An Overview of Psychic Trauma
and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD)
11. What are the steps to recovery from prolonged trauma?
According to Herman and Miller, survivors of prolonged trauma
must first create a safe place. Herman considers the remaining
steps to be remembrance and mourning and reconnecting with the
world, accepting the changes that the trauma has made in your
life. Remembrance and mourning involves grieving both actualities
and potentials that were lost; reconnection is a time of
"I know I have myself" – a time forseeing the positive changes
wrought by the traumas, celebrating the survivor self, and
reconnecting/deepening intimacy with others in ways that
were not possible before.
Miller sees recovery in three stages, too: the outer, middle,
and inner circles. The outer circle is a time for building
safety and rapport and gathering basic information. Middle
circle work involves focusing on current symptoms and how to
handle them. Inner circlework, when trust is deepest, involves
the sharing of shameful secrets and resolving the issues
behind the trauma.
12. How do I control and manage the symptoms while recovering?
Many symptoms can be reduced and controlled simply by getting
sufficient sleep and eating healthy, balanced meals. Nightmares
can sometimes be controlled by use of a dream journal; rage
and flashbacks can be prevented or reduced by recognizing
triggers and avoiding them. Reducing your general stress
level and finding self-soothing methods can also help.
Depression and anxiety can sometimes be helped through medication
(antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers). Hyperarousal
can also be helped by medication, and older tricyclic
antidepressant are frequently used for insomnia.
Ways to soothe yourself when anxious:
Ritual: for example, a going-to-sleep ritual. Take a long,
relaxing bath, put on comfortable clothing (if you sleep
in clothes, and light a candle by your bed. Turn off the other
lights. Stretch slowly acrossyour bed, feeling your movements,
feeling the sheets. Slowly open a book of poetry and read
a page, meditating on the wisdom and beauty ofthe poem.
Blow out the candle and go to sleep.
Hide under the covers. Take the day off, make a nest of
pillows and blankets somewhere. Turn off the phone. Scent
the room. Make a tray of munchies, using your prettiest
dishes, and find a good book. Do whatever makes you feel
refreshed and relaxed, even if it's just huddling in your nest
with munchies for a few hours. Allow the anxiety to bleed away.
Ways to self-soothe when you are depressed:
Hiding under the covers.
Herbal baths: either make an infusion of herbs (like a very
very strong tea) or put the herbs in small muslin bags you hang
in the waterstream or just drop in the tub. Suggested combinations:
• 1 oz each of pine and peppermint
• 2 oz rosemary
• 1 tbsp ea of patchouli, geranium leaf, mint, orange leaf,
sage,strawberry leaf, woodruff, and rosemary
• 1 heaping tbsp ea of lavender, rosemary, comfrey, and thyme