The events that have unfolded in the past few days have caused trauma to us all – to those in Boston and to those all across the United States. What was a lovely spring day at the Boston marathon turned into a traumatic event.
But how do you heal from these events?
When an individual undergoes a trauma, each component of their ordinary response to danger continues to occur in an altered state for a long time after any actual danger is over. Individuals experience profound and lasting changed in their psychological arousal, memory, cognition, and emotion. For a long time after the trauma occurs, the individual does not feel safe.
These symptoms you feel could include:
- intense fear
- panic disorders
- attachment disorders
- loss of control
Sometimes panic, anger, flashbacks, and anxiety may contribute to these symptoms.Traumatic reactions occur when the individual is exposed to a situation that threatens the wellbeing or life of that individual or another. In such situations when an individual is unable to either escape or resist, their system of self-defense becomes disorganized and overwhelmed.
Although traumatic events can be quite terrible and the emotional damage caused from them can be quite overwhelming, healing is possible. A traumatized individual will require comfort, acceptance, reassurance, and a nonjudgmental listening ear. They must feel safe and have an understanding that the way they are feeling is completely normal for what they have been through.
The following action steps can help individuals to overcome trauma:
1.) Understand the nature of the trauma. If it can be remembered, talk about what happened. Do so gently and do not allow for any denial. Although the memories are very painful, discuss them with honesty. Try talking with a friend, a counselor, or in a support group and choose what is right for you. Understand that you didn’t deserve or cause what has happened to you and that depending on the type of trauma you have experienced, you may have to make some changes in your life in order to not be hurt again.
2.) Express the feelings. Express whatever your true feelings are regarding your traumatic experience. Whether it be anger, grief, or sadness, let it out.
3.) Know that you will heal. Your healing will come with time and help. Engage in the process of healing either through group or individual counseling.
4.) Know that you will be victorious. You will not only heal from your trauma, but you will triumph over it. Think about the positive strengths that will come out of the healing process. Know that in time you will be able to forgive and will be set free from the pain. Most importantly, realize that someday you will be able to help and comfort those who have experienced similar traumas.
The events that occurred are a terrible tragedy, but we as a city – we as Boston – will overcome these events.