Not drinking and not using seems pretty simple, just don’t pick up and make sure not to overmedicate when prescribed with drugs. It is black and white, you are either loaded or you are not and, with significant sober / clean time, we understand the concept of not relapsing. It does not matter how we feel or what happens to us, we don’t relapse. Mental health, however, may be more complicated, not so black and white.
We know, everyone is different and good mental health is not really specifically defined. We also know having good mental and physical health can make it easier not to be loaded. And we know, just as addiction / alcoholism deserves respect as a dangerous and deadly disease, a person’s past traumas deserve respect too. Honor your experience. One of our counselors, Adam Rich, shares some knowledge from his education about dealing with some (not all) PTSD cases.
PTSD flashbacks can be extremely distressing as they make you re-live the entire traumatic event all again. Coping strategies can help with these distressing events. Activities that bind you to the present are essential. Hold a piece of ice and focus on it when such distress arises. When ice is not available, grounding exercises like 5-4-3-2-1 can help: Name 5 things that you can see around you, 4 things you can touch around you, three sounds you can hear, two things you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste. Practices like deep breathing and holding soothing objects like fidgeting toys, soft balls, etc. can ease the intensity of PTSD flashbacks
Setting healthy boundaries will help you avoid various triggers of PTSD. It is necessary to identify your triggers and communicate about them assertively and respectfully. Prioritize self-care and ensure you make time for activities that help your well-being. Also be mindful of your emotional capacity and refrain from challenging activities that can trigger symptoms.
You should actively pick and choose the people and situations around you. Avoid exposure to people, places and experiences that can harm your PTSD healing journey. Setting healthy boundaries will only facilitate a safe and supportive environment for your PTSD recovery, which is essential.
Use effective communication and express your thoughts openly. It is important to use sentences that convey your message clearly and are specific to you. Use “I” to emphasize your experiences.
Listening to others with empathy and non-judgment can also help you heal emotionally. It is in your best interest to practice validation and acknowledgement of emotions of both the parties: yourself and others. You should always avoid conflicts by focusing on understanding and not winning. Make it a habit to use positive language and avoid negative feedbacks.
Healthy communication will not only foster lifelong connections, but also build a supportive network that will contribute to your healing by understanding and reducing your stressors.