So, in honor of my anniversary here, this week's questions will involve anniversaries: the good, the bad, and the triggering.
Anniversaries are enormously difficult for all abuse survivors. Whether it's the year-markers for specific instances of abuse, or whether it's years after you left your abuser, anniversaries are often very triggering and difficult. On top of just knowing the date is coming up, things like weather, holidays, and other markers of the calendar year can become triggers to remembering those events.
Many survivors have increased symptoms of their PTSD symptoms: nightmares, flashbacks, depression, suicidal ideation, self harm, etc. around their anniversaries, and the emotions often bubble back up to the surface with more intensity than usual.
Since anniversaries of specific events only come once a year, it's harder for us to process, and therefore lessen the intensity, of the emotions and things we feel on those days. We only get to process them once a year, as opposed to the things we process as each day passes. So on anniversaries, it's like opening a sealed container of those emotions - they're fresh and intense. Often, since our symptoms are increased, the people around us notice a marked difference in our behaviour.
Many of us don't have a large group of people in our lives which know about our abuse, so it can be even harder to cope with the intense feelings - since we can't always explain to the people in our lives what the anniversary is of. So we'll be focusing on anniversaries and how you cope, and to see if there are some anniversaries of good things that you can mix into your yearly calendar to even out the abuse anniversaries.
This week's questions:
- Do you have specific anniversaries to your abuse or other traumatic experiences?
- If so, have the feelings lowered in intensity as the years have passed, or have they stayed at the same intensity?
- Also, if so, how do you cope with the intense feelings that come up on that day?
- What good things in your life could you celebrate the anniversary of? Things could be - celebrating the day you graduated from school, or got a car, or even joined livejournal :)
- Are there things besides the date that mark your anniversaries? i.e. do the memories come up when you see snow or holiday decorations, or summer weather, etc.