*No Spoilers I swear!!!*
I watched American Sniper this weekend and wondered how they would portray trauma. Based on the trailer I knew this was a true story of a U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. who fought in the Middle East.
The director, in my opinion, did a brilliant job of focusing on this soldier’s facial and body expressions during moments of despair. It was evident when he was experiencing flashbacks and/or detaching from reality. As a clinician, I have experienced moments when clients are detaching from the present and they emotionally transport back to that scary place.
Traumas happen everyday and in all situations. For children, trauma occurs the moment their sense of safety is disrupted. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can occur for crime victims (burglary, assault, robbery), survivors of abuse, car accident victims, first responders, nurses and people who have been abandoned by loved ones, just to name a few examples. A person can have close proximity to a traumatic incident and experience PTSD or secondary trauma.
How can PTSD survivors cope and heal from their trauma?
- Working with a therapist trained in trauma work is the first line of defense. Most domestic violence agencies have specially trained therapists who can deal with adulthood domestic violence as well as childhood traumas. Children can suffer from emotional trauma due to divorce, separations or overhearing arguments from family or parents. Most mental health professionals are trained in trauma-specific treatments.
- Grounding exercises orient a person with PTSD to the here and now. Wiggling your toes, running your hands under the faucet and rubbing a soft material or pillow have been helpful grounding methods.
- Breathing and meditation also help PTSD clients whether they are dealing with flashbacks or trying to adjust to a regular routine. Diaphragmatic breathing can help regulate blood pressure and cortisol levels. Yoga sessions have been tailored specifically for wounded troops and have been shown to be effective.
Here are some resources that may be helpful for you or someone you know:
PTSD Information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255 or Text to 838255
Apps available on iTunes:
– PTSD Coach
– The Mindfulness App
– Simply Being – Guided Meditation
In most cities you can call 211 from your phone for counseling centers near you.
Do you know anyone who has suffered from this? What methods have helped them?