Mental Health: Recurring Trauma

Times are tough, and living amid the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more challenging both mentally and emotionally.  We are witnesses to racial injustice, causing a tsunami of riots and protests all over the world and flooding all media outlets. There is a mist of fear and anger in the air that keeps spreading far and wide, impacting everyone, particularly our youth. People are afraid for their lives, their income, and livelihood. The social distancing is not only causing people to distance themselves from others, but in the process, they are confined within the walls of their minds—deluged with fear, anxiety, worry, and rage.

For those who have encountered past trauma, the current events that are terrorizing the world is indeed re-traumatization. Our youth are spectators and are seated in the front row, wondering how to cope. And right now, the best option is to focus on cultivating positive thought processes and on our faith in God. How can we all take care of our children, their mental health, and our own state of being? We cling to all that is good and all that provokes hope.
 
What is Trauma?
 
Trauma is any harrowing event that causes you to experience physical or emotional harm, whether the harm is inflicted upon you or you witnessed it happen to others. What do we see when we turn on the television? Lately, what are the kinds of videos that are circulating on social media? We see riots, violence, and we are dealing with increasing numbers of people infected with COVID-19. We are dealing with a virus that isn’t visible, so the uncertainty magnifies and further perpetuates our state of fear and anxiety. The best way to deal with our emotional processes is by doing the internal work and taking care of our mental health. Understanding that our feelings are valid, but we must not feed them. Instead, we learn how to channel what we feel.
 
Our Thought Life
 
Philippians 4: 6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Our mind is the battlefield, and it is in our minds that we spend most of our time. Our thoughts provoke either negative or positive emotions. So, what do the scriptures tell us about our feelings and how to channel them? As per Philippians 4:6-7, it tells us not to be anxious, but instead to resort to prayer. It tells us to pray but to enter with a mindset of thanksgiving. Why is this? Because when we are directed to pray and must think about the things that we are grateful for, we automatically flip a switch in our minds to begin searchings for the things that produce gratitude. And gratitude is vital. To speak on gratitude changes our attitude and our perspective. When all we fill is uncertainty, and the fear penetrates our thoughts, causing us to worry, that’s when we must direct our mind to shift its focus onto the things that we do appreciate—the valuable people and opportunities that are within our reach.
 
Fear and Anxiety 
 
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
 
One thing is to pray, and another is to be practical. Our prayer is spiritual ammunition against the things that we cannot control. Prayer keeps us dwelling in our faith, knowing that God is in still control despite the external circumstance. For faith is the assurance of the things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. So, we must use our prayer as our spiritual weapon during this season of life. But we must also be practical. We must focus on what we can control, not on the variable that we have no control over.

What do I mean by practical? You must understand that your brain is still is flesh, and our flesh is afflicted, so we must remedy it with physical things such as going for a walk and through exercise. Our minds and our bodies process emotions well through movement and exercise. You must be practical and sign yourself up for a virtual yoga, dance, or craft class. Find those activities that bring you peace and joy. Another great way to cope with our emotions is through conscious journaling.
Daily embark on a journey of dumping all your thoughts onto a paper as an outlet—like mind dump. Let it all out, and if that isn’t enough, seek the help of professional therapists. You’d be surprised how helpful it is to have professional guidance on how to combat and deal with every thought that you have. The best way to deal with negative emotions and trauma is not by suppressing what you feel but through acknowledgment. You must help yourself so that you can help those around you. And know that what is happening in our world today is temporary and this will all pass. Cling to God because, in the end, He is still in control no matter how out of control our world may seem.
 
“Seasons are not permanent, they come, and they go, but God is constant. Know that this crisis, too, shall pass.”

What can you do today to “cling to God.”?

In Christ
Pastor Alicia Partee

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