and how to handle them.

I can listen to more Christmas music now than before.  I can also watch Holiday movies, with breaks in between for some of them.  It is almost like the smell outside and the feel in the air knows it’s November, and then the trauma aspect kicks in for me.  Down below, I have listed some things to help you ease through the holiday aspect of living with trauma during this season.

 

Self-Help for Making it Through The Holiday Aspect

Take advantage of the community that God has given you.  Talk to friends on the phone.  Have a girls’ or guys’ movie night.  A month ago, me and my friends got together to watch a home movie in front of the fireplace.  It was a wonderful time of eating, fellowship, and laughs.  When you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need something to help lift your emotions.

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Therapy.  This therapy could involve going to see your therapist, writing in your journal, poetry, painting, or cooking.  There are several activities that allow us to be creative and are therapeutic at the same time.

Movement.  Give your body the gift of movement.  When you exercise, the blood and oxygen starts flowing, and the natural feel-good hormones rise to the surface.  I like going for a walk, even if it’s cold, just to make my adrenal glands happy, and feel refreshed at the same time.  I also like dancing to 70s’ and 80s’ music and walking the stairs for a certain amount of time to get my heart pumping.

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Doses of Music, Movies, Etc.  Try to allow yourself to watch or listen to music, movies, etc. a little at a time in order to build up resilience.  Everyone is different.  I found that when I tried to ban everything, it only made the trauma worse, so I introduced a little bit at a time.  I am still in the process of giving myself little doses here and there.

Self-Care.  Practice self-care by trying to get enough sleep, rest, and food as possible.  Taking  your vitamins and drinking herbal tea can be relaxing.  It might be a time to take get bloodwork done to see if your vitamin D is low, since we are in the winter months, and there is less sunshine.

Prayer.  Ask others for prayer, and lift yourself up in prayer as well.  Listening to uplifting Christian music can be comforting and minister to your soul.

Send some comments to let me know what you use to get through the holiday aspect of trauma.

Prayers for you and your family as you march through this season!

Katina

The Blackout Aspect: Living With and Healing From Trauma on a Daily Basis

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Dissecting the Blackout

A couple of weeks ago, we focused on the shame aspect of trauma.  You can find that discussion:   “The Shame Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis” here.  Today, we will discuss the blackout aspect of trauma.

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What is the blackout aspect of trauma?  The blackout aspect of trauma consists of several different things.  First of all, not everyone, but for some people living with PTSD/trauma, there is something that happens with your body’s sense of being able to handle the transition between light and dark if that makes sense.  For myself, it was so significant that at first, I had to have a lot of lights on in the house.  If I didn’t, I would feel like the darkness was closing in on me.

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Old Experience with Blackout

When my kids and I were homeless, and waiting for God to give us a place to live, one of my friends took us in for five weeks.  At this time, my issue with blackout was so bad, that the darkness made me scared to fall asleep.  I would wake up in a panic, and have to calm myself down so that I could feel rested.  I felt like I had gone from a forty something year old woman to a child afraid of the dark again.  So, not only was it scary, but I was filled with shame.

New Experience with Blackout

What I noticed the situation is now, is that I have such a sensitivity to light, that I have to have it completely dark in order to fall asleep.  If there is any light coming in from the blinds, I know I am going to have trouble falling asleep.  If I don’t have the light blocking my face, even if I’ve had 8 hours of sleep, I will have extreme layers of bags under my eyes that will look like I haven’t slept in days.  Also, my whole body will be in an extreme case of exhaustion.

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Two years ago, I had to serve at the concession stand at church for basketball season.  It was a pretty gloomy day in general, and since it was early evening when I got dropped off at the church, it was even darker.  I stepped into the church’s kitchen to begin my serving shift, when everything started closing in on me.

My old techniques were immediate panic, but right then, I reminded myself of where I was, that it would eventually stop, and that engaging in conversation with others around me would help me to get grounded in the present moment.  I would just have to ride it out.

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When is the blackout aspect really bad?  This is during the time where there is changing of the seasons, especially when it starts getting darker closer to winter.

I do a better job of handling it now, but in the beginning, it really rattled me to be honest.  Feel free to drop a line in regards to your blackout aspect, and how you handle it.

 

God bless and have a wonderful weekend.

The Changing Seasons Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Background Story

Last week, we discussed the Regulating Emotions Aspect of trauma.  That post can be found here. We are starting another season, and along with changing seasons comes another issue: a ton of grief.  Thus, this week’s discussion:  The Changing Seasons Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  For some reason, when you are living with and healing from PTSD/trauma on a daily basis, the grief from the changing of seasons comes with the territory.  It usually takes about a good month of the season setting in before the grief eases up.

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Analysis of the Grief

Unfortunately, when this happens it is usually not just one thing that you are grieving about.  The changing of the seasons can take you through literally a good 15 to 20 different things from over the years that may have been done in that season.  The best thing to do when this happens, is to allow the grief to come out.  Holding it in only leads to more problems.  The hard part about this particular time is that a lot of the grief feels raw.  Even though you may feel like you are going backwards because of this rawness, you’re actually not.  It’s one of the those that we have to ride out, just like the other trauma symptoms.

