Jessica D Avoiding Trauma Reminders Can Prevent Healing
It’s very common, and it makes sense intuitively to not want to be reminded of a traumatic life event that either experienced or witnessed. But unfortunately, by avoiding trauma reminders like persons, places or things or the memories, thoughts and feelings it never gets dealt with. It kind of just stays in our brain in a state where we’re more easily triggered and may still be experiencing the thought and mood changes and arousal. What I did for myself after I experienced that traumatic event as I continued to ride the bus, I ride the same route every day and I walked through the scene of the crime every day.
The day that the incident happened, I worked for most of my shift and saw my patients. I continued through my day to further show my brain and body that I was in a safe place and in a safe state. But I walked through the scene as soon as I could. It was flagged off and taped off for a period of time. But as soon as it wasn’t, I forced myself to walk by and walk through the first couple times were hard because when I walked through, I remembered what happened and I remembered the details and the things that I saw and felt.
But over time I would say even over a matter of days, I started to not feel any feelings. I would have thoughts like, okay, yeah, this is where that stabbing happened or okay, this is where the police swarmed, but it wasn’t disturbing. It just was what it was. Like, what we do with patients in therapy with actively facing, I chose to face for myself that place so that it wouldn’t be something that I would continue to fear, that I knew that and it would show my brain and body that I’m walking through this place where this happened and it’s not happening anymore. This place is now safe for the most part. And so to this date, about three weeks out, I find myself walking through that spot and it’s just walking through that spot.
If patients or persons have the opportunity to not avoid things related to their traumatic life event that they either experienced or witness, I highly recommend it. What people will notice is that as they approach the person place or thing, they’re going to feel super anxious and that’s normal. If you hang with it and not leave the situation, the anxiety will go down pretty rapidly, and people may find that as they continue to kind of expose themselves to that area where the traumatic life event happens, that the anxiety goes down and down to where it doesn’t exist at all. It also gives us the confidence to expose or to face other trauma reminders.