How to Live a Healthy Life in the Aftermath of Trauma
I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in my lifetime. The one good thing was that it didn’t hit my life until I was twenty years old. I guess I got lucky that way. But in other ways, not so lucky. Once it started, it wouldn’t let up.
At 20, I experienced a traumatic brain injury that caused post-traumatic epilepsy. I had seizures until my neurologist finally decreed that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life. That medication, four different ones so far, has been difficult to manage at times, causing further medical trauma. Amidst the limitations of my physical body, I’ve experienced stranger rape and abuse in relationships. Fun times.
Without going into more detail, I think you get the point. Many of us deal with significant trauma from our past. Of all different varieties. Many of us grapple with post-traumatic stress disorder, if not the actual diagnosis then several of the symptoms. If you do, or have in the past, you know there is no cure. No magic pill. No vaccine. (Could you imagine?!)
But post-traumatic stress can be managed.
I’m stubborn to a fault. I did not get treatment for my PTSD symptoms. I didn’t even know that’s what I had. I knew I had something, but I also kept telling myself, and everyone around me, that I was fine. I wasn’t.
In 2011, when I moved from Pennsylvania to California, I started working in the mental health field. I led groups, provided individual counseling, helped clients understand their need for healthy coping skills as opposed to unhealthy ones, and in the process, I realized that I’d been using my own coping techniques to deal with my mental health issues. Some definitely were not healthy.
As I was guiding and teaching others, I learned how to work on myself. I became proficient at a repertoire of healthy coping skills, minimized my unhealthy ones, especially by being aware of them, and ended up being even more efficient at helping others do the same as I was putting my own skills into practice.