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Mental Health,  Uncategorized

The Choices We Make After Experiencing Trauma

When trauma occurs in our lives, it cracks us open and makes vulnerable. This level of vulnerability can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable… and in this moment, that’s exactly how I feel.

Pain. Discomfort. Anger. Frustration. Anxiety.

I can feel this way while also holding onto the belief that there’s strength in vulnerability. If I’m going to write about mental health and refer to myself as a mental health advocate, then I damn well better practice what I preach. Throughout my life, writing has served as a helpful tool in dealing with pain and trauma, which is why I tend to journal and blog more frequently during dark days. There’s a purging, of sorts, that comes with moving thoughts onto the page.

I won’t go into detail about what happened, but I will say that I recently lost someone who I loved, and it happened in an incredibly tragic and trauma-inducing way. The important thing now is to focus on my mental health, healing, and overall well-being. And if my writing can help someone else in the process, then that’s my motivation for sharing.

In every moment of our lives, we have choices… and during grief, easy choices – the ones we make without conscious thought – can become difficult. Like getting out of bed in the morning. Going to work. Grocery shopping. Interacting with people. Exercising. In this ultra raw and vulnerable state, everything is harder. It’s possible to burst into tears at any moment. Or experience bouts of anger (I literally had to put myself in check the other day, after snapping at a nice, elderly yoga teacher, whom I still owe an apology).

With that said, we can also make the choice to give ourselves grace. The outside world doesn’t know what’s happening in our minds and hearts, and it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. It’s also ok to sit in the sadness for a little while. But please don’t sit in it alone. Or for too long. I’ve made that mistake before, and it led me to a clinical depression diagnosis years ago. I was much younger then, and I didn’t have the tools, the inner strength, or the self awareness that I have today.

These are some choices that I’m personally making right now:

Exercise. A lot. Even if I cry during my workouts.
Therapy. Even if talking about what happened hurts.
Clean Eating. Even if I don’t want to food shop or cook. Or when pizza sounds better.
Write. Even if my thoughts feel disorganized and the writing is bad.
Ask for Support. Even when I feel like I’m making my family and friends uncomfortable.
Practice Self Awareness. Even when I’m having panic attacks and feel out of control.
Limit Alcohol Intake. 2 drink max/ no liquor, and no more than two days a week. Even when I’m deep in conversation and another drink sounds like a good idea.
Make Art. Even when “I don’t have time.”
Meditate. Even when it feels annoying and hard.
Give Myself Grace. Even when I’m mean to nice old yoga ladies.

Going through grief and trauma SUCKS. No one wants to experience or deal with these feelings and emotions… which is probably why so many people say “therapy isn’t for me.” I get it. I left my counseling session the other day feeling frustrated because it’s not a quick fix. I’ll be back again on Friday, though, because I know I’ll be stronger when I come out on the other side of this.

Pain doesn’t go away because we hide it, and unhealthy vices like alcohol and drugs only make things worse. Which isn’t to say that temporary, doctor-prescribed medication to assist with trauma is a bad thing. It’s not. There’s just a massive distinction between that and self medicating to mask pain.

I don’t have all the answers. But I’m doing the best I can, and I’ll keep writing about it.

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