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You might wonder why people behave or act the way they do. People are often the way they are because of past horrific traumatic events they experienced. Memories or reminders of the event feel them with horror and dread and they can be traumatized by the stress. Traumatizing experiences can shape our thoughts, behaviors and emotions and can affect the way you view things.

People may find it difficult to have a normal life free from the stress and fear they will experience the event again. For example, a person who had a traumatizing experience in a past relationship may find it difficult to trust someone in a new relationship.

As a 14-year-old passenger in a vehicle driven by my brother, I was involved in a head-on collision. My injuries were so serious that the doctors gave me a fifty-fifty chance of surviving. For years, I was traumatized by the event. I had nightmares of being involved in another head-on collision. It wasn’t until later in my adult life that I felt comfortable enough to ride in a vehicle that I wasn’t driving.

Below are some suggestions for coping with traumatic stress:

  • Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Repetitious thinking or viewing horrific images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system, making it harder to think clearly. Partake in activities that keep your mind occupied (read, watch a movie, cook, play with your kids), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to the traumatic event.
  • Ignoring your feelings will slow recovery. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you’re paying attention to them or not. Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you fell.
  • Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. After a disaster, getting back as much as possible to your normal routine, will help you minimize traumatic stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Even if your work or school routine is disrupted, you can structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, and relaxing.
  • There is no right or wrong way to respond to traumatic stress. We are all different, so don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.

Life comes, and it goes quickly. Notice how with each year passing the next year seems shorter. So, don’t let life pass you by. Enjoy it while you can. If you think positive, you will lessen your stress. Never Give Up! Never Give Up! Never Give Up!

 

By Chaplain Ghosten
chaplain@lhp.net