The ancient meaning behind Halloween has to do with overcoming the fear of death. However, when you develop PTSD because of violence or living through a cult, Halloween can become a trigger.
Navigating PTSD Triggers at Halloween
There are several things you can do this Halloween to help you navigate your triggers, including:
- Have a good support system surrounding you. Instead of spending time alone, get together with your friends and your family to have some fun. If you find yourself being especially triggered by trick-or-treaters coming to your door, go visit someone who doesn't get visitors. Don't feel obligated to answer the door. You can shut the curtains and pretend you're not home or if you want, you can leave candy out on your front porch. The point here is to remember that you're in complete control of the situation.
- Replace triggers. Instead of watching scary movies, watch a comedy. Instead of watching the news, go exercise or get involved in your hobby. The point is to keep busy and avoid the painful memories as much as possible.
- Engage in mindfulness practices. Unfortunately, you can't avoid all Halloween decorations, but you can find ways to decrease their stress and improve your emotional well-being. Mindfulness practices (e.g. deep breathing, focusing on staying present in the moment) are proven to change your PTSD brain's connections so you can stop ruminating over trauma-induced thought cycles.
- Find ways to distract yourself. Keeping busy with arts and crafts, reading, puzzles, or watching TV is helpful. You can also turn on some music and blast it in your headphones if you need to block out the noise around you.
Engage in Bible study: God is the ultimate protector of our souls.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Self-medicating your way through Halloween simply won't work. This is a temporary coping mechanism at best. Oftentimes it'll make the situation worse.
- Talk to a therapist. A trauma-based therapist can help you find healthy ways to cope with your triggers. They'll do this as they also help you process your trauma in a safe and supportive environment.
- Be home before dark. Your anxiety is probably already heightened simply by being out in the dark. On Halloween night it can be even worse because people are dressed up in costumes. Some of these people love to try to scare people simply for the sake of having a little fun. Unfortunately, when you have PTSD this isn't fun, it's terrifying.
Take Care of Yourself
Remember, it's your life and whatever choices you choose this Halloween are totally up to you. Make sure you do whatever makes you feel comfortable. You should never feel pressured into doing anything you don't want to do. Above all, remember that you're safe and everything will be fine.