Below, are the messages I made for myself, to remind myself of all I knew, learned and believed that I could not remember when triggered, terrified or knee-deep in a trauma reaction.
I hope they hope.
List of Helpful Reminders
- I’m safe even though I’m scared out of my freakin mind (and body).
- I can bear this and it will pass. The feeling that I can’t stand this feeling IS a feeling related to trauma and if I can tolerate and bear it. It will pass, eventually, though never as quickly as I want.
- I matter and it’s o.k. that I use oxygen and water. This feeling that I am a blight on the universe, a suck-fest of misery and a negative yuck ball is 1)not true and 2)feels true and 3)is a trauma-related message.
- This makes sense, even if no one else gets it right now, including me.
- I can better understand PTSD. Support is nice but some people don’t understand PTSD because they don’t have it, don’t want to understand or are simply living their own lives. But this is mine and I have to deal with this. The more I understand, learn, get whatever supports me, the better I will feel and the fuller my life will be. It’s o.k. to be spending time this way. This is the current reality of my reality. Even if I wish it weren’t so. It is. But this will pass.
- I believe and support me. It would have been wonderful to be flowered with empathy and concern. It would be fabulous to be believed and supported (in the past or during a flare up) but I can’t control others. I can control myself. Ignore the anger, fear, criticism or annoyance of others, or myself, and support and believe that I believe and support me. And I deserve my own high regard. Even when I feel like I don’t.
- This feeling won’t kill me even though it feels like I’m running for my life.
- The feeling that it will never get better and I’ve been ruined by trauma is a symptom not an insight. The tough it out messages that maybe got you through trauma don’t always help now – even if they came from me. It may have helped me cope but it doesn’t mean it’s the best way to respond to my pain. If I were comforting someone else I wouldn’t be mean, nasty, critical and blaming. I would be kind, patient and gentle. Almost always. I can at least attempt this approach with myself. Compassion for myself has never made me feel worse. Never. Not once.
- Don’t become one with a box of Saltines. Or, if you do, try to eat less than last time. (fill in your numbing agent of choice to stay away from or limit)
You can add to this list, copy and paste it and edit as you like. If there’s a book quote, a song or a photo or image that centers you, put it some place you can find, EASILY. When you are in PTSD overwhelm it’s harder to be resourceful and organized and centered.
If you can think about what has soothed you in the past, there is a good chance the same and similar things will work now. Try to provide as much gentle nurturing to yourself as possible.
This is a fleeting experience even if it feels it’s lasted too long already. It will pass. The feeling that it will never get better is a feeling. Not a pleasant one. But a feeling.
Try to take a breathe. Take a few more.
If you can put your feet right down on the ground and wiggle your toes, try that.
If you are in need of more inspiration, keep searching until you find it.