community, mental health & wellness

Anniversary Reactions

I’m currently walking through a couple days that constitute a mild “anniversary reaction” for me. Basically, something somewhat traumatic happened one year ago, inciting temporary shock and sadness. Though that shock and sadness wore off over time, it’s trying to come back one year later. The National Center for PTSD, among other websites, describe the whole phenomenon in a much more thorough, evidence-based manner than I can.

What I can describe is some things that are helping in dealing with this.

Be proactive. Just by keeping an eye on the calendar, I saw this reaction coming. I’ve been journaling and praying about it for a little while. I called a friend a few nights ago, went out for frozen yogurt then focused on some work last night as the anniversary reaction was beginning, and approached a trusted co-worker today when the reaction was picking up.

Don’t be alone. Notice most of those things in the above “be proactive” section involve people. Most of the time I spent with those people, we weren’t actually talking about the traumatic experience that was on my mind¬†(though we did some). We just talked about our lives, jobs, where we grew up, where we went to college. We were just together.

The National Center for PTSD also includes people in many of its recommended coping strategies, such as visiting a grave together, donating to charity, helping others, or spending the day with family/friends.

Read poetry. Or listen to spoken word. These have an incredible power to tell the reader/listener: “I understand. You’re not alone.”

Fortuitously, I stumbled across these gems in the last couple days:

From Jane Hirshfield’s “The Envoy“:
“For a year I watched
as something — terror? happiness? grief? —
entered and then left my body.

There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.”

From Donald Finkel’s “Sonic Boom“:
“Nothing has happened, nothing has been broken,
everything is still in place, including yourself;
even now the juice of alarm begins to settle”

Talk kindly to yourself: “Nothing has happened, nothing has been broken, everything is still in place, including yourself.”

Yes, at some point a year or two years or many years ago something did happen, something was broken, everything was not in place, including yourself. But now? Now you’re here, safe, loved.

Now you’re here…



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