Looking after yourself is hard work. Recognising when you’re out of control, out of your depth and out of yourself is hard work. Taking the time to understand what is happening in your mind is hard; and the worst, I find, is when you do suddenly stop. And everything (however briefly) can suddenly, momentarily, collapse all around you. You walk out of the lecture theatre; get out of your seat, swing your satchel across your shoulders, and walk down down down down the stairs in the dark – the pixelated film projected on the screen flashing in your path.
Out of the room, the bright lights daze you, stumble through fire exists into the fresh air. Breathe. Breathe. You can’t breathe and there’s a pain in your chest, the autumn wind whips leaves around you and you swear you can see buildings spiral and crumble in front of your eyes.
Trauma changes us. We will not, and never will be, the same person again. And thats ok. We will grow from it; we get stronger after the healing. Be patient with the healing process: take the time, take support where you need it, talk to people you feel safe with. Remember to look after yourself, and remember to be kind to yourself. Its basic, but I stand by it. Whenever any of the girls on our group chat has a problem, one of the first pieces of advice we will offer is that: be kind to yourself.
Self care is such an important part of recovery, and often can be necessary for all of us regardless of trauma and experience. We are all human, and need to be kind to ourselves. Get to know yourself; get to know what helps to create a safe space for you personally – be that people, books, films, candles, drawing, walking, swimming, crying, talking. Whatever helps you, and works for you, is whats important. I tried to read myself to recovery, but (more accurately) simply read to drown out immediate consciousness for a little while.
It is ongoing, and may never be fully resolved – but remember you are growing everyday and have made such progress already. You don’t know when it might be triggered – someone casually tapping their foot making the floor vibrate, a joke, a film, a careless word. And it can be painful, but do not feel weakened – you can get through it. Time will not heal, but it can help. Fragility and strength are not binaries; its ok to feel weak, just remember you have the strength gently glowing inside you. Experience can permanently change us; but that is not to say it can suffocate us.
As I write this there is a beautiful October glow of light, a tea stained sunset amidst the storm. Watch, and wait, and we will be able to stretch out our new found wings again someday, and fly.