General, Mental Health

Not All Anniversaries Are Happy Occasions

Anniversaries are a thing of popularity around the world. You’ve got wedding anniversaries to celebrate the date a couple got married. The anniversary of the day a store or attraction first opened its doors or cut its red ribbon. Maybe an anniversary was started when someone threw a very special party and decided to do it again every year on the same day. A family gathering could be made into an anniversary if the family continues it on the same day every year A birthday is technically just an anniversary of your date of birth. An anniversary could be a day, weekend, year, some anniversaries of special occasions last more than one week, up to a month even. When you are asked to describe an anniversary, wouldn’t you think of a happy event first, a celebration, or simply hanging out with people you don’t see often to eat a bunch of rare food?

As the title says, that’s not all anniversaries. There are negative anniversaries, days of the year people dread to remember. Maybe a close friend or family member died on a date that just can’t be forgotten. Maybe a person was raped and every year around that date they feel intense shame and guilt. Perhaps a war veteran remembers the exact day he was shot, or someone next to him was hit, and has quick nightmares on that day every year. Natural disasters happen often, and maybe an anniversary was the day a home was destroyed with someone in it. Some people were severely abused or assaulted on a day of the year and they will always remember that day as the day they were attacked. That last one applies to me.

Thanksgiving break contains an anniversary I dread now. Just this past week was my first annual remembrance of a bad day. November 18th 2017 was the date I was attacked and thrown out of my house. The day I actually remember was the Saturday before Thanksgiving Thursday. In this year 2018, the 18th was on a Sunday, so I figured this whole weekend may be negative. The past month was a time of bad memories, fear of triggers and dreams, paranoia of the unknown, and depression and shame. Thanksgiving is a common talk in America, and nearly all of November is full of Thanksgiving talk and preparations for something that doesn’t happen until towards the end of the month, so I had a pretty good reminder daily that it was coming. Every time I heard that word, Thanksgiving, my mind went to that Saturday. I spent the month mentally preparing for, I don’t even know what; bad flashbacks, nightmares, maybe worse, like what if my dad or stepmom suddenly tried to contact me that day?

In all honesty, nothing really happened. I took the weekend of the 17th-18th off. Saturday I stayed inside my room all day and studied modern Paganism while having a steady stream of calming incense burning for several hours. Sunday, I went to my home Christian church and then took an hour long walk in the cemetery, without my investigation equipment, and just did a meditation walk, followed by reading and intaking incense in my room again. I did have a few nightmares very obviously related to that day when I was sleeping those nights, but my days were not ruined like my anxiety and paranoia told me they would be. The week of Thanksgiving was also not bad, I got back into my actual routine and was able to go see my moms family in a different city on Thanksgiving and not have any more issues.

I’m not the only one that goes through this. Assault, abuse, attacks, rape, death, tragedy, disaster, anything can cause a person emotional trauma. Some people remember the days they happened. It could be a place, a person, a sound, a smell, anything could trigger memories of such trauma. Anniversaries of the day the trauma was received are not the most common trigger statistically, but they’re still common, whether you can see it in someone, or yourself, or not. This is something anyone can keep in mind; there may be days that people just don’t want to remember, maybe days people want to stay inside their rooms, or want to get far away from daily life. If anyone you know wants to not be reminded of a day, don’t question them or the purpose of the day. They want to go out and do something distracting, or stay hidden from society, respect that decision. If you are one of these people suffering from trauma triggered by a day, time, or season of the year, there is nothing wrong with you, and it is not your fault that it triggers you. Trauma is never something to be blamed for, and controlling triggers is not easy in any way. If you know an anniversary is coming, take precautions, plan the time when you will be reminded, and teach yourself what you need to make said time less stressful or upsetting. Everyone has different traumas, and everyone heals differently. Nothing is the fault of the victim.

Be mindful- EmmiR

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