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When the grief is this intense, I find it helpful to release from my stomach going upwards, if that makes any sense.  What happens with trauma, is that the trauma and emotions get stuck somewhere inside of your body.  When it is this hard and heavy, it is usually in the stomach area.

Self-Help

It wasn’t until I had enough courage to start releasing the grief that I understood the meaning of what one of my friends said.  We were discussing grief one day, and she told me that her grief was always trapped in the midway point of her face.  Some of the things that may help you out during this time are:

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  1. praying
  2. reading Psalms
  3. talking to a friend
  4. going to therapy
  5. listening to music
  6. taking a walk
  7. journaling
  8. painting
  9. giving yourself grace
  10. learning something new

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Devotion: 6 Ways to Help Someone Grieving or Going Through Trauma

No matter who we are, at some time or another, we are going to experience grief in our lifetime.  Some of us will not only experience grief, but we will experience traumatic events as well.  There is no way to prepare for trauma.  It sneaks upon you out of nowhere, like an ambush.  Grief can be this way as well.  You are not prepared for either of these happening, and you don’t know when the symptoms will occur.  I can remember times that I was in the grocery store, and I felt like grief was going to overtake me in the aisle.  The symptoms of grief are different for everyone.  Some of them may be:

 

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  • irritability
  • regurgitation
  • digestion problems
  • inability to stop crying
  • denial
  • magical thinking
  • physical pain and eye troubles

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Job experienced trauma and grief.  He lost everything that he owned in no time:  everything and everyone except his wife.  For some reason, ever since I was a child, I marveled over how there was always one person who was able to come back and relay the news to Job about the next devastation that hit him.  I have been there with Job.  When you get to the point of such compounded trauma, you just end up numbing out.  Your brain just can’t seem to handle it all.  Job’s friends came to support him, and they were fine until they opened their mouth.  God ended up reprimanding them for going on and on to Job with wild explanations for his “suffering”: After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7, NLT 

 

Here are six tips to take to heart if we know someone who is suffering from grief or trauma.

1.  Words and Physical Touch:  Express to your friends or loved ones how much you love them with words or giving them a hug.  If you are not sure of what to say, then just sit with them and say nothing.  Sometimes we say the wrong things without realizing it, even if they are true.  As Christians, we do know that if that person was saved, they will be in heaven with Jesus.  However, it is still hard sometimes for this reality to be of comfort to a person.  It is also hard for people to wrap their minds around the fact  that the person is no longer suffering.  It is still a loss to that person.  Sometimes it is better to remind a person that you will be praying for them.

2.  Meals:  Offer to bring meals over, as well as setup a mealtrain with the small groups at church, as well as the neighborhood friends.

3.  Calls and Errands:  Offer to run errands or make calls to family members, friends, and churches to inform them of the death.  Sometimes when we are in such shock, your focus and memory is off.  If the person has a phone book or contact list, it would be nice to go through the list and call each person.

4.  Babysit:  Suggest taking the kids for a few hours so that the person has time to process and grieve what has happened without having to stuff their pain and scare their children.  This is especially helpful if the children are young.  

5.  Pamper:  Treat your friend or loved one to something that would make them feel good:  getting a facial, mani-pedi, beauty or  barber shop appointment, or a nice outfit.

Have a blessed night!

Katina

The Fear Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

For the next two weeks, I am going to do a quick series on the ins and outs of living with trauma on a daily basis.  I am not sure how many of you have dealt with trauma in the past or present, however, it is something that is more prevalent than one may think, and a lot of fears have trauma at the root of it. 

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Women at 10.4 %, are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD.  About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.  I have been living with trauma all my life, unbeknownst to me. 

What I didn’t realize is that a lot of my trauma manifested itself as fear during my younger years.  After having compounded trauma within the last six and a half years, this fear effect gets multiplied.  Unfortunately, when this happens, we can definitely pray, and start to take deep breaths to help ourselves calm down.  However, the fear is so strong, that you would think that you are in an all out fight for your life.  The fear gets multiplied by fifty.

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About three years ago, my kids were at youth group at church, and a tornado swept through parts of the town where I lived, along with some of the other nearby towns.  I was at home by myself.  Praise God for community!  My friends and I texted and called one another to make sure that everyone was okay.  This discussion took place as I stood in the bathroom with the door closed, begging God for the weather to pass over.  

My mother called to check on me since she heard that the tornado was headed our way.  I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was nervous.  I called the kids at church, and they stated that one of the youth leaders, who was a fireman, told them where to go, and what to do.  I knew that they would be fine, but I kept wondering if I would be okay.  The townhome that I was living in was surrounded by large evergreens on all sides.  I kept thinking to myself, if they were just here, then I would be okay.

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Deep down, I knew that my kids couldn’t control God’s weather.  However, I knew that it would make the out of control fear that trauma had placed on me to loosen up.  I shifted between being okay, and feeling like my whole entire body had been tied up because my muscles were so tense.

Thank God that the weather did let up.  The tornado didn’t hit my side of town, but it did hit all around the church.  God protected the church.  All the while, as I stood there in that bathroom, God had praise music going in my head.  I knew that it was his sign that everything would be okay.  However, because of the fear from trauma, I must be honest, my body was saying a different story.  My kids made it home safely that night, and it was just another testament to God’s faithfulness, as trees had been knocked down everywhere from the tornado.

Have a blessed night!

Katina

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23, NLT