Dealing with Trauma Anniversaries

Valentine’s Day was just this past week, and while this day was filled with love and romance for many, it was filled with heartache and suffering for others. Valentine’s Day, just like any holiday or anniversary, can be a hard thing to go through, especially if you have PTSD.

 

Anniversaries are usually seen as a positive thing, something you look forward to and plan for. You celebrate the anniversary of your relationship or wedding, and even birthdays. But some anniversaries aren’t quite so cheery. It can be difficult when you lose a loved one, break off a serious relationship, or experience any sort of traumatic event, and PTSD can be the result of these things. The event itself can be hard enough, but when the anniversary date for it rolls around, you might find yourself experiencing the struggle all over again.

 

Oftentimes, the anniversary of the traumatic event can cause your PTSD to really flare up. Depression, guilt, and shame might begin to set in as you think about the event. Triggers that you thought you had overcome now take hold of you once again, and you begin to experience flashbacks and panic attacks.

 

If it’s been long enough since the traumatic event, you’ll begin to notice these anniversary patterns and you might start avoiding certain places, people, and any other triggers related to the event. Before the anniversary even arrives, you might feel nervous and on edge as you dread the upcoming day.

 

Anniversaries of traumatic events are definitely no fun so it might help to be prepared for when the day comes. The right way to approach the trauma-related anniversary truly depends on the person and what the trauma is. For some, they feel closure and relief by doing something in honor of the event. This could be visiting the grave of someone they lost, donating or volunteering to help disaster relief, or simply taking a few moments of silence.

 

For others, like rape victims, for example, the best thing to do is avoid thinking about the event and try to completely distract themselves. This is where planning ahead is really important. Maybe plan for a fun day with family or friends, spend the day out in town, go to a movie, or do anything that you know will keep your mind busy.

 

If you’re unsure of how to handle the upcoming dreaded day, then talk to your therapist. They are trained to know how to handle these situations, and, being your therapist, they should know what way of coping should work best for you. Your therapist is there to help you in any way that they can.

 

The anniversary date of your traumatic event might feel like it lasts forever, but that day will soon pass too. Sometimes though, the feelings that arise from the anniversary can last up to a few weeks, and that’s okay. Take all the time you need to process and cope with the event, and know that it does get better from here on out. Healing from PTSD is possible.

 

It’s Time to Speak up about Mental Illness – Kennedy’s “Don’t Deny Me” Campaign

If you suffer from PTSD or any other mental illness, you know how difficult it can be to get the care, treatment, and coverage that you need in order to get back on your feet. It’s no wonder that suicide rates are climbing higher and higher when people aren’t getting the proper treatments for mental health and substance abuse.

 

The rate of suicide has been steadily increasing for years, so much so that it has actually brought the average life expectancy down in the US – yet again. The life expectancy in 2017 was 78.6, where it was 78.7 the year before. The percentage of the country’s deaths by suicide increased from 1.6% to 1.7% between 2016 and 2017. If those aren’t drastic enough numbers for you, the number of drug overdose deaths increased by 10% from 2016 to 2017, setting a new record with over 70,000 drug related deaths.

 

It’s hard enough dealing with an illness like PTSD, depression, or anxiety every single day, but it’s even harder when you feel that there is no hope because it’s hard to get the coverage that you need. These kinds of illnesses have been taken far less seriously than others like cancer and diabetes. Because of this, as far as mental health and addiction recovery go, we are in a complete crisis.

 

Luckily, Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has stepped up once again by launching the “Don’t Deny Me” campaign, in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This act was created a decade ago to ensure equality and parity for mental health and addiction treatments, but many don’t know about this act, and those in law and healthcare can use this lack of knowledge to their advantage and still choose to deny you the care you need. We still have a long way to go if we are going to eliminate the suicide epidemic.

 

With the “Don’t Deny Me” campaign, Kennedy hopes to spread awareness of mental health and further share the knowledge that the Parity Act is there to help those that suffer. If you feel that you have been wrongfully denied treatment for a mental illness, then it’s time to step up. Many that suffer from addiction or mental illness feel that they are in this battle alone. But that is not the case, and Kennedy and everyone else involved in the “Don’t Deny Me” campaign wants you to know that. We can’t make any forward progress if we don’t come together as a community and stand up for ourselves and what’s right.

 

That’s what this new campaign is all about – working together to make positive changes in the healthcare community so that everyone can – and knows that they can – receive the proper treatment that they deserve.

 

Mental illness like PTSD, addiction, depression, and more are something that needs to be taken seriously once and for all. It can easily be bypassed by some, but don’t allow someone to deny you treatment if you are struggling. If we stand by each other, support each other, and work together as a community, we can finally make the difference that this world needs.