Article contributed by Dr. Bill LaForge, Ph.D; a member of the WAVES Project Advisory Board. Thank you Bill for your continued support and bringing your expertise to help veterans!
It is a major part of their symptomatology that they avoid reaching out to family and friends. The classic symptom clusters (Hyperarousal, Intrusion and Constriction) all tend towards the person withdrawing socially to protect themselves from the fearful emotional state. They also become emotionally exhausted (hypervigilence), making it less likely that they will put forth effort in this direction. It is much easier for theses individuals to protect themselves under the current distancing mandate. Unfortunately this safety comes at the cost of being frozen in their current level of recovery. We don’t get over our fears by avoiding the things that trigger them. We get over them by gradually exposing ourselves to the fearful objects, thoughts, sensations etc., and discovering we are still safe.
The families and close friends of our WAVES Project Veterans can do them a great service by continually reaching out to talk with them on a regular basis, even when the Veteran does not seem receptive. It is with the connection with people, even just every day talk, for instance about this virus, that will help our Veterans get out of their mental and emotional nightmare and feel like they are a part of the brotherhood of man.
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