By Lorah Feldman
Trauma happens to us, not because of us. Sexual abuse is just one type of traumatic experience—whether it happened to you recently or many years ago—that could trigger suicidal feelings. Suicidal feelings could be sparked after experiencing a traumatic event by stories in the news, political outcomes or other personal experiences.
When we feel betrayed by our peers, people we trust, or those who protect us, we can lose hope. The loss of hope is devastating and resounding, and it is an experience that is, unfortunately, quite common.
It is important to remember that if you have experienced something terrible, it is OK to be upset, angry, sad, depressed or even confused about it, regardless of when it happened. These feelings are normal, but when they begin to interfere with your everyday functioning, it is time to seek help. Remember that trauma can twist our perceptions, make us believe that we somehow deserved what happened to us, that it was our fault, or that it "wasn't really that bad." Connecting with support can help trauma survivors to find the truth: something bad may have happened to you, but you deserve to be happy and well, and support is available to help you get there.
Here are 5 steps towards finding recovery:
1) Reach out.
You are not alone.
You are loved. You are important. You matter. There is a great amount of help available to you – people who really care about you and want to help you through this. Whether you call a hotline, text line, chat with a crisis line, or reach out to a close friend, there are people out there who will support you and walk with you every step of the way.
Call: 1-800-273-TALK to reach the national suicide prevention hotline or 1-888-772-7227 to reach your local rape crisis center
Text: “LISTEN” to 741-741 or “ANSWER” to 839-863
Chat online: imalive.org or crisischat.org
Visit: Find your local PA rape crisis center for a wide range of services
2) Develop a safety plan.
Suicidal thoughts don’t last forever; having a plan in place that can help you through difficult moments can make the difference and help keep you safe. Creating a plan that includes coping skills and activities, as well as a listing of support options and emergency numbers, can help you in case suicidal thoughts return.
Some ideas to consider when making a plan:
- What thoughts, images, moods, situations and behaviors signal that a crisis may be coming?
- What are some things that you can do on your own to resist acting on thoughts/urges to harm yourself?
- Make a list of people (with contact information) and social settings that may help take your mind off things.
- Make a list of family members and friends who are supportive and you can talk to.
- List names, numbers and/or locations of counselors, emergency rooms and crisis hotlines.
- If you have thought of ways that you might harm yourself, develop a plan to limit your access to these means. For example, you may wish to ask a friend to store any firearms you may own.
3) Don’t give up.
Every person’s journey to healing is unique. There is no correct way to recover. For some, it may be finding a strong support system and working with a therapist. For others it may be more difficult. Recovery is a process. It may take time find the right therapist, the right medication and dosage, or the right support group. Be understanding with yourself and give yourself the patience to find what works best for you. You are worth it.
4) Practice Self Care.
Be kind to yourself. Take care of every dimension of who you are: your body, your mind, your relationships, and your goals. Make sure you are eating well, exercising, and sleeping well. Recognize intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or negativity and address it with a professional. Keep a close support system of people who you can count on when you feel you don’t have the strength to make it through the day. Keep a vision of your future – one of success, love, and peace: the future you will have when you’ve made it through this trauma.
5) Know that there is hope.
It is extraordinarily hard to have hope when you have feelings such as betrayal, but the truth is that hope is still within reach. Remember, you have survived the trauma. Even though the negative effects of that trauma are still happening, you have survived. With help and support you can move from surviving to thriving.