For various reasons, the holidays can be particularly difficult for victims of sexual abuse and other trauma. Maybe it’s the stress and pressure the holidays bring. Maybe it’s the cold and gloomy weather which also brings a lack of sunshine induced vitamin D. Or perhaps the holidays mean spending time with those who have hurt you or it could be around the time of year you were abused.
Regardless of why, the depression and anxiety, the triggers, and the memories seem to amp up around this time of year. And it’s hard. It makes this beautiful time of year tainted with our past and very real pain. I struggle with this every year, sometimes more, sometimes less, but it’s always there. I feel like I’m on the fringe of being okay. Like any minute I could teeter into the darkness of depression and I won’t be able to climb out. I do whatever I can to hold onto the invisible railing keeping me okay. I hold on to hope, to faith, to the good things happening around me.
But sometimes, despite holding on, I fall in. It’s too much and I have to work to climb out, to find the light amid the darkness.
What can you do?
- Take time for yourself to pray, meditate, relax, reboot.
- Look for the things you have in life to be grateful for–friends, skills and talents, family, the gospel, nature, etc. Gratitude helps shine light in the darkness.
- Notice when you are being triggered and make a note. You can try to avoid that situation or person until you have healed enough to deal with it (remember to talk about this at your next therapy appointment).
- Maintain a healthy-for-you diet. Eating foods your body needs better equips you to deal with hard times. Some chocolate or other treat is okay occasionally, but don’t make a meal out of it day after day.
- As discussed in a previous post, have your “emotional first aid kit” at the ready. Pull out your music, fuzzy socks, journal, or whatever you need to take care of yourself when you’re struggling.
- Call or text someone who will help you talk through whatever you’re struggling with. You don’t have to do this alone. Having support people is vital. If you don’t have one, there are victims’ advocates and help lines for you to use.
- Go to a movie. Go for a walk or run. Exercise or do yoga. Go to lunch with a friend. Do something kind for someone else. Sometimes all we need is to do something that takes our mind and body out of our normal patterns to pull us out of the darkness so we can better deal with it later.
- Visit a place that brings you peace, like the temple or its grounds.
Above all, do not give up. There is hope. You will find healing and peace. Keep working to get better. There is no shame in therapy or medications to help you get through and heal. Do what you need to do to get better. You are loved. You are important. You matter.