Fierce healing is stepping into your healing by focusing on the strength within your vulnerability. Fierce healing is not knowing what is next, and being okay with that because you trust that you are enough.
For me, fierce healing is also tied to education and joy – both my own and others. So when one of my latest Empower Your Life retreat participants reached out to understand her mother’s PTSD, I embraced it as a chance to further my own understanding and fierce healing journey.
Her message read: Hi Robin! Hope you are having a fantastic day! I had a question about PTSD. My mom has it and we will be having a great conversation and something said or seen puts her back to her pain she felt as a child and she goes into a monologue of all the terrible things her dad did or how she always felt sad. It makes me feel helpless and sad for her but also worried and upset because I don’t want my kids to hear her talking about physical abuse and what her dad did to her mom. It doesn’t matter what I say because it is like she can’t hear me. I’m wondering what I CAN do to help her and try to pull her out of that, because as of now, my brother, sister, and I have no idea what to do.
Upon reading this message, my hands immediately began sweating, my breath became rapid and shallow, and I could feel the racing thoughts begin to fill my head… Oh my god. I go into monologues. I get triggered suddenly in conversations. I can’t hear or communicate when I am being triggered. I am a terrible person- I have melted down in front of my own daughter. I have exposed her to panic, anxiety, terror and emotional pain – I am a terrible mother, a terrible person. My husband wonders what he can do to help me – I wonder what he can do to help me… to fix me. I am so broken – how can I tell someone else how to fix someone else?
And that’s where I stopped my spiral. This isn’t about someone else. This isn’t about fixing someone else. This is about me – fiercely healing.
This is the universe gifting me with an opportunity to practice what I preach – to not know what the ‘correct’ answer is, but to trust that I am enough and have an answer – But first, I have to slow down enough to hear the question over the barrage of negative voices in my head…
So I breathe. And am still. And then I read the message again.
This time I clearly hear – How do I help someone with PTSD?
My answer: Learn more and advocate for your needs.
Education is always the answer. Learn more about PTSD to better understand what it is, what triggers are, what treatment options are, and what supports are out there. Each individual is unique in how PTSD fully manifests and which treatments are effective. But no matter what, we cannot do healing alone – find support and experts to help.
Help support your loved one in learning more about their PTSD – part of my suffering was tied to avoiding accepting that I have PTSD. Learning that I am not alone, and that I am not defined by PTSD, has significantly accelerated my healing.
Though it’s geared for Veterans (as most PTSD is assumed to be from war), the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is a fantastic resource to begin learning.
Remember that there’s only one person that you can change – yourself. So if you are with someone who is reacting based off emotions of trauma, anxiety and fear – you must advocate for yourself and take control of the situation.
When I am in a trauma spiral, I want people around me to remain kind, calm and clear. I need validation that I am okay as well as direction. (When I’m having a PTSD episode – my head and body are LIVING the trauma and I am not okay- even if I appear okay. In fleeting moments of realizing that I am in an episode, I then begin the mental self mutilation of being a terrible person for having an episode and not being able to control it – which furthers the spiral.)
I know I am okay when I am heard, validated and redirected to the present moment.
For example if I was diving into a trauma spiral in front of my toddler, my loved one might say-
“I love you and know this must be incredibly hard for you. You are okay right now, and it is not okay this trauma happened to you. I want to support you in processing this, and would like to continue hearing more when it’s just adults because this is an important adult conversation. I know you love <insert child’s name here>, so let’s focus on making current happy memories right now and we can revisit and process any haunting memories later. How does that sound?”
Truthfully, in the depths of my darkest spirals, I may react to this negatively (especially when I was early into learning about my triggers and how to re-program reactions into responses). In that case, you must remove yourself and anyone else from the situation- especially children.
The most effective thing to support me from getting out of trauma spirals is to not get in one. My loved ones have supported this by supporting my self care.
I have worked hard to establish my ‘basic’ self care needs which ensure that my trauma triggers do not have as great an impact and trauma spirals are few and far between.
I eat mostly clean foods, drink water, avoid excessive alcohol (that’s a HUGE change), frequently exercise, do yoga, journal, plan, attend EMDR therapy, attend talk therapy, restrict trauma-inducing situations… all as part of my ‘basic’ care plan.
As I work to write my fierce healing story – I hope this helps others write theirs. If you or a loved one suffers from PTSD- get help. Learn more. Care for yourself. Develop a self care plan. You are worthy of living a life where you are okay, even if what happened to you isn’t.
With love and healing energy.