As human being we have diverse emotional reactions to shocking, unexpected or painful experiences in our lives such as death of a loved one, an accident, natural disasters and abuse. This response is called Trauma. Symptoms for include but not limited to sleeping disorders, fear, sadness and depression. For some symptoms will only last a few days or weeks while for others months or even years.
It’s been a year since l had one of the most traumatic experiences in my life, I experienced fear, anxiety and sleep disorders. I dreaded going to sleep as it would bring up bad memories. The events of the 3rd of August 2021 are still vivid in my mind. I remember waking up around 0135am, seeing someone running out of the bedroom. I was confused, in shock and fear seized me. So many things ran through my mind in that moment… Who was this person, what did they want?How did they get into the house, were they kids ok? It was a thief who broke down into the house using an axe to get into the house while we slept (it still baffles me how he got into the house without us hearing anything), came to the bedroom and took my handbag and two phones. I woke up and saw him standing next to me and he immediately ran out,
Fortunately by the time we looked around the house the invader had vanished. However, he left a trail of weapons in the kitchen and outside the kitchen door, one of which was the axe which he used to open the door. Imagine the horror! I then ran to check on the kids, to my amazement they were sound asleep and unharmed.
I froze briefly before l could get out of bed or even wake my husband up who was sleeping next to me. When we switched on the light l realised that my 2 iPhones and handbag which had all my salary were gone!Immediately, l felt anxious, furious and unspeakable pain.
Worse could have happened! When l saw the axe In the kitchen l thought it could have been a lot worse. Although l lost a brand new phone and a month’s salary l thank God that no one was harmed, well at least not physically. For a number of months l would wake up almost every night around 130 am and l would struggle to get back to sleep. All l could do is replay the night of the break in over and over again in my mind. I was traumatised and the events of that evening kept haunting me. The slightest noise such as someone opening a door in the house or an avocado dropping from the tree outside the would wake me from dream land. Night after night for months, this cycle became my new normal.
I am sure everyone has had their share of trauma at some point. There are unusual things that happen to us and we find ourselves failing to cope emotionally and it might take us a while before we can link our symptoms to our recent or past experiences. One of the most dangerous places to be in is in denial. Often, we will convince ourselves that we are coping well and choose to ignore the symptoms. The truth is after having someone invade your personal space, losing a loved one, an accident, any type of abuse or witnessing masses die in a war, there are emotional responses that are triggered.
The most important thing we can do is to admit that we are not at our best and seek help if need be. At times the people around us might downplay what we are going through or might not even realise that what we are showing are signs of trauma. Therefore it is important that we are able to share our feelings with those around us. At times just talking will make all the difference. I remember it took me a while before l could articulate how l was feeling. But eventually l found myself being comfortable around certain people and l was able to share what l was experiencing.
This was half the battle win. Once admitted that l wasn’t ok l felt much lighter. In all this l learnt that it’s ok not to be ok. Society has us living under some kind of an illusion that we can snap out of any experience, pick ourselves up and move on immediately like nothing ever happened. However reality gives us a rude awakening. Healing is a process not an over night thing .
One of the things that were useful during this period were Prayer and the word. This was not an automatic response for me. I don’t know about you but my default is to ask God what happened, why didn’t You stop it from happening? At times we or the people around us might suggest that we are in a mess because of sin, but remember Job.. it also says in psalms that many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them out of it. It doesn’t matter what you are going through right now, God will deliver you out of it all!
I am always shocked by how much negative energy many people let out. It is crucial that one avoids negativity at all costs. There are people who will lecture you and put all the blame on you for the bad ordeal that you will be experiencing. This negativity will leave you worse off than you were, your wounds deeper, guilt on high and buttered. I had to learn the hard way that protecting yourself is an essential. Know the people around you and know what to share with them. On the other side, if your loved ones are going through a rough patch, all they need is for you to sit with them, love on them, comfort them and not ask them a thousand question or point out that they are to blame or any other type of negativity which is draining.
I never thought that one day l would be able to sleep through the night again. but today, after a year l can confidently say that finally l can sleep peacefully through the night.