I am in no way a therapist nor do I work in a Medical or Psychiatric field. I am a Survivor of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and am sharing techniques that helped me in my own recovery.
In my last post I talked about finding your triggers. Triggers can be anything. Identifying them is hard. If you are having a hard time figuring out what is triggering your Flashbacks, a good idea is to get a journal, or even just a pad of paper and a pen, write down the time a flashback happened and what was going on at the moment the Flashback occurred. Do this for about a month. You can review it every day and your trigger may be obvious. Or it might take that month to not only find your trigger and possibly find out there are more than one triggers.The way to now when a trigger has been tripped is you will become on high alert. At this stage before you actually go into the Flashback is where grounding techniques are the most useful
This post is about Grounding Techniques. They are going to seem so easy that you may think that cannot possibly help but as you practice them you will become grounded back to reality faster than if you do not use them. The first one I would like to Introduce is to have a Calendar in every room of the house. Devotional book calendars are nice but unless they prominently display the year and the date is your trigger you cannot make yourself focus on the fact that what happened was on say May 5, 2008. But it is now 2014. Having a Calendar in the room prominently displayed you can begin to switch your focus from the fact that it is NOT May 5, 2008 the date on the Calendar is the truth and it says today is August 29, 2014. Say it over and over in your mind is not May 5, 2008 you can see with your own eyes the Calendar says it is August 29, 2014. Tell yourself you are safe then start looking at what is around you if you are sitting in your favorite chair rub your hands back and forth on the material saying in your mind things like it is August 29,2014 I am in my home this is my favorite chair, my (dog, cat, snake) is right here and I am in my home in MyHometown USA. If you have kids and they were never a part of the trauma listen to their voices. All the while reminding yourself today is really August 29, 2014. You must constantly keep the date and your surroundings keenly in focus. I am not there it is not May 5, 2008. If you are in public which is a very problematic place for a Flashback to occur but most people have a cell phone that displays the date and time. Take that phone out and keep looking at the date, look around your surroundings find a spot where you will be out of traffic of humans and vehicles. And keep looking and focusing on things you know by heart Like their is the old County Courthouse I am in MyHometown, USA. I am safe. This is a Flashback it WILL pass. You may have multiple focus objects that remind you of where you are and the trauma is over by saying this is not real. I am in MyHometown, USA and there is Bob’s Bait and Tackle me and Daddy went there when I was little. But only focus on objects that have good memories attached to them. Since my trauma is from from Childhood mental, physical, and sexual abuse I use different focus objects. Like my wedding ring, ,it is proof to me that I am a grown up now. No one can hurt me now. There it says on the Calendar that it is the year 2014. I am 48 years old I can hear my daughter talking or I can see a picture of my daughter I am not nine years old and helpless.
This technique takes a lot of focus, but you will not believe how much it helps. You must start grounding yourself when a Flashback first starts to come upon you. Immediately if your body goes into a state of hypervigilance start using these tactics and techniques. When you find things that are serious triggers for you stay away from them until you can learn grounding techniques. There are also different techniques that can help. Find a therapist that gives you other options as well as this Grounding Technique.
There are so many different techniques because each traumatic experience is different. Two soldiers may be on patrol together engage the enemy and it might effect one soldier one way but effect the other soldier in a totally different way. We are unique human beings so a trauma to ourselves is unique also. Both soldiers may have Flashbacks from the same events but gunfire could be a trigger for one of them and the sound of a bomb exploding may be the trigger for the other soldier
I will next discuss how to use guided imagery to create a “safe place” in your mind where you can go to tune out the world and let your mind rest.