Flashbacks and Trauma

By Teresa Nelson, Peer Support Specialist

Flashbacks are the personal experiences that pop into your awareness, without any conscious, premeditated attempt to search and retrieve this memory.  These experiences occasionally have little to no relation to the situation at hand. Flashbacks can be so disruptive as to seriously affect day-to-day living. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person “relives” the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in “real time”. This is why you’ll often hear persons with flashbacks state that the past is never really in the past for them. Time is fluid for these individuals.

What to do about Flashbacks:

●  Tell yourself you are having a flashback and that this is okay and very normal in people who have experienced trauma.

●  Remind yourself that the worst is over – it happened in the past, but it is not happening now. The ‘child’ or traumatized person in you is giving you these memories to use in your healing and, however terrible you feel, you survived the awfulness then; which means you can survive and get through what you are remembering now.                          

●  Call on the ‘adult’ in you to soothe the ‘child’ or victim part, telling yourself that you are not alone or in danger.  Tell yourself it’s okay to remember and to feel this way and that the ‘child’ or victim part of you is communicating in the only way she/he can.

●  Try one of these ways of ‘grounding’ yourself and pull yourself back to the present:

1.   Stand up, stamp your feet, jump up and down, dance around and remind yourself where you are

2.   Describe your surroundings to yourself:  Notice the color of the walls and floor and what kind of furniture is in the room

3.   Listen to the noises around you and describe them

4.   Notice the sensations in your body, the boundary of your skin, your clothes and the chair or floor supporting you

●  If you have lost a sense of where you end, and the rest of the world begins, rub your arms and legs so you can feel the edges of your body. Wrap yourself up in a blanket and notice how it feels around you.

●  Listen to your own breathing. Make sure you are sitting down before you do some deep breathing so as not to get too dizzy. Breathe deeply through your mouth and hold it as long as you can, then make a small opening in your mouth and let the air out as slowly as you can. You should only do this a few times and t hen rest. Make sure you are not dizzy before standing up.

●  Consider getting support from the people close to you.  Let them know about your flashbacks and tell them specific things they can do to help you manage them.  This might mean talking to you, and helping your to reconnect with the present to remember you are safe and cared for now.

●  Flashbacks can be powerful experiences and may drain your energy. Take time to take care of yourself after having a flashback. A warm bath or a nap, a warm drink and some soothing music can ease your troubled ne rvous system.

●  When you feel ready, write down all you can remember about the flashback and how you got through it. This activity reminds yourself that you had the strength to move through your flashback, but it also gives you information you may want to share with your doctor, therapist or case manager.

*  Above all, remember that you are not crazy.  Flashbacks are a normal result of trauma, and you are healing, so be gentle with yourself.

“Easter Seals Michigan is one of the ‘Best and brightest’ in metro detroit”

By Jackie Hooper

On Aug. 15, 2012 Easter Seals Michigan was named one of Metropolitan Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For! Hundreds of competing companies throughout the Metropolitan Detroit region vie for this designation, but only those companies with the highest quality human resources initiatives can be honored with this title.

We received our award from theMichigan Business and Professional Association (MBPA) on Thursday, September 27 at the Henry Hotel located at 300 Town Center Drive in Dearborn.

We were evaluated by an independent research firm based on key measures in various categories.  They include Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions; Employee Enrichment, Engagement and Retention; Employee Education and Development; Recruitment, Selection and Orientation; Employee Achievement and Recognition; Communication and Shared Vision; Diversity and Inclusion; Work-Life Balance; Community Initiatives; Strategic Company Performance and the Best of the Best Small Business.

GET OUT AND VOTE: Claim Your Voice, Cast Your

On Election Day, every citizen in America over the age of 18 has the right and the responsibility to vote.  The ability to vote is the cornerstone of any democracy, and it provides each of us with the opportunity to advocate for the future we envision for our country.

Be an advocate for yourself and your fellow Americans – pledge to vote in November and encourage others to vote as well.

To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen and reside in the city or township where you are applying to register.  You can register at the city or township clerk’s office where you live, any Secretary of State office, the Oakland County clerk Election Division or by mail.  The first step to cast your vote in 2012 is to make sure that you are a registered voter by Oct. 9, 2012.  If you want to check and see if you are already registered, visit www.Michigan.gov/vote.

If you have a disability or certain other barriers that make it difficult for you to get to the polls, absentee voting may be an option for you. Absentee ballots are available for registered voters who are:

  • 60 years or older
  • Unable to vote without assistance because of a disability
  • Expecting to be out of town on election day
  • In jail, awaiting trial or arraignment
  • Unable to attend the polls for religious reasons
  • Appointed to work as an election inspector outside of their precinct residence.

Absentee voter ballots, mail-in registration forms, and a list of city or township clerks are available at www.Michigan.gov/vote. Ballots are also available at your local clerk’s office.

If you can get to the polls, be aware that Federal and state laws require polling places to make accommodations for any barriers that prevent voters with disabilities from voting, including providing accessible doorways, alternatives to stairs, adequate lighting and at least one voting station that enables a person to vote while seated. Accessible machines called AutoMARK are also available for persons with disabilities.  These machines feature a large flip-up screen and headphones.  If you will require assistance at the polls, call the clerk’s office in advance and notify them of your special needs.  If your precinct is not accessible, you will be directed to an alternative site.

For more information about your right to vote, visit www.occmha.org or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

WRAP for Recovery

By Jackie Cisternino, Peer Support Specialist

Over the past few weeks, I attended a class that taught me how to put together a Wellness Recovery Action Plan—known as WRAP—for myself. In short, WRAP taps into the things that trigger your symptoms, and ways to deal with your triggers so that you can maintain your wellness. WRAP is about YOU. Your WRAP is different than everyone else’s because you are the one identifying what YOU need to stay well.

WRAP can be done for anyone, anywhere, and has been used all over the world as a recovery tool. The key concepts of WRAP are:

▪ Hope

▪ Personal Responsibility

▪ Education

▪ Self-advocacy

▪ Support

▪ Health care

▪ Medications

WRAP was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, an author, educator and mental health recovery advocate. During the WRAP class you will learn about Dr. Copeland and the struggles with mental illness that she personally went through. Through a very well-organized program, Dr. Copeland’s techniques help you put together a recovery plan tailored to your own personal needs. To learn more about WRAP visit www.mentalhealthrecovery.com.

Easter Seals Michigan serves and supports people with disabilities or special needs and their families so they can successfully live, learn, work and play in their communities.