Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Invisible wounds

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Invisible wounds

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

Life ambushes us when we least expect it. Loss can happen any time during childhood, marriage or in combat. The pain of the death of a loved one pierces our heart and soul. We become the walking wounded limping along the highway of life. Regardless who you are, or how tough you are, we all feel despair. Where’s the escape button, where’s the alt-delete button to alleviate pain and heartache?

Painful memories don’t suddenly disappear; no such thing as closure — healing is the process and grief gradually lessens. Hold on to H.O.P.E.: Hold on, Pain Ends. If you can feel it, you can heal it. You have to be willing to change. You let us in, we pull you out. Holding emotions back leads to high blood pressure and heart attacks. The answers are not in a bottle or drugs. But how do we reduce the torture of intense psychological suffering, the pain and end emotional distress?

No such things as invisible wounds. It’s impossible to choke back your traumatic experiences. Memories keep bubbling up and spilling out. People can observe your symptoms of irritability, angry outbursts, lack of concentration, difficulty sleeping, nightmares of the event, and being detached from others. People see the pain in your eyes, how you move, how you walk and talk. Wounds don’t always result from combat, less obvious trauma is the result of parental divorce, bullying, accidents, violence at home, being in an alcoholic or drug abusing environment, or a car accident.

Childhood trauma makes an adult more susceptible to being re-traumatized. That’s when invisible wounds become obvious. It’s the prolonged exposure to war, childhood abuse, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the effects of emotional and psychological abuse, that creeps out of our psyche. Some past beliefs and traumas keep us stuck in the past, holding us back from successful living. At this point we need to put a universal layer of understanding on top of gut feelings, learn to increase coping skills, and relax. Develop an individualized safety plan with intervention strategies for success. Talk with someone. Ask for help.

Each person’s burden is unique in intensity and duration. If you had a magic wand, what would you change. “Abra-ca-dabra,” poof! What is the new reality? What is your reason for being? The answer is in the riddle of confusion. Clarity is not a straight line. Awareness is not always clear. But, step on the stone as it appears. Go “Fear-ward.”  Don’t give pain a parking spot in your brain or heart, revoke those privileges and change what you thought was true about pain.

Everyone feels pain and anguish. It’s the human condition and the twinge of being human. There is a tax to be paid when trauma ambushes you. A traumatized brain remembers traumatic events and shuts down rational thinking. Trauma gets stuck in your brain and the pain is like a lead cap—

heavy and burdensome. It’s hard work staying mentally fit. But F.E.A.R. steps in: Face Everything and Recover or Forget Everything And Run.  Don’t act like an ancient Samurai Warrior and take your life. There is no shame to rebuke your pain and admit your true feelings and painful memories. Grief relief is found in sharing your story. Regardless who we are, we all need love, understanding, compassion, tenderness, acceptance, and the human touch. There is no psychological hazmat suit. Human contact is the best remedy.

People suffering from depression, PTSD, divorce, relationship separation, and individuals with physical health issues, and childhood trauma have a higher tendency for suicide. Suicide  affects children and survivors for life. Suicide may be a relief for you, but it’s an open wound for the survivors, friends, and family members. Reduce your emotional pain and address any suicidal thoughts. The new law--- National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020---designates 9-8-8 as the universal phone number for mental health emergencies. Multiple suicide prevention hotlines will be united under the 9-8-8 number within the next two years. The current Veterans Crisis Line is: 800-273-8255, press 1, or via text at 838-255. The life you save, may be your own. Volunteer to help yourself and consider yourself hugged.

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Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at www.hilaryvaldez.com or at InstantInsights@hotmail.com.

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