As we approach the second year commemoration of October 27, 2018, many people are still feeling the effects of that day. You may be among them. You may have been told by those around you that you “need to get over it” —and they mean it in a caring way. But your loved ones may not understand that the request is impossible. One does not just “get over” trauma. To ask us to move on as if nothing happened is not a fair demand. It’s not so simple.
You yourself don’t want to continue to feel this way. You are not choosing to remain in a state of trauma or sadness or upset. What steps can you take to feel better?
While younger generations take for granted that therapy is available and almost expected as a regular course of treatment, many in the older generations still see it as carrying a stigma. And that shame prevents them from reaching out to help. There is nothing wrong with seeking out a therapist to help you address your trauma. Compare it to a medical issue—you would not try to remove a cancerous mole on your own or perform your own colonoscopy. You would see an expert in that field. Therapists are experts in the field of treating trauma.
Maybe you feel one-on-one therapy is still not your solution. Support groups may be what you need and they don’t need to be trauma focused. Maybe you are having trouble with sleep or appetite or loneliness. There are a number of support groups offered throughout the community on these topics. And they are populated with people just like you. People who want to feel better but need some assistance in getting to that goal. See what support groups JFCS has to offer here or inquire about the Trauma Resiliency Group offered through the 10.27 Healing Partnership.
Mindfulness is a buzzword you may have heard a lot in recent months. But what is it? Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, who was a part of bringing mindfulness to the Western world, defines it as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Trauma is something that returns often to your mind and feels like you are present in that moment again and again. Mindfulness helps bring you back to the true present.
By practicing mindfulness, the frequency, intensity, and duration of the feelings from the past can fade and allow you to heal. There are different ways to learn mindfulness – through therapy, groups, online, or books. Whatever is the most approachable to you is the right step for you to take. Try some mindfulness exercises today with these videos from JFCS therapists.
“Alternative” methods of healing
If speaking about your trauma is not for you, there are other manners of approaching the healing process. Alternative is just different from talk therapy, not better or worse, and there is no judgment attached to the term. Perhaps acupuncture or acupressure feels right to you. Reiki or massage can help you through a somatic process of becoming whole. Music and art therapies are sometimes an easier, less threatening route to take than talk therapy—they can open internal doors you may not have realized were there.
Action is another process of recovery. Judaism is filled with rituals that help us close the old and reach a new place in our lives. We can take rituals that are usually used for one purpose and transform it to help in our healing: Performing tashlich but instead of “throwing away” our sins, we throw away our pain. Immersing in a mikvah, not for ritual purity reasons, but for spiritual cleansing. Saying prayers like Kaddish, not just at yahrzeit to remember those who are no longer with us, but throughout the year to bring us closer to God. Dig deep into our culture and you may find a ritual you can renew for your healing.
There is no wrong door when looking into how to rebuild after a trauma. There are always different solutions to different problems. We hope one of these approaches can help you achieve that peace of mind and heal. If you need to speak with a therapist or would like more information about one of these methods, please contact us and we’ll help you connect to the right resources.
By Stefanie Small, LCSW, Director of Clinical Services, JFCS