1. Managing The Memory.
If you try to block out the memory of the incident you will find that it does not really work, it keeps coming back. To help you control the memory rather than the memory control you, each time the memory comes to mind say to yourself:
‘now is not the time and place, I will sort that out properly with pen and paper at, say 11 a.m., I will write down whatever I can about what happened and how I felt’.
Spending a couple of minutes at a fixed time writing about it (or talking about it to someone) tells your mind that you are in charge of the memory and it acts as a safety valve for the memory. Otherwise it is all ‘bottled up’ inside you and you feel ready to explode. The first days of writing about it can be very upsetting so you might just do a minute or two to begin with. As the days go on it gets easier and after two or three weeks you will find the memory does not get to you in the way it used to.
2. ‘Yes…..But’ The Memory.
With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder people get sucked into details of the incident like a ‘black hole’ that can swallow you up and stop ordinary living. When a detail of the incident comes to mind, calmly acknowledge the horror of the details, e.g. ‘yes, it was horrible that…..’ but then put the horror into context, e.g. ‘but the incident was a one off, nothing like it had ever happened to me before, I have many very good experiences in life that tell me life can be good.’
3. Unlock Positive Memories.
With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders positive memories are locked away in your mind. You know they are there but they are vague. To make the positive come alive spend a couple of minutes each day going into great detail about two particular events, e.g. a holiday or the birth of your first child. Either write them down or talk about them.
4. Timetable Uplifts.
Timetable into your week things that could be potentially uplifting. Have a go at them even if you don’t feel like it. If you keep active eventually the taste of life comes back. To begin with you might have to do things in small doses, e.g. visit a friend for twenty minutes for a coffee rather than stay all evening.
The timetable is a way of reminding yourself that despite the disruption caused by the incident it is possible to get a sense of achievement and pleasure out of life, though what you do may be different to before.
5. Managing Irritability.
When you notice the first signs of anger, imagine a set of traffic lights on red and about ‘STOP’. As the lights go to amber ask yourself:
‘Am I absolutely sure he/she did that deliberately to wind me up? Is it really the end of the world that X has just happened?’
When the lights go to green go into another room to calm down. Perhaps make a drink.