After the first few weeks
In the weeks following the incident, you may find that you are still experiencing feelings of trauma. Some people say that they were able to get back to normal in that time. Everyone will have a very different experience, but what you are going through will be normal for you.
The same advice applies; look after yourself, reach out to people for support and avoid alcohol and drugs as a way to cope.
Try to continue to do the things that you enjoy; going out, walking the dog, playing sport, cooking, gardening – whatever makes you happy and fulfilled.
If you find that your symptoms are affecting your day-to-day life in a way that you are finding difficult to cope with, do not hesitate to contact your GP for help and advice. They will be able to signpost you to more specialist support if they feel that you would benefit from talking to a professional.
“I’d say to anyone who is going through this that time will really help. I felt in those early weeks and months that I would never be able to move on, that it would always dominate my thoughts.” – Jo
How can I cope with these feelings?
People who have experienced suicide at work told us what has helped them:
Give yourself time. It can take days, weeks, months or even longer to adjust. Don’t try to rush that recovery, your body and your mind will take as long as it needs to.
Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions. No two people will have the same reactions, so try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Nothing you are feeling is ‘wrong’, even if some of your emotions make you uncomfortable. These feelings will likely pass as time moves on.
Look after yourself. It may seem obvious but may not be easy. Looking after yourself after a traumatic event is incredibly important. Don’t forget the basics of caring for yourself like sleeping regularly and eating well.
Don’t face things alone. It can be difficult to talk about what has happened. You may not want to upset family and friends with details of something traumatic, or you may not have the words to talk about what you are going through. But when you’re able, being around other people can help you to recover well. You don’t have to talk about the experience you have had but take up any offers of support or a listening ear. Even just being with others can help.
Stick to your routine. Getting up at the same time, having the same daily routine and a regular bedtime can help you recover. There is nothing wrong with taking some time out to regain your energy, but as much as you can, stick to your regular daily routine. Get some fresh air and exercise when you can.
Try to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Instead of helping you to recover, they are more likely to make it harder to process and deal with what has happened.
How do I know if I need more help?
- You are struggling to do your job
- You are finding it difficult to sleep weeks after the event
- Your friends have noticed a change in you and encourage you to get help
- You do not want to do the things that used to make you happy
- You are drinking or smoking too much, or using drugs to cope with your feelings
- Around six weeks has passed and you do not feel any better
Most people will recover, some will need more help. There is no shame in asking for professional support. It’s important to remember what an enormous impact trauma has on our brain and our body.