I recently came across a book that is so powerful that I had to write a blog about it. It’s called, It’s OK Not to be OK… Right Now (with the subtitle, “How to Live through a Traumatic Experience”), by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D. Somehow, just the title of this book tends to cause my clients who have experienced trauma to breathe a sigh of relief. The book is short, direct, encouraging and spot on, as Dr. Lerner is an expert in acute traumatic stress intervention. On my first read through of the book I remember thinking, “Come on Dr. Lerner; please don’t let me down. Let this book be chock full of useful information…” Well, believe me, it is…
A traumatic event is defined as a single experience (physical assault, car accident, natural disaster), or an enduring or repeating event or events (war, domestic abuse, serious illness), that completely overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope or integrate the ideas and emotions involved with that experience. Symptoms of emotional trauma can include depression, spontaneous crying, despair, hopelessness, fearfulness, numbness, withdrawal from routine, decreased concentration, memory lapses, irritability, feeling out of control, guilt, difficulty making decisions, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, hyper-vigilance and insomnia.
It’s OK Not to be OK…Right Now is trauma triage, and it is meant to be read soon after a traumatic event in order to help prevent a person from being defined and consumed by the traumatic experience . It gives the kind of information that a person in crisis might not be able to absorb from any other source (like a well meaning friend or a less than understanding coworker). This manual concisely explains what a trauma survivor experiences emotionally, physically, and spiritually; and then it provides a list of things they can do to help themselves while they’re living through these experiences, such as: Do not make any major decisions right now, and Stick to a daily routine. It’s only 100 pages long and the text is double spaced so as not to overwhelm the reader (who may likely be near a breaking point and not interested in reading a 350 page self-help book). It’s affirming, inspirational, practical, informative and brief-all at the same time.
Some of the topics that Dr. Lerner addresses in his book:
- Should I Take Medication?
- Do I Have PTSD?
- Emotional Reactions to the Traumatic Event
- How Our Thoughts and Feelings Impact Our Body
- Our Spiritual Reactions
- Setting Goals
- Making Decisions and Then Taking Action
- When to Seek Professional Help
While It’s OK Not to be OK… Right Now is not meant to be the sole means of recovery from a traumatic event, it is a brilliant first step -a lifeline- in the process of healing. Dr.Lerner gently walks the reader through a list of positive steps they can take to begin the healing process, with one of those steps being that they consider consulting with a mental health professional to get additional help and support.
You may order a copy of this wonderful book through Amazon.
If you feel like you are having difficulty recovering from a traumatic experience, or you know someone who is, perhaps it is time for you to consult with a counselor. Whatever you do, please resist the urge to withdraw from life. Communicate. I know that your body and mind are in survival mode right now, but you need to seek support. Our counselors at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando can be reached at 407-355-7378.