Saturday, November 12, 2011

Coping with Triggers, Flashbacks and Body Memories

There are some triggers that are harder than others to control and resolve quickly.  One of the coping skills I learned is when I get triggered, and it is a really bad one, I use an item from my safe bag.  I developed my safe bag during my emergency stages of my healing process.  I would get so wrapped up in the trigger that it would get so out of control that the flashbacks would come, then body memories would follow. Before I knew it, I would be crying for hours unable to stop the terror of reliving my trauma of sexual abuse over and over again.  I would forget everything I learned in therapy because the trigger was so strong and I was no longer in the present with my adult self. I was in the past as the little girl.

You can develope your own safe bag.  It is personalalized to the individual.  The items inside are things to remind you of your emergency plan.  I have a notebook with reminders on how to cope:                

1. Remember to find a safe place by yourself and to breathe in and out slowly.

2. Remind the adult self to come in to comfort the child within that is experiencing the trauma. The child needs reassurance the bad people are gone and that she is safe.  You just gently talk to that child until your, child within, is fully integrated into the adult again and you return to the present time.

3. Items inside my bag includes a candle, tea, bath salts, and healing lotion. These items remind me to take care of myself during this time.

4. I also have a notebook  for journaling to remind myself what the trigger was, what I experienced during the episode and my feelings.  This was used for my next appointment with the therapist. We would retrigger me in the safety of her office to work with the EMDR and brainspotting therapies to reprocess the trigger. By reprocessing the trigger it either made it less or resolve it completely.

5.I also have a binder called:  Leslie's Healing Journey for the Mind, Body and Spirit.  This reminded me that the trigger, flashbacks, and body memories would pass. I would look in the binder to see how far I have come in my healing process.  There are affirmation cards, art therapy collages, articles, and coping worsheets from my hosptial stay.

All of these things help me to cope during an episode.  I have been in my healing journey for 9 months so my triggers, flashbacks and body memories are most of the time under control but there are times that I still need my emergency bag.  I take it everywhere I go because having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder anything in my environment can trigger me such as a smell, touch, sound, objects, etc. 

What are you going to put in your emergency bag?  Remember these items can be anything that makes you feel happy, safe, and will help you recover from your trigger and bring you back to the present time so that you are not stuck in the past too long experiencing your trauma.

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