The unexpected blows experienced by so many Americans during the current economic recession have left many dealing with what psychotherapist Daniela Roher calls “recession stress disorder” – feelings of helplessness, shame and betrayal, headaches, loss of appetite, insomnia, depression.
Add to that the emotional turmoil endured by tens of thousands of families directly affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are a nation traumatized.
George Molho, author of Scarred, a memoir recounting his kidnapping as a 7-year-old in 1978, knows well the crippling effects of emotional trauma. He also knows what it takes to recover and move your life forward.
“Whether you are a ‘writer’ or not, writing has a cathartic and healing effect,” says Molho, who wrote his memoir as a way to move past the pain inflicted by his father during his year in captivity.
Whether your emotional pain is the result of losing a job or divorcing a spouse, experiencing the trauma of war or a criminal assault, Molho offers several suggestions for beginning the healing process by putting your feelings on paper:
• Keep a journal or jot your thoughts on a Post-It, either way you’re getting them out of your head and putting them into the world. Writing comes from the subconscious, which sucks in all kinds of data that the conscious mind isn’t aware of. Much of writing comes from the subconscious mind, so when you write down your feelings, you release them. It helps cleanse you of the pain, anger and fear lodged in your subconscious.
• If someone has hurt you and you don’t have the opportunity or courage to confront them face to face, write them a letter. You don’t ever have to send it; you can write it and then burn it up. But sit down and write down everything you would say if you could in that letter. This is especially helpful for people struggling with a breakup that had no closure – one person up and left the other. Empty every thought, good, bad, vengeful, whatever, then have a little bonfire. Light it up!
• Buy a $10 mailbox at the hardware store and put it in the backyard. Then write letters to God, or whoever your creator is, and “mail” them. It will help you feel less isolated and alone in dealing with your pain, and more connected with the world. It helps you see a bigger picture, one that involves faith.
• Look back at your victories, no matter how small or insignificant they might seem, and count up all the things you’ve overcome. Whether it was getting through the grief of losing a beloved pet when you were a child or executing a challenging task on the job, when you start adding up these victories, you begin to see you’re much stronger and more capable than you might have realized. Write them down and save them somewhere, so you can pull them out when you need to be reminded that “I can do this.”
• This one doesn’t involve writing but is too valuable to exclude, Molho says. Help yourself by being a shoulder for someone else. By listening to other people share their problems and trying to help them, you actually are healing yourself. When you offer them advice, sympathy and encouragement, you’re talking to yourself at the same time. Connecting with others who are in pain can help you deal with your pain.
George Molho worked as a health-care consultant for 15 years before becoming a writer and public speaker, addressing domestic abuse, child abduction, and recovering from trauma through self-reflection. He lives in Houston, where he has volunteered as a board member for several Texas charities and agencies that assist children and the elderly. For more information, visit: www.georgemolho.com