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AOC Reminds Us All That Taking a Break After Experiencing Trauma Is OK

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently revealed that she has been going to therapy, citing the violence of the capitol riot as the catalyst that led her to seek help. “After the 6th, I took some time and it was really Ayanna Pressley when I explained to her what happened to me, like the day of, because I ran to her office, and she was like, ‘You need to recognize trauma. And this is something that you went through, but we’re all going through. And it’s really important to pause after that, because that’s how you process it.'” AOC stated.

This narrative is a familiar one to many who have experienced trauma. It’s not uncommon to feel like the world is just going too fast to keep up after a traumatic experience, and it’s OK to need to take a break. This is especially relevant now, as so many have experienced significant trauma throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and while things are beginning to open back up, that doesn’t mean we all have to be back to normal.

AOC sets a good example by speaking to someone she trusted about what she was experiencing, taking some time to slow down and take a break, recognizing when she needed to seek additional support– and getting the help that she needs. As Representative Ayanna Pressley explained to AOC, it’s nearly impossible to process the trauma one has endured when you’re still living life at the same pace; you have all of this stuff to process now and it’s unrealistic if you’re expecting yourself to move on at the same pace as if nothing had ever happened.

While many may be eager to jump back into a sense of normalcy after months of constant distress, others may need to set some time apart from the distance forced by the pandemic to take care of themselves, and that’s OK. People who experienced complications of COVID-19 and their loved ones, individuals who lost someone to COVID-19, those who were high-risk, and many healthcare providers, in addition to minoritized groups and other individuals, likely experienced a constant state of distress throughout the past year, and it’s important to take the time to recognize and acknowledge that and how it impacted you.

If you didn’t find the COVID-19 pandemic personally traumatizing, chances are you know someone who did, so here are some things you can do to help: reach out and check in, ask them how they’re doing, offer to help by making a meal or taking something else off their plate, or help them by sharing resources like therapists in the area who are able to offer more support.

At the end of the day, we’ve all been through a lot over the past year, and it’s OK if we need some time to process it all before we go back to the way things were, and it’s also OK if we feel like our lives will never be exactly the same. Even with taking time to process and heal, COVID-19 has certainly left a lasting impression on many that will not be soon forgotten.

Lead image courtesy of PEOPLE.

Originally published: May 25, 2021
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