How can I better cope with holidays if I suffer from the soul wounds of PTSD?
We recognize that PTSD is often made worse in the holidays. Our sense of anger, loss, relationship troubles, you name it, are often exacerbated. Holiday stress heightens the PTSD Identity and we may engage in unfortunate behaviors to cope.
Your Mileage May Vary! Below are some secular – no spirituality necessary! – suggestions for coping with PTSD in the holidays. Mind you that your mileage may vary. That is to say, these techniques may work for me and for others, but not for you. Part of the aim here is to provide ways to break the PTSD cycle of using poor behaviors to cope with PTSD symptoms.
If one can be distracted from the PTSD anxieties then they are less likely to damage their souls through poor coping skill, i.e., self-destructive behaviors. Other suggestions are more than simply distractions and actually are soul nourishing. If the soul is nourished, then PTSD loosens its grip upon you.
1. Talk to someone you can trust. Talking to someone can be very healing. In the case of PTSD it is important that the individual be someone you can trust. If a person has earned the reputation of a gossip or as selfish, then telling them something so deeply personal and real is not advisable.
But, if it is someone you can trust, then it is like having a weight lifted off your shoulders to be able to talk about a memory, an action, or how much you feel oppressed by the phony industrial Christmas we have inflicted upon us.
If you are unsure if you can trust them, then perhaps try them on something small and see if they are up to the task of listening, caring, and exhibiting trustworthiness.
If someone brings their troubles and anxieties to you, then know this is a gift. Don’t judge. Don’t interrupt, don’t tell about how your Aunt May had the same thing. Being a good listener is like being an antibiotic towards an infection. You will help the person heal if you simply listen and put them first.
PTSD wants to keep us isolated. Talking with someone you can trust helps to break the isolation and heal our souls all at the same time.
2. Writing, Artwork, and Music are all ways to help heal from PTSD soul wounds. The act of creating is an act that is graced by God. When you create something, it is an activity that affirms life. PTSD is anti-Life, while any creative act is Pro-Life.
If you are new to craft, remember that the Mona Lisa was neither painted on a whim or in one stroke. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if the art work is not perfect. What God loves about you is that you are endeavoring to create. Don’t expect perfection, just practice…and be alive in art!
When I was still able to play guitar, I found that studying music and playing guitar was a form of prayer. I would never be “good enough” to go on tour and sell CDs. But I was good enough to see that music and poetry promoted life.
3. Reading or the Movies Finding a great story to read can take us to other places and if nothing else distract us from our pains and our anxieties. Sometimes, I can get into a novel and forget that I have trouble walking and that I am in chronic pain. Reading can also take me away from the anxieties that PTSD feeds on and then attempts to take me into poor behaviors.
While I personally find movies too noisy for my taste, they can help folks get the same benefits I get from books. Plus, it can help remove us from absolute isolation if we go to a movie. The movie crowd may not be my friends in whom I could confide, but they are at least human beings. Being amongst other people helps break the isolation cycle that is encouraged by the PTSD Identity.
4. Even a computer game can help. If one needs distraction from anxieties, then a computer game can be useful much the same as a book (although I do recommend reading first). If one plays a MMO game where thousands of others are also playing, one can get both distraction from PTSD behaviors and also some group interaction. One should be aware that sometimes other players can be offensive and that there is a way to prevent them from bothering you.
The above are some of the ways we can survive our PTSD symptoms during the holidays. Just as I wish more people understood the damage trauma does to our souls and how it affects our behaviors, I also need to try and understand that most people don’t have a clue about PTSD and how it harms trauma survivors.
5. Thus, the last recommendation is Understanding and Patience: I hope that people will better understand PTSD Identity and behaviors. I hope that they will forgive them. At the same time I have to try and be a bit more understanding of people who have not suffered or who are indifferent to the suffering of others. As I pray for them and endeavor to receive the grace to forgive them, I become a better person, and my soul is further restored from PTSD’s soul wounds.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z