“Holding yourself accountable for someone else hurting you, only continues the hurting long after the hurting is done.”
There is a common thread that plagues victims of traumatic events: self-blame. So what causes self-blame, and why is it so common for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to experience this coping mechanism? The belief that we had control or we could have had power is the explanation that we give ourselves. We think we can prevent future traumas from happening if only we try harder next time.
Self-blame is a way that one may express their shame after a traumatic event has occurred. At times, when the victim of abuse reports the incident, they may feel a sense of self-blame for “ruining” the other person’s life or for how it affects their friends and family. But self-blame doesn’t have to be a part of your life — there are plenty of self-help resources that you can use instead to cope with a PTSD diagnosis.
Increasing Positive Lifestyle Choices
Instead of choosing to eat that donut for breakfast or fast-food burger for lunch, try opting for something healthier such as a salad or fruit. When you notice your PTSD symptoms worsening, take some time to go for a walk around the block — this is a great way to trick your brain into thinking you’re abiding by its flight-or-fight method of protection.
You can also try journaling all of the ways you are feeling throughout the day. Jot down when your mood shifts, when you’re feeling symptoms, when good things happen, and when not-so-good things happen. Journaling is an excellent, healthy emotional release that allows you to track your mood patterns and habits.
Joining a Support Group
Scientific studies have proven that the response to seeking help for those diagnosed with PTSD mirrors those diagnosed with anxiety. Finding a group of people online or in your community with similar experiences and success stories could be an excellent way for you to gain positive feedback, make new friends, and learn new tools to use when you have episodes of PTSD. Find a safe space to talk about the things that you want to discuss and receive input in a non-judgmental and supportive environment.
Mindfulness and Breathing
Practice your ability to enjoy all that you have in the present moment. Acknowledge the weather, take in the environment that surrounds you, focus on your existence, and then focus on your breathing. Try box breathing — breathe in for 3 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds, breathe out for 3 seconds, wait for 3 seconds, and repeat until your PTSD or panic episode is over. Focusing on your ability to control yourself and your thoughts can ground you in times of personal unrest. Being able to retreat to this grounded mindset can help even further.
Regaining the Present Moment
After a nightmare that takes you back to the event, it might be alarming when you realize that it was only a dream. The Department of Veteran Affairs recommends getting out of bed, walking around, grabbing a glass of water, noticing your surroundings, and bringing yourself back to the present moment. Try calling a friend if you can, or try a soothing activity such as listening to calming music.
Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine when you wake up from a nightmare as they each make it difficult to fall back asleep. Recovery is an ongoing, daily process that cannot be fixed overnight. Healing from the trauma you experienced does not mean that you have forgotten the trauma. In moments when your PTSD bombards you, remind yourself that it is pure memory, and you are not currently in that situation.
The emotions that you experience are natural responses to trauma. So try to partake in activities that bring you joy. This could mean a daily run, a group that meets for breakfast once a week, or a picnic in the park. You must find coping mechanisms that work for you and implement them into your everyday routine.
Don’t be discouraged if specific coping mechanisms don’t work for you. Be aware that there will be some activities you strongly dislike — but this should not stop you from finding things that work for you and give you positive tools to use when your PTSD comes around.
If you or someone you love suffers from PTSD, Achieve Concierge can help. Our expert clinicians use a combination of medication and psychotherapy to relieve PTSD symptoms and teach patients how to cope with these feelings and memories. Our goal is to treat the entire person, body, mind, and spirit to deliver long-term results. To learn more, call us today at (619) 393-5871.