Trauma Blog #4: Moving Forward
While dealing with trauma I came to a point where I realized it was necessary for me to move beyond coping and surviving; I needed to focus on my personal goals and thrive.
But I was in a rut of depression, behavioral issues, isolation and traumatic stress. I, like many other people, learned to cope with stress and trauma using detrimental methods like junk food and drugs. It's no secret that there is a rather-large health problem in this country, and individuals as well as groups deal with stress and traumas in unhealthy ways.
Though that is the case, I've found it crucial to change my bad habits and replace them with healthy ones. My mentality is this: I was harmed by traumatic events, I am traumatized--so why not be kind to myself and be as healthy as possible? My body and mind deserve to be treated well, especially after a violent-trauma.
Sounds easy enough, but we all know breaking bad habits and replacing them with healthy ones is often a daunting, tumultuous task for some individuals. Indeed, it took me two years of harm reduction and serious psychological-work on myself to get to the point I'm at now. Along the way, I ran into hurdles--both physical and mental.
One of the challenges I faced was trying to be perfect. I wanted to be perfectly-healthy immediately, making no mistakes and doing nothing wrong. OF course, when I found myself back-tracking or struggling with my bad habits, I added undue pressure on myself trying to be perfect. This left me spiraling and I would land back at square one, sometimes worse off than before I started. Then one day I realized that I didn't need to be perfect, just better. I made small changes and stopped being hard on myself if I made a mistake. Each time I used a healthy coping mechanism instead of an unhealthy one, I felt a little stronger and more in control.
As I continued re-habituating and changing my lifestyle, I found that I learned to like healthier coping methods over unhealthy ones. I felt better and my behavior was better. I got more energy and learned new skills; I found I had more time and my focus was sharper. Eventually I gained mostly-positive associations with healthy activities and aversions to unhealthy habits I had in the past. Health and wellness became my new "normal", so to speak. Indeed, it was a dramatic change that took many months, and I can't even say I'm totally-done with this part of my journey.
Of course, I still struggle with intense stress and pain; there's no magic-cure-all for trauma, that's why I just call it "coping". However, my experience has taught me that it is more valuable to choose healthy coping strategies over those bad stand-by habits. In the beginning of this process, I'll admit I had to think tirelessly to convince myself to change. I gave-in many times, but I kept going and things changed for the better.
After this change, I find myself ready to start "thriving". Before all this trauma, I had many ambitions and goals I was working on. Taking a break was helpful and recognizing my pain was helpful, but I am ready to move forward.
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