The first thing is to help the person feel as safe as they possibly can. Even in their own home, it can be very scary because they may be having symptoms of PTSD (which is called Acute Stress Disorder unless the symptoms have been present for over one month, then it is called PTSD). They may be feeling like they are back in Las Vegas again with no apparent trigger to the flashback. They might be sad, anxious/worried, afraid, irritable, angry, or a number of other emotions. A relaxing movie or meditation might help them or it might make it worse. There is no specific way that someone experiences trauma, but the number one thing that it is important for ALL TRAUMA SURVIVORS is to LISTEN to them and don’t feel like you have to fix it. Also what tends make a big difference is when their family and friends believe them, listen to them, allow them to guide what they feel comfortable doing (and not doing), and (again) that family and friends LISTEN without telling them that it’s no big deal, get over it, and things like that. The “pull yourself up by your boot straps” comments will only hurt a person who has experienced trauma. They don’t need to hear how it could have been worse, they are lucky to be alive or any of that. Sometimes people with trauma wish they had died because recovering from it is so difficult. Just LISTEN. Just LISTEN. Just LISTEN!!! People want to help and want to make it better, but inadvertently a lot of good intentioned people make it worse. You don’t need the magic answer, just listen!!! You can ask them if they would like you to suggest things to try (like meditation or the relaxation audio at the end of this blog post), however don’t keep giving them suggestions or “help” without their permission. In trauma, a victim feels helpless. It is important that in recovery that they feel powerful, even if it just means that people listen to what they need.
(This is one of 4 blog posts about this topic, please see all 4 posts for this topic to get all the information you can. I will add posts as I get information that might help).
Please read my other two blog posts
Below is the muscle relaxation audio I mentioned in this blog post.