I remember the night I was almost killed like it was yesterday. Some of you have heard the story and some of you will have to wait a bit longer for it to be recounted, for now let’s talk about trauma, my old friend.
For about fourteen years I had the reoccurring nightmare about the aforementioned night. It was always the same thing–I would dream about exactly how things played out and then wake up in sweats, my heart pounding against my chest. I would quickly turn a light on while frantically looking around the room to make sure I was in a safe place. Once I was sure all was well, and I was not back in the same place the militants almost took my life, I would take deep breaths and try to calm myself down. I had those nightmares until I told my mother about them and she confirmed that the incident did indeed occur. I wasn’t just dreaming; I was reliving a traumatic event that happened when I was only six years old.
Through the course of my life trauma would appear in different forms and again I wasn’t always aware of what was going on until I would have nightmares or suddenly be extra cautious whenever I was on my own.
Unfortunately, the rise of phones with video recording abilities and social media has brought traumatic events onto the newsfeed of platforms that used to be a place where you looked at cute photos of family and friends and cat videos that I didn’t enjoy, because I didn’t and still don’t like cats (sorry, cat lovers). In recent times social media platforms have felt more like one traumatic event after another, namely with Black people getting murdered at the hands of racists on a mission. Even as I have attempted to avoid those videos, the news articles are filled with images that are disturbing and become seared into the mind. Seeing these images over and over and over again is replaying a traumatic even over and over and over again, and it is not healthy.
While I understand the importance of those videos being shot, it is literally causing Black people to relive trauma and when someone that looks like you is getting murdered it is human nature to think about yourself and your loved ones being the ones possibly in that situation, and that amplifies the trauma. It seems as though as soon as you think you’re done processing one traumatic event; another one is being reported about and it seems to be never-ending.
I hope that if you’re a Black person reading this that you will take care of your mental health by reducing the news that you take in. I also hope that you will reach out to the people you trust when you are overwhelmed. And if you’re a white person reading this, be more cognizant of the images and videos you share and who may be exposed to them. While it is important to keep up with the news and share information that could be imperative, it is not always necessary to share or re-share every piece that you find. And if you absolutely need to share, maybe include information at the top of the post regarding the topic at hand so that people can choose whether or not to continue reading or watching. I’ve seen it done with mentions of sexual harassment and other heavy topics, it needs to be done for acts of racism, as well.
Trauma may be an old friend of mine, but it is not necessarily one that I like being acquainted with.