TRAUMA INFORMED JOURNALING:A TOOL FOR PROMOTING WELLNESS :WRITE IT DOWN – Wendy Blanchard, M.S., INHC, CPS

“Using my training, education and lived experience as a mental health/wellness, and holistic health practitioner, I work with many people who are living with trauma, or PTSD, (POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER).

Even in my 9th year of recovery from prescription drug addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders caused by the ongoing trauma and abuse that I suffered as a child, young adult, and as a young woman, my own trauma work and recovery is ongoing. As most others who have suffered a traumatic event, or complex trauma which is more than one event at once, (“Complex trauma describes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such as abuse or profound neglect”) we must continue to do our work and use our tools daily. We must learn to be self aware, to have the tools to self regulate, and to recognize when we have been triggered and how to “treat” ourselves through spiritual solutions and self care, which includes working with a mental health professional.

For my clients, I work as a part of a Wellness Team with their own choice of psychotherapist, and/or psychiatrist. For all of my clients, it is comforting to them that I have the lived experience, the education and training in Trauma Informed Care, and that I am a Certified Peer Specialist licensed by the Office of Mental Health NYS trained in 13 different areas of mental health and Substance Use Disorder. In addition, I am certified by the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Suicide Prevention Center of NYS.

Today, as I do my own inner trauma work to promote deeper healing and wellness, as well as a deeper understanding of my thoughts, behaviors, and emotions related to trauma, I used the following journaling activity which has proven highly effective with my clients, and that which we all return to often if we are living with residue of any type of trauma response.

Please keep in mind that I DO NOT RECOMMEND that you do this on your own. You should be doing this trauma work under the guidance of your own mental health professional, and/or holistic health professional trained in Trauma Informed Care/Approach. Even with all of my training, I only allow myself 30 minutes at a time for this type of trauma work, I stay connected to my own therapist during this time so that she is aware that I may need support, and then I take as long as I need to practice self care. Trauma work will encourage us to re-visit the trauma in a safe space, and may also trigger intense emotions that need a professional’s guidance

*PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS EXERCISE ON YOUR OWN. I SHARE IT WITH YOU ONLY AS A SUGGESTION FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL TO EXPLORE TOGETHER.*

Directions for journaling trauma response to wellness with your mental health professional:

  1. Create a safe space for yourself. Comfy place to sit, a quiet space, and whatever is calming for you. (Candles, essential oils, Himalayan salt lamp, relaxing tea, music, water, etc.) This space is only for YOU to honor your feelings, and to validate them, to share with your mental health professional if you so choose, and then to slowly and gently allow these feelings to be put upon a shelf, realizing that they are not present in your present day life. We are unpacking past trauma, and eventually, through our trauma work, we will permanently put it to bed there. (This is a non-timed activity as far as recovery. It will look different for everyone).
  2. Set your timer for 20-30 minutes.
  3. List out the person/people that were responsible for inflicting upon you a traumatic event. If it was a situational event, you may also “write” to the event, i.e., COVID19.
  4. Choose only ONE person/event to write to at a time. You may always go back at another time to continue writing to others.
  5. Using “I” statements, i.e., “I feel, I noticed, I observed,” (as I teach in my Mental Health & Wellness trainings) so that we take accountability for our own perceptions in a non-accusatory “voice,” begin writing your letter expressing your deepest feelings and emotions, most especially that which you have never stated to them aloud, and are too fearful, or unable to address. Write about how you felt then, how it has affected the trajectory of your life, and how you are feeling about it right now in the present moment. Identify your most specific emotions such as shame, guilt, sadness, anger, etc. Allow yourself to feel, to cry, to scream, to punch a pillow, whatever you need to do where your safety, and that of your professional is secure.
  6. After 20-30 minutes, or sooner if you feel any escalation of symptoms that become overwhelming, implement immediate self care. Take a walk, do a meditation, or whatever is healing specifically for you.
  7. After practicing self care, come back to what you have written in your journal in your safe space. Reflect upon your writing. Ask yourself what you have learned from this person or event through allowing yourself the space to feel. Ask yourself what you can now do with this information to offer healing, and to promote a growth mindset where you will take this information to evolve, and perhaps, if you ever have the opportunity, to share your story in the name of serving others.
  8. Write it down.

My journey has been a long and winding, yet fulfilling experience of healing, ongoing, and mindfully, through self care and spiritual solutions, to change the trajectory of my mental health, and of my life. Talking about my experiences with a professional is where I am also validated, and we all need validation. She is my “witness.”

And, my greatest reward is living a truly joyous, healthy life, by the grace of God/Spirit/Universe, and serving others through this Grace. My life was saved years ago for this reason.

And, just as important as my own wellness and serving, is the fact that I am leading by example for my children and for my granddaughters, leaving a meaningful legacy and guidance for them to live in their own lives. Offering them choices and information in being proactive in their wellness, body, mind, and spirit.

These are my greatest blessings.

Bless the broken road…

Amen.

Love and blessings,

Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s self care tools, including a meditation post trauma work.
June 12, 2021

Wendy Blanchard, M.S., INHC, NYCPS