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Dianna De La Garza Shares She Used to Fear Picking Up the Phone After Demi Lovato's Overdose

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If you’ve ever lost (or have almost lost) a loved one, you might relate to how distressing receiving phone calls can feel. Even if a phone call turns out to be an “ordinary” call, when you know a family member is sick and will soon pass away, or a friend has attempted suicide before, hearing the phone ring can often set off a panic response in your body and mind.

This is a fear mother Diana De La Garza grappled with after her daughter Demi Lovato almost died by drug overdose last July. In addition to her daughter’s overdose, De La Garza told Us Weekly she lost five close family members within the span of a year, and felt afraid every time the phone rang.

“Through therapy, I was able to work around that fear in order to help me move forward in life and not get stuck in that fear,” De La Garza said.

Fear responses like these are common for trauma survivors. In addition to fear, trauma survivors may also experience flashbacks when presented with triggers (like phone calls) that remind them of a traumatic experience.

A flashback is the state of re-experiencing a traumatic event that has occurred in the past, often through mental pictures or emotions.

In her piece, “12 Life-Impacting Symptoms Complex PTSD Survivors Endure,” Mighty contributor Lilly Hope Lucario explained what it’s like to experience an emotional flashback. She wrote:

Emotional flashbacks… are where emotions from the past are triggered. Often the survivor does not understand these intense emotions are flashbacks, and it appears the survivor is being irrationally emotional. When I learned about emotional flashbacks, it was a huge lightbulb moment of finally understanding why I have intense emotions, when they do not reflect the issue occurring now, but are in fact emotions felt during the trauma, being triggered.

In addition to therapy, De La Garza credits her faith and healthy lifestyle habits in helping her move forward despite her fears of losing another loved one. De La Garza said:

Things have happened to us and our lives where I could always be worried that something could happen again, but that’s where therapy and staying healthy, working out … and our faith in God, all work together to keep us from being scared of that… If you stay too much in fear, then you’re not going to be able to move forward from things that have happened.

If you’ve lost — or nearly lost — a loved one, you’re not alone, and there is support available. If you’re struggling, we encourage you to download the free Mighty app to get support 24/7 from folks in our Mighty community who can relate.

For more resources on coping with grief and suicide loss, check out the following stories.

Header image via Diana De La Garza Twitter and Demi Lovato Facebook page

Originally published: April 25, 2019
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