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6 Things to Remind Yourself During Trauma Recovery

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I often find myself to be my own worst critic, especially when I’m deep in my recovery and my anxiety becomes another monster entirely. Sometimes it feels like no matter what I do, I can’t win. It’s a discouraging feeling. I’ve questioned my worth and my ability to bounce back from the grips of my depression and anxiety so many times.

• What is PTSD?

“You know yourself better than anyone and you’ve been through this before, so why isn’t anything working? Do I deserve to get better? Do I deserve to feel this way? Is there even a point to any of this?”

A piece of advice I always give to the people I work with is, “Be kind to yourself and recognize that what you’re going through right now does not define you.” Most days, it’s hard for me to take my own advice. I think a lot of people can resonate with that. So here’s a list of gentle reminders that I think you should hear.

  1. There is no time frame for healing. Many months of my recovery have been spent being crushed by the weight of expectations on the time frame of how fast I “should” heal. Just know that as long as you are doing everything you can to live a full life, that’s what matters. That’s what we’re all doing in life. You are doing what you can at this exact moment in time and that’s enough. That’s OK.
  2. Just because some people may exit your life in times of crisis doesn’t mean you’re unlovable or unfixable. You may get discouraged by learning the difference between reacting and responding, but you’re not fighting for others; you’re fighting for your own recovery. Don’t subject yourself to the microaggressions that come with the stigma. The amount of time I’ve wasted fixating on those who do nothing but cast judgment and doubt is just more time I could have taken for myself. The stigma of recovery is real and nobody gives you a handbook on how to navigate it. Create your own “handbook” and share it to your loved ones. If those around you do not take advantage of the tools you’ve given and the patience that you ask for, that is not your fault. Even if you only have one person who hasn’t left your side throughout the absolute hellfire, then that is one good person.
  3. You are not your past. You are not your experiences. Don’t let judgment become reality by allowing negativity to fuel your anxiety and isolation. Believe in yourself because you’ve gotten this far. I am not my trauma and the immensity of my struggles do not equate to my worth. It’s hard for those with no personal experience to conceptualize the toll that a traumatic event can take on your mind and body. But that does not mean that’s all your life consists of. It may feel like that for a while, but I promise you, it gets better. It always does. It’s all about progress and meeting yourself where you’re at.
  4. Making mistakes makes you human. I’ve lost so many hours of sleep going over every single mistake I’ve made all the way back in middle school, thinking about what I could’ve done differently and what went wrong in the first place. It’s important to find a balance between taking responsibility of your actions, being gentle with yourself and reminding yourself that everyone in this world has made a mistake at one point in their life because nobody is flawless. Playing the “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” game will not aid you in moving forward, rather keep you moving side to side. What matters most is what you choose to take from that experience, and how you mold it into a stepping stone toward contributing what you’ve learned to your future self. There is no shame in admitting your wrongdoings. In fact, making amends can provide a sense of relief that can also help you push forward toward your personal goals.
  5. If something that previously helped you is no longer helpful, find an alternative. It can be incredibly frustrating to constantly adapt to external triggers in your surroundings, but it’s important to check in with yourself to recognize what you have control to change, the things you can’t and the ability to know the difference. In 12-step meetings, that phrase is often called the Serenity Prayer and it holds a lot of value. If there’s a coping skill that you’ve outgrown, identify the purpose of it and the outcome it has. You know yourself better than anyone else does.
  6. Recovery is worth it and so are you. Recovery is one of the hardest things to persevere sometimes, but if you’re reading this right now and you’re feeling lost or alone, you are doing everything you can right at this moment and that’s what matters. It’s hard to navigate most days when you’re impacted deeply by your past. Be gentle with yourself, especially regarding your challenges. Regardless of how anyone else feels or makes you feel, choose recovery. Choose happiness. Choose love and acceptance and all the positive supports you can immerse yourself with. Wave goodbye in your rear view mirror to any doubt or negativity while you face forward and make strides in your recovery. You’ve survived every single one of your bad days so far; you will make it through this, too.

Unsplash via Dawid Zawila

Originally published: October 15, 2018
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